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FEATURE: 208s – The House That Punk Built, Swampland, April 2017

FEATURE: 208s – The House That Punk Built, Swampland, April 2017 published on

Published in April 2017, this feature article appears in vol 2 of Swampland, a Victorian long-form music journalism magazine.

This piece is a short history of the Perth DIY punk venue 208s, featuring interviews with members of the Reptilians, Agitated, Helta Skelta and the Darling Rangers and polaroid photos I took of live gigs there over the last few years.

Due to licencing, this article is only available in the issue itself, which is available to order here on Swampland‘s website.

LIVE REVIEW: Wrong Side Of The Tracks at 208s, 20.09.14

LIVE REVIEW: Wrong Side Of The Tracks at 208s, 20.09.14 published on No Comments on LIVE REVIEW: Wrong Side Of The Tracks at 208s, 20.09.14

LIVE REVIEW: DOCTOPUS / HUSSY / DARLING RANGERS / SURF RABBITS / KITCHEN PEOPLE / PISSEDCOLAS

Saturday 20 September 2014 at 208s

Previously unpublished.

There is no live music like live music a foot away from your face.

208s, a makeshift venue at best organised by a group of industrious, tolerant music fans in a residential home just behind Maylands’ shopping strip, has remembered this in a time when small venues are hard to come by and younger or niche bands struggle to fill out large ones with a scattering of fans spread over large dance floors.  As you trudge down the empty night road and through the dusty gravel car park to the open back door to 208s, the faint drone of the Pissedcolas’ ‘Mind Detergent’ buzzing through the brickwork, there’s no question what you’re in for. A faint smell of weed and sweet cheap beer hangs in the air around the doorway, with a kitchen-cum-foyer filled with instruments and a jar labelled “Soundproofing Fund” on the table, then inside the dimly lit hot room of 208s, ear-busting PA, plastered wall to wall with band posters, and the deaf white cat Sheba perched on the middle speaker oblivious to the slaughtered sounds around it.

The Pissedcolas started the evening with a grinding set sounding tighter than ever.  Though battling the heat and the cat’s twitching tail over his pedals, guitarist Fabian Rojas’ sulky vocals opened the night well to a small gathering rapidly growing in the dim backlight of 208s, and with aspirations to the studio in a few weeks they’re rightly locking down on their unique, drilling sound.  Their set jittered and throbbed through the brickwork before dissipating into the hot night air, with the guests pouring outside for the change of guard.  Around the corner a girl moans to her friend that it’s so empty – never seen it so empty.  There’s a piece of lemon in the bathroom sink.  Kitchen People are on next.

An off-shoot of Fremantle’s lauded Hideous Sun Demon, the Kitchen People took the floor tonight debuting new rhythm guitarist Charles Wickham, a recruit from Aborted Tortoise, to supplement their sloppy blare with a sharper backlight towed in during intermission.  Drummer Thomas Cahill cast long shadows over his bandmates, unanimously engaged in a twitchy little pogo with lead Jake Suriano’s self-conscious cheekiness countered by squirming guitar solos and Dean Eyeball typically throwing his gangly frame about the sidelines.  Announcing “This is a song Jake makes me sing, it’s called ‘Planet’,” he attempted to swallow the microphone hands-free, though the equipment put up a fight of its own before being handed back to Suriano.  He checks his phone mid-song, juggling mobile, guitar, microphone and lyrics scrawled in texta on his forearm, as they launch into punk-by-numbers closer ‘I Don’t Mind’; “It’s about Jake’s passive progression through life,” claimed Eyeball, then beat a hasty retreat to the band’s closing bars.

The Surf Rabbits, filling a slot for line-up pull-outs, piled into the room boasting short skirts and their own theme song.  With vocalist Sarah Taylor bouncing over to scratch the white cat perched on their amp behind its ears, lead guitarist Dave Owen crowed into the microphone: “We are Aborted Tortoise! Or if things go really well we are the Surf Rabbits!”  Their rockabilly surf style brought dancers a light-hearted, fast paced set with shrieking Owen matched head to head with Taylor, with songs about sex (‘So Good!’), the scene (‘All Perth Bands’) and monsters (‘There’s Something In The Pool At Adventure World’) picking up the mood only to have it immediately destroyed by the Darling Rangers.

For the first show the Rangers had 208s stuffed full, with gritty solid rock of an instantly familiar Australian ilk backing black-clad lead Drago ‘Drage’ Lyons as he staggered in small circles wailing and screaming with his eyes fixed somewhere in the middle distance of a bad trip.  Having produced an organ and a boat hat from seemingly nowhere, the Rangers pressed deranged Lyons into violent throes, collapsing onto the floor after a sheet of lyrics and dragging the mic stand into the audience with him.  The clutching, frenzied audience had as much idea of what was happening as Lyons as he wrestled with his mic, narrowly missing an audience member to slam into the wall.

Hussy entered next, an all-girl group with a shrill warble over garage rock with a poppy bounce.  Their lead Shinead Ruby stunned with an impressive clear voice like a marble rolling down a course, Hussy’s brooding sound throbbing under chiming vocals and indelicate drum lines.  The large band population – five in this one – beckon the audience closer as second vocalist Marcia D’Souza stepped in with a casual air that cooled the night down, welcome after the Darling Rangers’ previous display.

After a brief intermission outside the immense and stoned Doctopus rolled onto the floor, with bedraggled frontman Stephen Bellair getting approximately half way through the first song before producing a spliff as fat as his finger from thin air with a cry of “Hey, buddies!” as he gestured around for a lighter offered by an audience member.  The dim lit room stank of sweat, weed and spilt beer as it filled with smoke and heat, the spliff juggled around the audience and finally back to one leaning forward to expel lungfulls of smoke into Bellair’s face as he belted along to bouncing crowd hits ‘Social Anxiety’ and ‘Chronic Fatigue’.  The mood dissolves at the set’s close into a settling haze of perspiration and THC, with Sheba ushered around the beer-stained wood floors as 208s started the laborious job of collecting discarded bottles and the crowd filtered out into the night.

LIVE REVIEW: Wrong Side Of The Tracks at 208s’ by Richard Moore.