A change in circumstances for the promoters saw WA’s iconic Southbound festival go back to its grassroots this year. The original 2016 event, last January, was cancelled due to the devastating South West Bushfires and a severance of business relations with the Falls Festival saw the now independently-booked festival taking place in late-December.
This resulted in the opening of doors for a number of WA acts, many of whom were rounding of stellar years in the local scene, giving them a chance to ply their ways in front of thousands of festively-brightened festival-goers.
Much of Southbound’s younger demographic is a triple j-oriented audience that are possibly missing out on the nascent develop of Perth acts that community radio might bring them to a little earlier. This seemed especially so of POW! Negro, who opened the festival in about the same manner as if they were headlining it. This hip hop/jazz/metal/pop outfit took out WA’s premier band comp The Big Splash, in August, and have soldiered on since with a mix of in-your-face angst and delicious, delectable hip hop grooves. Frontman/MC, Nelson Mondlane, comes at the audience with both angst and open-embrace and it was a sight that enthralled, unnerved and enticed the uninitiated on hand as they witnessed possibly their new favourite band.
Listen: POW! Negro – Los Silos Sessions
Opening Wednesday morning’s breezy proceedings (meteorologically and musically) were The Money War. Recognisable to some as the new evolution of Rainy Day Women (popular on triple j unearthed a few years back). The Money War finds Dylan Olivierre and bassist/vocalist, Carmen Pepper – whose combined harmonies are a thing of beauty – in a new outfit inspired by a musical trip to the US in more recent times. New single, ‘Recall’, recalls (sorry) some of RDW’s acclaimed tunes, but there’s something a little sharper happening. The morning set seemed gentle but the breeze was misleading, there are potatoes under the sweets.
Verge Collection’s normcore reputation belies some pop-rock nous that could see them become quite the festival attraction. Hangovers were shook left, right and centre by their agreeable melodies, with Postcode’s slide guitar touches providing a lively, lovely country flavour within the suburbia of it all. The demeanour is confident, almost cocky, but not so that it’s not endearing. Brought the folks to the tent. An amped up ‘Class Of ’09’ seemed a statement of intent and followed by the adrenalin shot given to their most popular song, ‘Our Place’, it seems that Verge Collection have got plans to stay on the bigger, louder stages in 2017. A noisy run through Cosmic Psychos’ ‘Nice Day To Go To The Pub’ was the icing on the mull cake.
Winners of 2014’s Big Splash competition, Hideous Sun Demon proved as frenetic a presence as ever. Vocalist/guitarist, Vincent Buchanan, is all unfiltered energy and unbridled enthusiasm; a Peter Garrett with blonde hair and a sparkled guitar but one who is never likely to feel the constraints of parliament. It’s bratty rock that follows its own rules and disobeys them at will… with jazz limericks screamed by tortured souls having the time of their lives. Search out their set-closer, ‘Do You Like It Down There?’ for pudding proof.
Watch: Hideous Sun Demon – Do You Like It Down There?
One Thursday morning, the waft of a London Grammar-sounding tune in the distance was an enticing motivation to awake and arise from two days of revelry. It was indeed Lilt, throwing a momentary musical nod to London Grammar, but while such gestures may lead to subsequent comparisons, this Perth outfit continue to forge their own way. With three singles released in the last 12 months, mainstays Louise Penman and Brett Walsh are not afraid of space, nor spectacle. Epic flourishes are complimented by an ease with space within the songs, at all times brought to bear by vocalist Penman, who revelled on a larger stage and whose banter brought cheeky relief to the serious business often at hand. All the colours here, ready and waiting.
These bands joined the already well-known WA acts such as Tired Lion, Mathas, Koi Child and Drapht, and will hopefully continue that voyage into bigger national profiles in 2017. However it pans out, there’s a lot to look out for and enjoy.
Gallery: Southbound Festival 2016 – Day Two 28.12.16 / Photos: Stuart Millen