The Adelaide music scene: to many of you it might be little more than a touring speed bump between Melbourne and Perth but to us it's a way of life. Feast within, on all its dysfunctioning splendour, as we bring you the highly satirical, laughingly fictional and intellectually imbecile tales from our rock & roll wasteland...
THE ADELAIDE BIG DAY OUT 2008 LIVE @ WAYVILLE SHOWGROUNDS / Friday February 1st 2008
Aaaah there's nothing like being a photojournalist to a ghost town like Adelaide. All year round everyone's all but oblivious. This cult of the stolen few, this underground movement and I've got free reign maaaan! I'm lord of my domain! Big fish in my little pond! All the best angles, all the best shots, front and centre, ego incarnate, a tall poppy just begging to be cut down. Fuck, I'm the one and only! surely there'd be others by now!? Then one day along comes the Big Day Out and at last YOU all see what I see! In your hundreds, in your thousands. Arms in the air, raised up on shoulders, waving cameras and phones, all here to remind me: without an AAA laminate I'm just as fucked as you. Lost to the same mob rule of pounding fists and stampede feet. Lost for words, lost for focus, why fight the impossible? You truly want photos that don't suck? fuckit, go here. When there's 34,000 of us out there we ALL have our own stories to tell..
BRITISH INDIAmyspace :: I've had 3 hours sleep (3 more than last year). Breakfast at the Prince Albert. Bacon, eggs, mushroom, toast and hashbrown. I'm running late. 4 beers to a 10 minute walk. Sweat running sunscreen down to sting my eyes. Crash landing at noon. Lost and sleep walking on the surface of the moon. Such is my headspace crawling for the first band of the Big Day Out. Green Stage. Fuck. They all look the same at this hour. Nothing but the same screaming, guitars, bass and drums, all those catchy lines and hooks. They sound oh so familiar yet I don't know who the fuck they are (damn you Triple J!). I'm here taking photos and my eyes aren't even open? woooo!
CUT OFF YOUR HANDSmyspace :: Now they've gone and moved the Essential Stage. I'm wandering under a glass canopy looking at my map wondering where the fuck my brain just crawled off to. Tiny coloured icons tell me it's now stuffed into a shed off from the main stages. Weird. Here I find my next selection on the menu. Yes! Everyone's favourite James Dean car collision at 200mph! They tore the roof off of Rocket Bar twice back in 2007 and look set to tear us a new one again in 2008. Lead Singer Nick Johnston lopes around stage in a black moon boot after tearing a new one in his right ankle two months ago, whilst the rest of the band cause repetitive strain injury to the tiny hammers in my inner ear. All this darkness and stage lighting make for such a welcome respite from the sun. Aaaah if only every Big Day Out could be played out under a solar eclipse like this!
On my journey through to the local stage I'm briefly distracted by one of the Big Day Out's many brain damaging sideshows. One robot mohawk drummer and his two pole dancing fembot CCTV sidekicks performing what appears to be a bad 80's stop-motion terminator groove, perpetually out've time to a backing track of fuzzing cliche guitars. Novelty factor high, yet shortlived. Watch as one lone operator sits in the backwings infinitely overjoyed over the prospect of repeating this same 5 minute performance over and over in a loop for the next 10 hours.. wooooooo!
SKELETONSmyspace :: I'm still half asleep when I blindly wander into the Local Produce stage, retinas screaming red from all the excess light bouncing off concrete, sunscreen still stinging my eyes. Who the fuck goes to see a local band at The Big Day Out anywaze? If they're a freakjam art-rock band like Skeletons you sure as fuck do! Although infinitely more appropriate in a dimlit venue shy of midnight, the insanity here today is no less palpable. Group screaming, tandem drumming, facemelting saxaphone, the microphone over the bongos busted to mute, all those trippy awkward silences? They're the impossibly cool "indie" act the impossibly cool "indie" art freaks usually enjoy in tiny venues you never knew existed, now bleached white to the space cadet glare of hundreds of fresh zombies clueless to what they just got themselves into.. freaky!
MIDNIGHT JUGGERNAUTSmyspace :: Yawning, squinting, barely conscious. It's way too fucking early for the main stage, what the HELL was I even thinking? Better to see this elephant stampede on a night like THIS, than ever so far away out there. Hmmm my mind wanders. I'm thinking food. Wasn't it lunch 2 hours ago?
