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 FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS + MTV KICKSTART LIVE @ ED CASTLE + ROCKET BAR / Friday August 22nd 2008
You say you're doing it for the love, you say you're doing it for the art, you'll suffer for it, you'll starve for it, you'll live and breathe and damn near die gargling in a pool of your own vomit for it. Everyone thinks you're insane. They all think you're throwing your life away. But you don't care. Fuck it all! You don't need anything else! You've got all you need right here. You have a singular purpose. Everything else comes second. You're a fanatic, you're a freak, you're a fucking suicide bomber. You'll never compromise. You'll never negotiate. You'll never back down. You'll fight everyone! You'll take on every one of those rat-bastard fat-fuck motherfuckers that dares stand in your way! This is your life and damnit NOBODY IS GOING TO TAKE IT AWAY FROM YOU! Oh and don't the people just love you for it! You have a following. You have a cult. You have a sea of punching fists from walls to ceiling that will fucking KILL for you! They're right there with you every step of the way! Together you'll change the world! Fuck! Together you'll change everything! and after you're gone they're going to need new initials to mark the passing of the ages because THAT is how fucking badass you'll be! YEAAS!! VIVA LA REVOLUCION!!
And then finally someone hands you a check. You have it made! You have it made into a product. You're multiplatinum. You're a piece of plastic selling on a shelf for $19.99 next to some other guy who won Australian Idol. You're a profit margin. You're selling shoes, softdrink and sanitary pads. You're lip synching on awards shows. You're invited to all the A-list parties. You're living life in the back of a limosine and on the front of a tabloid magazine. You have it all. You lose it all. One minute you're shit hot, next minute you're shit. You've sold out. You're a piece of plastic selling in a bargain bin for $1.99 next to Meat Loaf's "Bat Out Of Hell". You're a douchebag. You're a fucking joke. You're MTV and you're hosting a gig tonight at Rocket Bar..
"Fuck man what happened!? you used to be cool!". Yup that was MTV back 20 years ago. Back before they had Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera and Wee-Man sticking toy cars up each other's butts. Back before "Pimp My Ride", "The Real World", "Newlyweds", and whatever the fuck else they have showing these days featuring whinyarse pre-teen emo bitches obssessing over who's gonna take them to the prom. Back before Britney and Madonna got it on at THAT award's show. Back before Anna Nicole Smith got her tits out for the Australian one. Back before all the bitches, bling and booty. Back when they were still about the music. Y'know, for what the "M" was meant to fucking stand for? Look it up sometime. You'll be sure to find it somewhere between "moron" and bitcharse "muthafukka". Yup, that's MTV now and this is them doing their very best to regain what little credibility they had left since they started banging boy bands back in the mid 90's with a battle-of-the-bands competition called "MTV Kickstart". Oh yes!
The rules are simple. Hand pick five unsigned bands from the local Adelaide scene. Give them two songs each: 5-10 minutes on stage, 15-20 minutes in the changeover. Encourage them by any means necessary to make complete and utter dicks of themselves for the judges in the space of those 5-10 minutes: everything from excessive hand claps, retarding singalongs, hissy fit guitar flailing nervous breakdowns to having a dedicated cheer squad out front wearing your team t-shirts damn near popping a lung from all the screaming and hysteria. Plaster the joint walls to ceiling with MTV logos in case anyone forgets for a second who's hosting this trainwreck. Throw in some free food and alcohol. Waste a good hour before the show doing "red carpet" photo shoots. Oh and did I mention they're doing all this shit in Rocket Bar!? YEAAS!
Yup, as much as I'd rather chainsaw both my arms and legs and blow my bollocks off with a variety pack of high powered explosives than submit myself to this shitstorm (again); sometimes you gotta look to the big picture, look past just how tortuous this assignment will be in the living of it, and remember just HOW MUCH RIDICULOUS FUN you'll have in the writing of it. I mean fuck if I could survive the wall to wall glow stick wielding windowlickers crawling up each other's arses for Vanilla Ice back in January.. duuude THIS shit will be a piece of cake! :)
7:23PM - I run screaming up those three flights of stairs, arms flailing, with a hastily devoured last minute meal of Kentucky Fried Camel lurching uneasily in my stomach; as I was under the misguided impression I was actually gonna be late for this shit tonight. I'm told weeks in advance it would be "doors 7PM / bands 7:30PM" but in typical Rocket Bar fashion it would be another hour and a half of dicking about till MTV's official host (aka: our honourary douchebag in a three-day growth and an incomprehensible accent sitting somewhere inbetween "Irish", "Scottish" and "Wanker") finally makes his appearance. And as forgettable as his "all important role" would be at the start of the night, something tells me we're all gonna remember him by the end of it..
