Review: Winston Surfshirt at Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth, 1 December 2017
Dubbed by some as 2017’s break out artists and sporting the approval of Sir Elton John, Sydney’s Winston Surfshirt were held in high regard when Jack Rabbit Slim’s hosted the Perth stop of the Sponge Cake tour.
Local act Chisekö got the early crowd in gear as he encouraged us all to get jiggy with him. It turned out to to be pretty easy, as his impressive hip-hop tracks were received enthusiastically by a tight crowd.
As Grievous Bodily Calm set the stage for their jazz instrumental, piles of punters were filing in. Either people enjoy getting to Slim’s well early or they’re starting to love GBC.
The five-piece set a quirky ambience, driving forward with heavy drums and bass. An enthusiastic performance from the keys player earned cheers from the crowd, and his solo shredding was one of the highlights of the night.
As a packed Slim’s waited, it seemed we were catching the band at a festival rather than a nightclub as everyone coming through the diner doors looked straight out of North Byron Parklands.
After a 20 minute wait, Winston cascaded down the stairs, accompanied by some sexy elevator music and leading fellow bandmates Bustlip, The Bone, Bik Julio and Dool. Launching into ‘Same Same’, a clear crowd favourite from the debut album Sponge Cake, they oozed confidence and cool in their fusion of genres.
With sounds pulled from hip-hop then blended with R&B, soul, jazz and reggae, their sonic fusion was executed well, but at times transitioned lazily and ended up sounding confused.
Nonetheless, the crowd was lapping it up, with the majority of attendees looking like they could pass for Winston himself; long hair flapping about, adorned with sunglasses that would not meet industry standard UV ratings.
Early into the set the crowd was revved up by a cover of ‘My Love’ with their own groovy twist that had absolutely everyone belting out the JT hit.
The majority of the tracks, like ‘The Moments’ ‘FreeForYou’ and ‘Nowhere’, were easy listening and gave the crowd what they were after. For the moody track ‘On a Lock’, Winston disappeared and popped up on the bar at the back of Slim’s, which made you notice, for the first time, the band behind him.
Much like their sound, the set-list blurred into one extended jam that had all punters happily grooving but lacked the spark to set them apart. After promising that they were going to pop off stage for two seconds then come back on to play more, they blasted out their hit single ‘Be About You’.
It was in their encore that they really shone and had the most energy. They must have had a really good pep talk in those two seconds.
Playing half an hour over their scheduled finishing time, they smashed out an encore including a messy rendition of ‘Cast in Stone’ before a medley of ‘Simon Says’, Fatman Scoop‘s ‘Be Faithful’ and ‘Breathe’ by Sean Paul and Blu Cantrell. It was odd to jump to these old school hip hop tracks, but well received all the same. They finished with a chaotic rendition of Kendrick’s ‘HUMBLE’ before swiftly departing the stage.
Bystanders were left confused but pleased.