The City of Wanneroo held their Global Eats and Beats Music Festival last weekend. Taking the stage were Grace Barbe, Salt Tree, Caravana Sun, Jakubi, and San Cisco, a lineup from surf funk to indie pop, making for an enjoyable and well-spent afternoon. Michael Franz reviews and brings us a gallery.
Saturday afternoon saw the return of annual music and food festival Global Beats and Eats, a prominent calendar event put on for free for locals by the city of Wanneroo. Lured by the promise of a lineup to rival any commercial music festival, and the smell of dozens of international cuisines wafting over the grounds, young fans, gig-veterans and families with children alike were drawn to Paloma Park with the ominous threat of rain hanging over the day finally giving way to a cool and breezy mid-afternoon.
Appearing first on the lineup, early punters were treated to the musical stylings of Seychelles Islander Grace Barbe, appropriately drawing inspiration from the cultural melting pot of her home to deliver a fusion style built from Afrobeat, reggae, soul and funk. Although early attendees were light on the ground, and prevented from approaching the stage barrier by a large area marked off for later performances and prowled by security guards, Barbe was still able to instill an infectious vibe with her vocals sailing across the grounds, switching seamlessly moment to moment from smoky French to booming Kreol and rich English. Backed up by a stable rhythmic core delivered by her sister Joelle, and the use of traditional instruments to construct warm confluences of twitchy beats, it’s easy to see how Barbe’s hybrid form has landed her such accolades as the WAM Best World Music Act an astounding seven times out of the past eight years.
Next on stage came Salt Tree, a Margaret River acoustic folk/electro duo. As of yet relatively undiscovered, the pair nonetheless gave a convincing argument as to why the admiration of their small but loyal fan base in their seemingly anachronistic but surprisingly resonant and soulful music style was not misplaced. Coming across as nothing more than a pair of straightforward guys who like making music, Salt Tree built their sounds from relatively simple yet punchy acoustic progressions, layered with smooth synth lines and tied together with deep husky vocals. A poignant set, the duo were let down however in several key regards – some crucially mistaken samples drew a jagged edge onto their laid back rhythm at times, whilst a somewhat samey sounding set construction and reserved stage presence meant that they were never able to fully deliver on the potential their early songs promised. The pair are definitely on the way up, but have a way to go yet before they master the festival stage.
The third act of the afternoon, Caravana Sun, were ready to change up the laid back pace of the festival, with guitarist and lead vocalist Luke Carra’s declaration “we are here to make you groove.” Drawing the crowd to the barrier with bassist Ant Beard’s restless dancing, the Sydney based four-piece launched into an emotive set that was as much a treatise on humanity, nature and culture as it was music – effortlessly leading the audience through upbeat crowd-pleasers to echoing anthems. The band’s unique style carries with it a raw and edgy energy that definitely must be seen live to appreciate, with a solid rhythmic core accented by twangy surf-rock and ska elements. The set hit its high point at Whale Song from recently released album Guerilla Club, a mournful dirge built off of soaring vocals and haunting trumpet wails, before rounding out the performance with Open Up and Gaia, dedicated to indigenous culture and man’s relationship with nature. With as much behind their music, as there is on stage, Caravana Sun are the sort of band that leave the viewer with the feeling that they’re watching something much bigger than themselves.
Expectations were high by the time hip-hop/funk heavyweights Jakubi took to the stage, ready to capitalize on the energy left over from their predecessors. Playing the crowd as much as their instruments, the Melbourne-based outfit took control of the audience early and didn’t let go with a performance that seemed at once both flawlessly choreographed and spontaneously organic. Jakubi really are the kind of band that every reviewer will read something different from, with jangly guitar licks, velvet vocal harmonies accented by live voice-boxing and pounding rhythmics conjuring up visions of everything from club pop anthems to bluesy southern ballads. Eminently on display was just how natural and comfortable the quintet are rocking together as a cohesive unit, playing off of one another and building a stage presence from the intimate ties of family that hold the band together, shifting gear from the grooving tones of Nobody Better to lazy crowd-favorite Couch Potato announced by front man Jerome Farah with a cheeky shrug, “if you like doing things… bye…. this one’s not for you.” Award for absolute show-stealer goes to Jacob Farah on bass, whose bounding energy drove the stage and band to their height.
The anticipation for headliners San Cisco was palpable, with the crowd starting a chant to call them out of the green room a full ten minutes before they were set to take to the stage. Walking into the spotlight, lead man Jordi Davieson met the crowd’s enthusiasm with a shy grin before leading the Fremantle four-piece into a rendition of highlights from their intoxicatingly catchy discography. The frantic energy of previous acts definitely came down as the band wended their way through crowd their instant classics This is Not About You, B-Side and Beach, setting into their signature indie-pop niche to head-nodding approval. With Jordi brandishing the guitar in front of him like a conductor’s baton, Nick Gardner and Josh Biondillo stalking the stage, and bombshell Scarlett Stevens ever-brilliant drumming and distant yet tugging backing vocals, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody at this stage that San Cisco have learned just how to put on a show.
Leaving the grounds at the disappointingly early finish time of 9:30, a momentary pause became appropriate to reflect on just how promising an achievement like Global Beats and Eats actually is. With several prominent casualties in recent years amongst the ranks of Western Australia’s live music festivals, that such a successful event can be put together by local councils is encouraging. Drawing from the deep pools of local talent and community spirit, one can only hope that festivals like this see a rise in success and prominence in the future.