Reviewed by: Laurent Shervington
Formed in 1995, the Perth band Turnstyle helped to pioneer a brand of fuzzy power pop made popular by bands like Weezer, Cake, and The Rentals – but did so in a way that was uniquely their own.
Turnstyle is currently made up of the “Turnstyle Country” era lineup (or the “Turnstyle Classic” lineup) which consists of Adem K (aka ademk47 aka Adem Kerimofski – Live: guitar, vocals), PJ Fanning (aka Paul Fanning Live: Bass, vocals), Dean Davies (drums) and GMC (aka DJ Grandmaster Casio aka Todd Griffiths – keyboards, guitar, vocals) and made Casio keyboards a household name in Perth with singles such as “Spray Water on the Stereo” and “I’m a Bus“, which received solid airplay on triple J in the 90s. The band has previously supported indie rock royalty such as Guided by Voices, Stereolab and Yo La Tengo, while remaining heroes in their own right.
Fast forward 20 years and the band was back at Mojos in Fremantle to show off some of the new material they’ve been culminating over the past year and to play some of the classic indie rock hits that fans have loved for years.
First supporting band of the night was Treestump Almighty, a band that was backed by some solid drumming and basslines and that maintained a great deal of chemistry and energy throughout their set. You can tell that these guys draw heavily from the Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Doors fare – but they show enough enthusiasm to prevent them from appearing too derivative. Highlight from these guys was “Great White Telephone“, which matched the catchier parts of their sound with the band’s clear intention to rock as hard as possible.
Up next was Ursula, a band that is made up of members from numerous local Perth bands who culminate to form something pretty unique. The band, led by Guitarist/Vocalist Robbie Rumble, gave the audience some early Heatmiser/Elliott Smith vibes with some very well written and performed songs. From what I’ve read these guys have only played a handful of gigs, so here’s hoping Ursula continue to gain traction in the future.
Power trio The Long Lost Brothers were the last of the supporting acts for the night, bringing some post-punk and garage-rock tinged tunes that touched on themes such as Perth traffic and Tequila. Their actual song “Tequila” was fantastic, with its ringing arpeggios and wistful vocals – the LLBs need to get recording a studio version of this as soon as possible. Another highlight was the song “Snakes and Ladders“, a slow building and mesmerising track that transitioned to a faster pace before fading to close.
Hometown heroes Turnstyle finally hit the stage around ten to eleven to the applause of the crowd that had now assembled in front of the stage. This show featured the original line-up of the band for the first time in a few years, so the banter on and off the stage was definitely at an all time high. Opening with “Kampakar” and “I’m a Bus” the band looked incredibly focused and still sounded as catchy as ever. Two songs later the four piece got straight into an excellent version of “Novak’s Plan”, a song from their fantastic 1997 debut EP “Seasides“, which was a highlight even all these years later.
The band played a handful of new tracks throughout the set including “Where to Begin”, “Time is Function”, “Throwing Axe”, “Masqueraders” and “Parkerville”. At one point Adem admitted “these new songs, they’re like the old ones really, but y’know…updated”. However, this modesty must have subsided with the huge crowd response that songs such as “Throwing Axe” and “Parkerville” received. Personally, the release of a new Turnstyle album had me at a reasonable level of excitement before the show, but now after hearing the songs live I really can’t wait to hear the whole thing.
Towards the last third of the set came the fan favourites “Spray Water on the Stereo” and “Cologne”. These songs had a majority of the audience singing along and grooving to the strong melodic synthesizers and Big Muff powered fuzz wielded at the hands and feet of this great band.
While Turnstyle and geek-rock may not really be household names anymore, the sense of humility and good vibes were still as strong as ever. Here’s to hoping that Turnstyle stick around and that we get to hear their new album very soon.