Photos by Damien Crocker
This year’s edition of Hidden Treasures arrived with spring rather than in the depths of winter, delayed due to … well, you know why, unless you’ve been living on a different planet and, if you have, please take me with you. Please! Had enough of 2020 on planet Earth.
Hidden Treasures is an event to be experienced with friends and has the sort of vibe that guarantees you’ll have made plenty of new ones before the night is over.
Actually, strike that, last week’s opening night of Hidden Treasures was lush enough to make me want to stay, at least until the end of September, which is when the series ends. Then, we’ll see.
Not so much hidden as much as it’s now one of Fremantle’s worst kept secrets, Hidden Treasures works on a simple formula done well: book a multitude of Perth and Fremantle’s best bands to play back to back in a range of intimate venues, all within easy walking distance of each other down the historic end of High Street and thereabouts; let the public know it’s on; sit back and watch the crowds roll in. The neat thing about Hidden Treasures is the plentitude and diversity of great live music and that supply is just slightly less than demand at each of the venues, so you end of with queues of excited punters lining the streets, exchanging tips about what’s hot and where they’re headed next — creating that all important buzz.
Hidden Treasures is an event to be experienced with friends and has the sort of vibe that guarantees you’ll have made plenty of new ones before the night is over. It’s definitely the right prescription for whatever may ail you in these tricky times, so it was great to see that this year’s edition did eventually survive the delay.
Last Thursday’s opening night included 14 live acts across four venues, so it was impossible to get to see everything. It’s a bit frustrating for the completist in me, but having to select your line up, discuss it with your mates, get told you can’t go to see Joan & The Giants this week, because you’re looking at the wrong day, and then head off in a mad frenzy to lap up everything you possibly can makes for an exciting night out.
Here’s a little round up of what your correspondent happened across, with additional photos from multiple venues, because the ATS photog was the one with the single press pass we were allowed to have, so he got into more venues than me. Ah, COVID, you never cease to surprise with the ways you have to fuck things up.
I hadn’t seen Phoneline Valentine before, I’d never even heard of them, so they were a pleasant surprise as they sprang into life not long after I wandered into the Buffalo Club. When I first clocked them standing on stage looking all nervous and, somehow, like they were a family band, I thought they may have been a bit of a newcomer pick, tomorrow’s stars funking up today’s stage. I needed have worried, what they gave was a set of happening grooves that soon had the up-for-it crowd bopping along. They’re pretty hard to pin to a particular sound, one minute they’re laying down riffs they’ve lifted from the Hendrix songbook, the next they’re sounding like New York punks, but no matter, Phoneline Valentine are fresh and very good at what they do. Front man and bass player, Sebastian Lau, has a shy charisma that marks this band down as one to watch out for.
Next it was over to PS Art Space for a dose of New Nausea. As you might expect they played to a packed and adoring crowd. This is a band at the pinnacle of whatever it is they do. They describe themselves as an alt-folk/rock band, which goes some way towards nailing it, but doesn’t quite capture the gestalt entity that is fused from the band’s illustrious members. Somehow, New Nausea are one of those quintessentially Aussie bands for which a category hasn’t yet been defined. Their sound is made of equal parts sand, sun, water and the melancholy of distance, hooked up to the current zeitgeist and, in moments, the fury of the times. Their set last Thursday was everything you’d want from a live band, it had pace and depth, and songs that were deftly executed with just enough rough edges on the musicianship to remind you that you weren’t listening to the radio. This also was Jacob Diamond’s last gig with New nausea, so marked a changing of the guard for the band, although from reading the hugs all around on stage at the end of the set, it wouldn’t surprise this correspondent if this was New Nausea’s last gig ever. Let’s hope not, they’re immensely good and, I suspect, have plenty more left to do. Any band that can use ‘aforementioned’ as part of their on-stage banter definitely gets my seal of approval.
Albert Loss plays old school country waltzes, sometimes solo with his acoustic guitar, sometimes with a band, of which the membership alone makes this relative newcomer worth checking out. In his own words, Loss plays songs, “about people you may know,” and, as his chosen moniker suggests, there’s more than a hint of sadness in his observational tales. Last Thursday at The Buffalo Club, Loss put in a set that grew in stature with each song he and his band played. This was another of those Hidden Treasures pleasant surprises. Your loss if you didn’t get to see him, make sure you get around to it next time he’s in a venue near you.
With a late withdrawal by Children Of The Tide, Heavenly stepped in at the last minute to play what was her second show ever, having made her live music debut the night before at Barbes. The now Fremantle resident, Tiger Lily’s ensemble featured a line-up of familiar faces, including Pond’s Nick Allbrook, Scarlett Stevens from San Cisco and Rachel Hocking from a multitide of local bands. Starting on the keyboards, there was a reserved but cheeky shyness as Tiger explained to the capacity audience at the Navy Club that the band was missing a member due to the late call up. There was beautiful melancholy as Tiger sang and played through a set of her original music, backed by the guitar/flute, drum and violin trio. The normally animated Allbrook took on a supporting role, giving the music the spotlight as Tiger moved from behind the keyboard to the microphone, keeping the audience hypnotically engaged throughout the set. It will be interesting to watch Heavenly’s musical progression, but with an evident talent and the benefit of being surrounded by some of the best local creatives, it was an impressive Fremantle debut that should see her continue to build her marque.
(Words by Damien Crocker)
Check out Damien Crocker’s photo gallery of the bands I didn’t get to see.