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...
TONY FONT SHOW + NEWTONHEATH + SOFT WHITE MACHINE "ARE/WHY? SHOWCASE" @ THE GOVERNOR HINDMARSH / Saturday May 31st 2008
Alcohol. One of the key cornerstones of our mighty civilization; right up there with the invention of the wheel, the written word, industry and agriculture. Alcohol, in all it's many and wonderous forms. Beer, wine, vodka, whiskey and tequila. If ever there was a vegetable a fruit or a grain to be harvested, we'd find a way to ferment it and get laughingly drunk off it. To be like unto the gods and then to be rolling into the filth and the gutter with the rest of them. Alcohol is the graphic equilizer and the amplifier of all our highs and all our lows. It brings us all together and it tears us apart. Without it we'd have no comedy, no drama, no sport, recreation, procreation or rock and roll. Without it we'd be nothing but button down suit and tie robots, pencil pushers, bean counters and architects of a grey and lifeless future. It is the chaos that our thirst for order so desperately needs. And yet like many of our proudest achievements; it is a double edged sword, and like most of our greatest escapes it is fast becoming a pariah of societies that seek to control and to conform us for economic gain. Prohibitions and protocols, surcharges on sin, taxes upon taxes and an ever shrinking list of loopholes and legislation crushing us into ready made cubes. Is there still room in this sanitising world for such mischief, mirth and whimsy? do we still need this constant reminder of all it is to be human? or do we become nothing but square pegs bashing our heads into a round world that forever fails to accept our will to change it? I know it's a small thing, and many would say it's a needless thing, but sometimes it's all that we need..
Of course I'm musing upon such philosophical rubbish tonight (instead of doing more important things like mentioning why the Are/Why? clothing label is showcasing this event tonight): as for shits and giggles (and in no relation to the fact I'm flat broke) I'm going to see just how far I can push a blog that thrives on all the fun of it, promoting a scene and a lifestyle that has become enemy number one because of it, and see how well it works without it. Do these beer goggles blind me to the truth? is all this fine dining I speak of nothing but falafel? will I be as happy or will I get the urge to violently off someone by the end of the night? who knows!? this is my experiment to find out: here at the Governor Hindmarsh, I will be its guinea pig.. YES!
SECRETS IN SCALE (***1/2) myspace :: I've barely stepped through those doors and already I'm hit with it. First band's on stage; fuck! No thought, no time, I know what to do, I've got my sniper rifle, an itchy trigger finger and I'm gonna take these fuckers down. Thank fuck it's the Governor Hindmarsh and a full set of lights for once! I'm sick of fumbling about in the dark, signal noise and motion blurs. Damn. Those spotlights are low, they're constantly in my fucking eyes, pupils drawn to pinpricks as I throw them into the silhouette; here's hoping I don't fuck this up. Damn I feel like such a tool out front. Stop. Concentrate on the task at hand. Wait, isn't this mean to be about the music? better take some notes. Secrets In Scale. You could pretty much interchange a few names from a Quiet Child review I wrote LAST week and you'd hit this band square in the pink bits. They're the sounds of Jeff Buckley fronting Tool or A Perfect Circle, elements of the operatics of Muse veering ever so slightly towards emo (yet not so much you'd ever find it distracting), prog metal and oh so many soaring vocals. Yup, there's some really nice sounds here. Funny how that bass player just stands there except for everytime I want to get a good photo of him. All in all it's all quite cruisy really. If only I'd actually taken a moment to truly appreciate it, hmmm..
9:33PM - First band's off the stage and I'm off to hide somewhere where people won't find me, sorting through all these photos I took and getting rid of all the shit ones. So many shit ones. I could probably do this later but it's better to do it now. Fuck this is so anti-social! No time to waste. Oooh here's a good one! I'm really not one for distractions tonight; I've got a job to do. Wait, this is a job? Someone once said "if it bugs you so much, why dont you just hide out in the toilets", I found that a little insulting then but I can't help but laugh at it now. Someone's found me. Shit. Fifteen minutes later and I'm off and running though: off to the front bar now..
