PERTH’S PER­FOR­MANCE

In a city that’s known for beaches, beer and booms, a lively — and grow­ing — mu­sic scene can be dis­cov­ered if you just scratch the sur­face.

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - VOYEUR / TOYOTA -

The old Gen­er­a­tor lost power long ago, about the same time the lights went out at the Broad­way Tav­ern. The Stoned Crow sings no more and the crusty Gover­nor Broome Ho­tel, once the home of punk rock in Perth (and now the site of the rather more salu­bri­ous State The­atre Cen­tre) was swept away in the ’80s. But Perth, in all its grown-up glory, main­tains a gen­tly heav­ing live mu­sic scene. There are pubs ga­lore with a healthy band ros­ter and the still-new gi­ant cray­pot that is Op­tus Sta­dium has al­ready proven a draw­card for mega acts. But what if you’re yearn­ing for some­thing else — to in­dulge in some lo-fi mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ences and to dance, as the song goes, un­der­neath the radar?

When in Perth, your first move might be to tune the ra­dio to RTRFM, the city’s com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tion now helmed by Eskimo Joe lead gui­tarist, and Perth lo­cal, Stu MacLeod. “Be­fore I started at RTR I thought I had a good grasp on the Perth mu­sic scene — but I knew ab­so­lutely noth­ing,” MacLeod says. “Whereas you sit down and lis­ten to [the sta­tion], you just dis­cover so much gold.”

Once you’ve dis­cov­ered that gold, go and meet some of the tal­ent be­hind it at the num­ber one hang­out for those in the know — The Hen House. Owner Rob Nas­sif is the drum­mer in one of the state’s most suc­cess­ful bands, Gy­ro­scope, and at his funky re­hearsal stu­dios you can rock up and play. “So if your busi­ness meet­ings are done you can just roll in and smash it out for a cou­ple of hours,” Nas­sif says in true muso style. The Hen House hires out in­stru­ments and of­fers a hub for mu­si­cal souls to con­nect — and to jam. Ev­ery week­end those us­ing any of the 17 spa­ces are treated to a free bar­be­cue, with beer from lo­cal brew­ery Feral Brew­ing Com­pany. It is, Nas­sif raves, a chance to “rub shoul­ders” with some of the city’s most tal­ented mu­si­cians.

Also keep­ing his cool qui­etly in Perth is Perry Ormsby, one of the most cel­e­brated gui­tar makers around, who will cus­tom make one of his cov­eted elec­tric solid-body gui­tars, or you can make your own acous­tic gui­tar at Perth Gui­tar Mak­ing School, un­der the watch­ful eye of luthier Steve Barton (it can take sev­eral months, so if you need in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion head to riff won­der­land The Rock Inn). Then, when you’re ready for an au­di­ence (or you just want to be part of one), the his­toric Bro­ken Hill Ho­tel just across the Cause­way holds an open-mic night ev­ery Thurs­day. Be among the first to hear some of the most in­ter­est­ing tal­ent in town — or de­but your heart­break bal­lad in rel­a­tive anonymity far from home. Fans of the swing­ing sounds of the ’20s and ’30s are feel­ing their way to a top-se­cret un­der­ground suburban speakeasy, Jazz Cel­lar (here’s a hint: you en­ter, Su­per­man-like, through an old red tele­phone booth). There is also jazz at the Elling­ton Jazz Club, while The Sewing Room, hid­den away in a CBD base­ment be­neath an old fash­ion house, is well worth dis­cov­er­ing for cut­tingedge in­die. Lovers of clas­si­cal fare can catch reg­u­lar artist chats be­fore West­ern Aus­tralia’s Sym­phony Or­ches­tra per­for­mances. But what about the tin lids with a taste for tunes? It may not be every­one’s idea of a bril­liant live mu­sic ex­pe­ri­ence, but at Player 1 the big kids can play retro video games while the lit­tle kids bang away on the drums.

Perth, in all its grown-up glory, main­tains a gen­tly heav­ing live mu­sic scene.

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