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LIVE REVIEW: SOTA FESTIVAL, Perth, Western Australia – Sunday, 5 June, 2017

LIVE REVIEW: SOTA FESTIVAL, Perth, Western Australia – Sunday, 5 June, 2017
Featuring Karnivool, Drapht, Gyroscope, Tired Lion, Katy Steele, Crooked Colours, Abbe May, Bob Evans, POW! Negro, Rag n’ Bone, Ziggy, The Money War, Ellie Schoen, The China Blue Experiment
Elizabeth Quay, Perth
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Peter Gardner

The depth and breadth of Western Australia’s diverse local music industry was on display for WA Day at this year’s State Of The Art Festival. Thousands came for the good time and great tunes as our fair state turned on some of the nicest winter weather we’ve seen in years, with glorious sunshine and a warm day for all to enjoy.

Musically speaking, the SOTA team excelled themselves: this was a line-up with something for everyone.

Organisationally, however, some arrangements fell well short of the mark.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way so we can enjoy the good vibes the day was intended to produce…

Problems with long queues last year – the first SOTA held at Elizabeth Quay – were not in evidence early in the afternoon, though we did hear of security being run ragged by fence jumpers later in the evening. The only way around this is to find a bigger venue!

Of much more concern to us was the festival – specifically billed as a “free all-ages gig” and a family friendly event – was too loud (if it was LITERALLY painful to this old rock dog’s ears, no way is it suitable for children or casual music fans – and we were at the back of the tent) for the numbers present; and worst of all, there seemed no designated area for smokers, and no attempt by security to stop people polluting our kids’ lungs with their disgusting habit both in and out of the main stage tent. Surely WAM or SOTA shouldn’t have to have the Make Smoking History people on board financially before they ban this toxic shit which is legally not allowed in pubs, clubs, restaurants or on public transport and in many other public areas? If you absolutely MUST allow people to publicly use a toxic chemical which is harmful to themselves AND those around them (and you shouldn’t), then at least reserve a dedicated smoking area OUTSIDE and well away from the children you have invited to the event. This is a deal breaker for next year for a lot of us, folks – take note.

Less serious negatives include a distinct lack of recycling bins, green bins overflowing with empty tinnies and plastic cups and recyclable food containers, and a little too much gratuitous swearing in the middle of the afternoon from some acts, despite knowing this was supposedly an all ages carnival vibe. It’s not cool, tough or clever in this company: yes, I’m looking primarily at you, POW! Negro.

Moving on to happier memories, the dual main stage setup was excellent, ensuring no dead time between acts, and all the conveniences – toilets, food, bar – were plentiful.

Musically, every act on the bill offered something unique and inspiring. Highlights for us started with Elli Schoen’s dreamy alt folk, Ziggy’s reggae-infused pop, Rag n’ Bone’s indie rock exuberance and POW! Negro’s Rage Against The Machine-without-the-metal in-yer-face assault on the senses.

Bob Evans (better known as Jebediah frontman Kevin Mitchell) had a ball with a lively solo set of folky Dylanesque pop; Abbe May’s dark new direction was captivating and edgy; it was great to see Katy Steele back, her distinctive vocals heading in more of a pop direction since the demise of indie rock favourites Little Birdy a few years back.

With the big rock acts saved for last, the tent reached capacity for Tired Lion’s rocking set; Gryoscope absolutely killed the pig with an immense show; Drapht got the B-boys and hip hoppers bouncing; and Karnivool ended the night in crunchingly heavy style.

Western Australian music has always been far better per capita than most places in the world, and SOTA showed that again. If they iron out those few infrastructure problems, this really could be a show to rival even the mighty Big Day Out in coming years.

LIVE REVIEW: SOTA FESTIVAL, Perth, Western Australia – Sunday, 5 June, 2017

Filed Under: Live ReviewsPhoto Galleries

About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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