The Domain, December 8
THIS year's Homebake subtitle “the Global Edition” may have seemed forced – it was dubbed thus to accommodate a quintessential New York City band (Blondie) as headliner of the usually all-Antipodean event – but the event lived up to the rest of its name: it truly baked.
In fact, contrary to internationally accepted boogie wisdom, you could partly blame the day's disappointments on the sunshine. Was it the scorching heat that caused so many acts, especially those on the outdoor stages, to sound more lethargic than we know them to be?
We can perhaps give rising Freo four-piece San Cisco the benefit of the doubt, given they were blighted by feeble volume that made them sound limp when we know them to be frisky, and a singer that had lost her voice. (Thankfully Scarlett Stevens was still able to drum, and lead singer Jordi Davieson got assistance from Preatures singer Isabella Manfredi when necessary.)
Yet over at the Dome stage, veterans such as the Saints meandered, having chosen their middle-of-the-road rock route than the preferred (to me, at least) punk option, while it took smouldering cameos from a fleet-footed Tim Rogers and a seductive Megan Washington to ignite the Bamboos' tight but until-then serviceable rather than mind-blowing soul.
In the shade of the tents the performances seemed to be livelier. The MCs and DJ of Diafrix fought valiantly through muddy sound under the Big Top to entertain with bouncy rhythms and rhymes before a fast and furious DZ Deathrays thrilled on the club-like Rowland S. Howard stage with nothing more than a drum kit thrashed to within an inch of its life, some ferocious vocals and an electric guitar most memorably played while its owner, Shane Parsons, was on his back on a sea (well, more of a lake) of hands.
Evening on the main stage meant climactic acts that seemed especially odd after more traditional contemporary-music-event fare such as Tame Impala (all critically acclaimed spacey psych rock and glam grooves) and Hilltop Hoods (crowd-pleasing hip-hop): a comedy-rock piano virtuoso and a bunch of new-wave icons 30 years past their peak?
The former, Tim Minchin, was lyrically clever and technically spectacular, if funnier between songs than during them. Blondie, meanwhile, proved their pop anthems are genuinely timeless via a field crossing several generations joyously singing the likes of Atomic, Heart of Glass and even a cover of Beastie Boys' Fight for Your Right back to them – which was handy because Debbie Harry, 67, was audibly struggling.
You wouldn't call the day on the whole a flat-out success but, like Blondie, Homebake 2012 just about got away with it.