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...
ST JEROME'S LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2008 LIVE @ CITY WEST / Saturday February 23rd 2008
Previously on Spoz's Rant: the geniuses behind Adelaide's event scheduling decide to pack out the city's east end to lung puncturing density for the Festival Fringe opening street party whilst simultaneously blocking up every exit with petrol heads for the Clipsal 500 street race. Thus begins my Friday night footnote: packed like sardines at the Crown & Anchor, breathing through a snorkel, waiting 20-30 minutes at the bar as that same drunk woman and her Holden team husband order three bourbons, throw in a vodka, correct with an additional scotch, add one last minute wine followed by me beating them to death with the blunt end of a fire extinguisher..
Fall through the cracks in the pavement on Union Street only to dig my way to freedom stuck in human traffic two thirds down Rundle Street. An impenetrable forcefield of meat. Every few minutes another freshly picked carcass surfaces for air, floats downstream, only to wash ashore at the Exeter; one of the many performing artists to fall prey to the pirahna swarm this night..
Beating shovels and cricket bats down detours and side streets to East Terrace, the Unearthly Gardens is all but flattened by a stampede since bottlenecked to a crawl, no ones getting out alive. Moans, groans and clawing hands; dreams of Soylent Green. And then it starts to rain..
Onwards with punching fists to the live stage at Rymill Park, gargling dirt and exhaust fumes with the hundreds and thousands crushed to faceless glee. A growing pantheon of pagan gods piss through sieves from above as wheelie bins uproot like trees in earth to air missiles..
Dappled Cities Fly as I miss I Heart Hiroshima: not just for the band, but for the delerious yearning of one well placed thermonuclear device, one hazard suit and a week's warning..
I dream of being the last one left alive as the earth is overrun, all chattering, devouring, 10ft tall, propped up on shoulders, hats and hair, arms flailing devil horns and camera phones..
Fall forward 5 metres to cans, cups, waterbottles and crunching skulls under foot, fall backwards arms fumbling, fingers up noses and in eyes. Tiny compact lenses grind like glass beads to the passing of a perfect storm, whilst overhead flapping birds fall flightless to crashing waves..
Somewhere beyond, in beaming lights where lungs sing free, The Presets blast shockwaves into the apocalypse throng whilst I briefly attempt to capture the insanity from ground level..
Althoughly clearly someone else had the upper hand on the night when they captured this from further afield and above East Terrace. Just watch when that crowd lights up and OOOH SHIT!
Oh the fun we had in the rain, tumble dried to flying fists! Follow it up with me drowning in the aftermath; ale after ale into the remains of the night, memories all but obliterated to the fight or flight? Fuck! Remind me again who's genius idea it was to combine the Festival Fringe opening party with the Clipsal 500!? If they try this shit next year, I'll be sure to bring my shotgun!
8 hours swimming up shit creek, 9-10 beers and 5 hours sleep later, I'm freshly exhumed for Adelaide's inaugural installment of the St Jerome's Laneway Festival; 2000 people smeared to the walls between Fowlers Live and UniSA's City West campus? OOOOH FUCK YEAH!
As much as I can gather the planning for this year's festival went something like along the lines of this: somewhere down Toronto way, in a dutched out combi van packed full of clown shoes, Broken Social Scene receive a last minute phone invitation from Australia. Laneway Festival desperately needs to fill a live bill and thanks in no small part to the red tape vagueries of Immigration, Work Visas and Occupational Health & Saftely, figure if they split up Broken Social Scene's 15-20 strong army into at least 3-4 "different" bands then sprinkle in a few local ring-ins and get The Presets to headline, nobody will catch on. Genius! What's the bet next year they'll do the exact same thing with the Polyphonic Spree? (unless of course they're the exact same act just with multicoloured choir robes, I mean who's to know? ooooooh indie scene conspiracy!).
OKKERVIL RIVER (***1/2) myspace :: First catch for the day is Okkervil River. One brief look at the lineup, one quick cross-check through my anti-terrorism fridge magnet, no sign of wayward Broken Social Scene members? Phew! Hailing from the sunny side of Austin Texas: the teenage wasteland may have their emo, the rest may have their oldtime country and blues, but nothing speaks of true sorrow and suicidal woe quite like that of Okkervil River. Thinning the herd wherever they go, they're the black eyed Lifeline speed dialer that'll have you crying bathtubs full of your own tears before dropping the hairdryer in. Friends don't let friends listen to Okkervil River alone. Watch for the warning signs and for your own saftey please make sure to remove all knives, guns, ropes, belts and sleeping pills before even daring to watch this music video, you HAVE been warned!
