By Zack Yusof
Badlands Bar, July 22, 2017
The gig looked a promising one; Acid Rain, Saturday night at Badlands, 10 local bands with a psych vibe – including my favourite new local discoveries Dream Rimmy – all for the very reasonable pre-sale price of 15 bucks. The drinks were on the affordable side at Badlands, the clientele and staff cool and friendly, so why not, I thought to myself. It’d be a great way to seek out some cool local bands and make some new friends.
Arriving at the gig on the evening in question, I was immediately informed by an amiable lass working the door called Sally that Dreamy Rimmy had to pull out of the show at the eleventh hour. Something about a band member falling ill. Was that going to be a deal breaker, Sally wanted to know. Not a good start.
As it turned out, Dream Rimmy were going to replace by a band I’d never heard of called Mt. Mountain, who according to Sally were, “really, really good” and “definitely worth checking out”. The rest of the bill were as is.
Like Mick Jones from The Clash, I was all like, “should I stay or should I go” for a bit there but since I was already at Badlands with a ticket all sorted out, I opted for the former. Nothing much to lose, everything to gain, I figured.
As it turned out, I absolutely made the right choice because the evening turned out to excellent one full of great chats and excellent new musical discoveries. Other than the likes of Tame Impala, Pond and Koi Child, the Perth alternative scene was still largely an unknown entity to me, being new to the city and all, and I want to know what other musical treasures there were to be had in my new hometown.
When I arrive at Badlands, the show was already several beers and four bands deep. I had missed a fair bit but there still quite a lot still to come. Walking into the venue, a three-piece band called Coco Blu was up on the big main stage doing their thing, a kind of pop grunge, nu metal hybrid type of sound that was accessible and melodic, not unlike The Vines. They sang decent three-part harmonies and had their chops down.
As soon as Coco Blu hit their last note, another band situated at a small stage at the opposite end of the room from the main stage began to start up their first number immediately, a seductive low-key groove that built up in delicate but steady fashion. Now, this was very cool I thought. No messy change overs and no time wasting. So I sauntered over to the back to check out the vibe.
Working their cramped stage space allotment with expert efficiency, four somewhat introverted looking young men, who introduced themselves as an act called Ryan Beno, started weaving their magic spell on the crowd. Playing with subtlety and feeling, Ryan Beno traded in atmospheric instrumentals that bore traces of post rock, trip hop and a wee bit of jazz without ever sounding too much like any one thing. Which was cool.
It’s quite hard to define to define their music – their stuff reminded me of Chicago post- rockers Tortoise in places but not completely – but everything they did on the night, I found really interesting and very tasteful in sound and execution.
At the end of their set, I was entranced and completely won over despite never having heard of the band or any of their songs before. In just half an hour, Ryan Beno had blown me away good and proper and I made a promise to find out more about the band and check them out live again as soon as possible.
After Ryan Beno’s amazing set, another beer and a smoke was needed so I headed out side to the beer garden to get myself sorted. There was a healthy crowd in the garden and a nice vibe. The Perth music scene seemed to be a friendly lot and I enjoyed being there among them, chewing the fat about music.
Then it was back in the venue catch the tail end of Kitchen People’s set. I liked their version of psych rock ‘n’ roll, what I saw of it, and so did the crowd. They had a rowdy, garage Fat White Family vibe that had me regretting not coming in the room to check them out sooner. One for the next gig definitely.
Grievous Bodily Calm were up next on the tiny back stage and these were talented muso cats who really knew how to handle their instruments. Their set was comprised of impeccably rendered and inherently funky, psych jazz instrumentals. Turns out these guys had a mutual appreciation society going on with my favourite new band Ryan Beno and played together a lot. Now that’s a double bill I would definitely love to check out.
Mt. Mountain, why had I not heard of these guys before? These guys have been around for a while now, got a decent local following and have shared stages with the likes of Tortoise, Boris and King Gizzard and Lizard Wizard. Their droney psych rock was exactly my cup of tea and on the night, their pedigree shone through as the band took no prisoners operating in the dark as a tight, cohesive unit on the big stage, moody psych rock silhouettes illuminated only by the trippy, headfuck visuals showing behind them.
Thier music was an awesome mix of dense, post-rock atmospherics, moody, melodic psychedelia and monolithic riffing; a bit Spaceman 3, a bit Black Angels, a bit early Mogwai. Sally was spot on. They were, as she said, really, really good and I’m delighted that I managed to catch them doing their thing on stage.
After Mt. Mountain’s mind blowing set, I was cream-crackered and pretty much done for the evening and spent the rest of my time flitting in and out of the venue sporadically to check out the last two acts – The Weapon Is Sound, a kick ass space dub rock outfit and Hideous Sun Demon, a lo-fi, psych punk four-piece from Fremantle – before heading back home tired, happy and with ears buzzing from all the rock action.
This excellent show at Badlands showed me that Perth had a shit load of really good bands and I was definitely going to enjoy diving headlong into the scene to check them all out. Bring it on Perth, I’m ready for your awesome noise!