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 WATERSLIDES + BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR LIVE @ ED CASTLE / Saturday August 9th 2008
I've had this running theory for the last few years that most (if not all) of the arts are the direct result of mental illness. Need evidence? Look no further than pretty much every single creative output you've ever seen in the last 50 years. Consider the visual arts: Jackson Pollack, Brett Whiteley, the performance art of Stellarc, Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" and a whole host of copycat artists pissing into jars and shitting on canvases. Consider the performing arts: William Shatner, Pee Wee Herman, Angelina Jolie, film directors Quentin Tarentino and Michel Gondry, pretty much ANYTHING Tom Cruise has done in the last 10 years and the all kinds of batshit insane that is Crispin Glover. Consider Hunter S Thompson. Consider Gordan Ramsay. Consider the humble street mime. Consider the idiot who chooses to write THIS blog each week. Consider the ENTIRE fashion industry. Arts as a whole is absolutely crawling up the walls and licking the light sockets with howling dysfunction. And clearly I've left the best till last, for how could we forget the music industry! Built on the very foundations of blowing out your own head with a shotgun, overdosing on heroin, dying from autoerotic asphyxiation and choking on in a pool of your own vomit (and need I mention, Michael Jackson?). Yeah fucked if I know where I'm going with all this right now but bear with me here; I'm sure it'll all make sense soon enough..
So here we are at The Ed Castle for another lazy Saturday night. Seriously, is it just me or has Friday become the new "Saturday" and Saturday become the new "Sunday"? Fuck. Maybe I've been waking up in the afternoon and going to sleep in the morning for far too long and now my entire compass is blown, who knows? Either way there's a stillness in the air tonight. You can see it on the streets, you can smell it in the air: part of it's the Olympics, part of it's winter, a large portion of it is everyone getting five flavours of twatted on a Friday night and now they're too fucked to walk. Can't blame them really. To think I got home at 7 this morning and I'm doing this again tonight? sheeeeiiiit! wait.. where was I? Oh yeah! The Ed Castle. And in no relation to anything insane I've just written we present tonight's live music entertainment: Billy Bishop Goes To War and The Waterslides. You've probably never heard of either of them (shit, even I didn't know who they were a month ago). But trust me, give them a year and we'll ALL be hearing about them. Oh yes! Soon these two bands will be the talk of legend!
BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR (****1/2) myspace :: Our opening act for the night Billy Bishop Goes to War could loosely be described "shoegaze" in quite the same way that George W Bush could loosely be considered "president" of The United States. We all know it's not true, but for the sake of argument let's just pretend that they ARE. Granted they still have a great many things in common WITH the sounds of shoegazer. Their thick guitar sound that swoons and soars with layer upon layer of melodious feedback and dreamlike echo delay. Their predilection for addressing the floor as their audience (and not the one hundred of so people that may happen to be standing right in front of them). How one song ever so effortlessly flows into the next. And the fact that Spoz is one lazy music journalist. No this isn't quite shoegazer, this is something else altogether. The key is in their lead singer Josh. You may remember him as that idiot with the shitcrazy haircut from Poly & The Statics, you may also remember for not necessarily "singing" but shrieking like a bag of cats fighting. It's the sort've straightjacket mania that appears to draw from many influences: Darren Cross from Gerling, Yoko Ono from the Plastic Ono Band and Bobcat Goldthwait from Police Academy. You'd probably think a howling mental patient like this would be the last thing that shoegaze would ever need (and don't get me started on the rest of the band) but in the case of Billy Bishop Goes To War it's just one of many things that makes them all the more awesome!
To imagine Billy Bishop Goes To War is to start with something simple like say Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation" or My Bloody Valentine. Then throw in the howling melancholy of The Arcade Fire's "Funeral", the bi-polar disorder that is Modest Mouse, the hippy free-for-all of Gerling, and the gypsy folk of Beirut (especially in their final song). Add a dash of Lou Reed in the vocals of their bass guitarist, Tom. Set it adrift on a leaky 15th century Portugese sailing vessel and then set it on fire. Watch as the band scurry about like rats, bump into each other and lurch about like drunks. Sense the rising panic that builds from something that once so serene. Then watch it all degenerate into a cavalcade of noise at the end of it all as barely a word spoken between band and audience. Yup, clearly there's something just a little bit "wrong" here: but it's in all these apparent dysfunctions and howling insanity that true genius is found..
Billy Bishop Goes To War finish a jaw dropping set, make their way off the stage and file out've the room silently, only to pause briefly as Josh experiences a little trouble "finding the exit", bumps into the wall over and over like a malfunctioning robot making whimpering sounds, until their manager Matt Hayward finally spots him, herds him out of the room and packs him back into his box. A rather lengthy changeover then occurs as a series of keyboards, samplers, drumpads, turntables and whatnot are loaded onto stage: followed by even more befuddling and insane array of smoke machines, sirens, strobe lights, a ceiling mounted bubble machine, and a home made contraption that appears to be a mix between a cardboard box and a leaf blower that I'm told is a confetti cannon.. Sheeeiiit! I don't know about you, but I'm frightened!
This is course could be nobody else but The Waterslides. You've probably never heard of them before, and chances are the few of you who HAVE heard of them before are probably still locked up in a loony bin somewhere rocking back and forth in foetal position and shrieking shit about aliens. So allow for me a brief introduction. Three members of The Waterslides: Tim Whitt on vocals, Jimmy Beano on bass and Luke Eygenraam on drums used to be in an infamous act known as Central Deli Band. A band that some of you may remember as the support act to The Grates back when they toured Adelaide in October 2006, whilst most of the rest of you will only remember this shit after intense hypnotherapy sessions with your hospital psychiatrist..
