Living in Perth, the opportunity to tick an artist off of any “Bands to See Before I Die” list happens quite rarely, with Summer festivals the main opportunity to see acts not played on commercial radio.
But in the same week, Indie ‘royalty’ Interpol and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah each played to a packed Metro City, which is heartening; a decade ago acts of this calibre would most likely have bypassed Perth.
Visiting the ‘Metro’ (a venue I’ve long held to be the ugliest in Perth) twice in the one week stimulated thought on the availability of decent venues for gigs. I’m by no means the first to consider this, with the Government planning the construction of a new Entertainment Centre and the demolition of the old. Hopefully the deficiencies of existing Perth venues have been discussed, so that more than just the issue of capacity is addressed.
Both Metro City and its southern counterpart, Metropolis Fremantle, leave a lot to be desired in terms of floor space, not being designed solely for live gigs. Their stages are obscured by bars in some areas, and seating occupies a large portion of the upper tiers (and for anyone who’s heard Interpol or CYHSY, they’ll understand the desire to be standing and dancing for these acts).
The need to play at venues such as this is self-evident; big interstate acts can’t afford to play a week’s worth of shows in intimate settings like Amplifier or the Hyde Park Hotel to appease fans, and theatres like Burswood containing the capacity to hold a large ‘one night only’ crowd only have fixed seating to offer.
Similarly, sporting venues like Challenge Stadium or Subiaco Oval are more suited to the games they were designed to host, with the playing field providing some mosh space and the majority of seating quite far back, relying on massive “Son et Lumiere” setups in order to help the audience feel some semblance of actually being at a gig. Open to the air as Subiaco Oval and the Supreme Court Gardens are, crowds are subject to the whim of nature, trusting the bands to play rain or shine, and ticket sellers to refund often hard-earned money if a show happens to be cancelled.
Having said that, those fortunate to be in attendance at Interpol were treated to an LED-backlit wall of sound from the opening notes of “Pioneer to the Falls” right through to last year’s single “Heinrich Manouveur”. Traversing the crowd at any gig of size is difficult, but the layout of Metro made it particularly difficult for those with petit bladders to return from the toilet.
Thankfully Metro’s didn’t attain quite as full a house during CYHSY’s performance which enabled some hemmed-in dancing and rejoicing to crowd pleasers like “Gimme Some Salt” and “Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” the band clearly enjoyed playing, lit as they were by stage lights in a range of garish colours fitting their eclectic sound. The bands themselves delivered on the music, but seemed to cut short each song, leaving the crowd wanting more of a climax.
So long as bands are happy in the interim to play to crowds in less-than-perfect venues, we can hope to at least get the chance to see them. But will someone please tell Alan carpenter to hurry up with the demolition and rebuilding of the entertainment centre they’ve got planned?