The whole of Cottlesloe Beach was decked with festival fencing in order to house the inaugural By the C, the first music festival of at Cottlesloe beach in twelve years. With a large stage set up right near the beachfront, merchandise and food vans strewn across the festival grounds, there was plenty for punters to see, listen and do. The lineup featured a tasty variety of insatiable music, from the Afro-creole antics of Grace Barbé up to the rustic fingerpicking of John Butler and the rest of his trio. It made way for an easy Sunday afternoon, first to kick back to and later to mosh.
Grace Barbé was an entertaining act to begin with – with her emboldened hair billowing in the coastal breeze. Outlining that that her band’s style was afro-creole in between every other song, it was hard not to miss what she was all about. At times it felt a tiny bit repetitive as if she had to justify what she was playing. Gradually transcending from slow, tropical rhythms to more jaunty and crisp, ska beats, Barbé was an act which took some warming up to, but when you got into the Seychelles groove, it was hard not to shake off the enticing beats.
The highlight of her set was towards the close when her band descended into a frenetic style not too small of a departure from The Police. Topped up with an eclectic cover of Lionel Ritchie’s All Night Long, it was fun to discern the tune amongst all the French lyrics. Barbé basically turned Cottlesloe into an audibly soothing, tropical paradise, with punters racing back and forth to the rhythms as they sat on the sand.
Second act Peter Bibby and his band felt like a nostalgic story time, even more so if you were a local. Recounting his childhood spent on Cottlesloe beach and the various activities he used to undertake gave his set a hefty slice of nostalgia. With the story-driven qualities of his songs driving a nostalgic pang, Bibby rocked on as the late afternoon drove on. With his distinct, sharply-nasal Australian accent piercing punters all round from the various speakers – Bibby harkened back to an older, “purer” form of Australian rock n’ roll, entwined with qualities of being a youth from decades past.
Compelling the first bunch of punters to get off the sand and form a smallish crowd, Bibby proceeded to sing a song dedicated to the South Australian town of Whyalla, which, according to the lyrics, houses the individual who held the world record for playing the pinball machine the longest. The crowd learnt something that day.
Folky sibling power-duo Angus and Julia Stone pulled on the heart strings with their unique melding of instrumental and vocal. With the sun beginning to drawn downwards behind the stage, it was tricky to catch a site of the band amidst the glare. Still, with the numbers of the crowd beginning to gain momentum, half the festival had now gotten up to get a dose of the sibling’s crisp folk.
Memorable tracks from their set included the bluesy ballad Death Defying Acts, where Julia used her vocals to fantastically extrapolate the lyrics into a theatre act. With the crowd mesmerised and the more drunken stragglers tumbling over other punters to bluesy march of the drums, it gave the atmosphere of a Greek tragedy entwined with a hint of comedy.
The John Butler Trio set the night off with a bang, their set chequered with a multitude of instruments played by Butler himself and an intense bromance evident between Butler and drummer Grant Gerathy – their jamming faces were just too obvious. But that gave a certifiable reason the band enjoyed what they did on stage. With the sun setting behind and the winds making it just a little chilly, it was easy to keep warm through the athletic sport of avoiding drunken punters from toppling over – but it was all a part of the festivities.
Playing tracks like Better Than and Used to Get High, by the time Butler had gotten around to Ocean, he delved into a monologue on anti-fracking and environmental protection, a slight middle finger to the Western Australian State government. With the crowd wholesomely taking upon Butler’s cause, he then delved into an intense five-minute session of fingerpicking in his classic using-just-his-fingernails style.
With the rest of his set being a frantic mix of folk, rock n’ roll and anything hillbilly in between, Butler finished up on a generous triple encore featuring Livin’ in the City and Funky Tonight, leaving the crowd mesmerised and possibility suffering heart palpitations from the trio’s intense off-beats.