CASTAWAY PRESENTS: WA UNLOCKED
Photos by Sheldon Ang
For one night, Perth was not only the envy of our eastern state siblings, but also the envy of the world. Castaway Presents: “WA UNLOCKED” was the focus of the entertainment world, while the rest are still living in the catacombs of isolation. It could be due to our arid state being the world’s most isolated city, or perhaps the local sandgropers are used to “missing out”, thus three months of discipline had not been so mind blowing. Whatever it may be, we were rewarded with being the first in line to the biggest party since COVID-19.
…the surprise of the night came midway when singer songwriter Sydnee Carter graced the stage unexpectedly, almost blowing the roof of HBF stadium…
And it was only fitting the artists that took to centre stage were West Australians, entertaining two thousand or so revellers at legal capacity. In an industry where the east normally dominates, the event evolved into a backyard party with a sense of familiarity over the taste of local produce, as the sonic boom thundered under the roof of HBF Stadium.
The night kicked off with Producer and DJ Tina Says as the mass gathered. While she may not yet be a household name against the likes of DJs Tiesto and David Guetta, the artist is one of the most respected of her genre and perhaps the most sought after in recent times, spinning in major festivals across the country while earning a spot as support act for superstars such as Fat Boy Slim. She was the perfect choice to spark the night, but also proving more than an appetiser with her sonically moody undertones such as Limbo and Elevate – the kind that make you wonder if the clock has just struck two in the morning thanks to the late-night elements on her groove train. Tina Says’ sound thrive on solid and juicy driving baselines, as she pummelled the pulsating synths that are usually weaved by world class producers while the crowd sang to her beat. All aboard – the gleeful chaos has reigned into the twilight zone.
Speaking after her set, DJ Tina Says told Around The Sound, “It was insane! Five months off from being on stage is a huge break. I felt like I was able to reset my mind and come on with a fresh focus. I’ve put out a bunch of music and did some things in that time, so it was surreal to see how engaged the audience was with my music! They were singing to lyrics which almost made me cry! Such a high caliber and high energy event, definitely one for the memory bank.”
Then came one of the hottest acts from Perth, Crooked Colours. With a million monthly listeners on Spotify, the trio was probably the main act, despite being second on the set list. Known as an alternative dance groups, Phil Slabber, Leon Debaughn and Liam Merret-Park may be reeling from missing out on their April/May Australian tour, but like a well-oiled machine that never missed a season of touring, they set the benchmark for the night with massive worldwide hits such as the moody and psychedelic Do It Like You and Flow, booming some of the nastiest base ever to reverberate the venue. Their performance was hypnotic, if not transcendental, aided by the mood set by the ever-changing stage lighting. Dressed in an all-white painter’s overalls and appearing more like tradies with sex appeal, the group scintillated the crowd with some of their moodiest electronic showcase – where in theory it’d have been incongruous to be playing in front of two thousand head bopping teeny-boppers. But in a historic night, there were no rules; everyone was thriving in the sonic freedom of Phase Four.
The third act is SLUMBERJACK, with the electronic duo taking a notch to the next level of gleeful chaos. They have been the headliners at packed venues across Australia, and it was no wonder the young crowd were ecstatic when the former university colleagues came together to play hits from their albums Fracture and SARAWAK. The fans expected a high energy, octane-fuelled show, and the duo did not disappoint by delivering with blazing energy, supported by some of the trippiest displays on the backscreen. The venue was oomph by the very animated performance of Malaysian-born DJ Morgan Then, occasionally weaving his hair to the cadence of the beat, looking more like a gliding snake in the Amazon, as they dished out massive hooks while adding to the visionary textures in their music.
But the surprise of the night came midway when singer songwriter Sydnee Carter graced the stage unexpectedly, almost blowing the roof of HBF stadium with her collaborative masterpiece with the duo, Afraid, Unafraid – the kind of groove that cause involuntary movement of the body, giving the term ‘let the music take control’ a literal twist. Her vocal was pitch perfect, synchronising flawlessly to the sonic. Perhaps the biggest surprise for many was the fact that Carter, who’s known for her ballads and tear jerkers thanks to her memorable audition on X-Factor and subsequent releases, performing to a dance track, and continuing onto a new chapter in her musical career with another single, Poison – which will be released next month.
“I had a blast…it feels so good to be back,” Carter told Around The Sound. “The vibe was so amazing, and I can’t wait to do this again!”
ShockOne (Karl Thomas) of Esperance was the final act on the set list, playing his tunes from 2005 onwards. He was then joined by his sister Reija Lee – arguably the unintentional feature of the night, taking the energy to the next level and enthralling the crowd as they discovered mainstream connection with the audience, performing hits like Silver and Gold, and the album track title A Dark Machine from latest album that touches on the “woozy dystopian” world that confronts the darkest part of our lives. Like Sydnee Carter, Lee bridged the gap between the audience and the stage, being relatable to the average concert goers and the electronicesque curious, as she showcased her stage presence like a seasoned professional while dazzling the punters. In a show like tonight, the sonic charge makes one half and the visual spectre makes the other half…and Lee delivered like Jagger. She also graciously dedicated the night to those in other parts of Australia, “let’s not forget our fellow Australians living elsewhere”.
Indeed, it was a night to remember, a historical night of all sorts. Whether it was a one-off stint or the spark to reignition, Perth has gained the respect of the music world. Perhaps see you again in December for the summer edition, Castaway.