Sweet Oblivion #7 WAM Festival Showcase Special at YMCA HQ
Kicking off the West Australian Music Fest is none other than the Sweet Oblivion Showcase special. The WAM Festival is an annual miscellany taking place over the the span of three days, where a wide range of local artists are invited to conquer the stage at a multitude of venues around Perth. Fortunately, Leederville’s YMCA HQ operates alongside WAM as a youth-friendly channel – to ensure even the adolescents get their dose of live tunes, too. Dan and Rachel took a look at Friday’s showcase, with Fairbridge Quest songwriting competition winners (Shannon, Ella E and Isla) opening with an acoustic taste of their music. The main acts to follow were X-Factor contestant turned folk songstress Sydnee Carter, young indie rockers Figurehead and transpiring electronic producer Spire.
Rachel: You know who comes to mind? Lucy Rose. I think we can both agree that she also resembles Daughter, with her own personalised twist. Think more depth, vocal-wise. Ella effortlessly leaves you with an impression, one the crowd surely received.
Dan: I definitely agree, on both points. I thought her vocals resembled Hannah Reid of London Grammar, though no-one seemed to agree with me for some reason. Regardless, she was very talented. I was very impressed by her lyrics, guitar work and vocal talents.
Rachel: I thoroughly enjoyed every second of her performance. Did I also mention she’s in Year 10? Year 10. Blimey, she’s too good.
Dan: Yeah, that blew me away. Makes me feel great about my talents. I hope she enjoyed our pizza, too.
Dan: She reminded me strongly of Feist, and I mean that as a compliment. Her attitude on stage, her lyrics, her voice… A strong Feist-y vibe for sure (see what I did there?).
Rachel: What a stage presence she had, honestly. Rarely do you come across an artist so naturally charming. There was a casual edge to her that appeared 'cute'. In reality, I found myself met with a wittily fierce, acoustic force. Nothing quite like a pleasant surprise.
Dan: Her stage presence was absolutely captivating to say the least. The audience was enthralled. I also loved the sarcasm on songs like “Monkey Boy”, which really flipped the whole “cutesy” thing on its head.
Rachel: Oh, for sure. I particularly enjoyed her original, "Babushka Dolls" – which according to her, had the song’s inspiration drawn from a friend’s room. On the other hand, I certainly feel that she has the tranquil qualities mirroring that of Jhene Aiko. One could even say the style of her originals mimicked an old-school Katy Perry. That is, subtly shunning an evocative mystery figure in excellent fashion. (You didn’t hear that from me.)
Dan: Sydnee was definitely a natural performer. If she was at all nervous she didn’t really give it away, she appeared very comfortable on stage. Her voice was very pleasant to listen to, perhaps a bit of Julia Stone to it? Her set was a great mix of originals and covers. She was also the most talkative of the performers, engaging in some excellent and witty banter with the crowd.
Rachel: That banter was just top-notch, though her performance did appear somewhat coerced. It was lovely, however, to hear the backstories to her originals; broken friendships and bloomed love being her primary muses. Typically I’d stray away from anything/anyone in relation to X-Factor (minus James Blunt), but tonight Sydnee re-established herself as an artist, as well as brought her own music to life.
Dan: I think nearly everyone could relate to the stories she told, about broken friendships, wanting to help friends in difficult situations, falling in love… It helped the audience connect to the music at a more personal level. Also, I’m very jealous she is working with Andy Bull.
Rachel: I know! And getting into Telstra Road To Discovery’s boot camp, too. Now that’s a great feat. I have to admit, her cover of ‘Crazy in Love' had me wow-ed. The first song of her set as a rendition of Daughter’s ‘Youth’ was also of excellent choice.
Dan: The first band that came to mind was The Smith Street Band, but as the night went on I found myself thinking of fellow Australian punk band Violent Soho more. The guitar tones and loud dynamics (which worked favourably for them after a string of acoustic sets) were particularly reminiscent of Violent Soho. Rachel, you know all about my love of both bands, so you’d agree I mean both of those as compliments.
Rachel: I can attest to that. This sounds like a bit of a stretch but they resemble a younger, edgier version of San Cisco. I definitely got that vibe when they played at last week’s Norfolk Lanes Youth Festival. Yet despite all these comparisons, I’d have to accredit the band’s blooming success to their idiosyncratic sound. It was terrific to see them out in the local scene once again, as they’ve made frequent appearances throughout November.
Dan: They got the crowd buzzing, for sure. Lots of appreciative dancing and head nodding going on (loved your moves especially, Rachel).
Rachel: Thanks Dan, I suppose you do a good job at foot tapping.
Dan: Man, you should have seen all the mild swaying I was doing. No, but for real, I loved their set. I also loved how organic their set was, especially when referencing local issues in song (I too am displeased the 106 bus does not come anymore). Perhaps this is a stretch, but the vocals also reminded me a little of Sunny Day Real Estate. Overall, very enjoyable.
Rachel: I couldn’t agree more. They ensured the crowd had a blast, all whilst encouraging some genuine groove.
Rachel: Now, Spire has been a communal electronica favourite ever since he emerged as one of the Triple J Unearthed High finalists. This was his first ever gig, so you could say I was pretty darn excited. There’s just something deliciously captivating about the mellow nature of his tracks. Oh, and that bass.
Dan: Rachel – we were pretty darn excited. I too have loved everything he has released thus far. And man, what a way to end the night! Spire was excellent. I felt a bit of early James Blake in his sound. The jazz piano was also a really nice touch. I was just vibing so heavily to his stuff, as was the whole crowd.
Rachel: ‘Vibing’ – now that’s an understatement. When Dan mentions James Blake you know he’s offering high praise. (I second that, too.) This isn’t entirely accredited to the fact that there was a plethora of acoustic content on our plate, but moreso because Spire’s music has had me absorbed since day one. However, it was immensely relieving to have some of his ambient sets to wind us down no doubt.
Dan: It was a shame his performance was rudely interrupted by technical issues; he was blowing my mind. He made excellent use of samples. The audience really responded to the atmospheric nature of his set. People heading to Disconnect Festival in December are in for a treat. (I hope he remembers to say hi to Father John Misty for me like he promised.)
Rachel: And Neon Indian. Please.
Dan: Okay, enough getting sad about age restrictions, let’s not forget why we were writing this, shall we? The performers on the night were fantastic, overall. I can say this with full certainty: if this was anything to go by, the future of the Perth music scene is in safe hands.