(Damn, there goes my entire audience) As for their live set? It somewhat reminds me of what Modest Mouse would sound like if Isaac Brock ever went through rehab (with perhaps a few sprinklings of Arcade Fire for good measure). Their lead singer Will Sheff is a misery guts, wailing away on stage like every woman in the audience just broke up with him on the spot and now desperately wants them all back, but the set draws you in. As far as opening acts for me go, this one really had me thirsting for more. Hmmm.. now where DID I put that razorblade?
Satisfied with that opening hit from the main "Uni" stage, I take a quick surf through the crowds to the wash ashore here at the "Fowlers" side stage. With it's steady flow of beer on tap (no lineups!), plenty of room to move, shade from the sun and rapid access to the front, this would prove a welcome respite throughout the day from the meat packing plant swarming outside..
LADY STRANGELOVE (****) myspace :: As much as I'm aware, no member of local band Lady Strangelove is a card carrying Broken Social Scenester, but it helps to be vigilant. Still on the flipside, if these guys DID manage to form a touring collective with Wolf & Cub, Taught By Animals, Mr Wednesday and the scattered remnants of Artax Mission we'd have an arms race on our hands. And if both collectives ever chose to play in Amsterdam? Fuuuck! life as we know it on this planet would be over! Lady Strangelove: they put the entire Amazonian ecosystem through a blender to skull fuck us blind when they played Rocket Bar two weeks ago, they've spun the sun retrograde at both the Adelaide Big Day Out and Meredith Music Festivals and today with Brendan's acid antics with a floor fan and Josh's guitar meltdown, backward somersaults and twin maraca crowd invasion? this set may've retroactively been responsible for the Milky Way Galaxy doubling it's size in under a week. I don't know much about the laws of thermodynamics, but I'm pretty sure they're guilty of breaking at least *four of them today (*and yes, they originally wrote the fourth one).
STARS (***) myspace :: I walk back into the sunlight only to be hit in the face with the screaming of sirens and flashing lights. Surgical masks and duct tape are now falling from the sky. In times like these it helps to remain calm. The rumours are true, erstwhile members of Broken Social Scene have indeed broken loose and formed a side project: Stars, from Montreal Canada. Beats me why the fuck they chose such an utterly non descriptive one word band title, but according to the laziest of wikipedia research their music has been featured on "Degrassi: The Next Generation" so clearly they must be all kinds of indie scene awesome. Here to introduce, is one of their videos..
As for their set today, the vibe is again comparable to Modest Mouse, but one where Isaac Brock has already gone through rehab and has since relapsed with a Ketamine addiction. As such think bittersweet hungover with dappled guitars, layers of trumpets, soothing interplay between male and female vocals and next to bleedingly impossible for me to anything write about by being so utterly non-descriptive and "middle of the road" that I've got nothing to make fun of. Still, at least they didn't bring out the piano accordian; we can be thankful for such small mercies..
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE (****) myspace :: Now I realise with 90% certainty that most of my reading audience have already been a member of this band and have simply failed to tell me (and I realise that this introduction may also be a moot point) but lets not forget how many "late night trips" to the Quickie Mart are necessary to keep a band like Broken Social Scene alive. If you have indeed forgotten and have made ANY visits to Toronto in the last 12 months; short term memory loss, uncontrollable laughter and a fondness for baked goods may not be your only problem, you may have royalties to collect. Broken Social Scene: they're what you find jamming away in your kitchen at 11AM after one fuck of a house party. They're one thousand sounds of discontinuity and gently dappled hippy euphoria licking your face. As much as I could easily find BETTER video examples to showcase their sound, I believe this one is by far the funniest in it's depiction..
Live on stage they sound rather like the spacey upbeat extremes of Sonic Youth or The Pixies, only with the emphasis on much heavier bass funk and less so on the feedback and Kim Gordon's howling sneer. Utterly shambolic, disorganised, spontaneous yet blissfully, effortlessly euphoric. They're the morning after lying dead on the couch after one helluva night's heavy drinking and partying, laughing hysterically at all the dumb shit you just did as recollection returns in waves. They're the hangover without the complication. Forget the breakfast of champions: bacon and eggs, Kentucky Fried Camel, Micky D's, Crunchy Dacks, aspirin, hair of the dog that bit you or whatever the fuck. We don't need any of that here. In Broken Social Scene we found our cure..
Since most of their extended family (minus a few female vocals) were all in attendance, this set was in no short supply of "guest" appearances. First it was the members from Stars getting in on the act with trumpets and backups, and then when Feist hit the stage for the soaring bliss that is "7/4 (Shoreline)" everyone went absolutely bat shit! Laneway Festival, it may've just been a thinly veil excuse for a Broken Social Scene love-in, but with this set they delivered it in spades!
