WA Made!!! feat. Birds Of Tokyo & more @ The Railway Hotel, Perth (22/3/08)

Zhenya Records presented WA Made!!! (yes, three exclamation marks) at the Railway Hotel Saturday night and an excellent time was had by all. Zhenya Records, although no internet information is available to verify the story, is apparently the result of someone with extra cash being inspired to support local music financially. Hats off to his choice of bands, and hats off to the Railway Hotel for turning itself into a venue perfect for live music on multiple stages.

The recently refurbished beer garden at the Railway Hotel is now an ideal setting the see live music. The stage is against a high white wall, providing excellent acoustic effects; it is also perfect for a light show. There is an outdoor bar, grassed areas, a deck for dancing and space for tables and chairs, if that’s what the gig demands.

Saturday’s gig ran across two stages, and was timed so that one band’s set finished just as the next band’s sound-check was finishing, eliminating the waiting time between bands. Of course there were a couple of hiccups, with some sets finishing earlier than others, however, with practice, they will get the timing perfect. This allowed more bands to play on the same night, with no annoying sound bleed, timetable clashes or waiting between sets.

Aside from the Birds Of Tokyo, who have already tasted phenomenal success over the last year, three other local acts deserve a mention in this review. The first is Voyager, who played early on but still had a sizable and responsive crowd to work with. They might look like your typical prog-metal band, but if you were looking for generic, you’d have been disappointed.

As well as being accomplished musicians, they know how to entertain an audience. The highlight of their set was a medley of metal classics, which they encouraged audience members to identify before they warped into the next one. Highly engaging, the band members never took themselves too seriously, and were happy to interact and have fun with the crowd as they ripped through their set. Voyager is definitely worth a look.

Red Echo is many flavours of –  “80s warped into something new. WA Made!!! was their first gig, and for a band who claimed to have had only had three rehearsals, they were musically very tight. The singer, who remains nameless owing to the complete lack of internet presence, looked nervous for first few songs, then relaxed a bit and started talking and interacting more and having a good time. A promising start for this band, we can expect to see a lot more of them around the Perth music scene in the following months. Provided, of course, they get themselves a website, and add some music and bio, as well as a gig guide, so that people know where to see them play.

The Order of the Black Werewolf were supremely entertaining, despite playing a genre of music very different from some of the other haircut-bogan-rock styles on offer. Surf-punk or punk-western, the band’s sound is a melding of your childhood, Tarantino films, spaghetti westerns and B-grade horrors.

Without doubt, the highlight of the set was a breath-taking cover of Ron Grainer’s Dr Who theme. It is clearly an entertaining song to play, full of chunky basslines that let a bassist show off the fact that he can actually play, not just keep a beat with two fingers. It also lets an electric guitarist do that thing they love to do – with their fingers sliding up and down the neck as they play. Recognition dawned on the crowd, who, watching how much the boys were enjoying themselves, were prepared to admit loving it as well.

Once they had the undivided attention of the room, The Order of the Black Werewolf presented their own stuff. The crowd loved it, but no one really knew how to dance to it. They just tapped and nodded as close to the dancefloor as they could, leaving an unbroken square into which the ubiquitous rabid-fan (yes, they had one too) jumped, filling the space and showing off the dance moves necessary for this kind of music.

Before long there were a legion of dancers (okay, seventeen) doing what can only be described as a zombie shamble, making For You the perfect soundtrack to a Zombie-western. Time for one final fun cover, the cheesy Sweat (A-La-La-La-La-Long) which encouraged some of your less zombie dance styles to hit the floor. Then, because the Birds of Tokyo were still setting up, they played another two original tracks, creating a nearly seamless crossover between bands. They don’t have an album out yet, but they hope to begin working on one soon. Until then, catch them when they play at the Hydey next month.

As always, the Birds of Tokyo were outstanding. They presented a more varied set than usual, with material spanning their career. Their reluctance to stick to tracks from Day One was an unmistakable nod to fans who have been with them from the start. The band has been recording for the last month, and took the opportunity to showcase a couple of songs from their forthcoming and eagerly awaited album. These numbers were well received by the crowd, though it was an all-singing, all-dancing crowd that responded most enthusiastically to the more well-known tracks.

As the two Adams and Anthonny energetically jumped and danced their way through the tracks, not-in-the-band-guy-that-is-always-on-keys Glenn seemed ever more at home, particularly when the audience gave it up for his exuberant keyboard solo.

Frontman Ian Kenny, grinning infectiously, invited audience participation in his humble and gracious way. This performance cemented the Birds more firmly in the hearts of existing fans, and left a little bird-shaped imprint on those who had never before seen them live.