Words and photos Dave Mullins.
Friday night was a cause for celebration. It was to be the first show at the brand new venue ‘Jimmy’s Den’ which being right in the heart of Northbridge is a godsend for Perth music fans. Not only this, but Scalphunter were launching their double A-Side single and filming their entire set. This kind of excitement in the air sets the scene for a huge night, and I was not disappointed.
First band to take the stage, and contenders for best band name ever, was Ray Finkle. A sort of throwback to the fast paced stadium rock of the ’80s and ’90s. Their set was wild and full of spectacle, accented by some of the punchiest bass fills I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. But they were not without their own special flavour, a cover of the Doors ‘L.A. Woman’ showed that they could take their music away from classic rock, and into something a little darker.
When Shit Narnia took to the stage and bust into their first song, my first thought was that they were the most Australian thing I’d seen since I saw a VL dragging a Datsun. Stubbies, work boots and mullets with a sound that I could only describe as beatdown-garage-core, and I certainly don’t mean that as an insult. One of the most striking things about the band is vocalist Hugh Manning’s delivery. Delving into spoken word and off-beat phrasing he masterfully crafted an atmosphere that made it impossible to look away. Truly one of the best moments of the night came when Manning, between songs, mentioned that music is all-inclusive. A nod towards acceptance and friendship that I feel encapsulates the heart and soul of the alternative music. They proceeded to jump into a great track, (possibly entitled “This is how they kill us”) Hugh screamed out the lyric: “I am proud of who I am” and it hit right to the heart. It was an astoundingly profound moment. What had started as deranged punk rock had changed into something deeper, shattering my perceptions of what these guys were all about. But there was plenty of fun to be had, after an anecdote about a guy glassing himself at Claremont Hotel the gang played, the instant classic ‘Claremont Boys’. An unapologetically humorous, dig at pretension and pseudo-masculinity. These guys were a treat and I highly recommend checking them out.
Rag n’ Bone are quickly becoming superstars of the Perth music scene. They have amassed a huge following since their inception in 2012 and once you seem them play, the reasoning is self-evident. They were able to instantaneously draw the crowd to the front of the stage. The pounding drums and the intense, soaring vocals of Kiera Owen cut through to ever corner of the room. Rag n’ Bone are a hard band to put your finger on. They hit elements of grunge and pop, but flirt with the, arguably progressive song writing invoked by bands such as Radiohead and Muse. There is a fusion within the band that gives their music a wonderfully dynamic sound, bass chord progressions and off-beat rhythms – everyone in the band knows their parts and executes them with perfection. It was fair to say that everyone in the audience enjoyed their set, it pulled them from their seats and readied them for the insanity that was soon to follow.
Puck are one of the heaviest bands I’ve seen, and I don’t say that lightly. For a band that is, for the most part a grunge act they were able to produce a huge sound. Their music is just perfect to bang your head to, and that’s exactly what it did for the crowd. There was a huge presence at the front of the stage with people moshing and banging along to their music. As with every gig there was that one guy who was just that little bit too wasted, and his enthusiastic dancing was a danger to himself and anyone within a few feet, but we’ll get back to him later. Puck’s vocalist and drummer Liam Young finds a unique voice amongst the chaos, and the harmonies provided by the band create a tremendous atmosphere.
The ominous sound of thunder announced the presence of Scalphunter taking the stage. Bursting into their brand new single ‘Bleeding Out’ the crowd was catapulted into chaos. They played a couple of classics then leapt into another new tune ‘Keepers Of The Night’ or as vocalist Steve Knoth put it “A new song for a new venue”. No drink was safe, the stage itself was shaking causing drinks to literally fly across the room; much to the dismay of bass player Matty Van Leeuwen. Between the songs vocalist Knoth and guitarist Alex Cotton were gracious in their lauding of all the bands that played, “a night to bring people together”, it was a wonderful sentiment and totally on point.
Alright, back to the token drunk. By the time Scalphunter were halfway through their set the poor guy was pretty much passed out in a booth. And I’ll mention that the security should be applauded for trying to take care of him at that point, encouraging him to drink water, letting him gather his wits. But like all things, they must end and as they went to eject him from the venue he managed to get lost in the mosh pit and wound up terrorising the stage. As a bouncer tried to wrestle him back into control he was stopped by the band. They de-escalated the situation, pointing out the drunken fan wasn’t doing any real harm, and making sure that the poor guy wasn’t hurt by an, understandably, stressed security guard. The show was briefly stopped to allow things to settle down, and the Scalphunter boys thanked the staff and venue for being great, but also convinced them to let the drunken punter be; which they did. This was just a great moment. Showing compassion for their fans, bringing a sense of safety and community to the chaos of punk rock. I cannot commend the boys enough for this. This is what makes Scalphunter such a great band; they aren’t just musicians – they are genuinely lovely people.
But the show went on, and the audience doubled down on the insanity. Stage dives, crowd surfing guitarists and Knoth getting amongst the crowd, letting them scream along with him; it’s pure and unadulterated psychosis. They finished off the night, with the crowd favourites ‘Desensitised’ and ‘Castrate.Murder.Revise’. The boys didn’t just launch their new singles, they launched an entire venue in the greatest way possible. This was a hugely memorable night, and one that will set the stage for years to come.
Scalphunter are touring in support of their new singles, catch them at these shows:
Friday March 20 at Barbushka – Leederville.
w/ Against, Chainsaw Hookers, Blindspot & Dead Set Dead.
Sunday March 22 – Railway Hotel, North Freo.
w/ Red Engine Caves, King Cactus.
Friday 27 March – Brunswick Hotel – VIC.
w/ Ganbaru, Coffin Wolf & Cosmic Kahuna.
Saturday 28 March – Dead Memory Fest, Reverence Hotel, Footscray – VIC.
w/ Wolfpack, Postscript, Dead Joe, Torches, Laser Brains & more.
Sunday 29 March – Cherry Bar, Melbourne – VIC.
w/ Drifter & Muscle Car.