Two Villis meat pies later I originally entertain the notion of hitting the Boiler Room to catch Dizzee Rascal. Unfortunately so did everyone ELSE. There's no way in hell I'm getting in there, and hundreds of people are still desperately clinging to insane the hope they will, frozen in spot outside the entrance screaming at security. So fuckit, why not take a detour here?
THE BEARDSmyspace :: Yup, if any band in Adelaide was destined their entire lives to play the Lilypad stage at the Big Day Out, it'd be this one. The Beards. One punchline over and over beating my head to the point of dementia. Part blues band, part comedy act, part people's revolutionary army, Here's another song about Beards! Stupid yet ever so infinitely clever. Fuck yeah, I'm growing one right now!
"If you grow it, they will come". Hmmm, need I say more?
DIZZEE RASCALmyspace :: Moments later, the cork pops at the entrance to the Boiler Room and I stagger blindly into the remainder of Dizzee Rascal's set. I don't really remember all that much, save for a bouncy pogo stick drum n bass jam, a crowd going fucking apeshit into the walls and how much that pencil neck dweeb Dizzee Rascal is trying to resemble 50cent these days.. awesome!
SOFT WHITE MACHINEmyspace :: Another trip back to the Local Produce stage. I bump into Dan from Kasavett, who appears infinitely amused at the sight of me drinking nothing but water today. Somehow I find spending 5-10 minutes trying to get a wrist band, followed by 15-20 trying to buy enough drinks tokens to last all day, followed by 20-30 waiting in line for a luke warm beer, followed by 10-15 trying to force it through a crowd without spilling it, followed by 10-15 rushing out again because you need to pee, followed by 10 minutes in line to the loo, followed by another 10-15 trying to get back into the mosh, repeated throughout the day over and over a ridiculous waste of my time, but hey, maybe I'm wrong? You may also be infinitely amused that I've just wasted all this space talking about THAT than talk about Soft White Machine's set at the Big Day Out (let alone give anyone a star rating today). Fuckit, they've made it THIS far, what else you need to know? :)
BATTLESmyspace :: After countless hours sleep walking, it took THIS band on the Green Stage to finally wake me up. Every year there's always that one chance discovery that everyone raves about, the one that everyone says you should've seen. The one you'll be kicking yourself over when they become huge in spite of themselves. In 2008 it was Battles. I heard about all the hype. That New York buzz. That drummer from Helmet. I sourced their "Mirrored" album on a whim weeks earlier and couldn't make heads or tails of their acid chipmunk vocals and spazzed out drumming, but live in front of me today, like a pack of mad magicians it finally makes sense. The rising helium chants, the chugging pendulum guitars, the mandelbrot drumming? FUCK YEAAAAAH!
PNAUmyspace :: Yeah I know. Say what you will about the shirtless neon freaks, the chicks with the fluffy pink elephant feet and fairy wings who frequent this sweat pit all day snubbing all else, chasing their tails to a clusterfuck of inane electro with the attention span of a goldfish only to emerge at midnight clueless that the main stages even exist. You may think the Boiler Room just repeats the same shit over and over (and quite often you'd be right) but then you miss out on a mad fucking rush like Pnau. Featuring guest appearances from Luke Steel of Sleepy Jackson, a mad procession of oversized novelty mascots, oversized balloons and one fucking, pounding, ping pong pogo love buzz in mile wide grins and that just did not quit. Expect the newborn population of Adelaide to triple come October and if I was on ectasy right now, they'd all be mine..
THE ARCADE FIREmyspace :: Somewhere on the run between the Boiler Room and the main stages, I somehow manage to wolf down an entire Butter Chicken dinner without pausing for breath. Even more surprising it only took me all of 5 minutes lining up to procure it. Damn, for the Big Day Out that may just be a record! So here I am for The Arcade Fire: ten people on stage, violins, guitars, megaphones, church organ pipes, spastic tambourines, a melancholy sweet and sour evangalistic choir, when it comes to main stage baptism by fire it doesn't get any weirder than this! If I was near insane enough, I'd be bum-rushing the D barriers right about now to get a hit of this point blank, but as you can clearly see from my "tiny, blurry and oh-so far away" photography, I stuck it out in the backlines lest their full blown heavenly sound reduce my vampiric form to ashes in it's wake. The Arcade Fire, they're nothing short of a revelation, they make any other "religious" band look like a giraffe falling down a flight of stairs, Régine Chassagne (in the orange and white) on drums, tambourine, squeeze box and vocals seriously rocks my world and if I was on acid right now I'd worship this band as my new golden god of many shifting faces. OOOOH FUCK!
