Pat Chow kept the WAMFest party going into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Picture: Kane Sutton

Review: Saturday Spectacular, Northbridge, 5 November 2016

WA music is in a good, good place.

WAM’s annual WAMFest is considered WA’s biggest celebration of local music, and reflecting on the blockbuster weekend now, it’s safe to say that once again, the crew involved in putting it all together have definitely lived up to the lofty expectations.

The Saturday Spectacular boasted over 80 West Australian acts spread across 11 venues, with punters given free access to every single one. Music Insight wandered into the cosier confines of The Bird early on to catch a set by Human Buoy, a newer act who have been getting out and about very consistently in recent times. The easy-going audience were treated to a bunch of experimental indie-rock tracks, most of which seem likely to fit onto the band’s forthcoming debut EP. I Wanna Be Marooned and Period Of Maximum Excitability had some particularly memorable guitar hooks that could easily bury into the front of one’s brain. The group were nominated on the weekend for ‘Most Popular New Act’ at the WAM Awards, and considering they’re managed by Pete Carroll (The Panics), the sky is most certainly the limit.

A brisk walk over to Badlands Bar got this scribe to the door just in time to watch Spaceman open proceedings at the venue, drawing in a small crowd and getting everyone moving with their, ahem, spacey blend of psych-rock. The group’s 2016 debut album Palm Haus was a great example of how to flesh out your own identity in a genre that has become extremely popular in recent years, and as good as the record sounds, there’s a sense of raucousness in Spaceman’s live performance that takes that enjoyment factor a step further. Considering how big psychedelia is at the moment, Spaceman is every chance to become the next big thing out of Perth.

Hyla followed in a similar fashion, with more of an 80s lo-fi tinge. Like Human Buoy, the guys have recently been in the studio recording their album, and they did plenty in their live performance to indicate it’s gong to be killer. Songs like Chaos For You had these sweeping shoegaze vibes, while that subtle but oh-so-important guitar hook through the chorus just washed over the venue like summer rain.

After that, it was time to suss out the Block Party – the Spectacular’s ‘main stage’ of sorts – and the place was buzzing as Verge Collection swaggered onto the stage and launched into their instantly-likeable blend of indie rock. The four-piece took out the honours of Best EP at the WAM Awards on Thursday night, and rightly so. At only four tracks long, there’s no filler to be found; just relatable lyrics, genuine delivery, and Beach Boys-like hooks. Class Of ‘09 worked wonders on our nostalgic sensibilities; Postcodes hit so close to home on the relationships front that you almost felt sheepish singing along, and closer Our Place had the entire crowd chorusing along the entire way through. There’s something special about seeing local bands getting that sort of love.

It was great to see mainstays Sugar Army gracing the Block Party stage – the band hold a special place in the hearts of most local music event attendees, and they put on a performance that would no doubt score them a bunch of new fans, and please the older ones at the same time. With third album Beast still fresh on the shelves, the band played through a number of new tracks, but also had plenty of time to perform older ones – hearing several tracks from the band’s widely popular debut album The Parallels Amongst Ourselves was a huge treat, and if the vibe of their slot taught us anything, it’s that they should definitely consider playing live shows more regularly.

Over to Jimmy’s Den, where Scalphunter just about stole the whole event. They definitely win the awards for ‘Most Enthusiastic Performance’ and ‘Most Loveable Frontman’ – vocalist Steve Knoth was all high-fives and group hugs and audience participation the entire set. Jimmy’s seemed to be the perfect fit for the band too – Knoth’s punky yelling sounded outstanding wherever you stood, and the cosy nature of the place kept the heat in and the energy levels high. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets closed out the night in the Den and filled the venue to capacity in the process. It’s no surprise; the band’s fanbase is as large as they are passionate. It also may have had something to do with the fact that the band also generously put on a $500 bar tab from the beginning of their set. The Porn Crumpets’ take on psychedelic rock is basically a case of turning up the intensity to 11 and busting out the biggest, most outrageous guitar hooks you’ll ever hear. Like every other PPC show, the crowd responded in a rowdy fashion – crowd surfing, jumping around – and the band did everything they could to encourage it.

Those of us lucky enough to get into the after-party at Badlands were treated to a performance by local rock’n’rollers Pat Chow, who did a fantastic job of keeping the energy levels high past 1pm. Anyone who digs rock music in Perth knows their 2015 album Are You Okay? is essential to the collection, and listening to that perfect blend of melodic guitar work and raw, gutsy vocals from the trio never gets old. It was the perfect end to wonderful weekend filled with local music.

You’d be a fool to doubt that Perth has one of the best local music scenes in the country.

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