Prove your humanity

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a gig, and even longer since I’ve strolled down to Fremantle’s cosiest mammalian locale, The Aardvark.

When it comes to music in Perth, our isolated city is often written off as, well, isolated: nestled far away from the cultural big dogs. But if closed borders and open gigs have taught us one thing, it’s that this sleepy town is brimming with fresh sounds. It was refreshing to catch a snapshot of the groovy local music at No Nomad’s headline gig last month.

Kicking off the night was Talking Trash, the bedroom pop project of singer-songwriter Hannah Coakley. Gentle and reflective, she played mellow tunes like Burnt Out, New Clothes and Triple J Unearthed release Shoelaces. Her music reminds me of stripped back tunes by Stella Donnelly ­­– an artist who was among a handful of Perth musicians in the audience.

Up next was Hec, a chilled four-piece featuring two synths, and a splash of clarinet alongside bass and drums. Making a bold choice to sing almost entirely in reverb-soaked falsetto added a unique element to the buffet of synth effects, from icy leads to woozy chords.

Hec’s music feels like one of those lo-fi study and chill YouTube brought to life, with frontman Hector Morlet bringing Glass Animals style vocals to the stage. In the crowd, heads bopped and the odd person reservedly jived, as a glowing red disco ball illuminated the room. Each of the four band members, including Airline Food’s Jack Annear and Demon Days’ Josh Chan seeming transfixed in their own zone of cool.

Up next was Nika Mo, diving into the night with her signature melancholy alt-folk. With songs like the dreamlike Exist, and vocally ambient Divination, Nika Mo filled the room with warm tones and soft suburban poetry, exploring wholesome lyrics about Jacaranda trees and swimming in Hyde Park Lake. Nika’s songs are like a love letter to Perth. Coupled with a two-piece string section, they made for a splendid set.

As 10pm rolled round, neo-soul headliners No Nomad graced the stage, carrying on the cool vibes of the opening acts. Fronted by the soothing voice of Clancy Davidson, the six-piece opened with tracks including new release Arctic Beauty Kiwi and the dulcet tones of Find Some Friends.

Between splashes of colourful melodies, honeyed vocals, and the placid nature of their music, No Nomad created an atmosphere in the room of blissful tranquility, sprinkled with bursts of artistic expression – an atmosphere embodying Perth’s current scene.

Ripe with key changes, tempo switches and a fine assortment of notes from the band’s musicians, there’s an actively calming presence in No Nomad’s music. It’s easy to imagine listening to them on a breezy morning somewhere on a Mediterranean beach house. They’re classy, sweet, and calming.

The tame crowd reflected the mood of the night; many standing and some sitting meekly, eyes closed, nodding along to the tightly packed range of sounds presented to them from the stage. During their performance of Yahoodoo, I enjoyed the playful interchange between Ryan on the guitar and Cameron on the drums.

Attention to detail is always appreciated in any art form, and the cheers which erupted when saxophonist David Adams swapped out his shoes for a pair of rollerblades to play the song Rollerblade certainly showed they appreciated not only the music, but the effort put into the performance.

While this gig wasn’t one for punters or headbangers, it was one to close your eyes to and soak in the atmosphere. Mellow, fresh, and a great way to unwind on a weeknight. That Thursday night at the Aardvark left me truly appreciative of our local talents.