Thursday night RockDocs 12/02/09
Slated as the Faster Louder WA – “Gig of the Week’, the open-air screening of Ondi Timoner’s acclaimed rock-doc DIG! looked set to become a popular locus of convergence for rock-loving souls. Instead, the Fremantle Outdoor Film Festival’s cinematic headline act, preceded by a duo of up-and-coming local acts, French Rockets and Kill Teen Angst, eventuated as little more than a blip on the auditory radar. The rudimentary confluence of rock disciples rendered the event simply an underwhelming session at an outdoor cinema, demoting its potential to emerge as a cranking local music experience.
Electronica aficionados French Rockets inaugurated the evening 20 minutes late before a sparse assembly barely qualifying as a crowd, suggesting a purposeful biding of time in the hope of further arrivals. The trio appeared somewhat uncomfortable on the makeshift stage, engaging in minimal audience interaction and simply getting on with broadcasting their gift of compelling, if familiar, musical knitwork. Lengthy instrumental scripts of hallmark guitars and synthesised intonations seemed to transcend band members into a glazed stupor, perhaps additionally spurred by a desire to dissociate themselves from their situation.
As the airborne smell of barbequed sausages percolated with the sporadic waft of lanolin from the adjacent Woolstores, French Rockets skillfully executed such songs as 1 X 1 and Be on top. At times, bemused passers-by seemed to have more interest in the set than the aloof intended audience, and the general consensus lent credence to the idea that French Rockets would have flourished at a livelier venue. The heavily synthed sound, at times featuring live reverberations layered over prerecorded drumbeats and guitar twitters, was highly reflective of the band’s vast catalogue of cited influences and carried them through to an abrupt conclusion.
Billing themselves the “preview” to the feature presentation, Kill Teen Angst followed a chainsmoke-freckled set-up with a decidedly friskier set than that which preceded them. Despite a moniker kindling images of an adolescent emo fracas, the Perth fourpiece engaged the still scanty gathering with their strong melodies and kinetically brawny pigments of guitar. Opening track Ode to Drew elicited some emphatic cries of – “yeah!’ from a now-forthcoming audience, with lead singer Scott Tomlinson belting out a phonetic tenor not unlike that of Faker’s Nathan Hudson. The indie outfit illustrated a new intensity fostered since their days of being known as Ten Speed Racer, although still brandishing a recognisable melodic foundation for their songs.
As dusk turned to night, Kill Teen Angst’s impressive logarithm of sound reached their audience through catchy tunes like Reasons, Just a Cavalier and new release Small Town, Small Children. The confronting musical nuances, coupled with the confident banter espoused by the band, absorbed the stark deficiency of spectatory hullaballoo into a vortex of rumbling cadence. Amongst the final exhibition of iconoclastic jewels in the Angst crown was The World or Nothing, a stellar ditty worthy of WAMI’s 2007 – “Rock Song of the Year’ honour. Although a satisfying set, the arena of Fremantle’s outdoor cinema failed to do justice to the Kill Teen Angst experience, conceivably shedding light on why the band is so underrated and underappreciated.
With the main event closely encroaching on the modest audience, bums settled into seats and the big screen awoke from its hushed lull. The once-apathetic audience seemed to hearten at the prospect of DIG!, a rollicking saga described by Rolling Stone magazine as truly transcendent of the rock-doc genre. On the trail a couple of avant-garde bands for seven years, DIG! depicts the rise and fall of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the rise and rise of The Dandy Warhols, and all the hilarious, unstable and sardonic exploits played out throughout their romanticised friendship and burgeoning bitter rivalry. This thoroughly entertaining rock chronicle is a must for music habituÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©s who can hit up Google for a full synopsis. As for the Fremantle Outdoor Film Festival’s Thursday night RockDocs series: prepare for a quietly engaging night.