IN THE PINES @ Somerville Auditorium gets 9/10

In the Pines @ Somerville Auditorium

Sunday, April 18, 2021


The ultimate West Australian boutique festival, In the Pines has never relied on big name headliners to pack out UWA’s Somerville Auditorium year in, year out. Its sold out 28th edition last Sunday exemplified this more than ever, with headline-worthy acts playing all day.

Helta Skelta

This was evident, as much as anything, in the fact punters were standing up in large groups to watch even the earliest acts. Those used to sitting back on their picnic rugs and enjoying the early arvo acts had to compete with the back of a few more heads and butts than usual, but there was no mistaking the vibe early at Pines #28; whether you were there for early highlights like Gap Year, mid-afternoon treats such as Helta Skelta or staying the course for the headliners, this was a Pines to remember.

Artemis Orchestra

Something In the Pines has done a great job of delivering in the past decade is diversity, and 2021 was no exception. Championing marginalised genders were the wonderful Artemis Orchestra, delivering a big band jazz ensemble, while later Phil Walleystack gave us familiar covers to singalong to with Goanna’s Solid Rock and Yothu Yindi’s Treaty sitting nicely next to his originals. Better still, and in keeping with the policy of standout acts all day long, the best on ground performance came early, with Alter Boy at 2:30pm. Confronting, experimental, thought provoking and entirely accessible, this Queer-pop band featuring three deaf/hard-of-hearing members is everything great art should be.

Alter Boy

With all songs performed in Auslan, which was worked creatively into the overall performance along with body art and creative costuming, Alter Boy put on a theatrical masterclass, but it wouldn’t work if the songs didn’t back them up in all their catchy, emo-electro glory. We still can’t get Love Machine out of our heads since Sunday, which was arguably the track of the day. They’re the sort of band you’d hope for in a privileged state like WA, and the sound is world class. If you’re looking for our next Tame Impala look no further – expect Alter Boy to be headlining these sorts of festivals sooner rather than later.

Dead Jerk

Speaking of diversity, there was a veritable smorgasbord of different genres on offer. Those after intense, instrumental post-rock were treated to Dead Jerk early on with their two drummer assault complimented by soaring bass and keys solos – no need for guitars in Dead Jerk.

Later on, Selfless Orchestra dominated. Comprising members of Last Quokka (also featured) and Injured Ninja among others, the Orchestra is an eleven-piece musical hydra that blends crushing guitar riffs with classically-tinged moments of beauty. The band played cuts from their debut album Great Barrier, a concept album about the decline and (hopeful) re-emergence of the Great Barrier Reef. The band had the audience in the palm of their hand, and they were helped by a marine-themed light show courtesy of Beamhacker (aka Josh from Outer Body) featuring visuals by Perth artist Steve Berrick.

Grace Sanders

Some of the best live production came care of Grace Sanders early. Her unforgettable DISSIPATE was an awesome display of combined technical and acoustic wizardry that featured two synthesisers in its epic finale, as Sanders delivered an energetic performance. Another such highlight came from Your Girl Pho in the late afternoon, adding to her slick RnB sound with a bit of wow factor care of live sax and drums. Dressed to impress (even if the green and purple made her look like a Freo Dockers fan) and with the voice to match, Pho delivered a welcome change of pace with jungle-infused rhythms one moment, then RTR fave Don’t Wanna the next.

Your Girl Pho

There was edgy post-punk from acclaimed goth-rockers Nerve Quakes, who never play a bad show. Punks Last Quokka and Dennis Cometti both justified late time slots with exhilarating sets that got the energy up amongst the Pine trees. Dennis Cometti played to punters hungry for some larrikin kicks, decked out in footy gear and getting the feet moving with fan favourites like WAXIT, Pint Police and  On The Sauce.

Quokkas for many were one of the day’s best acts with an angry and politically-charged set. They opened with their best song Privilege and didn’t let up from there as other fan favourites like Wake up Geoff and Colony woke up UWA. And of course, if that old fashioned Perth indie pop sound is your thing, there were memorable performances from the likes of HAIRCARE, Spunloves and an emo-tinged Big Orange all making their mark.

Big Orange

Rounding the night off, and ensuring all corners of the musical spectrum were covered, Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics and Superego came next, two drastically different acts that delivered equally in their own right. Odette Mercy was at her soulful best with an array of imminently danceable funk tunes in what was one of the most fun but also musically tightest sets of the evening. Superego brought a different, more urgent energy. Their set started off on the smoother, jazzier end of the hip-hop spectrum but gradually got louder and more ferocious in what was one of the best constructed sets of the day.

Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics

Ending proceedings were the earthy tones of blues-rock outfit Dan Howls, featuring Abbe May on guitar. The band looked like a posse of psychedelic cowboys, and May in particular looking like Perth’s answer to Stevie Ray Vaughan (sounding like it too with some ferocious blues licks). Their music fit this bill too: a blend of mystical blues rock tunes which included their standout single King Si.

Dan Howls

With an amazing array of acts all day, everyone had different favourites but for us Alter Boy took the chocolates, ahead of Last Quokka, Dan Howls featuring Abbe May, Grace Sanders and a slew of others that were among the highlights. How good is it to go to a great music festival again?


Photos by Adrian Thomson

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