Prove your humanity

Last Monday, WA Day, saw hundreds of people snuggle into couches and dance around lounge rooms to a smorgasbord of excellent Perth-bred music. SOTAstream was WAM and Celebrate WA’s answer to COVID-19 restrictions. While it was vastly different to the usual beloved State of the Art festival, it’s safe to say our state’s talent was not diluted by the digital form.

After a Welcome to Country by Gina Williams, Carla Geneve kicked off the lineup. With characteristically honest lyrics and guitar hooks that make your head sway, Geneve demands attention on stage and on screen. As SOTAstream’s sunny MC Ofa Fotu said, while Geneve continues to gain national and international momentum, it is a privilege to watch her play so intimately—even if we are watching from our lounge rooms.

Next up, on the Freo.Social stage and screens across the state, were Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse. Williams’ vocals, as she sang proudly in Noongar language, were absolutely mesmerising, and partnered perfectly with Ghouse’s upbeat guitar. The duo’s lyrics are beautiful and hopeful, and Williams’ chatter between songs made the set feel authentically intimate—no small feat for a socially-distanced festival. Williams and Ghouse are at once charming and powerful, and their set was an invaluable celebration of WA’s first peoples.

As afternoon turned to evening, Methyl Ethyl lit up our screens. Their set was, as always, ethereal. Dreamy synths, moody lighting and the sheer talent of Jake Webb were all spectacular. This set made me miss live music like nobody’s business.

This feeling did not subside when Psychedelic Porn Crumpets began to play. Always weird and wonderful, these guys make it impossible to sit still on the couch: it’s compulsory to rock along.

On a less psych-y but no less epic note, WA was next treated to the shameless groove of Abbe May. Her electronica is hypnotic and her energy boundless. May is an iconic Perth muso, and very worthy of a WA day lineup.

Freo legends San Cisco took the stage next. Isolation has been fruitful for San Cisco, with their Flaws EP released in late March and single ‘On the Line’ in late May. It was joyous to watch the bands post-iso reunion on the Sota stage, and their lovable indie pop anthems did not disappoint.

The last act of the evening was Drapht, who’s hip hop rounded off a stellar line up of talent. Drapht has been taking the scene by storm for over ten years now, and it’s easy to see why.

Perth is all too often discounted when it comes to nurturing excellent musos. As Methyl Ethyl’s Jake Webb said in an interview between SOTA sets:

“Lots of people from Perth dream of leaving Perth. But I’m proud to be from WA.”

And when SOTA boasts a lineup that holds audiences’ attention all evening, without even the luxury of a physical venue for that audience, I reckon I’m pretty proud to be from WA, too.