ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER @ Chevron Lighthouse gets 7/10

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever @ Chevron Lighthouse

w/ Stella Donnelly
Friday, February 14, 2020


It’s not only our relationships with others that can bring meaning and importance to our lives but also our connection with the music and art around us. Melbourne indie rockers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Perth singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly’s show on Valentine’s Day last week as part of the 2020 Perth Festival proved that our relationship with homegrown Australian music only has reason to be stronger than ever.

The gig was one of several at the brand new festival hub, Chevron Lighthouse. Situated on the southern forecourt of the Perth Concert Hall the venue is a not a lighthouse in the traditional sense, but instead a large stage surrounded in a kaleidoscope of colours and light. There’s a bar constructed out of multicoloured milk crates and food trucks to compliment the spectacle of art and music.

Stella Donnelly

Opening the night was WA’s own Stella Donnelly. Bringing onstage her unmistakable combination of piercing, unnervingly honest lyricism blended with sweet and careful melodies, Donnelly’s live show is a force to be reckoned with. She sings with an unapologetic veracity that is unbothered by judgement, taboo or rules yet in doing so, strikes deep into the collective and individual emotional heart of her audience.

This is combined with an unmatchable stage presence. Donnelly and her band alternate between dance routines, guitar shreds and even onstage costume changes. Her rapport with the crowd, though suspiciously scripted, only adds to the fun and exciting nature of her performance. The audience was graced with a 40-minute set featuring songs from 2019 debut album Beware of the Dogs as well as the earlier breakout EP Thrush Metal.

Stella Donnelly

She humorously touted that she’d only gotten the gig because her boyfriend is the drummer in the headline act. But in all truth, Donnelly is a true songwriter for this generation. It’s nice that you’re still just as likely to see this artist get nominated for NME’s Best Album in the World one day as you are able catch her playing outside the Concert Hall the next.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever in many ways are a band that defies convention. With a tongue-twister of a name, a trio of guitars and three different vocalists, the band’s style hardly strikes one as an immediate recipe for success. Yet the group don’t concern themselves with such arbitrary notions. They are a band whose music is ruthlessly original and dynamic. At 9pm as the five-piece jogged onto the stage they were greeted by a wildly enthusiastic crowd. “It’s great to be here… when we got here yesterday the first thing we did was go to South Fremantle dog beach.

“Your dog beaches in Perth are better than our human beaches in Melbourne.”

What followed was an hour and a half long set with songs appearing from across the band’s seven-year career. Bassist Joe Russo paced around the stage, the guitarists standing up front, belting out a sprawling set of jangling runaway guitar noise while taking turns at vocal duties. In the 30-degree night-time heat, their laid-back, thundering and off-kilter wall of sound had all 600-odd heads bobbing from the start.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

As one song started to blend into the next, it was easy to become mindlessly entranced by the elusively urgent energy of the music. Standouts included An Air-Conditioned Man, Talking Straight and their newly released single, Cars in Space. After a long and sprawling set, the band invited Stella and co back onstage for a cover of Mental as Anything’s Live it Up.

There are some artists that are just too cool to be truly famous, but too important to be ignored. Look no further than Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Stella Donnelly. Their show was a testament to a country awash with original, talented and fiercely authentic artists who cut their own path through music and can entertain and enlighten their audiences along the way. If there’s anything to love on Valentine’s Day, it’s that.


Photos by Ata Gumusay

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