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 SWISS + MAMMAL + SYDONIA LIVE @ ED CASTLE + JIVE / Saturday June 28th 2008
East and West: it's a tale as old as time itself. A tale rife with conflict, conspiracy, drama, name calling, hair pulling, fingernail scratchings and brown paper bags of burning faeces left on each other's respective doorsteps. A tale of constant and violent opposition. Sometimes it's a choice, sometimes it's forced upon you at birth. There is never a clear winner, only a constant power struggle shifting the balance from one fanatical extreme to the next. Life and Death. Red and Blue. Decimal and Imperial. Fatalism and Free Will. Capitalism and Socialism. Rock and Hiphop. We've seen it played out countless times before throughout history: a territorial pissing contest hardwired into our DNA, an arms race between two superpowers, a dualism in creation and destruction driving our soul to the brink of extinction. A heady concept to be sure and chances are this blog will have next to nothing to do with any of this shit (fuck.. when does it ever aspire to anything but blithering stupidity); but it does give light to a certain observation I've had of late. East and West. It's never about both, it's always about the one. And here in the west end tonight, where everything's alive whilst the east end whithers and dies: I wonder if this town is just too small (and our brains are too small) to sustain BOTH at the same time..
SOFT WHITE MACHINE (****) myspace :: For the first band of the night I find myself here at Jive for the opening act Soft White Machine. Quiet, well mannered, unassuming and deadly accurate. They're the one band jamming in your neighbourhood most likely to become a serial killer, here fighting their continuing battle between Clint Eastwood and Count Dracula that only their illbient senses could possibly perceive. A battle that somehow sounds like a Frankenstein collision of both extremes: in Karl's towering drone that sounds like everything from Paul Banks, Johnny Cash, Steven Wright, Vincent Price and back again; Karl and Andrea's quick draw spaghetti western guitars and the unconventional time signatures of Jett and Nick on bass and drum in between. And none of the above as they define their own unique take on prog metal as reinterpretted by the punchy rhythms of post punk, before colliding with a busload of weirdarse mexican shit at the end. Yup if this were any other band (ie: see The Mars Volta), this would a be scene crawling with paramedics and body bags by now but in the hands of Soft White Machine they're a precision killing machine!
Tonight's set is a short one, a bug fart in the infinite, an EP length performance cut abrupt at only 7 songs; but one that's no less masterful in its range: combining both the classics: such as "The Great Divide" here (from their first album of the same name), and a wealth of shiny new songs from their upcoming second album. I mean shit, with songs THIS brilliant, who cares if they're playing the 8PM graveyard shift; the crowd's gotta be loving this shit, right!?
OOOH YEAAAH!! Just look at them out there, going insane! Who says we don't have a vibrant and exciting live scene, pffft.. I laugh at them all!! bwahahaha in your face Melbourne!!
SYDONIA (*****) myspace :: An hour or so later after the cleanup crews have hosed out the flailing limbs, splattering organs and shattering dental records from one of THE most violent and intense moshpit thrill killings I've ever witnessed in my entire life of overblown sarcastic statements (woooo!), and after their drummer Nick Russel has promptly buggered off for his second showing tonight fronting Double Handed's gig at Rhino Room (whoaaaa!); all is now quiet and dribbling with anticipation for act two. Sydonia. Hailing from the city where the sun don't shine (Melbourne), where too many sad sack prog metal Tool wannabes and prog metal bands ain't nearly enough, Sydonia are a band that stands above all else: not only in lead singer Dana Roskvist's ability to ape all the vocal nuances of Maynard James Keenan and NOT sound like a pretensious wanker; but in how much the rest of the band sound like an angry mob of howling savages armed with cricket bats beating him to death for ever cursing us with all this "Maynard" shit in the first place. Yup, such is the freaky genius that is Sydonia. They're every other tired live review I've written in this past that wheels out bands like Tool and A Perfect Circle to nauseating repetition (yawn!), forged by the stadium rocking sound of 80's Pink Floyd, beaten black and blue to the chugging behemoth of Sepultura and an elephants stampede of Japanese drumming (yay!); till all you have left is the singularly most mindfucking brilliant sound you've ever damn near heard.. period.
Still, I know what you're thinking: "5 stars!? what the fuck maaan!", and yes you're right. If I saw any other metal band out there doing the devil horns, the double kick, the head bang, the chugging guitars and the gutteral screaming; my gut instinct would be to burst out laughing, toss a live grenade onto the stage and bust out the exit doors as the whole joint goes down in a hail of rubble. We all know I could never take this "metal" shit seriously (and believe me, I've tried!) but Sydonia are different. Theirs is an aristocratic doom, a cultured culling, a march of death and an assassin's blend that trascends all pissy labels that dare to divide and diminish it. And if ever there was still any lingering doubt in my judgement: who could possibly argue with this closing statement? three psychos simultaneously smashing the drum and the BEST live video I've captured all damn year? Oh yes! I've said it! watch this shit and prove me wrong!
