Damn Arms, The Dirty Secrets, RATS @ Amplifier Bar, Perth (22/11/2007)

On arrival to Amplifier it was evident that the night’s proceedings were going to take a while to warm up. This was in no way due to the weather but instead to the fact that there were more photographers than audience members at the start of the first set, from new band RATS. Comprising of an all-star lineup of members of other Perth bands and a DJ for a frontman (who would have thought it?), the five-piece was very much an unknown when they got on stage.

With a minimal amount of fuss DJ Petrosex introduced themselves: “Hi we’re RATS and you’re beautiful” (bless) and away they went into their Valentinos meets the Futureheads brand of electro chop-rock. With Brendan Jay from The Wednesday Society on guitar, the shifting time changes and abnormal structures of some of their tracks is no surprise. About halfway during the set backup arrives in the form of some crazy dancers that perhaps were acquaintances of bassist Tim Somerville. These boys certainly knew how to boogie in some sort of strange seizure-on-legs way and lifted the mood immediately and it will be interesting to see if they make it to the Aussie version of So You Think You Can Dance. Closing it out with a little horn outburst from Jay that was a definite positive addition to the set, as RATS still possess that raw sound that I’m sure will be refined to make them an act to keep an eye on.

It must have been quite an adjustment for The Dirty Secrets who just two weeks ago were opening for one of the biggest rock acts on the planet in front of 10,000 fans at Supreme Court Gardens. Despite having the biggest set of their lives cut short due to an over-lively front row who just wanted to tear off frontman Jarrah McLeary ’s skintight Levis, the boys are going from strength to strength and emerging as one of Perth’s brightest talents. Speaking of tight Levis, it seemed as though the Dirty Secrets may be having some sort of skinny jeans competition with each member seeking to out do the others with the tightness of their denims and in FasterLouder’s opinion McLeary won the competition – it was impossible to imagine how he got his on, other than being sewn on to his legs.

Playing to a crowd about one hundredth of the size, the boys still launched into their set like they were supporting Britain’s favourite space-rock cowboys and with their new album Hands and Bones due next year, they have no shortage of material to treat the crowd with. After the fuzzy rawness of RATS, The Dirty Secrets were quite the opposite with a crystal clear synth-pop sound. Running through tracks older tracks such as Overland Oversea from their My Heart is On Fire EP and newer ones from their debut album that had some very Killers-esque feelings to it, The Dirty Secrets will be staking their claim as one of Perth’s best bands when their LP drops in February. Finishing with radio favourites My Heart is On Fire and Five Feet of Snow and a balladish love song to close, headliners Damn Arms must have known they were going to have to rise to the occasion after such a sterling set from the local support.

The latest in the series of hyped up Australian electro pop/rock bands to emerge from the East coast, Damn Arms have just released their debut album to good reviews around the country and were headlining their own tour after supporting some big names over the past 12 months. With opening slots for Klaxons, Midnight Juggernauts and Cut Copy the boys from Melbourne have some big wraps and they certainly looked the part. Vocalist and keyboardist Yama Indra was probably inadvertently doing his best Graham Coxon-with-a-moustache impression and bassist Tim Sullivan looking like an extra from Lord of the Rings with his long hair and headband combo.

Launching into album standout The Boss with its siren like synths and bumping bassline the lads really did look a lot more settled with their album now on shelves and seemed more relaxed playing the more intimate surroundings of Amplifier rather than the regularly oversold Capitol. The band room had now considerably filled and the dancefloor was also starting to get moving with the crazy dancers from earlier in the night returning to add a party vibe to the set which was definitely a good thing. After playing a couple of older tracks (which can’t really be that old as they have only been a band for 22 months), they launched into more songs from their stellar debut including Thirty Six with its now popular Daft Punk vocoder and most recent single The Not So Progressive Punks.

Playing some more tracks from The Live Artex, Indra, Sullivan and guitarist Ian Jackson all had turns on vocal duties and Jackon with his purple electric guitar showed that he could do as good a job as either of the regular singers. Damn Arms do set themselves apart from the regular electro-rock pack with their raw vocals, choppy, sinister guitars and violent drumming, rather than the typical snare drum and hi-hat combo that is so poplar amongst the Modular crowd and it is evident in the violent, attention deficit dance moves embraced by the happy dancefloor punters. And seemingly to reward this adoration, bassist Sullivan gets off stage and down into the crowd, perhaps to torment the worried onlooking bouncer or just to have a ‘Damn’ good time. The boys finished the set after this and returned to the stage to talk to fans and have photos, always a nice touch for punters that clearly thought how nice it was to have the rock back in electro-rock.