BLOOD ROCK FEST. The Rosemount Hotel, Perth, WA. 08-11-2014.

Words Dave Mullins.
Photos Kim Anderson – Shoot The Wicked Witch.

Perth is an isolated city. Seriously, people say it all the time. The extended travel time is part of the reason festivals like Big Day Out and Soundwave are no longer coming here, and that sucks. But it doesn’t have to. Blood Rock is an annual heavy music festival showcasing some of the best music from a variety of local, interstate and international bands. Seriously who needs to pay $200 to watch Fred Durst forget that it isn’t 2001 anymore when you can pay $25 to watch over 20 bands tear up the stage at the Rosemount Hotel? No one, that’s who!

Local hardcore act Idle Eyes opened the day and with a decent turn out early on things quickly escalated into madness. One of the good things about Blood Rock is that great bands are on all day. At The Space Jam were no exception showing us that ska is well and truly alive in Perth. Their eclectic mix of upbeat ska and infectious bass lines got everyone in the mood for dancing. Keep an eye on these guys, they have great potential. Also their singer always seems to pop up out of nowhere, so you literally have to keep an eye on him or he’ll catch you napping.

One of the stand out acts was Emu Xperts. These guys are garage punk ‘n’ roll accented by beer and filth. They’re the Rolling Stones to Scalphunter’s Beatles. They’re the cask wine to Scalp’s fine Cognac. Whatever, you get my point, they’re awesome. They mix the brilliantly distasteful with the dirty and disorienting. Frontman Blake Hate owns the stage and demands your attention, blasting out songs like “You wouldn’t like me when I’m sober” and a twisted take on “Built for comfort”. The guitarists lay it down thick, skillfully playful but heavy enough to get everyone moshing.

One of the great things about the day was seeing how many people made the trip from all over the state. A huge representation from Bunbury and Margaret River shows that people are willing to travel for a great line up. But it wasn’t just the punters making the journey. Beerfridge are what would happen if Propagandhi and Good Riddance moved to the South West and bought boardshorts. These guys just plain fucking rock. Killer lead guitars and powerful vocals, it’s the evolution of melodic punk in its final form. These guys are behind an extreme sport festival – A Day In The Dust – which features Beerfridge and many more awesome bands on December 13 in Busselton. I highly recommend checking it out.

It’s also worth mentioning that unlike your average festival beer prices at Blood Rock are rock bottom. There’s pizza, steak, wedges and all manner of cocktails in giant jars at prices that are pretty damn acceptable. Perth can be pretty expensive but the Rosie is doing their best to keep things affordable, which I think is pretty commendable in this day and age.

International acts deserve all kinds of props for making the effort to play in Perth. Villes hail from Singapore and they are amazing. I don’t listen to a huge amount of post-hardcore music, but when it’s done right I can’t help but jump around like a mad man. Villes are doing it right; the perfect blend of technical guitar, screaming vocals with pitch perfect melodic choruses. Everyone in the band is performing, not just playing their instruments but engaging the crowd. Every breakdown is accompanied by a violent assault on their bodies, twirling and moshing to the beat, commanding the audience to join in. These guys were an absolute treat, and hopefully they’ll be back on our shores again soon.

With the huge roster of bands it’s often hard to take it all in. The sets tend to overlap a little, and while that’s probably unavoidable, rushing between stages can get tiring. That’s why it’s so impressive that bands and punters alike have such amazing energy during every set. This held particularly true for Blindspot, upon entering the room it was pure chaos, with everyone singing and dancing to their favourite tunes. These guys are just plain old fun. Plenty of pop-punk goodness with a little bit of ska. Blindspot touch on everything from Osama Bin Laden to Star Wars (and for the record Kirk is way cooler than Obi-Wan!) but throughout they maintain a sense of playfulness that makes it hard not to enjoy.

Things started getting rowdy with the beer-fuelled punk of the Bob Gordons. Fast, melodic punk with light humour, these dudes are a hell of a lot of fun. Unfortunately they announced they’re parting ways, so this would be their second last show ever! Their last show and incidentally their album launch is December 19th at The Causeway.

Probably the most outrageous act of the night was the ska-tastic antics of Them Sharks. These guys are a huge part of this latest wave of Perth ska and are one of the best acts you’ll see. From danceable reggae tunes to stage rush sing-a-longs these guys encapsulate what makes a great live band. They drew one of the biggest crowds of the day, and are right up there with the best bands in the country. They might also be your only chance to see a crowd surfing shark. So, get on that.

Chainsaw Hookers are a huge part of the music scene in Western Australia. It takes a lot of effort to be in a band, let alone foster such an amazing scene. When they hit the stage the whole crowd is engaged. Their shows are more than just performances; they are a rite of passage. These guys do it for the love, and boy do they do it well. Sporting one of the tightest line-ups imaginable and the screeching vocals of frontman Andrew Rowcroft, they just have it all. They transcend metal, punk and thrash labels with unadulterated energy.

Ben David is Blood Rock Alumni, it’s like he’s part of the tapestry. He’s well known for being the vocalist in Adelaide punk band The Hard Aches (and the crowned king of karaoke!) David’s songs are a heartfelt tribute to love and life in modern Australia; one of our strongest songwriters and a favourite of the Aussie punk scene. The folk punk movement of the last ten years or so has really gained some traction with the likes of Tony Sly (rest in peace), Joey Cape, Frank Turner and alike. But Australia has many great artists including our own Yiannos McStavros and Ben Elliot. If you’re not exploring the likes of the artists then you probably should be.

The headline act, Dead City Ruins have some of the most luscious hair I’ve ever seen. It was literally the first thing I noticed. They pound out hard rock anthems that remind us of all the mastery that Australian rock has to offer. I see people asking “whatever happened to real music?” well it’s alive and well in this band.

Blood Rock takes a lot to put together, and is one of the best events in the calendar. The line-up this year was second to none, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Thanks to all the organisers, the bands and the people who made the effort to come out and support their scene.

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