Live Review: The Grates @ Amplifier

Amlifier Bar
Friday 16th December 2005

Review By Rohan Hewson

New Rules For Boats play a kind of music that’s like country, but without being annoying and twangy; just good fun pop music with a fair bit of rock. Tonight was a fairly normal performance from them, getting a nice party mood going in the Amplifier, which was filling up quite early because of there being two interstate acts playing.

Expatriate had a much larger audience than they did a few months ago supporting Decoder Ring, as their EP ‘Lovers Le Strange’ has had quite a bit of airplay on JJJ. There were probably as many people watching them, the second support band, as there usually are watching a headliner at the Amps. It was fairly easy to work out ‘The Spaces Between’ was the song being flogged most on air; it got far and away the biggest cheer of their set, both at the start and the end of the song. They sounded a lot like the Cure or Joy Division, with that particular style of guitar, vintage keyboard, and especially the singer, who had a voice quite similar to Robert Smith. They possibly wore their influences on their sleeve a bit much, but their influences are great bands, and sounding like great bands from the past is hardly a bad thing. Most of their songs sounded quite similar to each other, although ‘Sleazy’ broke the mould in a big way, living up to its name and being great fun to boot. They put on just as good a show as they did last time they were over here, but this time with more people to appreciate it.

As soon as The Grates came on stage, just about every person in the place flocked to the inside area, leaving only a few people out in the warehouse part playing pool, and a somewhat uncomfortable crush anywhere near the stage. They had a much more basic setup than Expatriate, with only a guitarist, a drummer, and the colourfully-dressed main singer, Patience, who jumped up and down like a ten year old girl on red cordial for the entire set.

After just about every song, she excitedly told the crowd how much she loved Perth, Perth people rock, how excited they are to be playing the last show of their tour, and so on. It was a bit over the top at times, but never insincere; her energy couldn’t possibly have been faked. This was translated into the music too, with her dancing even more than the crowd. There were apparently people dancing up the front, but I couldn’t even get close enough to see. I suppose that’s a good thing.

When they finished, the enormous crowd yelled out for an encore, and the band came back on, dragging most of Expatriate, some of New Rules For Boats (including the incomparable Ben Golby) and some other random people on stage with them. There must have been fifteen people up on stage. This is what encores are meant to be, not just another couple of songs on the set list but something that happened because the crowd genuinely loved them. I hate to use such a bad pun, but this show was… grate!


Live Review: Matters of Fiction CD Launch

Matters of Fiction, Grand Central, Burgers of Beef
Amplifier Bar
Friday 25th November 2005
Review by Rohan Hewson

Possibly the funniest band in Perth, the Burgers of Beef started the night playing to a couple of dozen people, all crowded around the edges of the room. The Amplifier looks so empty when people do that. The mixing was pretty ordinary, with the trombone in one of the songs sounding more like the horn of a semi-trailer, but they made up for it with fun, sometimes hilarious songs (whether or not you listen to the lyrics). There’s definitely no other band in Perth with songs about penguins or Linda Ronstadt in their repertoire. They do have a reesonably normal love song though, their new single ‘Satellite’, which a few people were singing along to during the chorus. A few people drifted in throughout the set, and by the time they finished the crowd had probably doubled.

Grand Central played a set of fairly generic melodic rock, most of which didn’t stick in my head that much after they finished playing. It was enjoyable enough though, with enough hooks, interesting chord structures, and other words that sound good in reviews, to be quite attention-grabbing while they were playing. Their first song was the best of the set, with some cool sounding yelling over the guitars.

By the time Matters of Fiction started, the Amplifier was packed – they drew quite a crowd to watch them launch their EP ‘All You’. They played a similar kind of music as Grand Central, but with the addition of a keyboard and harmonica, neither of which were used enough in their set in my opinion. The harmonica especially was a nice touch when it came out… it’s an instrument commonly used by quieter acoustic acts, but rarely by louder rocking acts. It really spiced up the song it was in. Also quite interesting was when the singer sat down at the keyboard and played some of the slower songs of the set. He’s no Tim Freedman but it worked pretty well.

Unfortunately, the songs that stuck to the tried-and-true guitar / bass / drums formula just didn’t grab my attention that much… it got quite hard to tell the difference between some of the songs. Luckily, though, there were enough interesting sounding songs in the set to even it out. They kept my attention till the end, anyway, which not all bands do.