Astor Rocks, Perth with Meat Puppets, Brant Bjork, Hard-Ons and more. 02-06-2014.

Words Sophie Dunsford
Photos Kim Anderson – Shoot The Wicked Witch

Astor Rocks, 2014. Perth.The Astor Theatre is no stranger to live music and the forecast for the evening was cloudy with a chance of rock and roll hysteria. With bands on two stages, fans were sure to get a workout running up and down the stairs to catch their favourite local acts as well as interstate guests Hard-Ons and internationally acclaimed Meat Puppets.

On the main theatre stage, The Painkillers were entertaining a few eager punters who were ready for the long night ahead. Unfazed by the small numbers, the trio performed their songs with confidence and swagger.

Meanwhile upstairs Doctopus’s lo-fi sounds filled the tiny Astor Lounge. Bassist Stephen Bellair sang into the microphone with the energy and rawness of Animal from The Muppets. He announced that he’d been fishing and swapped squid cooking tips with the audience. The next song was about the ocean. Excellent segue! Midway through the set, a music-hungry mob burst through the swing-doors like cowboys storming into a saloon. They invaded the floor space and seemed stoked with what they had discovered: Doctopus jamming like a pack of crazed wolves from the deep south of America. Back downstairs punters stood in awe as Heard of Cows, fronted by Daniel Sanders (Gyroscope), sent vibrations through the theatre floor.

The Shakeys enthralled the intimate lounge audience with their spunk, deep bass and fast-paced drumming. Vocalist Claire Hodgson sprayed beer on the floor intermittently. She stepped off the stage to work the room. The floor was wet. Would she slip? No! Her nimble-footedness ensured a safe journey back to the mic stand.

After a short break, Axe Girl rocked the room in the most beautiful way. Addison Axe is confident, charismatic and has perfected her natural awesomeness. Axe is backed up by a talented bassist and drummer; combined this band has plenty of rock-i-tude. Axe Girl’s catchy hooks had everyone singing along and grooving on the spot. May they continue to shine in the Perth music scene and beyond!

Those in the know pushed past the mingling bar crowd and ran back downstairs to the main theatre just in time to hear The Love Junkies in the middle of Heads Down. It was an explosive start, and things just got better from there. Guitarist Mitch McDonald and bassist Robbie Rumble have a way of rocking out to their own music, appearing to get dizzy and trip over the sound waves they create. The set included Chemical Motivation from their new Flight Test EP, showing off their diversity in singing styles ranging from slow and sweet melodies to rapid heavy screeching. As usual, McDonald’s antics became wilder and wilder, completely taken over by the music; he still somehow managed to maintain enough control to play without missing a chord or word. The Love Junkies are always pure joy to watch and crowds soak up their thunderous energy like rabid sponges.

The theatre was certainly the right setting for dramatic punk band FAIM, who returned from a national tour the previous day. Somehow, front man Noah Skape found the energy to hold the audience in a spellbound trance as he and the band ripped through a lively set. Skape, who spent most of the time amongst the crowd, worked himself into such a frenzy during Bowerbird that he finished the song tangled in the microphone cord. Photographers frantically chased him around the room trying to capture the perfect shot. FAIM are launching their new single next Friday, 13th July.

After a run of high quality local music, it was time for the revered Hard-Ons to take to the stage. The room was packed! People could barely squeeze through the door to catch a glimpse of the Australian punk icons. Photographers fought the mosh and tiptoed around puddles of spilled beer. Keish de Silva stood proud with his sideburns and swagger, like a punk rock Elvis Presley. De Silva queried the crowd “How’s everybody? Y’all right?” I’m sure he could tell by the way they were dancing that they were more than all right. Three decades of hits provided plenty of material for Hard-Ons to work with, and band members shared stage banter about how old they were getting. By now, energy in the audience had hit a peak and a couple off to the side was attempting some sort of crazed punked-up swing dance. Wow! This packed little party was raging!

While the euphoria continued upstairs, an exhausted few waited in the main theatre for the legendary Meat Puppets to arrive on stage. All was quiet. A steady stream of people started to enter. Anticipation! Finally, Meat Puppets arrived on stage. The wait was over – excited fans raced to the stage and it was on! The classic rock sounds of Meat Puppets resonated through the air. It was quite a calm affair compared to the previous bands. The country vibe in Coming Down really got the crowd going with swaying, bopping and even some mild jigging. As they worked through their three-decade repertoire and held a captive audience, Meat Puppets proved that they have become older but haven’t aged.

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