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In the Pines is a really cool festival put on by RTRFM that showcases local bands.  The music ran the gamut from sludgy metal to pleasant pop.  There was even an eight-piece ska/hip-hop/afro-funk act (The Brow Horn Orchestra) that despite sounding like a terrifying Lovecraftian nightmare on paper, actually put on my favourite show of the day.

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Derek vs. The Perth Nightlife

I’m perpetually confused by the night life in Perth.  On the one hand, there are plenty of cool, small bars on offer.  It’s no great chore to find a hip drinkery for a fancy cocktail and some carefully designed ambience.  But where are the indie-pop dance clubs of my homeland?  Where are the Biltmores, the Waldorfs, the Honeys?  

Going out to dance in Perth seems to mean that you’re going out for dance music.  For house, breakbeats, DnB, dubstep.  So much dubstep.  Perth’s cup runneth over with serious DJ culture…   

But noticeably absent from the city’s soundscape is the middle-class hipster DJ with two turntables and a Macbook Pro.  The aloof music nerd that spins whatever he can pull down off Hype Machine and Pitchfork.  The guy that holds weeklies at whatever bar will offer the cheapest drink specials.  He might miss all his transitions and furrow his brow at acronyms like “BPM,” but he’s the guy playing what I want to hear.

And he’s not in Perth.

Briefly, I thought I had discovered one of his ilk.  The poster was a Warhol rip off.  The DJ write-up promised “the best indie tunes to get you moving on the dancefloor.”  

But when we arrived, the bar was full of Bros in indie-rock disguises.  Muscleheads wearing an inexact pastiche of the hipster uniform: their jeans were tight, but not too tight.  Their flannels were ironed and tasteful.  Their haircuts were unironically conservative.

My party and I watched, agog, as a gay dude danced a little too sexy in the direction of someone else and was met with an aggressive and violent affirmation of heterosexuality.  And then the bouncers arrived and asked the gay guy to leave.  For being gay.  Understand that this is not an exaggeration or a presumption.  I spoke to this man later and he confirmed that the problem was, in fact, that he was hitting on men.

We waded through the dancing throngs and I remarked that there weren’t any “indie tunes.”  It was all generic house and top 40. And then I started to notice men slamming jaeger bombs.  High fives and chest bumps.  Girls tottering around the dancefloor in wedge heels.  A terrible realization: I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.  This must not be the bar that I read about.

But of course, it was.  We left, still hopeful that next weekend we might stumble upon something a little more worthwhile.