UNKLEmyspace :: It's rare to see a full band jamming out in the Boiler Room quite like this one. Not since Soulwax blasted the shadows into the back walls at the 2006 Big Day Out have we had an act to compare to the scope of Unkle. This was no reach for the lasers windowlicking anthem. This was no retarding love-in. This was cinematic, widescreen, brooding and damn near terrifying in it's malevolence. I know it sounds utterly stupid to write this, but this truly gave me "chills", like actual hairs standing to attention, eyes like saucers, bugging the fuck out. They were the most awesome epic filmscore to a movie yet written. Sure, I know it felt a little amiss when they played "Restless" only to have Josh Homme's vocals on backing, or "Lonely Soul" with someone else doing Richard Ashcroft's signature lyrics, but in no way did it diminish their cold fury. If you missed this, you wouldn't be kicking yourself, you'd be hiring a team of midgets to do it for you!
So it was a difficult decision to leave here so soon, in my mad dash back to the main stages..
Arriving during Silverchair's set (whilst Daniel John's attempted a shouty demented urge to sex up the crowd during "If You Keep Losing Sleep") I thought I could make a break for the D barrier. Hours before Rage Against The Machine, I thought I had time. I was wrong. Thousands in the crowd had the exact same idea and had packed that bottle neck to corking. Why the fuck the organisers continue to make ONE entrance to two stages continues to escape me!? Nobody was going anywhere. And so, not looking to repeat my mistake during "Muse" last year (where I spent the entire set trying to bust through that fucking queue), I stuck to the backlines again..
BJORKmyspace :: So here I am, many millions of miles away, pushing my digital sniper zoom as far as it will take me to get these laughable midgets a few times out've focus till I just gave up this stupidity and simply enjoyed the show (which considering her track record with photographers is probably a GOOD thing!). Originally there were doubts that she was even gonna make an appearance tonight after she pulled out've Sydney's Big Day Out due to strained vocal chords, but there was no sign of failing voice here. She was bird song delivered in multi-octaves, made of playdough and pulled in all directions by an exciteable toddler. She had this bizarre horn section straight out've a Northern Europe/Tibetan/UFO master race mashup. People dancing in sandboxes to make shuffling beats, lunatics hammered keys and drums and even more confusing (especially for those watching the video screens) these mad magicians tweaking these fuckoff bizarre new age touch-screen devices. The first was simply featured a series of touch sensitive EQ sliders. The second (more confusingly so) was shaped like a large round glass table, flaming blue electric in the middle like a cauldron, framed by an "alphabet" in weird sigils. As the musician placed each sigil on the table, shifted and rotated them, lighting effects would shimmer to surround them in the blue, each to signal different sonic effects. More would be added throughout the show to interract and change them, till, by the end of the set, an entire alphabet soup was swirling about on screen. Beats me what the fuck it all meant, beats me what the fuck ANY of Bjork's set meant. All glitchy, angelik, demonic and crunchy with shifting sands and soothing swoons, nothing short of an alien abduction filmed by Michel Gondry at 1000 frames per second and played back to children's nursery rhymes. Yup, she truly IS a being from another planet!
As I shifted from stage left to right (and in doing so, likely missed a million opportunities to sneak into the D barrier) Bjork closed her set by shooting a mushroom cloud of confetti over the entire crowd, one so explosively expansive that the fallout even reached us on the other side..
There is a brief interlude as Bjork's hippy faithful flee for the hills in response to the maddening surge of thousands upon thousands of jackbooted rioters ripe for mass destruction. The sun sets slowly to the west. The air grows thick with anticipation. An inflatable T-rex shrieks "RAAAGE" over and over till his throat dries up and then some more (although I suspect the no-neck neanderthal with the Australian flag cape draped around him may actually be to blame). Every two minutes another pack of bogans push past me to fill any available gap. Pounding fists. Ever shortening tempers. Even here, this far from the tree line, it's getting hard to breathe. And then, just when we can wait no more, the deafening roar in waves signals their arrival..
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINEmyspace :: Their set opens with "Testify" and everyone goes fucking apeshit. What follows is a greatest hits: "Renegades Of Funk", "Sleep Now In The Fire", "Guerilla Radio", "Bulls On Parade", "People Of The Sun", "Vietnow", "Bullet In The Head", "Know Your Enemy", "Take The Power Back" and "Bomb Track" to name the few. The band is ripping razor sharp with militant precision, tearing into every song with militant glee, especially Tom Morello and his one-handing guitar squeals and triggers note for note for the record. Zach De La Rocha however, appears to be sleep-walking out there tonight. Often resorting to deliberated spoken word, line for line delivered behind the beat, a continual sneer on his face as if continually disappointed that we're not out there RIGHT NOW bringing governments to their knees with bloody revolt in our eyes..
