KIERA ALICE OWEN
GRUMPY’S MUSIC BAR, 28 SEPTEMBER
Where were you on the evening of 28 September, Perth?
OK, so a lot of you would have been digesting meat pies and getting over your post AFL Grand Final torpor. Some of you would have been at Wave Rock Festival. Aaaand, some of you were at Grumpy’s Music Bar. If you were, you probably went home happy with your choice to attend a venue supporting local live and original music.
We’ve just re-read the last sentence of the paragraph above (“supporting local live and original music”) and it sounds so worthy and just a little bit needy. But the fact is, there’s a treat waiting for music lovers in just about every dark corner of just about every live music venue in Perth and Freo right now. Tonight’s was another standout gig, one in a long line.
Things kicked off with Keira Alice Owen taking the stage on her own, dressed all in black, and sporting a white Telecaster and a fistful of songs that may just mark the beginning of a significant solo career. Already well known in Perth as the front woman for New Talk, Owen is one of our city’s most dynamic performers and extraordinary vocalists.
Tonight, she started giving life to a new set of songs — something like sketches, studies for full-colour masterpieces — that combine strength and sadness in their lyrics and arrangements. Three songs in when her voice really kicked, it was easy to see the vistas ahead of Owen as she branches out on her own.
The performing solo thing — one person with a guitar — was pretty much invented by Dylan and the New York coffee house speed freaks, updated by Beck and brought into the 21st Century by Karen O (something along those lines, anyway). Sometimes it adds, sometimes it subtracts, but it never fails to be interesting. Owen’s outing tonight was certainly interesting at the very least and we most definitely want to see where she heads next.
It’s very cool to be in on the beginning of something.
Next up was Trolley Boy, fronted by Germaine Jones, who, tonight, stepped on stage with the word ‘Ugly’ emblazoned across her top.
Based on this outing, Trolley Boy are exactly the kind of ugly this world needs right now. They can slide from Samba swing to punk trash in a few bars and have perfected the tight but loose thing that makes it all sound so easy and beautifully out of kilter. Their songs are like poems, but interesting, thrilling, serial killing … They’re very, very good and will only get better.
There’s a hint of widescreen America about Trolley Boy, dusty highways, dive bars and dirty cowgirl punk. With just a touch more artifice, Germaine Jones could be the Patti Smith-style punk poet of her generation.
We hear that Trolley Boy are going into the studio soon to record an album. Can’t wait!
Finishing up was Filth Wizard.
This four-piece just gets better and better. Not that they weren’t good to start with, but the licks get tighter, the melodies more polished, the whole thing rolls along like a 90s grunge groove machine, with the band churning through hit after potential hit.
They’re dirty slick.
Singer Benn Burdett’s voice was made for the soft-loud thing that they do, and lead guitarist, Clayton Brown, is a guitar god who knows how to wear a leopardskin shirt like the best of them. As for the rhythm section of Jess June (drums) and Jenna Hardie (bass), they’re the drive that make all the wizardry possible.
They can even do country. It’s fucking loud and totally grunge, but they own it like they’re Kenny Rogers’ and Kurt Cobain’s bastard brood. Think about that! Oh yeah!
Filth Wizard cook hotter than a kitchen meth lab and will take you higher, too.
Grumpy’s Music bar is a relatively new addition to the Perth scene. Upstairs at the Flying Scotsman in Mount Lawley, it’s got a lounge room vibe and a great sound system. The joint rocks! And with the bands they’re booking, if you haven’t been there yet, you should put it on your to do list.