– by Tom Munday
Marianas Trench, Thursday 6 November, Astor Theatre
Unquestionably, Mt Lawley’s Astor Theatre, despite the popularity and comfortable atmosphere, is still considered one of Perth’s most underrated venues. Established as one of Perth’s best-kept secrets (somehow), the urban venue deserves, nay demands, infinitely more credit. So, how was this quaint venue going to house one of Canada’s most popular pop-rock groups? As it turns out, as well as anyone familiar with the venue would expect. The build up to the event was shrouded in strong buzz from fans and critics alike. Marianas Trench, having attained a significantly-larger-than-
Fitting Mt Lawley’s lively vibe, the line stretched around the corner past the front doors and at least one trendy clothing store. Close to reaching an adjacent café/restaurant strip, the nearby car park almost filled up with excitable and rambunctious fans. Sporting jet-black, chin-or-shoulder-length hairstyle, leather-and-button-fuelled clothing, and signature attitude, it came clear I was set to step into a whole different world. Admittedly, my jadedness had prevented me from holding back my surprise. As the crowd trickled in, I became immersed in a unique experience this band was known for. First up, American pop-punk unit Secret Someones immediately made a splash. Hailing from Brooklyn, the three-girl-one-guy set up wore its enthusiastic glow like none other.
Resembling the Runaways with a modern twist, the group built up a monstrous level of anticipation. Taking on a zany rock-pop dynamic, their synthesizer keyboards and star-spangled guitar riffs entertained the crowd. In fact, their hit ‘Heartbreaker’ is a sure-fire success. Convulsing across the stage, the group’s 1980/90s zaniness kicked everything off smoothly. The event, sorting a mix of Canadian and Australian talents, became a lively and friendly experience. When Sydney-based With Confidence showed up, the crowd was already stuck between joy and frustration. However, blaring their wall-of-sound pop-rock
Sharing drinks with Marianas Trench and Secret Someones on stage, these on-tour groups had clearly bonded. As the main event reached the stage, the crowd’s piercing screams and waving arms said it all. Being the final performance on their ‘That’s Not a Knife’ tour, the well-renowned group was in a state of relief. Toasting to a job well done, the boys promised they had saved the best for last. With a respect for the Perth crowd, this group showed off its immense affection for its wide-ranging fan base. Smartphones, lighters, and Canadian flags waved lovingly over the mosh pit. Embracing the tireless and whip-smart crowd, lead vocalist Josh Ramsay led the set with his elaborate persona. Whipping his blue-tinged hair back and fourth…and back, his flamboyant mannerisms and distinctive accent cemented several entertaining moments.
Marianas Trench‘s set, to the rousing fan base, was an eclectic fusion of pop-rock and punk-rock vibes that could never be denied. Interestingly enough, as an outsider, their set made me want to check out more from Canada’s Music industry. Coming out with a maple leaf guitar, the Ramsay led his crew with bravado and style. As Ramsay and co.’s high-pitched vocals echoed across the circular venue, the crowd reached new levels of excitement, fervor, and decibels. Throughout the set, Ramsay’s persona cemented the group’s buzz-worthy status. Expressing himself through signature hand movements and energetic dance moves, the man is a true performer. It is easy to see why so many people across the world love them. Ringing true with the area, their hit ‘Ever After’ established their catchy and approachable pop-rock vigor.
Backing up their stellar reputation and engaging stage presence, their performance of ‘All to Myself’ connected with everyone in and around Mt Lawley. Establishing a Panic at the Disco/Foo Fighters vibe, their soulful lyrics and magnetic tracks can compare almost to the Smashing Pumpkins and Depeche Mode’s best works. Fitting the theme of the event, the group became obsessed with pulling the audience into their flavoursome fever-dream. Connecting with their beloved fans, the group continually led the mosh pit in chorus. It seemed, from the first note to the last of each song, the crowd knew exactly what to do. Between tracks, the band took time out to converse with one another and audience members. Utilising the word “Bitch” for many devilish reasons, their modest charm and cute in-jokes resonated from the outset.
Making fun of the night’s set list, Our Canadian Gods are not afraid to bring themselves back down to Earth. At one point, our dynamic lead act developed a hearty back-and-fourth with the audience. Taking popcorn from the front row, Ramsay and occasional guitarist/sound-checker Brett shared fun stage moments. Before long, their next hit ‘Celebrity Status’ came along to rouse an already-manic crowd. As a love letter to fans, the set list dedicated itself specifically to the greatest hits and biggest highlights from the band’s history. Strictly for hardcore fans, the intimate performance played well to the mosh pit of fans and adolescents.
Describing its audience members as “Perthians”, the group knew exactly what its army wanted. Giving its audience a taste of the upcoming album, ‘Ever After’, newly released track ‘Pop 101’ is a humorous and dexterous change of pace. Thanks to its kooky lyrics and rousing rhythm, describing the ins and out of professional music, this track turned everything up to 11. Along the way, the group’s classic hits resonated with everyone in the vicinity. Amplified by Ramsay’s butt-shaking antics, tracks including ‘Fallout’, ‘Desperate Measures’, and ‘Cross My Heart’ solidify the group’s aim-to-please vibe and feel-good, mainstream tone. In their performance of ‘Here’s to the Zeroes’, the preceding bands got up on stage to celebrate a successful tour.
Inviting four uber-fans up onto the stage, the group sent screams up into the stratosphere. Performing major hit ‘Desperate Measures’, the chosen mosh-pitters all fell into an immense state of shock. In fact, Ramsay, aware of his own immense glow, took too the stage by himself to show off his guitar-riff prowess. The gig, ending with another ‘Ever After’ track, ‘No Place Like Home’, aimed itself squarely at eager ‘Trenchers’ – those eager to wait outside in the Spring rain. Catching an extended glimpse of one of Canada’s most prestigious rock groups, the audience flooded out with one promise stuck in their heads: “We will be back”.
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Photo credit: Matthew Picken