YOUR MOTIVE FOR (***1/2) myspace :: I saw this listed in the gig guides and I had to laugh. Six degrees of seperation in any other city; here it's just a front bar and a minute's walk away. The lights are shit (fuck when are they not?) but there's this spliffed out 60's projection of what appears to be The Beatles and a shitload of backup singers having a big 'ol jam in a studio that makes it awesome. The band see me coming from a mile off: "hey Spoz, fancy seeing YOU here!". The air is relaxed. Band stuffed in with the pool tables. Feels like a janitor's closet. Semi acoustic, a small but attentive audience of 10-15 soaking it up. Everywhere else it's Saturday night and here it's a lazy Sunday afternoon. Why the hell am I taking all these photos!? I could probably take a moment to enjoy this but I didn't. Idiot. Didn't take any notes either, I did remember a sweet cover of Ryan Adam's "New York, New York" however. They were playing two whole sets tonight but I didn't stick around for that long. Heh isn't it always the way? flying from one aimless destination to the next..
SOFT WHITE MACHINE (****1/2) myspace :: Back to the main room I return right in the middle of their second song "Broken Arrow". Those fucking lights are really getting in my eyes now, piercing into my skull. Guh! I starting to feel ill from it, squinting against it, burnt spots on my retina everytime I blink. The left side appears to be worse than the right; oh well, the sound is fucking epic though. It's a stampede, a juggernaut and the final scenes of Fight Club when all the buildings detonate. Soft White Machine. They've locked themselves in the studio over the last few months to record their second album: which is surprising; not only in how they're one of the few Adelaide bands to even SURVIVE to a second album, but in how good all these new songs sound. It's half of their set, names abbreviated on a scribbled list: "Summer", "Honest", "Leave Here" and one curiously titled "F vs L". Damn, I always suspected there this creeping post-punk influence right from the start when I saw them in 2005, and here it is: that unmistakeable Interpol vibe. Not the freneticism of "PDA" but the slow brood of "Evil" or "C'mere"; and there's Karl on lead channeling the deep drone of Paul Banks by way of Johnny Cash to Maynard James Keenan and back again. Fuckit, maybe I'm biased; I'm that idiot who sees Interpol in everything aren't I? but then that signature guitar sound brings it all in again, that gunning attack; Andreas flailing around like a dog drying himself, Jett holding onto his bass amp for dear life, the Unabomber letting loose on the drums. Damn, I can't wait for them to unleash this shit on the second album! this shit's awesome! Weird to think I'm THIS enthused about a local band; yet such is the mastery of Soft White Machine..
I recorded a fuckload of video, mostly to compensate for the glaring absence of any previous Soft White Machine footage. One of them (from the middle of the set) was absolute rubbish dodging those low lying spotty's (so I didn't even bother to upload it), but here's one I didn't totally fuck up: the epic shitstorm of soaring guitars that is "Tonight We Break". Oh and if you're eager to catch a second one, I've also snuck a new song "Freedom Vs Lonliness" up on youtube here..
NEWTONHEATH (****) myspace :: I've just gotten accustomed to the blinding lights but now the blasting sound is starting to give me a headache. Fuck, what am I fifty now? Did I ever notice this junk when I was drunk? did it give me superpowers? or is it just really REALLY loud tonight!? Yup, it's no denying those subs are freaking monstrous out there, pounding that bass directly into my microwaved innards and I swear one of my kidneys is going to burst before too long but thankfully this third band tonight does exceptionally well to defuse this ticking bomb. Newtonheath; yeah fucked if I know what's up with the name either, but for all the trainspotters out there you may recognise two of the band members from a previous band called Edison back almost a decade ago (I may also recognise their lead singer Matthew Ho as a nervous stick insect who used to go to my shithole of a highschool back in the day; but that's beside's the point). Newtonheath. Righteous, steely eyed, resolute, by the book and by the sword with a missionary fervour; they're the sounds of Sparta's "Threes", U2's "Boy" and Bloc Party's "Silent Alarm" as fronted by what appears to be the asian equivalent of Thom Yorke minus the googly eyes (and we may argue the insane falsetto as well); flailing about the stage with all the spastic freneticism of a shredding emo band (especially the guitarist Daniel Gaskin who nearly puts his head through a wall), yet delivering song after song built with an effortless soaring prog metal guitar more reminiscent of a high end car commercial. Driven, menacing, all too po-faced serious and psychotic; yet still ever so relaxing.. aaaaah!
In between attempting to capture bugged out photos of Matthew Ho that would compare to THIS shot of Thom Yorke (and generally taking the piss out've their drummer) I also managed to capture some shiny video in the form of whatever the hell this last song was called..
