Someone from Sydney recently asked me what the underground music scene was like in Perth, and after thinking about it for a bit, I had to answer that its either non-existent, or all underground depending on where you’re standing.
True, there are cliques but in the main, everyone playing gigs in Perth is willing to play with anyone and jump in on something different just for the sake of it.
There is something else stirring in Perth at the moment. Something that seems to have grown out of the psychedelic revival of the last few years. There are an increasing number of bands collaborating into jam bands to perform unrehearsed spontaneous sets where anyone is free to jump in. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Many Guises of Rod Stewart, Pond, Brown and Carbuncle are just a few, although their members are fluid and interchangeable, they have had the effect of opening up the scene to all comers and reducing the importance of – “the industry’ in the same way the internet has diminished record companies. That such a thing has happened in Perth is not at all surprising, considering the tyranny of distance that necessitates a DIY attitude towards most aspects of progress.
An exhibition begins next week that interrogates the Perth artistic landscape from the perspective of the industry boom and Perth’s never ending sea of cranes; boom. is a collaborative artistic work that may go some way towards explaining this musical direction.
boom. is a multi-platformed project encompassing music, photography, video, fashion, writing and architecture that grew out of the responses of 20 local artists to – “post-boom’ WA and the intense focus on industry which leaves little support for an arts community.
With apartments sprouting all over the inner-city, and new residents complaining about noise, live venues have been forced to close down. One would expect that with less performance space, the number of successful and talented bands would dwindle. However, Andy Britton from experimental psychedelic noise band Cease says that he hasn’t seen such a vibrant and community-oriented music/ art community since the early 90s.
Far from lamenting the lack of space for art and music in WA, boom. is a celebration of the places it has flourished and a nod to the artists who have found a way to do what they love, and encourage and inspire others to do the same.
Reacting to the closure of venues, and a little bit from their sense of mischief, Cease took a portable generator for their amps and set up in some unlikely places to perform -for as long as they could get away with it. These places included the top of the scoreboard at Perry Lakes Stadium in front of the Perth Entertainment Centre and at the DNA tower in King’s Park.
Project organiser Steph Kretowicz said this was the highlight; “a whole bunch of bands and friends of bands showed up spontaneously to help out with the percussion element of it. It turned into a huge jam session of about thirty people with the odd group of kids joining in, which really embodies what boom. and the community is all about.” She said that events like that are where the heart and soul of good, genuine music in Perth can be found.
boom. launches at Spectrum Project Space 221 Beaufort St at 6pm Saturday 27th June for those in Perth, but the publication will be available from boom. for those who can’t make it . Check out the gig guide for more info.