DAMN ARMS (***) myspace :: Not to be confused with any aforementioned Canadian bands (but again it pays to be vigilant) is my next choice off at the side stage. Damn Arms from Melbourne; they're the impossibly self aware, cool-as-fuck, post everything with angular riffs, demonic basslines, electro synths and stabbing 4/4 drums that conjure up images of scruffy art and design students wearing skinny jeans, futurist t-shirts, eskimo goggles and shoes held together by electrical tape dismissing your entire cultural worth with nothing but a vacant stare and an assymetrical haircut. The sort that once flocked to Rocket Bar, but now can be found ignoring you in droves at Transmission. Since I'm already more or less familiar with their album, it's no surprise that today at least 50% of the songs I hear are completely unrecogniseable. Forever forging ahead in territories that only a million 80's bands (and Kraftwerk) dared to tread, this is me forever thankful they're not ripping off Daft Punk or Justice. They damn near scare me, but they still bang one mean arse jam!
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH (***1/2) myspace :: Back to the sounds of the setting sun, I return to the main stage for my next pick. According to the timetable this band was merely listed as "CYHSY". Clueless to what to expect, I was under the impression that this was going to be some fuckarse obscure Norwegian band pronounced "Czar" who sound like Sigur Ros being arseraped by The Knife whilst Aphex Twin watches. So it was with welcome relief that I was greated with the opening refrains of "Satan Said Dance" and finally joined the dots (damn you acronym! DAMN YOOOU!). Clap Your Hands Say Yeah from Brooklyn, New York: to borrow my continuing Isaac Brock analogy, imagine if our unfortunate Modest Mouse's frontman went through rehab, a vicious bout with Ketamine, a full frontal lobotomy and is now since found drooling on windows in a space helmet, screaming at pregnant women on the bus. Fan or no fan you gotta admit Alec Ounsworth, lead singer of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, either sounds like David Spade trying to sing, Thom Yorke being beaten to death, or a strangled cat crossed with a helium baloon pissing air. Since it's impossible for me to get past just how insane his voice is, I'll throw this introductory video at you instead..
Live on stage, with Alec Ounsworth writhing about, they're either infinitely more annoying or infinitely more brilliant than their albums, the exact opinion of which all depending on whether you're a gushing fan or whether you're one who'd prefer jamming an entire box of pencils up their nose till the pain stops. For the record I DO quite enjoy their first album, but since I've clearly used up all my best punchlines already, I've got next to nothing left to contribute. Fuck!
FEIST (****1/2) myspace :: (Don't mention the Toronto band, pleaaase don't mention the Toronto, shit too late!) For those of you late to this game of six degrees of seperation, Feist has been one of the (many ridiculous) number of revolving door collaborators to Broken Social Scene. Again, I don't feel I really need to mention this band, as not only am I sick to death in referencing it, but clearly EVERYONE of you idiots have already been in this freaking band by now and my invite simply got lost in the mail (fuckers!). But of course, this is nothing but a trivial footnote now. Thanks in no small part to one of her songs being used in an ipod nano ad campaign, that same song spawning a youtube viral plague, high rotation in every single cafe, bookstore, fashion boutique and mental asylum (and lest we also mention Triple J Radio damn near flogging her album to death for the last six months), Leslie Feist is probably the ONE bleedingly obvious drawcard for all you "me toos!" wanting to bask in her 15 seconds of fame. So if you haven't heard of "1,2,3,4" already, that rock you've been living under contains traces of lead, but hey who am I to refuse the Sesame Street lesson? look for Snufalufagus and The Count, I'm sure they're hiding in there somewhere..
Still as much as I'd rather follow Isaac Brock's crash diet into the toilet than listen to THAT song again. I'd hate to say it, but Feist tonight is a truly mesmerising performance to behold. Sure, she sounds ever so irritatingly Canadian in a way that only Alanis Morrisette at her most coy and a hundred singer songwriter clones flooding Channel 7's Sunday night "McDreamy" lineup makes you want to punch lightbulbs, but dammit, she's just soooo damn cute it's impossible to hate her! ARRRGHH! DAMN YOU!! Delicately fluffy, girly, bouncy, twinkly, playful with crowd participation and ever so slightly smokey with jazzy undertones, she has me captivated despite all survival instincts to gnaw my arm off and flee. As much as she might just be a flash in a pan, and hundreds more will be sure to follow, tonight she had us all in the palm of her hand!
