Live Review: Blackjack Festival

Blackjack Festival
Thursday 05 April 2007
Claremont Showgrounds
Review by Susan Cowling

Festival goers weren’t going to let inclement weather stop them going mad at this one, especially given the headliners.

Children Collide were a bit of a surprise package with raw bass lines and harsh jangly guitar but with a seriously catchy tune. These guys have just flown in from a mini UK and US tour for their own mini Oz tour. I can’t wait for the full version.

Birds of Tokyo were in fine voice, but upstaged by Children Collide. The heavens opened up at the beginning of their set, but it didn’t stop the hardcore fans from bopping along.

Fans of the Vines have changed much, fanatical and screaming at every opportunity. The set was disorganised and a little lazy; some of their equipment failed and …the lead singer…seemed more than a little confused (nothing new really). The band seemed really appreciative of the crowds support and rewarded them with a set heavy with “Highly Evolved” songs.

Eskimo Joe attracted their average fan- stale, lifeless and colourless. No- to be fair- the band put on a great set; tight, with most of their hits. No matter how many times those naughty little indie kids yelled out for “Sweater” and “RSPCA Love Song”, it just wasn’t going to happen. Great production values, mellowed sound, played to an appreciative local crowd during a golden sunset.

The sun had finally departed when the 11 piece Gnarls Barkley ran on stage and assumed “the position.” Right off we were in for an event with all members decked out in punkesque red tartan school uniforms, and a four piece strong section, in what main man, Cee-Lo Green called, the “School of Rock.”

They opened with a Pink Floyd cover- ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part II, which got the whole crow singing along. Green tried hard to fir up the crowd for a bit of dancing and zaniness, however, this was not a Gnarls Barkley crowd, and not really the best forum for the band. The crowd gave a semblance of interest, but didn’t truly appreciate the effort, and were just waiting for the main event. There is no questioning their showmanship, energy and musical skill- I thought they were bloody fantastic and it annoyed me that they weren’t as high up on the bill as they should have been.

The Living End seemed comfortable in their slot of being the last act before the Pixies. Where most bands would perhaps quail and falter, the Living End saw it as a challenge to rock as hard as they could. And the crowd loved them for it. They did their characteristic rockabilly, bass slapping/standing, trading on the hits of old. Front man Chris Cheeney seemed a bit conflicted- in awe of and excited to perform before the Pixies, yet not really wanting to be in Perth, (no matter how many times he said they loved Perth, he couldn’t quite get that smirk off him face). The music was tight and tested by time with most of the crowd favourites getting an airing

For such a small mosh pit area, a surprisingly large number of people can squish their way in. Everyone wanted a piece of the Pixies, and went wild as soon as they caught a glimpse of Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, David Lovering and Charles Tompson IV/Black Francis/Frank Black. There was a noticeable coolness between Black and Deal, though thankfully no spats, guitar throwing and dramatic stage break-ups like the Pixies of old.

Whilst much of their set was fairly mellow and slowed down considerably from their typical frantic thrash, the music was as intense as ever. All the favourites from Debaser, Wave of Mutilation, Silver, La La Love You, to Caribou were played for the salivating, and at times, close to tears, crowd. The crowd sung along to every song, swayed to the beat and danced when they could. After the beautiful and climatic end all of the Pixies walked across the stage to thank their adoring fans. As another punter said, you really understood that it was the (for many) first and (most likely) last time- but at least we got to say goodbye.

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