MAMMAL (*****) myspace :: On the other hand here's headlining act Mammal and again we're faced with yet another "5 star" performance. Damn.. far from it for me to look a gift horse in the mouth (or in the case of lead singer Ezekiel Ox "a prize jackass" in the face) but seriously, Mammal!? again!? what the FUCK maaan!? WHAT THE FUCK!!? Have I lost all credibility? Am I just throwing this "5 star" shit around to any 'ol slackjawed yokel and inbred nitwit who stumbles down my way with a slide guitar and a duck whistle looking for infamy!? (heeeey! that's an idea!) clearly such an affront to the natural order needs a rational explanation!! When I invented this pissy little rating system at the beginning of the year I planned for such a lofty pinnacle as THIS to be the grand exception to the rule, the exaltant, the snowy peaked Everest of the damn near impossible. To be worthy of a "5 star" review like this is not just to be a note worthy performance (and sometimes you didn't even need THAT), but to be a grand spectacle of the sublime or the ridiculous that transcends all other measure. To be a gig that live performances and art itself were damn near invented for; to take you to another time and space and forget all else; oh yes! And clearly Mammal and their shitstorm of funk tonight are making an absolute mockery of this entire exercise. If ever you wonder from this moment forth WHY I'm being so harsh on your pissy little band; THESE are the nitwits that are fucking it up for everyone. Damn you Mammal.. DAAAAMN YOU!!!
Which of course is the same accursed reason why this band is so fiendishly brilliant. Mammal are not so much a funk metal band; a simple DNA recombination of bands like Rage Against The Machine, Living Colour, Testeagles, early 90's Faith No More or Red Hot Chili Peppers. They're not just a shot of adrenaline stabbed directly into the reptilian core of your brain that makes you want to kill and fuck every damn thing that moves (and even a few things that don't). They also, quite frankly don't give you any choice in the matter. Mammal are NOT a subtle band, they're not a humble or a shrinkingly shy band. They are the most obnoxious, egomaniacal, punching fist fanatical dickheads you'll ever see on a live stage that WON'T take no for an answer: but when they're THIS much retarding fun.. aaaah fuckit! who wouldn't wanna join in on this party?
So here we have another bloodthirsty crowd at Jive, just like the ones before at Producers Bar; flailing about and damn near killing themselves retarded like toddlers in a bouncey castle..
Here's Mammal's bassplayer Nick Adams doing nothing to discourage the escalating hysteria as he loses his shit on the extended stage platform pushed halfway out onto Jive's dancefloor..
Here's Ezekiel Ox leaping up onto the balcony, since apparently no one else in the history of Jive has ever thought of this trick before and thought now would be the best time to attempt it..
And in case this gig tonight wasn't nearly stupid enough already: why don't we also throw in Sam Haycroft (the guitarist from Sydonia) beating the living shit out've his tin drum as well. Because, yup, clearly that was the ONE thing this Mammal gig tonight was sorely missing..
Mammal. They're the band that should come with one of those warning labels you see on prescription meds. The band you shouldn't listen to whilst pregnant, whilst suffering a cogenital heart defect, whilst operating heavy machinery, driving, flying, bungee jumping, eating, drinking, breathing or drawing a pulse. They will raise the dead, send them feasting upon the living and obliterate all life on this planet. But let's face it, isn't this WHY we go to all this trouble in the first place? Clearly it ain't just for all the sex, drugs and shortening of our lifespans riiiight?
12:06AM - Still despite all I have seen and done tonight; there was still more to see and do out THERE. So with Mammal done and dusted (and most of Jive and a few fatalities along with it); I crawled out've the rubble and staggered off to the Ed Castle for more eye gouging insanity..
Tonight the Ed Castle, Fringe Benefits and some pissy little street press called Onion Magazine are hosting a live music and DJ event called "Sham!" fuck full of house, techno and phat as fuck 80's bootyarse electro. Yup, beats me what the fuck is up with all these events lately either: but as they say "if you build it, eventually Spoz will come along and take the piss out've it": so fuckit, one ridiculously long lineup later (which obviously I skipped past *cough*) and heeere I am!
