There’s a rat in the lane


the laneway festival in perth/fremantle is fast getting a reputation as the too dam hot festival. with six preceding days above 40 degrees 2016 was shaping up like another ring tail squeezer. it was going to be war. but suddenly the heat collapsed like prime minister tojo allowing the divine wind of fremantle to gently blow. with a cooler day on offer the rat took the chance to make it to laneway for the 11.30 start which featured perth band FAIT. originally the solo project of multi instrumentalist elise higgins FAIT live crank it up with higgins on guitar/keyboards and the added rob stephens bass, mike antonas guitar, darrell sundai drums and no singing but then with a sound like that you don’t need singing. FAIT are loud and abrasive but there is no denying their pulsating engrossing hypnotic rhythms. its easy to see why in 2015 they signed to japanese mega label tower records. new york band DIIV take the mistletone stage having just finally released their second lp the week before (the double- is the is are) after  a protracted rollout of singles over the past year. front man zachary COLE smith is many things; a junkie, a cliche, a baggy shorted hipster, a brat and a kurt cobain wannabe with a prodigious ego. by stating that by their third lp DIIV would be bigger than nirvana COLE came in for plenty of mudslinging from the music press and fans alike. last years drug bust with girl friend skye ferera and then time in rehab just added fuel to the doubters. but today COLE looks very focused spending the full 30minutes on stage before the band start honing the sound. from  the first song DRUUN PT II it becomes obvious DIIV are a special band. nothing in music sounds as good as 4 guitars and drums coming at you. COLE introduces with we’re DIIV and we are from new york and this is IS THE IS ARE from our new record then for the next song we’re DIV and we’re from new york this song incidentally is UNDER THE SUN. just has he says that the divine wind stops blowing and his words become prophetic. you realise he is right and ask yourself has there ever been a more appropiate song played at laneway. its controlled chaos on stage with the biggest of big guitar sounds. there is pattern emerging with COLE’s vocals. in the songs from the first lp OSHIN the vocals a mumbled almost like another instrument but those from IS THERE IS ARE the vocals are much stronger emphasising some sort of recovery and hope from the drug addled past. COLE continues to introduce each song with either we are DIIV or we are DIV and we are from new york. there are obvious influences on show ; nirvana, sonic youth, krautrock,the smiths and the cure but  this does not detract from DIIV who have developed their own epic and highly accomplished sound to match the viscerally honest lyrics. some of the songs GRANTS SONG are as beautifully romantic as a doomed love affair. just the thing for valentines day. the set ends with DOUSED which is hands down the most danceable grunge track of all time. DIIV make a lot of noise but it is truely a thrilling noise and maybe just maybe if COLE can stay alive and make this next album he may realise his dream. FIDLAR are up next and just out of passing interest the rat ventured to the side of the stage. now FIDLAR fans don’t generally think much of tomorrow so when the rat appeared they were initially surprised that someone could grow so old. like it says in the gospel of lead singer ZAC HARPER they have all had too much fun. but then they there were comments like”let the old guy through” and “i’v seen you in cowboy movies , aren’t you CLINT EASTWOOD?” maybe FIDLAR fans aren’t as dumb as they look. whatever soon the rat is front and centre staring across the meanest bouncers ever into the eyes of ZAC. offers are flowing asking me to get on the shoulders of some of the fans. but there is no time as the band start and the death pit begins seething immediately. frequently i’m forced forward onto the barrier knocking all the breath out of my body. any body part protruding over the barrier is grabbed by the bouncers and ripped off. heads and upper limbs mainly. the happier the fans get the angrier the the bouncers.from the opening song of STOKED AND BROKE, FIDLAR just keep playing their skate-punk at breakneck speed while the fans just drink, dance,sing and generally do as the songs say .NO WAVES and CHEEP BEER really get the crowd moshing . lots of scuzzed out guitar from ZAC CARPER and ELVIS KUEHN , relentless bass from BRANDON SCHWARTZEL  and pounding drums from MAX KUEHN. for all their chaos and fun they are a tight band. somehow a punter gets past the bouncers onto the stage. he moves back level with MAX then runs full pelt. he is a big guy. he leaps and sails over the bouncers over the barrier  and over me. were are my friends now? the crowd have enough mental wherewithal and  split. he lands on the RAT. squished RAT. by now the bouncers are rabid dogs. they grab another head from across the barrier and rip it off. FIDLAR are still churning out great songs. WEST COAST hit the mark. it  could be the west australian coast or the west australian football team (not if it’s good). by the time last song COCAINE comes around ZAC has the crowd eating out of his hand. he asks everyone in the crowd to sit down and bliss out before he ramps up the instrumentation  for one final assault  from the moshing rat king that is the FIDLAR death pit.  a FIDLAR show is not for the faint of heart but maybe they now have a new acronym FORGET IT DAD LIFES ALL RIGHT. and as the rat licks his bruises and picks himself up off the floor MAX KUEHN throws him a valentines day love letter.

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