THE KEEPSAKES (****) myspace :: First band for the night. Lambs to the slaughter. Doe-eyed, innocent, fluffy, cute as all hell and all too oblivious that a speeding truck driven by an upended jar of No-Doze is about to red line their innards from here to the state border. The Keepsakes. Their name says it all. They're a little bit folk, a little bit indie, a little bit pop and all kinds of warm and fuzzy. They're awkward grins, holding hands, lingering looks and songs about being happy. They're a cute-as-a-button child actor on keys who goes on to become a bug-eyed smack addict. They're that unnassuming nice guy guitarist from Zeta who's really a serial killer. They're The Shins mixed with Death Cab For Cutie, Eskimo Joe's first album, and one of those clunky but instantly loveable soundtracks you'd use for an indie film starring that dweeb out've Arrested Development, that makes YOU wish you were 16 years old and pregnant. And oh yes they don't stand a chance in hell of making it out've this place alive. The Keepsakes. If you don't love this shit, you have a heart of stone!
Of course I realise it's a little bit silly to be judging this band on the merits of only two songs. Especially considering I'm spending all my time frantically attempting to record the first song onto video (above) and scrambling to capture photos during the second song (below) instead of actually paying attention to anything that's actually happening in front of me. The same schtick I'll be pulling with every band in following whilst a seething throng shriek in hysterics around me. The same schtick I pretty much pull every week only with longer setlists with a shitload more alcohol. Which probably makes any one of YOU people out there a better judge of any of this shit than I am (or all the "industry experts" tonight who are actually judging this event), not that I'm trying to make a point here or anything.. *cough* hey look, what's that over there!?
THE TOUCH (****) myspace :: In follow up Act two explodes all over the stage tonight like a molotov cocktail thrown through a police car window, like a pack of hyenas let loose throughout a kindergarten, like a demolision ball crashing through a port-a-loo mid pee, or more accurately (since hey.. we ARE talking about The Touch here) like a packet of pop rocks dropped into a pepsi, shaken vigorously, shotgunned by an eight year old, kidney punched by his twelve year old brother, before promptly exploding in a shower of candy and urine during a game of Voltron. It's a shock and awe campaign in every one of my senses being beaten senseless. It's five members of the band running riot on stage like they own the joint, like someone has a loaded shotgun pointed at their heads, like they're gonna fucking kill themselves out there and leave nothing but a good looking corpse. They've got the spastic hand claps, they've got the lights, they've got a dedicated suicide squad in "I Heart The Touch" t-shirts screaming and throwing themselves onto the stage. Fuck it's exhausting just writing about it! but since clearly I'm aiming to drag all of you poor fools with me to my untimely death, here's the live video: it ain't subtle, but it sure as fuck gets the message across!
Yup, not since Nick Johnston from Cut Off Your Hands got crowd surfed upto the ceiling and knocked out half of the lights for the Modular party back in September 2007 has the live stage at Rocket Bar seen such a ridiculous display in exciteable and epilectic excess (which made it all the easier to photograph in the remaining 3 minutes left of their set too.. weeeeee!). The Touch. They've been a "circus act" in every sense of the word, they're indie as fuck, you'd think MTV would be all over this shit like a rash.. but one wonders, will it be enough for them win it?
