Reviewed by: Jake Eckersley
The Hidden Treasures Winter Showcase is a series dedicated to educating our unrefined little ears on the musical greatness of Freo. This fine city is like an organic garden, but instead of growing the expensive, non-GMO and pesticide free vegetables its residents need to feed their egos, it cultivates incredible musicians, an arts culture that is both rich and diverse and maybe slightly too many “odour alternative” hippies.
By Irish folk jam, promoters literally meant an Irish folk jam. The national hotel’s upstairs lounge bar hosted a number of incredibly talented Folk musicians smashing out a ding-dang of a hoedown (“uh-uh this here’s a hootenanny!”).
The room felt super relaxed, the performers were just sat around a table, barely acknowledging the audience and just doing their folkin’ thang.
Just down the street Moog started the night off at the Buffalo Bar with their wah-drenched instrumental funk. There were a few obvious hiccups in their set and the bands writing needed just a tiny sprinkle of creativity dust but it was perfect to open this venue. Danceable, groovy, loose and jammy, the band’s sound pumping out of the door brought in a heavy flow of Thursday night movers and/or shakers.
Psychedelic pop 6-piece Dream Rimmy followed with a wonderfully swell set as usual. Easily the highlight of the evening the dudes played their tight, pulsating and grungey shoegaze set to a packed out room jiving to their tunes. Synth/keys player Vin Buchanan-Simpson gyrated awkwardly like he was completely at one with his synth and I had fears that the tiny, crammed stage wouldn’t be able to contain the bands loose antics. The Buffalo’s little P.A. struggled to keep up with the volume that these guys were exerting so the vocals were a little incoherent but the excited audience really didn’t seem to mind.
Custom Royal closed the night at The Buffalo Club with some of the tightest highway blues/roadhouse rock I’ve ever seen. This band’s execution was absolutely flawless and their brand of punchy, incredibly well written and rehearsed rock and roll was totally well suited to a bar with Buffalo horns dominating the background of the stage. The venue had a real weird vibe; the lights were still on, on average the crowd was way older than you would normally see these bands play to and it felt like a lot of the patrons had stumbled across the show whilst already out and about. Some ball-squeezingly perfect high notes from vocalist/guitarist Mitch titillated their ears as the band, who were so chuffed to be playing, tore through a set riddled with killer riffs and classic rock sensibilities.
There were a heap of other acts on throughout the night; Country/folk songstress Helen Townsend had the upstairs room at The National Hotel swooning over her delightful tunes as well as her band’s big harmonies and groovy double bass lines. PS art space saw an array of live hip-hop acts that I seemed to just keep missing but the venue itself is worth going for. The beautiful old warehouse with its multitude of supporting pillars, exposed brick walls and plain, wide-open space was such a beautiful setting, something I’m really looking forward to seeing more music in. The Navy Club saw many patrons flock to it to close the evening with tunes courtesy of Nick Townsend and Squeezebox Wal playing some Australiana themed acoustic rock to a sea (get it, Navy Club) of intoxicated baby boomers reservedly dancing near their chairs in the nautical memorabilia clad venue.
Look, I like the idea behind this little mini festival, I just feel like it was a little too diverse to be rolled up into a single aurally consumable package. It was very evident that the groups floating between venues were poking their head in, momentarily taking in their surroundings and then scurrying back to their original bar of choice. With just a little bit more thought into the acts they booked or even a shuffle of who was playing on what night of the series, it could have been far more effective in gaining punters who came to town especially for the event. Promoters tried too hard to please a wide and unrefined demographic and although the bands were all pretty impressive as stand alone acts, the result was a slightly underwhelming venue-hopping event.