In The Pines, Somerville Auditorium, April 13, 1996

Summer tentatively chased away the onset of autumn for the cosiest festival of the year yet again, the third instalment of RTR-FM’s In The Pines. Armed with grandma’s rug and dressed in grandpa’s trousers, the who’s who of Warwick, Willeton and Waroona invaded the prized electoral seat of Nedlands in an indie-kid celebration of all things live, local and original.

It all began with Elvis (in all his cardboard splendour) taking up front position on stage, flanked by a very competitive scrabble game to the side – two incredibly ridiculous scenes – massaged to the artistically shambolic soundtrack of Adam Said Galore’s innocent pop doodlings. Perhaps even exemplifying the timid exuberance of the youthful, homegrown music that was on show for the rest of the day, the unhurried Adam Said Galore grafted out their winding ditties to the encouraging yelps of the steadily building crowd – a listenership which is not new to the almost-deliberate bumbling of prototype icons O!, Molasses and RTR’s breakfast announcer Mark Genge.

The supposed flocks of record company honchos may not have looked twice at Adam Said Galore, or even The Dumb Angels, but both of these opening bands will never be without a healthy following.

The Dumb Angels, squawking and hissing in bad grrrl attire, were a bit lost without their smoke machines and dark surrounds. Their primal screams and New York punk roots seemed to have been transplanted from Mars when the natural beauty of the Pines’ afternoon surrounds were glimpsed out of the corner of one’s eye. They don’t usually leave their haunted castle before night falls.

In stark comparison, one could almost imagine the Somerville’s pine trees being planted decades ago for the occasioned performances of Bluetile Lounge and Thermos Cardy. Even with a more obvious hoon element present this year – “they play a bit slow mate, aye?” – Bluetile Lounge again doused the now-enormous crowd with their gloriously subtle sounds, giving the reclining gathering a chance to ponder or stare unbelieving at the slow, slow sway happening on stage.

Thermos Cardy, with bass fiend Harry Kneen resplendent in an autographed lab coat, drew a huge number of adoring dancers to their mid-fi jiggery. Armed with their catalogue of one cassette’s worth of already widely-celebrated whimsy, the ‘Cardy had only to stand there on stage to be instantly recognised as crowd favourites.

As the day petered out to dusk Valvolux strode onto the stage, their full-frontal intentions laid down from their first crunching tune. While taking in their bludgeoning sound I could do little to chase away the incessant wordplay of Rosemary Thrombus (eek!) – a conglomeration of Tim Underwood and Paul Sloan’s past bands which makes for one horrid image. Furious, fast and none too subtle or intellegent, I am yet to be convinced that Valvolux have much to offer outside of the hoon-crew I mentioned earlier. But that’s their fare …

It was lazing amongst the ivy and lichen in the Somerville’s sunken garden, stage two even, where I found true joy. Martin Gambie, his seemingly simple accoustic fare dazzling in its timing twists and turns, made a great day a magical one in a way only the lead Mardi Picassoan can. As usual he giggled shyly about the large amount of new material on offer, punctuated by undeniably cute and unforgettable rhythms from yore, though this time his seconding of his son on another accoustic guitar filled the little garden stage with the warmest of sounds and a glow that I shall remember for way beyond tomorrow.

But leave it up to Circus Murders to go one up on the whole extravaganza. Mounting the stage dressed as gnomes, long socks and big pointy hats the norm, every one of the Somerville’s patrons literally bounced for the whole of the Circus Murders mellee. Running through a short set of brash, new and crazy cartoon anthems which they say will soon be unleashed on a new CD, the Murders madness could well pop up in your favourite elevator or stuffed toy show real soon.

Adam Connors