February 7- March 2
Chevron Festival Gardens
If your idea of a good backyard party involves friends, a few drinks and some music then make the Chevron Festival Gardens your home away from home for three weeks from February 7 this summer.
The Festival's contemporary music hub made its debut in the Perth Cultural Centre last year, with music fans enjoying the suburban backyard meets junkyard aesthetic created by designer Joey Ruigrok van der Werven.
The water feature fashioned out of an abandoned Holden Camira, Hills Hoist and some old pipes made for a unique centrepiece to the gardens, while the long bar using the original pipe from C.Y. O'Connor's Goldfields pipeline was a very popular spot for festival-goers to bend an elbow whilst they lent ears.
The gardens are PIAF's fourth contemporary music venue, following the Music Box on the Esplanade, Verandah at the Perth Concert Hall and the Watershed, which was also at the cultural centre a decade ago.
Before the Watershed, the after-parties would be held at Winthrop Hall's Undercroft on the grounds of the University of WA. The move to purpose-built venues in, or near, the CBD represented an attempt to widen the Festival's demographic beyond its core western suburbs coterie.
Despite the fact the audiences have broadened, the various venues have been met with mixed responses. However, the gardens seemed to be an instant hit with good numbers heading to the old WA Museum site in Northbridge after attending various PIAF events last year.
The on-stage offerings of 2012 were, overall, slightly disappointing - a fact not helped by cancellations from Seasick Steve, Sound of Rum and Dennis Rollins - with the highlights including Bonnie Prince Billy, the Medics and two gigs from Death Cab for Cutie.
This year boasts another diverse crop leaning towards alternative or emerging talent, sprinkled with a few established big names.
After the opening-night performance from funk legend Maceo Parker, other stand-outs include indie rock chanteuse Cat Power, indigenous star Archie Roach, veteran post-rock ensemble Godspeed You! Black Emperor and hip-hop chart-toppers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Some of the lesser-known acts are just as likely to provide the most rewarding evenings of the season - perhaps Melbourne "future soul" outfit Hiatus Kaiyote or rambunctious country rockers Deer Tick.
The Festival also hopes to entice more people by adding some extra attractions in the gardens' bar area, including local and international DJs, film screenings and even 11-minute theatrical "micro-performances".
And the best part about this backyard party is that you don't have to clean up. Please mind the neighbours when you leave.