SKYE HARBOUR (***1/2) myspace :: Following up in act three is curiously enough a band from Melbourne. Or more accurately a band from Adelaide that moved to Melbourne and are now based back in Adelaide again (since clearly sticking to just the ONE city wasn't enough for them). This would either disqualify them from competing in both the Melbourne AND Adelaide heats of this competition, qualify them for both, or qualify all five of them, their multiple personalities and everyone else present in this room for speedy admittance into the nearest rubber room and a mind full of chemicals. Skye Harbour. To describe them with any degree of precision is rather like attempting to take out a mosquito with a redirected asteroid collision. They're an A-grade hissy fit bordering on ADHD. They're fist mashing piano, cartoon exaggerate guitars, all five of them singing a chorus verging on a nervous breakdown and an overall sound that rather resembles mid 90's Weezer and Ben Folds Five having an asthma attack whilst Panic! At The Disco and Muse beat them to death with Carlos Santana's guitar. It's a strange mix sure, but for the most part it works..
Skye Harbour, attempting to outdo The Touch in everything but the hummingbird BPM rate at which they belt out their tunes, add a drunken arm-in-arm singalong to their performance along with the epilepsy inducing lightshow, frantic handclaps and an-everything-played-at-once-but-the-kitchen-sink of instrumental overloads. There's also this one deranged lunatic in the crowd who keeps shrieking like she's either being murdered, is having the "best time of her life", or both at the same time. Not to leap to any conclusions here but if ever you wanted a freebie to "off" anyone in the crowd scott free, right now would be the moment to do it. Awesome!
THE BATTERY KIDS (***) myspace :: Which brings us to act four. A band born to play an event as migraine inducing as this one. You want batshit insane levels of howling hysteria punching way into the red? You want melodrama? You want to climb the walls and howl at the moon? You want to experience the entire Book Of Revelations as directed by Tim Burton with puppets? Then you want the swift kick to the nuts and the flamethrower chaser that only The Battery Kids could provide! Oh yes! nothing quite screams for the pain pills and a nice long dirt nap with your eyesockets crawling with worms than going four rounds in the ring with this band! It's all there in Shannon Yuvan squealing like an entire 40 story building has just collapsed on his pink bits on leads, how Bowl Lispon bashes out the keys like an online deathmatch gone horribly wrong, Shannon Simpson and his hysterical "Thunderbirds Are Go!" routine on the drums and what appears to be the Hunchback Of Notre Dame dismantling a bass guitar. Yup in any other lineup, a band like this would've been nuked from orbit, lined in lead, sealed in concrete, stuffed into one of those freaky Krypton glass prisons and shot into space for an eternity in damnation. But here tonight, they're amongst friends!
The Battery Kids have this competition in the bag. You want exaggerated, overwraught and ridiculously overblown!? Sheeiiit, they freaking invented it! This is their game and we all know they're playing it right back to us in spades and shovels. In fact they're so confident tonight that they've done away with the light show, the hand claps, the drunken sing alongs and most of their psych meds tonight and they're going at it cold turkey. Still from the looks of their performance tonight, it's not like you could tell. Whether this low-key strategy of theirs will actually pay off in the end, who's to know? my head hurts, my brain's missing, and the rest of me may be nothing more than an upright skeleton whistling in the breeze but I reckon they're in with a shot!
ZETA (***) myspace :: Which brings us to act five. Five acts in less than two hours. Five acts of pure punishment beating as black and blue, broken and blubbering in the corner. Each and every one of us mere shadows of our former selves, puppets on a string cut, hunched over and emaciated, yammering, drooling and glassy eyed, unable to contain a singular thought in our whistling skull cavities for more than five minutes at a time without losing our shit like a busted up smoke alarm. To think something which once gave us so much joy would deliver so much unthinkable torture? Oh the horror! OH THE HUMANITY! WHY WOULD ANYONE THINK TO INFLICT SUCH MISERY UPON US!!? Which is probably the last reaction Zeta were hoping for from this crowd tonight, or perhaps they have us RIGHT where they want us! I mean shit, just look at that rat bastard Sascha out there on stage, bobble headed and a shit eating grin; like he's a few pawns short of a chess set, like he's a few bullets short of a Columbine massacre, like he had this shit planned all along!? Ooooh that scheming fuck! I'll kill him! I'll kill them all! BWAAhAhAHAhAHAHA!!