THE SWISS (***1/2) myspace :: You may be wondering at this point: "what the FUCK is Spoz doing at a doof doof gig!?". Why? because for more than two year now I've been hunting down the legend that is THIS band; The Swiss. As unbeknownst to all but a chance few club DJs banging their shit something fierce in New York, this capacity crowd tonight and the sort of mentally illbient idiots who write live blogs as ill informed as this; The Swiss is a side project. A side project that features two band members on bass and drum you may otherwise recognise as Sid and Tony Mitolo from Morals Of A Minor. A side project I'd known only by legend ever since that infamous Morals Of A Minor gig back in July 2006 when I trashed their support slot to Dungen. A side project I've been hunting down ever since Morals Of A Minor parted ways late 2007 under mysterious circumstances. A side project I finally come face to face with tonight. Yup, whodathunkit that those two chuckleheads from Morals Of A Minor had it in them to create something as blissfully insane as this. Weirder still, whodathunkit that they'd been performing as The Swiss for over 5 years now. And even WEIRDER still, Tony Mitolo is noticeably absent on the drums tonight as he's buggered off to tour with Pnau instead!? Shit.. and to think I call this insanity a "side project"!? The Swiss are a disco house act; fuck full of booty funking early 80's electro, vocoders, synth drums and the kind've cocaine snorting hysteria you'd usually associate with Detroit, Chicago and New York's Studio 54 set. Most of the set appears to be little more than a loosely structured jam based around some phatarse bass licks (which I'm told originate from an guitar originally bought off the keyboardist from The Human League.. whoaaaa!) and some minimal four to the floor laidback house grooves sounding somewhat reminiscent of DFA's remixing talents and Daft Punk's "Discovery", but only as much as all three of the above are likely drawing upon the same Italo Disco influences. For the most part they're not much to look at performance-wise (and I'm yet to figure what the hell that Humphrey B Bear impersonator is doing in the middle besides looking dopey and shaking up shit), but they do hammer out one sweetarse groove, especially when they drag that disco biscuit up Joe on stage for some guest vocals.. ooohyeaah!
Aaaaah just look at the crowd going nuts to this shit! Can't you just but feel the electricity and the passion in the room tonight!? Can you feel the love everybody!? can you feel it in your bones!!? Disco is gonna save the world!! Disco is gonna save us all!! weeeeeeeeee! :)
*cough* Yup, clearly the mind altering drugs are yet to kick in on this party but help is on the way in the form of these two sci-fi dweebs and a giant condom ready to spread the joy! YES!
Hmmm I dunno whether this is meant to be some kinda fucked up homage to Ghostbusters, or the worst safe sex message we've ever witnessed outside of all those needlessly graphic birthing videos they used to show you in highschool Biology class; but either way.. PAAAAARTY!!
1:08AM - Sufficiently weirded out by all the goings on at the Ed Castle (duuuude.. so NOT my scene maaaan!), I sneak back to Jive for a few quiet drinks only to be ambushed in encore by a shitstorm of idiots on the dancefloor here for DJ Craig's fortnightly "Gosh" event. Of course, since I'm also sufficiently shitfaced drunk at this point, I couldn't help but join in..
(seriously, one of these days I've gotta come up with some new facial expressions)
1:49AM - Curiousity getting the better of me, I felt the urge to wander. So it's out those exit doors again and off into Enigma Bar next door just to see what kind've stupidity I could dig up..
Which was an all too brilliant plan until I bumped into Liam here. Or as anonymous friend of mine would rather neatly sum up when he saw this photo later tonight: "whoaaa fuck maaan, who's the chick!?". Aaaah Enigma Bar, you never fail to creep me the FUCK out, do you? :)
2:00AM - There's no denying the west end of Adelaide tonight is absolutely pumping tonight. The length and breadth of Hindley Street is filled with a locust swarm of binge drinkers, meth heads and criminals living it up large and disturbing the peace.. aaaah it feels GOOD to be alive! But to get vaguely back on rambling topic here: what of the east end ghetto? Surely we're a city big enough to support two wildly vibrant entertainment strips in the ONE night, riiiight? So in effort to get both sides of the great divide: I thought I'd take a brief trip down Rundle Mall, past this firetruck putting out a bin fire in Gawler Place (wuuuh!!?) and see what's happening..
2:19AM - Oooohyeaah! LIFE OF THE PARTY!!
2:28AM - Aaand it's back to Jive again. Hmmm, you think I'm trying to make a point here? :)
As the rest of the night is filled with all the usual intellectual ruminations you'd expect from a blog as blitheringly refined as this one. Lost deep in thought over the dualistic nature of western civilisation as it pertains to the absolutes derived from its Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian ethical building blocks? how everything we create soon seeks to destroy us? and how we never seem to be able to live in harmony with both the animalistic and the enlightened aspects of our psyche? Or at least we did before dissolving in a dribbling drunken mess on the dancefloor the minute "Walk Idiot Walk" by The Hives hits the decks. Aaaah isn't it always the way? "duuude.. what the FUCK are you on about!?" I have no idea maaan, I have no freaking idea! :)
3:35AM - Thus bringing to a close yet another nonsensical chapter in the Adelaide music scene, staggering out those exit doors at Jive after another long night; collapsing in a drunken mess on the bus home. None the wiser, but ever the richer for having experienced it all.
East and West. For a fleeting moment, we can sometimes have both living in harmony; but most of the time it's all or nothing in a constant war for retarding supremacy. Beats me why the fuck they don't just open a fuckload more pubs, clubs and lounge bars down the Rundle Mall parallel and make this city one giant party strip uniting both Hindley to Rundle and Currie to Grenfell (it'd sure as fuck make the transit in between less insane for freaks like me) but there you have it. And people wonder why the eastern states are laughing at us? Why? that's a whole OTHER war between East and West that's why! Sheeiiiiit.. when will this species ever learn!?