Friday 14th, August, Review by BEN AINSLIE
Bottom of the bill was local three piece HUNTING HUXLEY, an instrumental rock act. Opening is always a pretty rough shtick. You’re normally playing to a quarter-full venue, and most of it’s occupants haven’t heard of you or are there to see someone else. Hunting Huxley rose to the occasion, displaying an expansive knowledge of rock history. They wandered far and wide during their set, the only signpost being the Les Paul moan from the lead guitar. Hard driving riffs would saunter into almost surf rock melodic licks without the gaudy ‘look-how-diverse-we’re-being’ air that can sometimes come with that kind of sonic mash up. I only caught the second half of their set, having arrived late, and I can honestly say I regret not getting there earlier to catch it all. If you care for your instrumental rock I would keep an eye out for Huxley’s next gig.
Second spot was filled by THERAPIST. The four piece are a bit of a who’s who of young local talent. Frontman Justin Campbell hails from Tragic Delicate, and somehow managed to convince fellow TD bandmate Anthony Jackson to team up on this project (Jackson also plays in a little band called Birds of Tokyo… making Therapist his third outfit). Justin Story from Apollo National plays lead in Therapist and sitting behind the skins was one of Perth’s most talented young producers, Adam Round.
So it was with high expectations that I found a nice butt groove on a couch to see what Therapist had to offer. I have to say at first I was a little bit disappointed, it was a band of clearly very competent musicians playing together well, and not a whole lot more. They weren’t differentiating themselves from their peers to an appreciable degree.
Had it stopped there I would have called their music “listenable”, not really something you want as a band. However, around their fourth song, something magical happened. I don’t know if all of their drugs suddenly kicked in, or if it was merely the trotting out of the synth and Kaoss pad™; but things got whack… and daddy liked it.
Therapist inhabit a sound-space that could be compared to Muse. This is not an association I make lightly. They sounded like they should have been on an arena stage, with giant AV displays and pyrotechnics in the background. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in the potential of the kind of modulation that Therapist play around with, a folly that will condemn you to the annals of mediocre post-rock. It was clear that what digital wizardry that was employed was only brought into the live act when perfected. The tightness that struck me as bland at first now came together in a full realisation of what it had promised earlier. Therapist are another band to keep your eye on.
But the night, and the crowd, was there for one act; THE NOVOCAINES. After a startlingly short intermezzo the four piece launched fast and hard into their set. The Novocaines are a straight up and down rock band, a fact that–not unlike Wolfmother–has attracted both adulation and scorn. Many love them for their unapologetic adherence to the tried and true rock formula, while others deride them for their lack of innovative imput into the genre.
Personally I believe that every act should endeavour to create a communication with their audience, both live and on CD, and The Novocaines without question achieve this. Their first 5 tracks (the fourth being the single for which everyone had gathered) were all hard driving tunes, getting heads bopping up the back, and bodies jumping down the front. The band slowed it for a little while, dipping into some of their more melodic work as a kind of gig half-time. This allowed punters to catch their breath, before launching back into head banging and jumping–and yes–even some throwing of ‘the horns’.
There might be some legitimate criticisms that can be aimed at The Novocaines, but to be honest they have found a niche for themselves. They have a decent relationship with their fanbase, evidenced by the fact that they have stayed independent for four years, supporting themselves through the fans alone. It’s not music that’s about to change the world, but it is music you can rock out to–well and truly.