The crowd grows restless, wondering if he's simply mocking them with mocking non-compliance, till finally, during the protracted interlude in "Wake Up" he fires up with a political tirade (which from memory roughly ran as follows): "When we played our first gig back in Coachella last year, I was misquoted by YOUR Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News, claiming that I said "George W Bush should be ASSASSINATED" (crowd cheers), "that is NOT what I said, what I actually said was that the Bush Administration and the entire US government should be put on a trial to the UN Council, convicted for war crimes and hanged.. TO DEATH!!" (the crowd, quite predictably, goes fucking beserk, and yes I understand the irony in misquoting it all now). He continues to rant and fire up the crowd for the next 5 minutes, but we knew that he'd won over every last person in the that ever doubted this band was back. They may just be in it for the money, they may break up at the end of the tour, and we may be stuck with another Audioslave album when Chris Cornell comes crawling back, but right now, right here, we're living a moment in history!
Of course, since I'm beyond the orbit of Pluto here, any photos I'm gonna take to support my hyperbole is gonna suck balls compared to the fury of what I witnessed. So instead, I bring you this humble offering: live video captured during their encore "Killing In The Name". It's just like being there! Except, really tiny, heavily compressed, shitty and on YouTube.. YEAAAAS!!
With the Big Day Out all but over now, save for a mad stampede of fools still attempting to break into an already peak capacity Boiler Room to catch Carl Cox's closing DJ Set (pfffft seriously, hasn't he played 5 of these already!?). I rest my weary carcass on the lawns near the entrance with some chance survivors from The Vampire Project, happy in the knowledge that I've managed to survive my 11th Big Day Out with (most of) my vital organs still intact. It is here that I then spot THIS unconscious fool, all but overwhelmed by the events of the day..
So, like any other responsible adult, we proceeded to dump every available piece of garbage we could find on him and took this photo before his drunkarse should shake it off.. weeeee! :)
It's a little past midnight. Most of YOU monkeys would've probably gone home by now. Taken a bus or a taxi home, crashed on your friend's couch, collapsing dead, satisfied in a day out most successfully stuffed full of hooting "bigness". You've got nothing but a bathtub full of ice, 8-12 hours to sleep off the alcohol poisoning and another 12 months hibernation is in your future. Not me. Since I've clearly got a fucking deathwish, I kick on with an after party at the Ed Castle..
TYGER TYGERmyspace :: Whoaaaa, you mean to say they had fucking live bands ON at this thing? What!? Are they fucking crazy!? Are they trying to KILL us here!? Who the fuck would be near idiotic enough to do this shit after all we lived through!? Oh wait *cough* nevermind, guess we found our idiots! Of course, since I'm entirely too fucked from killing myself stupid to 12 bands for the last 12 hours (like all the rest of you out there), you sure as fuck know I ain't gonna review this. And since this band is entirely too fucked from killing themselves stupid for the last 12 hours, it's probably just as well I DON'T. Still on the flipside, since I don't have to contend with 34,000 of you monkeys in front of me waving their shit in the air, my photos no longer suck! YEEAS!!
Still, for extra entertainment value tonight, since everyone's entirely too rolling in it to be on or OFF the stage, it doesn't take long for the wheels to fall off this rollercoaster ride and for the shit to REALLY kick it. Especially when Travis (gargling out've his eyeballs) hits the floor..
Yup, that's 4 pint glasses, a wine glass and one jug of ice water you see there.. wooooooo!
In effort to contain the spiralling body count out there, the band decides to prop their crash test dummy behind the piano for the next song and keep their kamikaze mission rolling..
*phew* and that's Tyger Tyger getting away with murder. Was it a good gig? Was it a shit gig? Who the fuck knows? Who cares? To have the balls to do this shit, is more than enough!
ZETA LEAGUEmyspace :: So on that note, here's Zeta League closing up for the night, looking world weary and doing the impossible. If you wanna know what they sound like, fuckit, see them for yourself: this Thursday at the Cranka with It's Warsaw and The Lumonics. Duuuuuude.. get out've the house!
Yup, and that's my Big Day Out and then some. Sure, it's one fuck of an adventure, but who's to say it should begin and end there. The Adelaide music scene is not just one day and ONE stinky music festival. It's all year round. Packing out your pubs and clubs. What are you waiting for?