Peering out from side of stage, there was a sea of faces gazed upon John Maus as he took to The Forum main stage – some bemused, some perplexed, few nodding along. Opposed to the intimate enclosure of The Corner on the night previous, it felt as though we were witnessing King Kong tear through a run of retro-tinted pop numbers. Soaking himself with water and sweat, Maus revelled in his torment in front of a striking cinematic projection.
I only managed to catch an all-too fleeting taste of Boredoms leader DJ Yamantaka Eye as transformed the mezzanine into an all-out dance floor with some dirty house.
Sun Araw shared half the upstairs stage with Perth visual artist Ben Barretto, who was crafting a piece with a Mouse Trap-like set-up. The contraption’s graceful fluidity stuttered towards the end of the set, initiating a snowball of chagrin that eventually deemed the music unbearably loud.
The well-packed and narrow mezzanine stage diminished sonic clarity of Lost Animal somewhat, and it was a little difficult to see what exactly was going on from where I was standing. Though primarily backing-track based, flourishes of live guitar complemented the work of bassist Shags.
Thee Oh Sees were nothing short of impossibly great. Eddy Current frontman Brendan Huntey could be spotted around the venue sporting a tee emblazoned with “Who the fuck is John Dwyer?”. To answer the question, he was the dude holding up his guitar with nothing but his teeth – during the first song of the set, no less. Having ruled pretty much every small bar in town over the past few years, Thee Oh Sees proved they’re just as capable of slaying it in the setting of a grand theatre.
I think it’s about time we started to consider Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier as an alternative energy source. Armed with a skeletal drumkit setup, Greg ripped apart Deerhoof’s stunning back catalogue with a tenacity and precision which commanded as much attention, if not more, than lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s cheerleader dance moves.
Hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces rounded out the evening in fine fashion. Leaving just before the end of the set, I took a moment to bask in the muddy low-end mix by standing immediately in front of the stack. It was intense.
Though the maiden Sugar Mountain was a success in itself, the sophomore effort’s format tweaks marked a decided improvement – blending the art elements in a more seamless manner, as well as harnessing the most impressive of lineups.
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
LOVED: The art components being more attuned to the festival than that of the maiden Sugar Mountain.
HATED: Not being able to sweat it out for Eye’s entire set.
DRANK: Some nasty lager I’ve never heard of before.