Tuesday 19th February, Chevron Festival Gardens, Perth Festival. Review by Christine Savage
First and foremost appeared local Perth band FOAM who had the honour of opening for Sleepy Sun, and played with a finesse deserving of such a prestigious slot. Their decidedly garage grunge sound has evolved over the years to a point of maturity as musicians, showing that their music can hold its own in a concert setting rather than just being reserved for a dingy pub stage. The trio played effortlessly, with tight arrangements and a confident stage presence. Guitartist and vocalist, Joel Martin, lead the three-piece band with his grungy vocals and penetrating riffs, performing with unmatched rigour and looking ever the part of frontman. Jackson Hawdon’s uncluttered but bold drumming held the band together, both following and driving Martin and bassist Harley Barnaby. With natural talent and a knack for tight arrangements, FOAM are certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Sleepy Sun brought the crowd forward from the Chevron Gardens into the main stage area with a hypnotising drone-like call, enthralling an eager crowd from the onset of their show. Heralding from San Francisco, their first appearance in Perth was met with delight from the unjustly small crowd that came to hear their psychedelic sounds. Throughout the set they unleashed a wash of mesmerising sound, transfixing listeners and creating a dazed-like effect through heavily distorted guitars and vocals.
Bret Constantino was subtle in his role as lead vocalist, subversively intriguing the audience with his vocals, harmonica and effects board. Not one to demand all of the audience’s attention, he allowed the other members of the band to layer their sounds upon one another, creating a sense of equality between players, who are all as necessary as each other in creating the distinct but somewhat indefinable sound of Sleepy Sun’s set. Drummer Brian Tice gave a standout performance with his effortless rhythmic shifts creating a constant driving force that controlled the pace of the other instrumentalists, who all understood the purpose of the space between the notes and the idea of a band performing not just a group of individuals on the same stage but a cohesive unit. The crowd lacked enthusiasm for a band worthy of much more than the minimal applause they received, with an older business-like audience that thinned out early, leaving a disappointingly small number of diehards in the audience, who held out for their encore, which was well worth waiting for.
Sleepy Sun’s performance as a whole was understated and entrancing, as though they created an entire world of atmospheric haze for to lose yourself in. Mellow and melodic, full of depth and poignancy, the songs shifted seamlessly from one to another in a slow and subdued manner that captured the audience with a staggering, stylish ease. The unpretentious group could be seen socialising with their hardcore head-banging fans after the show, eschewing ostentatiousness of accomplished international acts. Hopefully next time there’ll be a more appreciative audience waiting for them.