TONY FONT SHOW (****1/2) myspace :: Aaaah yes, now here's the true test of any misguided adventure in sobriety; Tony Font Show. There's a good reason why they headline almost every single gig they ever play at. Not because they're the best, or the most well known (despite their overexposure on this site), or that they pull the biggest crowds (again, seriously, nobody ever reads this site) but simply because theirs is the timeslot that appeals to the most howlingly and hilariously drunk of us all. Yup, without fail any live venue in Adelaide will invariably hit their ripening point around the witching hour and without fail it'll also be the time you'll find THIS band: a fucking big brick wall rising from the stage begging for a busload of crashtest dummies to smash into them again and again like a .05 amusement ride gone wrong. Of course this may also begin to explain why they usually a bit "off" at all-ages gigs (as quite frankly, nobody ever drinks at them) but that's besides the point. It ain't genius (and not terribly challenging beyond a third grade reading level) but you gotta love the insanity of it: all the shrieking, the flailing, the psychotic breakdowns and the guitars. Tony Font Show ARE what rock and roll is all about: absolute fucking carnage! So rather than asking me what was I to think of all this tonight: pacing back and forth like a silent predator, fish out've water, mumbling obscenities and constantly cursing my surrounds. I ask you, with shit this insane thrashing about on stage; how could something as trivial as blood alcohol content make ANY fucking difference to the outcome!? Although, to be accurate I believe my urge to tear shit up tonight may've been due to LOT of pent up aggression over fighting the awesome stage lighting and my camera all night (and nothing to do with how goofingly DRUNK I wasn't). *Sigh* oh well, for all the people I DIDN'T kill out there, it was still a mad fucking buzz..
As far as the finer details of the live set was concerned, it was equal mix all the usual junk you've heard a billion times before: "Things To Do In A Ditch", "Hold On", "Selfish In Bed", and the all too ridiculously familiar "Go To Sleep" (as captured on video); throw in all the sounds of Faith No More, Mr Bungle, System of A Down and the Chili Peppers and that'd be your monkey. But they also featured a bunch of shiny NEW songs we haven't heard a million times before. Some were predictably rife in the pogo body slamming guitars, retarded screaming and Les Claypool bass licks we can't get enough of, but at least one or two of them also showed a surprising amount of depth; like this (as yet untitled) cruisier number they chose to close the set with..
1:04AM - Either way after much swearing under my breath, squinting into the stage lights, pacing around looking for better angles, swapping memory cards and camera batteries, followed by me hiding off in a corner to delete 90% of all the shots I fucked up; it's all over now, my job for the night is done and I can get the FUCK outta here. Yup, there were hundreds of people here tonight, all hooting and flailing as one in a mad celebration and I don't think I could relate to more than five of them. Weird; guess all I need to do now is to catch a taxi and I'll be off..
1:21AM - Which was easier said than done after waiting a solid half hour for one. As it appears some black tie formal function up the road was eating up every single taxi that passed by (taxis I might add that only trickled by singularly once every 5-10 minutes). And so, growing ever more fed up and impatient, I thought "FUCK THIS SHIT!" and decided to walk. And I walked and I walked; alone and in deathly silence all the way into town. My mind fuming with the sort've needless paranoia and self doubt you only get moments before you try and sleep at night: "what the fuck am I still doing this? it's a career dead end, I'm going nowhere, I'm a fucking joke, I take photos, I write, I'm a fucking robot, I'm broke, I'm never gonna make money, I'm not making a shit of difference, what the FUCK am I still doing this for!?". All my doubt, all my fears, all my inner turmoil, all my reasons to quit this insane journey once and for all; all forgotten the minute I stepped foot into the Lady Strangelove benefit gig, soaked up 2-3 beers and dived into the sea of people swarming as one to greet me out front of stage. Aaaah, finally I was home again! :)
2:55AM - And here I was with my fellow idiots having a right 'ol laugh into the ends of the night, just like we always do. All the existential rage against the machine all but forgotten; as I was reminded once again just why exactly I love doing all of this shit each week. Why let the world piss you off in a million and one ways where you've got THIS to look forward to?
Yup that's me and alcohol. Far from it for me to think it's always necessary for a good time (as I sure as fuck wouldn't prescribe to it any other time of the week), but it does help keep a simple perspective on shit and what's really important. If not for the buzz, the awesome people we meet and the crazy times we have in between pissing on up; we may have more control, we may even be better at our jobs because of it, but would we be happier? For all the chaos and stupidity it may cause, we as scene, a society and a humanity would be all be the lesser without it!