The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Day Two – Sunday 2nd January 2011
Busselton, Western Australia



Sunset Events are reknowned for putting on an eclectic show for SOUTHBOUND FESTIVAL each year in the beautiful Southwest of Western Australia, and 2011’s event is no different - Public Enemy, The Klaxons, Interpol, LadyHawke, The Living End, Tame Impala, The Rapture, Paul Kelly, The Beautiful Girls, Hot Hot Heat, Birds Of Tokyo, Eskimo Joe, Angus & Julia Stone and many more featured.


Thank fuck though for air conditioning in the car on the nearly three hour drive south for Rockpit favourite JOAN JETT’s headlining set on Sunday, else we would surely have melted in the 40-plus degree heat (that’s well over 100 F for overseas readers!)


Scorching though it was, we had high anticipations for Jett – but would six hours driving on one of the hottest days of the year be worth it…? Read on…


Jett’s stocks may be at an all-time high amongst the pretty young things right now due to THE RUNAWAYS movie and the accompanying critical reappraisal of her first band’s back catalogue, but older rockers like your humble Rockpit reprobates are long-time fans to whom her unbridled down to earth rock n’ roll has never fallen out of favour - to say we are looking forward to finally seeing her and The Blackhearts live is a tremendous understatement!


But first, we have a scorching hot afternoon and a smoky evening to get through…

DAN SULTAN played a strong set of bluesy and rootsy soft rock on the tent stage, while Fremantle darlings ESKIMO JOE setup on the main stage in the full glare of the sun.


Born to grace a large stage, Eskimo Joe gave the crowd exactly what they wanted – intelligent, catchy, feelgood, arena-sized indie pop rock songs that had everyone singing along. ‘New York New York’, ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’, new track ‘Total Control’ and set closer ‘From The Sea’ had the tanned and skimpily clad masses dancing along the whole way through.


CHILDREN COLLIDE proved immensely popular and a left centre surprise of the day – a three piece who make enough noise for twice their number, they alternated between equal parts Sonic Youth noise experimentation cum ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’-era Pink Floyd, with thrashy Nirvana crossed with, well, umm - ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’-era Pink Floyd!! These kids must be doing something right as the whole crowd erupted in sing-a-longs from opener ‘Waiting’ all the through to their raucous climax.



THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS do white boy, roots rock reggae as finely as anyone, and their set provided a loved up, feel-good, cool vibe to match the beautiful orange sun dipping below the tree line and the horizon. Favourite ‘Blackbird’ had everyone up and singing, and ‘Music’ was a dancer’s favourite.



Ian Kenny of Karnivool has had a very busy 2010, not only with his “first” band, but also his extremely popular side project BIRDS OF TOKYO. The young crowd lapped up every bit of the Birds’ alt rock stylings (think Eskimo Joe crossed with Tool and you won’t be a million miles from the end result) as a smoke haze blew across the festival site from a fire miles away in Manjimup. Luckily the fire posed no threat to the festival or its crowd, and the smoke was only enough to sting the eyes,- but thank goodness it blew away within a couple of hours, as we’d neglected to bring the eye drops!



Current buzz band THE NATIONAL took to the second stage to huge applause and particularly popular were tracks from their latest release, the US and UK Top 10 release ‘High Violet’. Coming across to these untutored ears as an indie-emo mash, they have a little of The Editors about them. Lyrically they seem obsessed with mundane everyday life, which I am sure is what goes down so well with the kids in the crowd. If you share many music critics obsessions with the likes of the always overrated Joy Divison then you will love these guys.



A huge roar welcomed THE LIVING END to the stage, but they started slow with a couple of newer mainstream rock oriented tunes which lacked the character of their earlier, more rockabilly sound. They hit their stride nicely by song three though – ‘Roll On’ - which they prefaced with the first verse of The Choirboys classic ‘Run To Paradise’.


It’s a fun show – double bassist Scott Owen repeatedly climbs atop his instrument as he slaps away at it, and instigated a ‘Happy birthday’ sing-a-long for guitarist and singer Chris Cheney, during which the birthday boy resisted the urge to skull his beer (as exhorted by the crowd) – at least until after ‘End Of The World’.