Yup, that's Zeta. Probably the last band you'd ever expect to be a part of this fiasco. A band of illbient misfits and miscreants more likely to strap bombs to themselves and paintball the walls red rather than take part in it (especially that drummer.. duuude seriously, I swear one day he's gonna freaking lose his shit and explode out there!). Although when you think about it, for that quality alone, perhaps they're JUST the sort of band you'd WANT to invite to this party! And tonight they certaintly don't disappoint! Sure, they look just about as fuckarse retarded as every other band playing tonight; like a rage blackout with guitars, gnashing their teeth and wailing offkey, like a bag of cats fighting. But somehow, somewhere, deep down within that twisted collective core of theirs, I sense they're ever so slightly taking the absolute piss..
10:39PM - Yup it's been one hell of a set; emphasis on the "hell". What sublime terrors we've witnessed this night not even the likes of Abu Ghraib, Guantanemo Bay, the frozen corpse of Walt Disney or even Hollywood director Joel Shumacher could possibly ever imagine. And yet regrettably most of us haven't even made it this far. Weeks later when that "peculiar" smell drifts ever so slowly eastward down Hindley Street to alert the authorities they'll find all those shallow graves, they'll find all those piling bodies, twisted in cold fear and blind panic and they'll wonder what the fuck happened here this night. Duuuuuude, if only you knew! *cough* speaking of such, here comes our illustrious host to put us all out've our misery by announcing tonight's winner! woweee! I'm so ridiculously and stupidly over excited I think I just threw up a little!
MTV's honourary douchebag (in more ways than one) is joined on stage by one of the judging panel: Taasha Coates from The Audreys, looking oddly embarassed to be here (hmmmm, gee I wonder why?) as she flicks through her little note book, gives the bands some whimsically ambiguous feedback, pauses for dramatic effect, throws up a little, before MTV's honourary douchebag stops fiddling for time *ahem* and finally announces: "aaand the winner is.."
"..Skye Harbour!" What the fuck!? Yup, who knew the judges in their combined wisdom would make such an inspired choice as this one! I mean shit, out've all the performances tonight, there were only two I could've sworn were in serious contention: The Keepsakes for being the ONLY band to keep their shit together in the opener (no easy task) and The Touch for losing their shit and absolutely fucking exploding out there. Wow! I'm in shock, I'm in awe, I'm delerious from the insanity of it all and I'm applauding. Congratulations Skye Harbour! you've won the dubious honour of doing this shit ALL over again in the National finals! YEAAS! Give yourselves a round of applause guys! you've done Adelaide (and quite possibly Melbourne) proud!
And yes, I realise I've written those last few paragraphs without directly acknowledging the "elephant standing in the room" (well, ok.. more like a teeny tiny frightened elephant) that is THIS idiot, MTV's man of the hour, stark naked save for a damn sock on his schlong. But hey, as long as I don't acknowledge it, don't make eye contact with it, pixelate it the fuck out so it doesn't violate photobucket's terms and conditions (like it did the first time I tried uploading all this shit) then you didn't see it, I didnt photograph it, it didn't happen and I won't be having nightmares about this for the rest of the week. Sheeeeiiit MTV! For one fucking night you could've made it about the MUSIC and you just HAD to go make a dick of yourself now didn't you!? GUH!! That's it! I've had enough! I fucking give up! get someone else to write this fucking blog.. I QUIT!!
11:21PM - And then, just as this episode of Spoz's Rant is plummeted to brand new lows (wow, what's to bet THAT stunt will be the one to pull all the ratings this month!), I receive an SMS on my phone and sweet relief in the form of a teeny tiny encore gig at the Ed Castle.. aaaaaah! :)
MONA LISA OVERDRIVE (****) myspace :: I've been through hell and back again. I've lost all faith in humanity, I'm losing my precarious grip on gravity and I've had more debauchery and depravity punching holes through my retinas than a back to back movie marathon featuring Jackass 1 and 2 followed up by The Wiggles on a bad tab of acid. So it's with sore eyes and a sore head that I great Ed's opening act Mona Lisa Overdrive. "Fuck! not these idiots again!?". Yup, normally I'd be sick to death of this band by now. I mean shit, is it just me, or have these pissants been playing to every dickhead and their dog of late? Sheeeiiit! it's almost getting to the point that you can't open a fucking fridge door without them popping up between the milk and cheese and busting out a mad medly with that freaky little gnome who flicks the light on and off. And it's not like they've got a wide repetoire to draw upon either. It's the same fucking Velvet Underground song playing 50 billion times over isn't it? FUCK!! Why am I even writing this shit!? But just when everything's about to fall apart tonight, just when I'm about to piss this whole thing off for good, Mona Lisa Overdrive and their skull fuckingly brilliant set remind me just why I do this shit in the first place! YEAAAS!!
