– by Aliza Caruso, Tobyn Fitch-Rabbitt
Distant Murmurs Festival, Saturday 17 December, The Rosemount Hotel
RTR have started off 2015 strong, taking over The Rosemount Hotel with over 20 acts across three stages. We’re ridiculously excited about the number of smaller low-key festivals popping up all over the place (North Freo Pub Crawl is coming up and the lineup is stellar) and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our Saturday than supporting community radio and local music through the wonderful Distant Murmurs Festival.
Simone and Girlfunkle were the first band on in the main room, delivering an upbeat folky set full of lovely harmonies and a very healthy dosing of twee (nothing wrong with that, we always need more twee). They finished up with a new song currently titled ‘Melodica Song’ off an upcoming album.
The Long Lost Brothers are pretty much the complete opposite, sonically, to Simone and Girlfunkle with some dark and heavy 90s rock. Opening with song ‘China’ (with catchy lyrics “China, India, Russia, Supermarket”) as well as ‘Snakes and Ladders’ they were the only band for the night to boast a different guitar tuning for every song they played, so kudos to that.
The Painkillers are comprised of members from a long list of legendary Perth acts (The Triffids, The Stems, The Scientists, Beast of Bourbon, as well as Hoodoo Gurus, and the Bad Seeds (Nick Cave’s supporting band). The list can go on if you want). With a daunting list of past material to live up to, their own material, including new songs ‘Cannonball’ and ‘Shenton Park Madonna’, are some cracking exercises in punk and rock’n’roll.
Ghetto Crystals continued the trend towards straight up rock on the main stage, featuring Abbe May, Scarlett Stevens of San Cisco, Jennifer Aslett of Gunns (rocking a Taylor Swift shirt, possibly in support of the last minute campaign to get T Swizzle in Triple J’s Hottest 100), and fronted by the fantastic Doug May. A pretty explosive set, to be modest. Apart from a few drum kit issues to begin with, they finished on a clean sweep with crowd favourite ‘Shake a Badonkadonk’.
Meanwhile, outside in the courtyard, Eleventeen Eston and backing band The Conversation were vying for best dressed (or worst dressed depending on who you asked) band in matching short shorts. For a moment we thought we’d wondered onto the set of some slick 80s sailing advert or detective show judging by the beachy, tropical, and at times, cheesy (you could say they have a certain sax appeal) grooves. But in all honesty, they make a pretty sweet team and even sweeter tunes.
Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics were another band vying for best dressed (matching black suits and one amazing dress), bringing some (uptown) funk and soul to the main stage. And, whoa, can she sing. Combined with some trumpet n sax (really digging all these bands with saxophones), that voice, and enough onstage energy to power a small village, the main room at The Rosemount pretty much lit up with good vibes and good grooves.
Gunns followed on the main stage, and if their set’s anything to go by, this year’s going to be great for them (hopefully an album is in the works!). They sounded massive, as per usual, but even a little bit ~more massive~ if that’s a thing (let’s say that’s a thing). They’re becoming one of the most popular live bands in town, and it’s not hard to see why. They’ve got a fantastic repertoire of super catchy tracks, which seem to sound even better when played live (they’ve got the tunes AND they’ve got the talent), especially that newie ‘Give Me Sunshine’ (“Every time I hear that song I just feel like bellyflopping into a great big pool of fizzy lemonade, it’s just that good” – Aliza). Like a fine wine, Gunns only seem to be getting better with age, can’t wait to see what they come out with next.
Mei Saraswati Band was the next amazing act on the bill. Complete with some wildly exotic beats, a pretty freaking amazing voice, and, incredibly, a backup singer who can imitate the call of a magpie perfectly. Mei Saraswati’s music is a force to be reckoned with in and of itself, and is an absolute pleasure to experience live. Her unique beats and melodies had everyone mesmerized and groovin’ a little (actually grooving a lot). Thank you, world, for Mei Saraswati.
Doctopus brought 459 Bar to an apt close for the evening. The manic three-piece, fronted by the strangely charismatic and terrifying Stephen Bellair, brought out everyone’s wild side. The tiny room combusted with energy as the crowd went into a frenzy. You always expect some craziness at a Doctopus gig, and craziness ensued. At least five people from the crowd attempted (and some succeeded) to crowd surf over the insane mosh forming next to the stage (including everyone’s fave friend with the fro, Shiny Joe, who actually mixed and recorded Doctopus’ latest Wobbegong)(fun fact). A shirtless and sweaty Stephen also ended up surfing on his back whilst still managing to play, almost kicking a low hanging light clean off it’s mounting and nearly destroying a nearby speaker. It was awesome.
Congratulations, RTR, you’ve once again delivered a ridiculously fine event with an outstanding lineup of local artists. Looking forward to the next one already. Cheers for the goods.
Photo Credit: Timothy Wilson