Friday, May 6, 2011

In the Pines 2011 – Local Perth Music, PAWS

RTRFM (92.1fm) is a local community radio station based in Perth, it doesn’t get any government funding and survives on subscriptions during Radiothon, sponsorships and fundraising events that it organizes throughout the year. In the Pines is the biggest RTRFM fundraising event of the year comprising of a line up of 20 local bands over 10 hours across two stages in the lush surrounds of the University of Western Australia (UWA) Sommerville Auditorium. You enjoy bands in a relaxed atmosphere, most come with a picnic and it’s also fun for the whole family where quite a few bring along their kids and you’ll see them running around with big industrial ear muffs to protect there little ears from the noise assault.

(The two pics above are from the RTRFM website, check their gallery for more In the Pines pics)

In the Pines is a bit like the Big Day Out Festival but it’s a local version with all Perth bands. In the Pines is also unique to Perth and there is no other event like this in the rest of Australia. A lot of this has to do with the fact that Perth is small and also very isolated which facilitates the organization of such a festival. Whenever one of my friends move interstate, I would ask them how the local music scene was and they would tell me that they haven’t been able to engage with it like they have with the Perth local music scene. In Melbourne, for example, their music scene is so big that in different areas such as Richmond, Geelong, Fitzroy etc. they pretty much have their own individual music scenes. Whilst in Perth, there are fewer bands and only a handful of venues (The Bird, Rosemount, Amplifier, YaYas, The Bakery, Manhattans) that serve the local original music scene based mainly around the metro area near the City and a few in Freo (Mojos Bar, Swan Basement, Norfolk Basement) This situation has made is possible for a music community to develop where everyone knows everyone else, it is easier to be on top of the local music scene and know what’s happening. 

The Perth music scene may be smaller than our eastern counterparts but the variety and quality of the artists that we have is amazing and one of the reasons why I love living in Perth. There was a documentary made in 2009 called Something in the Water which explored how Perth ‘the most isolated city in the world’ has produced a prolific, successful and internationally renowned original music source.  Some even call it “the new Seattle”. Perth is home to many popular Australian artists, notably - INXS, Scientists, The Triffids, Eskimo Joe, Little Birdy, Gyroscope, Snowman, The Panics, Tame Impala, Jebediah, Karnivool….the list could go on forever. However, there are also a lot of Perth bands that have been around for years and have never quite made it as big as they should have due to our isolated state which can be problematic for touring, recording and promotion. Some bands choose to leave Perth and move over east with varying degrees of success. But many are just happy to stay in Perth and do their thing, even if they are just playing to a room of 10 people. For many of the bands that I have followed throughout the years (those who know me well know that it’s no secret that my favourite Perth bands are The Tucker B's, Adam Said Galore, The Tigers, Mukaizake and Umpire), money and fame never appears to be the priority so I always find it a humbling experience seeing local bands as I feel that they are just keeping it real.

In the Pines is a great opportunity to see what the Perth music scene has to offer – to not only see the best but also see some new upcoming bands. So if you are a band just starting out and you get to play In the Pines, it’s a real buzz. 

This year was the eightieth In the Pines held on Sunday, 24 April. My highlights were - Simone & Girlfunkle, Wolves at the Door, Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, 6s and 7s, Umpire and Abbe May.

Simone & Girlfunkle – I have to declare that these girls are my friends to prevent accusations of bias but the fact is that they write great melodies with sweet harmonies and they are also big dorks.

Wolves at the Door – First time that I have seen this band and I was impressed. They reminded me of Warpaint, a band that I fell in love with earlier this year when I saw them live at the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival

Tangled Thoughts of Leaving – Another first for me. Tangled Thoughts of Leaving was the first band of the day to get some of the crowd on their feet and to the front and I really enjoyed their progressive post-metal sounds.

6s and 7s – I’m generally not a fan of this kind of indie-pop, I tend to the enjoy the darker recesses of indie music but whenever I see the 6s and 7s there are a few songs that I cannot help but bop along to. 