THE VASCO ERA (****1/2) myspace :: Few words can adequately describe what followed next from the side stage when The Vasco Era make their appearance. They're the swampy Detroit blues of The White Stripes as soundtrack to the screaming zombies from 28 Days Later tearing you limb from limb. They're a hessian bag of feral cats beaten raw with sticks and let loose on your face. If you've ever downed fifty red bulls before hitting the road to a 5 hour traffic jam whilst windowlickers in the car next to you play nothing but Justice's "D.A.N.C.E." in a loop, that howling primal urge to gib their exploding remains all over their windscreen using nothing but the power of your mind IS The Vasco Era. Comparing their performance tonight to anything else out there is rather akin to comparing death by a 10 kilometre asteroid, to being shot point blank range with a shotgun. Both are lethal combinations, both cannot compare. The Vasco Era; just be thankful they only make music!
GOTYE (**1/2) myspace :: Everything I'll write in this review will be coloured by the one simple fact: Gotye's music annoys the living shit out've me. Granted this may be no fault of his own; such a gentle, whimsically and ecclectic fellow, who was to know his laptop music of swooning strings, pianos, plink plonk beats and affecting vocals would provide Triple J with it's whipping boy for an entire year in high rotation? who was to know that both "Hearts A Mess" and "Thanks For Your Time" would be played on Triple J everytime I woke up on a Sunday with the world's most fucked up hangover? who was to know I'd come to connect the two like ringing bells to Pavlov's dog? Clearly such conditioning is nothing but happenstance and I should simply be sending all my Theodore Kaczynksi love letters to Triple J instead of beating upon THIS poor soul. So as you acquaint yourself to this video to "Hearts A Mess", I'll be off in the corner, huddled in foetal position with my hands around my ears whimpering like a fool. Don't worry I'm sure Gotye won't mind, he'll probably sample it for his next song and then Triple J will pick it up.. and then.. oooh crud!
So this is me making an attempt, this is me taking photos and featuring him in this blog (hehehe.. he so blurry!). This is me caring cause I know some of you are BIG fans of Gotye. Sure I really can't understand why, I mean, have you LISTENED to "Thanks For Your Time"!? How the HELL did this sadistic FUCK make waiting on hold even more annoying!? HOW DAMMIT!? *cough* yes, I realise this is my problem and I'm dealing with it. Swooning strings, pianos, plink plonk beats and affecting vocals? donning a fake moustache and dedicating a song to Josh from Lady Strangelove? What's not to love! (Hmmm.. now where DID I put that Okkervil River CD?)
And now with that rat bastard Gotye finally finished for the night, with that one person in the crowd breathing a sigh of relief that his reign of terror is finally over (just be thankful I didn't choose to cover The Panics today, yeeeouch!) we reach the final headlining act: running two hours over schedule, thanks in no small part to a certain band who's name I'll no longer mention in this blog (and their fifty billion spin-off projects) spending way too much time in soundcheck..
THE PRESETS (***) myspace :: They played a set to over 10,000 screaming idiots packed out in Rymill Park the night before to open the Fringe Festival (a set I barely made out've alive) and now they're back to finish the job. The Presets; they make cocaine binges, insider trading, sadomasochism and serial killing cool for the kids again! YES! As such, tonight's set is a mixed dimebag of uppers and downers that remindes everyone what they both loved and HATE about hard edged 80's dance music: they hit the ring punching with crowd pleasers "Down Down Down", "Are You The One?" and "Girl And The Sea", bored everyone shitless in the middle with "Steamworks", "Kitty In The Middle" and a retarding mashup of Daft Punk's "Da Funk" set to a two-tone beat (since every dickhead and their dog loves that shit now) before bringing it all home triumphantly with their new single "My People" and the ever brilliant headfuck that is "I Go Hard, I Go Home"..
Still since they've got a new album coming up in April, there WAS a wealth of new shit to keep things interesting to the discerning ear. The Presets in 2008 appear to be of the harder edge: classic cuts were given a "mechanoid" facelift (especially opener "Down Down Down"), new instrumental jams were referencing a definite Gary Numan vs Kraftwerk vibe, and then there was this gem: I heard it the night before and call me a sucker for the Roland TB303, but the minute I heard that buzzing acid loop I went fucking apeshit! The visuals are kind've shit (arms flapping, strobe lights and youtube's aggressive compressor will do that for you) but just crank that volume up high in this live video and you'll pick up on that satanic buzz too. If their new album's anything as good as THIS song promises to be? we're sure to have a winner!
Phew! and there we have it: two thousand hippies, freaks, geeks and hipsters tragics crammed into the cracks of a west end back alley for an indie music festival celebrating the REAL creative fringes from around the world! Sure, it might not be as overblown as the official "Fringe" street party from the night before (pffft!) but I ask you, where would YOU prefer to get your hit?
Who is this Saint Jerome? What is he doing sniffing around back alleys making all manner of weird noises and retarded flashing lights? Who cares! cause he sure as fuck knows how to throw one madarse party! Come back anytime dude, these streets are yours for the taking! :)