The Silents @Railway Hotel Fremantle 07/06/08

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There were high hopes for the sx-headed lineup at the Railway Hotel on Saturday, headlined by The Silents, a band everyone has seen live by now, and who have a reputation for encouraging a shout-along among fans. Uncharacteristically though, they ended up –  “rockin’ the Railway’ to sleep and living up to their name for a change.

Third on the bill, Mile End sounded awesome -from halfway down the street. Wailing vocals and plaintive guitar riffs, underscored by a relentless, searching rhythm that matched the longer-than-anticipated trek from the train station to the Railway Hotel. It also had the effect of spurring the walkers to pick up the pace so as not to miss any more of the gig. Unfortunately, however, once inside, all the beautiful and skilfully sculpted elements of Mile End’s music became little more than a muddy wall of sound, which is impressive as far as it goes, but this band has skills that surpass a simple wall of sound, and regrettably, for them on Saturday, the mixing desk was unattended.

Kill Teen Angst played their usual strong set, although they seemed surlier, if that’s possible, and maybe it was just loud in the venue, but it sounded like they called one song Shithead and one Poof. It was difficult to tell however, because the singer insisted on singing and speaking into his hat. He has an awesome voice full of power and tragedy, and nowhere was this fact demonstrated more clearly than in their outstanding performance of Death to Rio, which seems to get more intense every time they play it live.

Musicians will often tell you that the lyrics aren’t the most important thing in a song, however if they are a part of the song, they are important, otherwise, don’t have them at all. Perhaps they don’t want their audience to understand what words they are singing, but they should, because the few lyrics that can be distinguished are like gold. That said, it is entirely possible that some of the lyrics being lauded as gold are actually misheard... “Sweetness, fortune, things we never had. Fuck off, really, thanks for everything.” Well, if they aren’t the real lyrics, they could be.

Fronting the Embers, is Will Stoker, another dedicated front-man not hiding behind an instrument. With his Jim Morrison-esque wriggling and writhing against the mic stand, his Nick Cave hairdo and tight, mustard, wing-collared shirt with wooden beads, anyone would expect him to be one of those wanker types, and yet, despite all of his homagic affectations, something rang true about it. Stoker jumped off stage and ran down to dance with a man in the crowd, whose dancing style would have a chiropractor rubbing his hands together in glee. Will Stoker and the Embers got the biggest response from the audience that night, at least two people ran outside to tell their smoking friends that they neeeeed to come inside and watch this band. Whilst all members are accomplished musicians with a very definite musical style, it is not a new style, and nothing they did was particularly inspiring. A pleasure to watch, with lots of interaction with the audience, or at least, attempted interaction, (The audience was in its comfy winter couches again, so not very animated) but nothing they did stoked the musical fire, rather banked it, perhaps in an effort to slow the cooling of the embers.

Psychedelic garage they once were, but perhaps they were tired or disappointed by the smallness of their audience, but The Silents just didn’t seem to be feeling it on Saturday night. Either that or they have taken their music in a new suburban carport direction of late. They did manage to get one or two people almost dancing, but mainly the audience was just having shouted conversations with each other during the set.

One lacklustre gig should not write this band off, since in the past they have delivered truly inspired performances and are about to unleash themselves on the UK. The last show in Perth before they leave will be at Metros Fremantle; a venue that is perhaps better able to hold their sound, and equipped with lighting and smoke machines to feed the psychedelic ambience. If you missed the Railway gig, it is probably all for the best, but if you want to see them before they really hit the big time, and it is certain that they will, England will love them, you should grab a ticket to the Metropolis on 22nd June.

Check out Stuo’s Gallery HERE