The biggest cheers were reserved for their older classics – ‘All Torn Down’, a snippet of Thorpie’s ‘Most People I Know (Think That I’m Crazy)’, ‘Prisoner of Society’, ‘West End Riot’ and ‘White Noise’ all brought the house down.



It sounds like The Living End are trying to redefine their place on the rock milieu, move from their early rocking rockabilly sound to a more mainstream vibe, but the sad fact is that their newer songs just aren’t as anthemic or catchy or as memorable as their earlier stuff. Today’s is a good, solid show none-the-less.


PUBLIC ENEMY is the only act late all day, and we’re waiting to get to Joan Jett! Instead we get a 20 minute intro from the road crew who keeps teasing us with Flavor Flav’s sneakers and telling us that in ten more minutes they will be on stage. It gets to the stage where you feel like you are waiting for Axl Rose. The intro is two slightly camp men dancing about in army uniforms, before we get to the jumping and extravagant arm gestures which is certainly more entertaining than the ‘old school hip-hop’ that ensues. We beat a hasty retreat to catch Joan while a hoard of white surf dudes in shorts, singlets and thongs jump up and down, start talking ‘ghetto’ and move their arms about like they really, really need the toilet…


That the day belonged to Joan Jett, without question, was proven from the moment she jogged out onstage with The Blackhearts, clad in an impossibly tight black leather jumpsuit that no 52 year old has any right to look this damn fine in!




Jett exudes impossible cool – until you remember that she really has been there, done it and made the t-shirt, practically writing the rule book for 3 or 4 successive generations of rock chicks along the way.



She is, of course, well reknowned for her cover versions – ‘Light Of Day’ (from the movie of the same name in which she co-starred with Michael J Fox) was written by Bruce Springsteen, ‘Crimson & Clover’ by Tommy James and the Shondelles, ‘Do Ya Wanna Touch (Oh Yeah)’ was originally a Gary Glitter song – hell, even her signature song ‘I Love Rock n Roll’ was originally done in 1975 by The Arrows – but when she writes an original - wow, they rock. Her Runaways songs ‘Cherry Bomb’, ‘You Drive Me Wild’ (Introduced as “the first song I ever wrote”) and ‘School Days’, as well as solo career hits ‘Bad Reputation’, ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’, ‘Love is Pain’ and ‘Fake Friends’ all caused a sensation amongst thee Southbound crowd, every single song was instantly recognisable and (thank goodness for the power of Hollywood) even the pretty young things knew the words to them all.




Such is Jett’s stage presence, it felt like she invited us into her world for the full set, encouraging us to sing along to these all time favourites - and we almost, just for a moment, felt like these songs were ours and she was merely the musical messenger. Jett is indisputably one of the original true rock chicks AND just about the last of her generation still standing to have never compromised. It also says a lot that she is one of the only artists we have known who have been happy to have photographers shoot their entire set, rather than the standard “First three songs, no flash”.




Her set today is an absolute triumph – 65 minutes of white hot, blistering and uncompromising rock n’ roll, just the way we love it. And yes – the long drive was more than worth the effort!


Joan Jett – setlist


Bad Reputation
Cherry Bomb
Light Of Day
Do Ya Wanna Touch (Oh yeah)
You Drive Me Wild
The French Song
Love Is Pain
Fake Friends
School Days
I Love Rock n’ Roll
Crimson & Clover
I Hate Myself For Loving You

Reflecting the relaxed southern region that hosts the festival, Southbound is also notable for it’s meticulous organisation and chaos free, friendly vibe – many other festivals could take a leaf from their book. With 20,000 people, the festival site not only doubled the Busselton population for 3 or 4 days, but also acted as it’s own mini city, yet problems and anti-social behaviour were almost non-existent. Bravo Sunset Events – job well done!

Shane Pinnegar
Photos by Mark Rockpit
Additional words (The National, Public Enemy) by Mark Rockpit
Additional words (Joan Jett) by Trulie Jackson