I mean, let's not dick around here; on any other night, Mona Lisa Overdrive are more style than substance. Out've all the other Adelaide bands you'd see out there: band's who look like they fell out've bed drunk and merely grabbed the first thing within arms reach with the least amount of flies buzzing all over it (shit, not like I can talk!), we at least gotta give these dapper dweebs credit for looking the sartorial assassins of cool. But past all that, I've never quite understood what the hype was all about in their music. Not until tonight that is, tonight they fucking nailed it. Maybe it's just the mix in the Ed Castle that does it, maybe it's just the ever present air of bong smoke wafting in like a cool breeze from the beer gardens, but I'm feeling this shit! I'm burning my draft card, dropping out, tripping out and I'm joining the revolution! It's thrashy as fuck. They're out of their fucking minds. They're tearing it all apart and putting back together back to front. They're howling sea of distortion and sneering dissent. They're five flavours of dirt singing as one. It's like Queens Of The Stone Age doing "Sick Sick Sick" in a kaleidoscope and I'm right in the middle of it. SHIT YEAAAH! This is what the fucking BUZZ is all about!! :)
THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (****1/2) myspace :: And just when the going's good, it only gets better. Granted in my weakened and delerious state you could drag just about any shaved baboon on stage, stuff a guitar, a bass, two drumsticks and a microphone in their hands give them MORE than two fucking songs to play with and I'll die happy. Go back and play those first five videos back to back and you'll know just how desperate my brainspace has become (no offense guys we all know it was enough to get out've THAT circus with all our teeth still accounted for). But right here is where it's fucking at! Granted there's only five stoners out there in the crowd and you could hear a bug fart in the spaces between, but this here may very well have been the BEST show I saw all weekend. No shit! This was the oasis in the desert! All it took was these four freaks, their 60's psychedelic freakout, their op shop shirts and me torturing myself to death at Rocket Bar tonight and I was home free! weeeee! :)
The Fearless Vampire Killers in sound rather neatly sum up what is rattling around in my skull right now as a loose approximation of thought. They're the reptilian core, the peanut piston, the kill or be killed rapid fire response with an adrenaline chaser. They're Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Brian Jonestone Massacre, Led Zeppelin II, The Vasco Era and a bag of cats fighting. They're a quartet of illbient acid artists raised by wolves. They're a twizzle stick on bass plugging out the most insane toilet s-bend in brown notes I've ever heard without dropping a load in kind. They're an anachronism, they're a surf guitar mindfuck set to film, they're a Quentin Tarentino soundtrack to a room full of schoolgirl assassins scattered in a sea of red as Uma Therman walks away with a smile. Fuck, what a finale! You freaks have damn near saved my life!
1:27AM - And then it was all over. I am dead. I am long buried. I am bones and dirt. I am fossiled, unearthed, reassembled and put on display giving the finger to a fossilised astronaut, a giant letter M and two tiny letters T and V. A fitting end methinks. Or at least it would've if I hadn't found myself at the other end of town hours later drinking myself retarded in effort to forget everything I've spent upto 15 hours writing up now. Sheeeeiiit.. what a night!
Yup, you say you're doing it for the love, you say you're doing it for the art, you'll suffer for it, you'll starve for it, you'll live and breathe and damn near die gargling in a pool of your own vomit for it and then along comes a night like this that shows you the very best and the worst of it and you wonder: "duuuude why the FUCK am I still doing here if THIS shit is all that I have to look forward to!?". Why? cause it sure as fuck beats anything else I could be doing, that's why! :)