Say what you will about the Perth psychedelic scene, but these guys essentially built it from the ground up. Pub crawlers could experience Mink Mussel Creek from 2007 before moving directly into early Tame Impala days. Soon to follow was the inescapable movement of POND and a plethora of solo records from folks involved in those bands. We come now to the Growl who on their first record, managed to infuse industrial rock clatterings with gospel blues and south of the border guitar licks. They produced one of my favourite records of last year, and now Cam Avery, the group’s swinging front man, takes to the Black Bear Lodge to preview a bunch of new Growl songs.
An intimate vibe draped the Lodge, tables and chairs lined the walls – something unseen at the previous Velociraptor show. Shiny Joe Ryan stepped onto the stage band-less and axe in hand ready for shredding. Setting the tone of the night instantly with his rendition of the greatest song ever written, while making no apologies to Tenacious D, Shiny Joe sang, I wanna f**k your girlfriend. While only dropping a few tracks from his debut album, the set was mainly filled with songs unapologetically stolen from POND band mate Nicholas Allbrook and 4.00am psychedelic beast jams. Which brings me to the most electrifying moment of Shiny Joe’s performance. With an underlying freak, avant-garde, Aphex Twin-style pulsating beat chugging along in the back, Shiny Joe filled the space with swirling guitar licks that stretched from one end of the psychedelic spectrum to the other. It was a picturesque and enthralling moment from the afro’d gentlemen – one which could have easily filled the Woodstock arena.
Walking on stage with a smile on his face, Cam Avery warmed the crowd with a stripped back Growl favourite, Douse the Lamps. Using yelps and growls (no pun intended), Cam provided the rhythm with intense onomatopoeias and clever use of loops. While the full band experience of the Growl is phenomenal, something about the rawness of Cam’s solo encounter made it really special. Dropping a few new tracks, Cam provides back story to the album’s creation and his experiences living in Los Angeles. The new songs are mature and weighty yet still clever love songs. Full of swagger and breathy hymns, Cam staggers around the stage like a cowboy drunk on love. All Black Bear Lodge needed was those unhinged doors in saloon bars and we would have been walking into a scene from True Grit. Cam’s set managed to hit a unreeling high when he played Dance With Me – a cut from the new Growl record that had been previously shared on Soundcloud. Again using the vocal loops and breathy acoustic to construct rhythm, Cam then subtly plucked away on an acoustic guitar and delivered a heart-wrenching story of love lost. His vocal cues were spot on with brilliant delivery.
While these new and old Growl songs were presented in the most simple of performances, it’s hard to tell where and how they’ll end up sounding on the end result. Cam’s swaggered stage presence and rawness of music allowed this show to be something unique – a brief window into his creative song writing process.