Like many people, I’m a creature of habit. By getting older, I don’t really want to scout out new places for a guaranteed good time. Life being life, however, kicks that plan in the nuts and Perth is now experiencing a whole host of things to do, in various locations around the city.
One such place that has crept up on my radar is Mojos Bar. For the past year I’ve been lucky enough to attend to the brightly coloured bar for the second Friday night of every month, the night for Hussle Hussle. November finds the return of Big Village Records in the form of Suburban Dark, hot on the heels of label alumni Rapaport and P.Smurf, who have graced the North Fremantle bar on national tours.
Kicking things off was local lad Chu, who like many has been busy in the lead up to the summer season. With the Holidae Holidae EP recently dropping, the holiday times were in full swing via Chu‘s lush sonic soundscapes, with a sound that is within the forefront of the Perth scene. Contemporary pop culture got a look in, with the beat master dropping a reworked version of Say My Name by Destiny’s Child, reflecting Beyoncé‘s tour down under.
Next up was Bax Davis. When an artist opts to trade under the name ‘hamandcheesesnorlax’ on Soundcloud, you know it’s that it’s going to be something different and Bax Davis did not disappoint. A cut from his Soundcloud page, Morning Cartoons was a fine preparation for what was incoming, laid back old school grooves with similarly old school rhymes. The track is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for 90s kids, name checking pretty much all the programming on Cheez TV and even cult classics like Daria.
Switching things up but still keeping in line with his online persona, the emcee climbed on stage with the presence of graffiti artist RSLM, who would work on a piece whilst the emcee did his thing. Make Us Hear Again was a somewhat solemn affair about loss of a bygone age, but with much fist bumping, Jump got things moving again, after Davis threw out an open invite for everyone to get their butts to the front of the stage. The hilariously titled Aubrey Plaza is my Ex, with its humorous samples continued to push forward the anti- ego vibe before the set ended with Desolate Bones. It was here on could see the end result of RLSM’s efforts on canvas, which was a piece dubbed “Macauly Skulkin” by Bax, a modern take on ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch.
With brass instruments in hand when they hit the stage, it was Child’s Play time to live up to their namesake and indulge in some old school fun. Loose Ends hit with hypnotic groove, making the venue feel like an impromptu street party. Delay was a more laid back affair; the main hook sounding like it could have come straight out of a noir film of old. Child’s Play set, like its album cuts are freewheeling affairs, freestyle rhymes and jams assailed the audience constantly. Hyper Activity saw the interplay of digital and analogue seamlessly weave into one each to continue the groove, which was also evident with Now You’re Gone. After urging the audience to ‘Let their inner child play’, the trio freestyle jammed, reprising the main hook of Loose Ends, ending things where it started. In lesser hands, the brass section could have contributed to the major sax crimes from the 80’s, but with the group’s energy and injection of Electronica, things were kept fresh enough from getting too kitsch.
After a trio of acts, Suburban Dark hit the stage, brandishing their skull heavy logo via a flag, signalling their intent to flip the script. As soon as the decks were turned on, the lights went off, reinforcing the concepts of the group as well as emphasising the grimy beats the duo have been putting out.
Kicking off things was the track which features fellow Big Village Records mate Ellesquire, the brooding Closed Doors touches about the darkness that occur underneath the facade of happy suburbia. This was followed by the remix of The Tongue‘s Champion Sound, it was here the strength of the duo was revealed. The dark edged beats set an unmistakable tone, a 180 from the original’s joyous sound. When paired with an emcee, Suburban Dark‘s sound takes on a new dimension, it enables artists like Rapaport, P.Smurf and Grey Ghost a chance to explore their dark sides, with the added variety can only be good for the local scene. Drugstore, with its slamming synth lines, distorted vocals and eerie chimes does much to replicate the warped perceptions under the influence, a necessary state for many seeking to escape horrid reality.
To end things, Jeswon took to the stage as promised. Mindreader poses questions for this fast paced modern age, the protagonist lamenting of how he is supposed to know what is transpiring in someone else’s mind when he himself has no idea of what is going on. With its booming bass beat, Skeletonne forced us to examine the meat suit we inhabit, complete with its base and carnal impulses that cause us to survive by living through the id. This was followed by Nexus 6, with its references to Blade Runner and Cyberpunk, paints a nightmarish future, one where we are forced to find escape by any means necessary, physically or psychologically. With the journey complete Suburban Dark was ready to leave, but were willing to continue dropping cuts from their albums due to the response from the crowd.
The final Hussle Hussle for the year was an apt summary of the line-up it has served every month. There is space for the somewhat more inclusive, dance friendly groups but with an act like Suburban Dark, which stood in contrast to three prior artists on the bill, the event flexed its muscles in not shying away from other, esoteric areas that are covered by the national scene. I can’t wait until the next year rolls around, if only to see the choice of artists which furthers my musical education.
By David Coffey