HyperFest 2016

Words: Alex Hindley

HyperFest is one of Perth's only music festivals that is aimed directly at underage patrons being able to enjoy world class music in a purely drug free environment. Thanks to a supportive council, beneficial sponsors and an incredibly hard working, passionate management and volunteer staff, HyperFest remains the best value for money festival on offer. This year saw a surge in attendance and provided one of the safest, purest and most enjoyable music festival experiences in Perth.

As the first waves of eager festival goers flooded into the Midland grounds, local indie rock and pop quartet Iceage Sugar belted out their infectious tunes to a posse of movement. Performing a flurry of personal and ridiculously enjoyable songs all strungs together with catchy riffs and staple indie vocals. The group were a free form and truly fun way to introduce the festival.

Read our interview with Iceage Sugar 

HyperFest's lineup blends multiple genres craftily together however hardcore and punk receive a particularly detailed recognition.

Local favourites, Dropbears were one of many hardcores acts to tear through the festival, playing a set unlike any other. Blending aggressive metal elements and play styles with an interesting vocal delivery that utilised the patent hardcore cadence fans are used to with an almost hip hop flow. Marrying multiple aspects of their genre to curate a bombardment of song types and sounds that allows Dropbears to dynamically cover many bases and reach all different types of fans. Unfortunately the show was littered with audio issues to no fault of the band that left lingering feelings they perhaps did not receive the best circumstances to perform under, however the large crowd that gathered at the stage in the blaring heat supported the band regardless. 

One of the most surprising points of HyperFest was how not only do the underage patrons enjoy the acts immensely, but are also fans of the bands playing. Singing lyrics back to a local band they've most likely never seen before just goes to show how dedicated the rising generations are to local music and how hungry they are for more experiences like this.

Gracefully grunging up the stage next was garage rock trio Pat Chow. Immediately belting into high tension screams and beautiful fuzz chords. A lively set that masterfully mashed the dishevelled elements of thick garage rock with a tight and regimented organic playstyle that would be difficult for any other act to pull off. Pat Chow deserve their high praise and maybe more after their fantastic album release last year Are You Okay?, which saw them critical acclaim and were a complete joy to see performed live. 

Returning to the festival after two years and under a new name comes Young Robin who bested the heat with one of the most accessible acts of the day. Whilst maintaining originality, Young Robin are clear perfectionists in the development of an indie pop sound. Taking influence from artists like Two Door Cinema ClubFoster The People and The Black Keys. Every song was stuffed with punchy rhythms and a catchy chorus that sometimes consisted of only melodic chanting. A sound that resonated with the swarming crowd who's excitement and movement shook the last few "stick in the mud" patrons into an active groove around the stage.

Whilst the main lineup for the day was enough entertainment on its own, HyperFest organisers went all out. Offering a silent disco experience inside a giant, pink inflatable room for fans of electronic and dance music as well as two other small stages for local acts. Located within the pop up markets and chillout tent, these spaces gave young, local and less hyped talent like Last LionsMetronova and Riley Pearce a chance to play.

If there is one artist who knows how to put on a show that everyone can get in to it's hip hop local Marksman Lloyd. Joined on stage by a full band and an accompanied vocalist, Marksman played a handpicked selection of his songs that effortlessly commanded the crowd. While explaining the context and meaning behind each song as he went, Marksman instructed the audience to move freely and to get involved with the experience as much as possible. Like putty in their hands, hordes of cheering fans bounced, clapped and recited to the live band's whim, whose efforts brought new life to every instrumental.

As the set grew to its penultimate moments, Marksman Lloyd jumped over the barrier and into the crowd to rap and chant in a pit of his fans passing the mic off at times to let the audience share his words personally. As the mass grew tighter and more energetic, colour powders cascaded from the heavens and shelled everyone in a spectrum of dyes. As the pack broke off into all out warfare, Marksman Lloyd returned to the stage a sweaty, smiling and multi-coloured mass to close the set and thank his fans. Most of which returned to the festival glowing with joy and illustrated vibrantly. 

Read our interview with Marksman Lloyd

As the sun began to set, Perth's leading alt-rock band The Love Junkies returned to the HyperFest stage for another year and it's no secret as to why the band is so popular. A combination of aggressive, thrashing guitar tones, expertly throttled drums and intense vocals to match, provide a powerful backbone to the now 4 piece act. Personality oozed from the stage as the local veterans smashed on to an explosive audience and a more forgiving sun, providing one of the last and best local performances of the day in expert fashion.

Fans of punk and alternative pop punk were in a buzz for the first act of the dusky night. Newcastle's Trophy Eyes were welcomed back to Perth after numerous visits in the past, earning them an eager and dedicated fan base. Only taking the opening song for the crowd to amass itself into a mosh pit of collisions and crowd surfers. Each song was structured to allow the crowd to move intensely and affectingly yet usually also contained a refrain of dampened instrumentation and emotive vocals, screamed in unison between the band and the audience. Easily one of the most passionate acts with a fan base to match, the Trophy Eyes brand of punk is refreshing take on the genre and was an excellent way to start the night.

As the last acts of the night began, headliners clashed and patrons could make the choice between the fast paced thrash band from Brisbane, DZ Deathrays or the slow jam, electronic soloist from the Central Coast, E^ST. Both offered an immensely enjoyable time across genres.

On one side of the Midland grounds, DZ Deathrays sloshed out tunes from their entire discography, including their mega successful Black Rat. The crowd was alive in the presence of the ARIA award winners. Giant inflatable beach balls rolled over heads as the rock duo melted faces and hearts with their intense antics. Blistering song after song to a stage light bathed crowd, a young alliance of passion that swayed and danced in relish of the frantic drumming and guitar styles of one Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley. An agonizingly brilliant set that boasted growth, depth and maturity within the genre.

Finally it was time for the stage to be graced by Australian metal powerhouse, Northlane. Crowd anti was upped tenfold as the band came out of the gates strong. It's uncommon for any of Northlane's songs to be anything but an epic tantrum of monster guitar tones, rumbling and frenzied drums with a sickly snapping snare and scorching vocal screams. Their HyperFest performance was no different. Rolling out favorites like Quantum Flux and Obelisk with ease, mosh pit attendees crashed and clambered on one another, vocalising together in a beautifully violent chorus.

The hardcore and metal scene thrives in Perth, especially when one of the only purely underage and dedicated venues available caters predominantly to those genres, so having heavyweights Northlane grace Perth in a much smaller, intimate and available fashion was a dream come true for many young fans. 

The night closed out with an overwhelming sense of solidarity and satisfaction shared amongst the grooving formations spying Ball Park Music's set and in the Northlane pit. It became increasingly obvious to first time attendees that underage festivals like HyperFest are more than a cheaper experience that youth can consent themselves to but in fact are a necessary support system that exposes them to new experiences, music genres, people and creative opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise get to witness. It's an avenue to seize a moment and a chance to be inspired that reminds Perth more experiences like this should be available to the public. The nurturing of musical and arts interests lead to a better and more diverse local scene of support and creativity. 

Until then, HyperFest should be recognised for its solo efforts in creating a quality environment to a sometimes overlooked demographic. Apart from the sponsors and local council governments who make the festival possible, a massive appreciation goes to the organiser and management staff, the dedicated photographers, grounds volunteers and the chief of operations, Simon O'Leary.

Congratulations on another successful HyperFest. See you next year!