Words By: Laurent Shervington
First of all congratulations on an excellent line-up, how did you manage to pull names like Tim Rogers and David Craft on the bill?
Thanks for the thanks! I think what attracts acts of all statures to Hidden Treasures is the unusual concept – using these incredible ‘hidden’ character-filled worker’s clubs in Freo’s West End for live music. When you walk into the Buffalo or Navy Club you can certainly imagine some of the characters there inhabiting Tim Rogers’ songs so perhaps that’s one of the reasons he was keen to play – the unpretentiousness. With local acts, this concert series has developed a bit of a reputation for showcasing and identifying bands just as they’re on the cusp of breaking to a much larger audience. Koi Child and Methyl Ethel are all acts that played Hidden Treasures just as they were at that sweet spot of forging big careers.
It’s awesome you’ve been able to combine some new and old acts into the overall lineup, was this something you intended to do?
The festival has developed a great tradition of deliberately programming new, buzzy bands right up against classic, established acts or reformations. It means that the audiences can’t help but cross-pollinate and be exposed to stuff they’ll dig. To give you an example, this year we’ve got one 0ff reformations by The Flairz, The Honeyriders and a very theatrical and fun ‘90s funk / prog / rock band called Squidfinger. The Kill Devil Hills are also performing Heathen Songs in full. The timetable has been set up so that while you’re waiting for these acts to come on you’re going to be exposed to a killer new band who may only have played 15 gigs in their existence. All of the choices are purely musical – Peter Bibby is an established act now but I’m sure people who are waiting to see the Kill Devil Hills (who may not have seen Peter) will absolutely adore his set as he’s continuing that gloriously gnarled, gritty, wonky, drunken vibe of Heathen Songs.
Hidden Treasures has created a very unique type of vibe in the six years it’s been running, what do you think sets it apart from other local festivals like it?
The key to the event is really the Fremantle community who have really got behind it – the crowds there are super passionate about music and come out despite it being sometimes being cold or wet. Aside from that, the venues are so full of character and it feels like a treat to be let inside some of them each year. The programming is very consistent as well and the audience know that they’re going to discover some great new acts.
Each of the five venues definitely has its own kind of distinct atmosphere, how would you describe each of them in a few words?
The Buffalo Club – a charming throwback to simpler times. Cheap drinks, amazing characters at the bar and frills-free décor.
The Navy Club – The best view from a bar in WA. You feel like you’re in a damn lighthouse in that top floor bar. Downstairs there’s a huge dancefloor and it’s very much where the party happens.
PSAS – a former carpark and now contemporary art space that is the perfect spot to discover the more experimental, ambient or unusual acts on the bill. Each act plays alongside especially commissioned projections from WA artists.
The Orient – I think this new addition will be the ‘hidden treasure’ of the festival. We’re creating a special ‘bar within a bar’ in an unused room at the venue and will be housing a Freo-focussed photography exhibition in the main bar.
The National Hotel – a historically significant and elegantly restored old dame where we host a lot of the folkier, singer-songwriter type acts. We’ve also got DJ sets here late each night by Freo personalities. The first surprise DJ set is quite the surprise.
How do you see the festival developing in future years?
Given that there’s so much quality live music in WA I think events like Hidden Treasures need differentiate themselves by actively curating and commissioning one-off shows or unique lineups. One gig I’m really excited about in this year’s Hidden Treasures is a survey of eight leading MCs in the WA hip hop scene curated by Mathas and Beni Bjah. I’m interested in doing a lot more of that kind of thing next year – one off shows that you wouldn’t necessarily see at a pub.