Umpire – The best band of the night for me. Umpire are one of my favourite Perth bands. They are more than just your usual indie-rock band, the songwriting is brilliant and they use fancy tunings to create a wall of sound. It was also great to hear some new tunes. I’m looking forward to their CD Launch at the Rosemount on the 4th of June.

Abbe May – The final act of the night. I find her blues-rock sounds, dirty guitar riffs and soaring vocals infectious and it was a great end to the night.

Besides watching bands, chilling out, drinking and hanging out with friends at In the Pines, you also need to eat. You can’t go through a 10 hour festival without eating anything but I and I’m sure a lot of other people as well baulk at the thought of food at a music festival. I know that it will be fast food, greasy, food that can be prepared in bulk for the masses with questionable handling techniques, undefined storage conditions, perishable, delivered in a combi van (well one can hope!) and high in unsaturated fat, sugar, salt and everything else that’s bad for you. But eating at a music festival is about subsistence, you need to keep your energy levels up and have something to soak in all the alcohol you consume. So don’t expect anything gourmet.

In The Pines gives you PAWS (People & Animal Welfare Society) which provides vegan catering.

The previous Music Director at RTRFM was vegan and the current Music Director is vegetarian so very unique to the In the Pines food experience is the offer of meat free food. Last year only the PAWS van was on offer but due to some feedback meat options were provided this year. The UWA Guild Catering was brought on board as they already have an established base at the Sommerville Auditorium. I didn’t bother with the Guild Catering as I am forever haunted by my UWA student days. I gave the Guild food a miss...all I ever saw being pumped out of there was nachos.  

I headed to the PAWS van for food. 

I think that going meat free at a music festival is a good thing so that food poisoning is one thing less you have to worry about while at the festival. You can’t get food poisoning from eating vegetables. 

PAWS knows what sells food…  _ _ _

PAWS offers a meal deal of rice and dhal accompanied by various veggies stews and curries. I choose to have burger which was filled with lettuce, beetroot, tomato, tomato sauce, mustard, pickles and a veggie patty. 

The veggie patty provided texture but it didn’t do that much for me taste wise, I have eaten much better veggie patties and I think that maybe some spice and herbs in the mix could greatly improve the burger experience. My favourite veggie patty is produced by Tally Ho Farm, this was the veggie patty that made me think that it was possible for a vegetarian burger to taste good. However, the inclusion of beetroot, pickles and a dose of mustard injected enough additional flavour for me to give the burger a pass mark and fill me up contently. 

Besides, I don’t go to a music festival for the food, all I really need is some hot chips to get me through the day and I can say that the hand cut chips served by PAWS are A+. Who can resist chomping down on some hot chips after a night out? There is something really satisfying about stuffing your face with hot chips when you are tired and drunk and thus, hot chips is the perfect festival food. 

Actually, deep fried anything is awesome music festival food, PAWS also do good spring rolls and samosas.

p.s. If you are interested in checking out some local Perth music, get into the WAMi festival 21-28 May.


  1. Great write-up of ITP! Wish I got there earlier to see TTOL. Might catch them at a WAMi show. I've never looked at the food options at ITP for the reasons you've described but you've convinced me to at least 'look' at it next year!

  2. Aw, was so sad to miss the pines this year due to being up north for easter. Thanks for sharing the magic. Next year I shall hopefully be scoffing chips with you :)

    Also, I'm pretty sure that rice is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, from what I've read. Not sure bout vegies though! I remember quite a few years ago when the guild catering at the pines ran out of food, so we had to trek down to Caltex for something dodgy to fill our bellies. Blergh.

  3. Every great man is always being helped by everybody, for his gift is to get good out of all things and all persons.

  4. Thanks Riche. I think you will really like TTOL. Will be seeing them at the WAMi Saturday Spectacular!

    I can't believe that rice would be the most common cause of food poisoning Conor. I eat rice everyday! I googled this and found the culprit - its Bacillus cereus

  5. There is something about local Perth music which I happen to like a lot. I think the sound is unique and really amazing. Their music has depth and really very moving. Thanks for sharing the photos by the way.

    music publishers