Joined by Matt Hayward and Corey Price: Central Deli Band were undoubtedly the WORST live act Adelaide had ever seen. They were punk, funk, rock, electro, hiphop and mashup rolled all into one. They were constant instrument swaps, malfunctioning samplers, cheaparse keyboards and a revolving procession of about fifty extras running about on stage and setting shit on fire. Sets would often dissolve into a free-for-all with half the band running around off the stage and half the audience finding themelves ON the stage. They also had a performing idiot dressed as a bear. None of it ever made a shit of sense.. but OOOOOOOOH FUCK did it rock!
It's uncertain exactly how it all went wrong. Although it could be argued it was all kinds of "wrong" to begin with. Suffice to say, somewhere late December 2006 the band self destructed, everyone went their seperate ways, Matt Hayward their "singer" briefly dabbled in a few short lived side projects and nothing was heard of them since. Or at least until now. The Waterslides. If any band could claim to be the direct descendant of Central Deli Band, it would be this..
THE WATERSLIDES (****1/2) myspace :: They say you should never work with children or animals. Into this list, as a rock photographer, I'd also like to include: smoke machines, strobe lights, sirens, confetti cannons or pretty much everything else these lunatics threw at me tonight. Not only has age not mellowed them, it has actually made them MORE hyperactive. They're a mashup act: parts electro, funk, bigbeat and hiphop. They're a block rocking party band shamelessly ripping samples from just about any song you can think of and making it their own. They're every single one of your orifices being gang fucked by clowns. You could probably throw a kitchen sink worth of influences at this band and it would stick, but the clearest indicators appear to be The Avalanches, Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers (circa 2003-2008), a smidgen of Basement Jaxx and all those braindamaged techno jams Regurgitator used to love doing (ie, see: "G7 Dick Electro Boogie" off their Tu Plang Kon Uauk album or "Are You Being Served?" off of Art). Either way they make the spastic hissyfit of The Grates look like Sigur Rós, they make Rage Against The Machine sound like Air, and they make my brain collapse into a blackhole singularity just thinking about it..
The last time they played here, five of them jumping about managed to cause a stage collapse, they smoked out the room to the point you couldn't see anything two metres past your face and a few wildly unsubstantiated rumours even claim that someone actually shat themselves in the audience. YEEOUCH ! To say that this would be a photography challenge tonight would be THE understatement of the decade. From all those idiots flapping their arms about, to the drummer hidden under an impenetrable veil of fog, to the flashing strobes, to the screaming throng behind me dancing up a storm, sometimes I'd almost forgot there was any music out there. Although granted, in comparison to Central Deli Band, at least these freaks can actually HOLD a tune. In fact, save for the occassional sampler malfunction, it was surprisingly well put together!
Of course I realise 90% of this shit is nothing but smoke and mirrors. I realise it's a circus act bordering on a joke. I also realise without all this, if I judged them on the merits of their music and their performance alone this shit WOULDN'T be worthy of such a high rating. But when it's this fucking crazy? who fucking cares! Say what you will about The Waterslides but they sure know how to throw one FUCK of a party. And lets face it, sometimes that's all we need!
1:22AM - At the tail end of their set, with all the smoke and the confetti flying about it's almost impossible to distinguish up from down, ceiling from floor and my stomach contents from the walls around me. Or rather like what would happen if you snarfed down a bag of shrooms, did a line of speed, dropped two tabs of acid, followed by 2-3 drips from that little brown medicine bottle you'd find in Dr. Gonzo's shaving kit: "that stuff makes pure mescaline seem like ginger-beer" sheeeeiiiit.. talk about an a-grade mind fuck! But don't the crowd just LOVE it? :)
2:11AM - An hour after their set I still find myself wandering dazed and confused in search of my teeth since found imbedded in the walls, whilst Matt Hills the house mixer pulls the hose out and proceeds to blast out all the confetti, broken glasses and dead bodies piled up in front of the stage. And for some odd reason I'm also wearing a scuba mask and flippers.. whoooaaaaaa!
3:21AM - Eventually after much colliding into the walls in the attempt to find the exit signs the fuck out of there, I leave The Ed Castle in search of my after hours entertainment; eventually finding it here at Supermild on Hindley Street. There are many reasons to visit Supermild. One is for the longneck bottles of beer they serve at the bar. The second is for the copious amounts of drugs everyone smokes out back (*cough* wait.. what?). Whilst the third is THIS bearded freak. Fucked if I know what his name is. You may've seen him DJing at Rocket Bar, you may've seen him playing in Clue To Kalo, but the tunes he spins are without a doubt the coolest fucking shit on the planet. If you like oldskool funk, if you like soul, if you love fuckarse obscure 60's and 70's psychedelic jams and pulling all manner of shapes on the dancefloor: this cat's got it nailed!
3:27AM - But of course, since most of the idiots I know these days are musicians (and therefore by loosest stereotypes are most prone to smoking copious amounts of drugs) no visit to this joint would ever be complete without spending some time with THESE goons out back. The one on the left you may recognise as Sascha the lead singer from Zeta, whilst the rest you'll be sure to find in police identikit and courtroom drawings when they appear on the evening news..
3:35AM - I'm also soon joined by Melissa the midget celebrating her 18th birthday tonight. She's shielding her face with a bunch of flowers I just gave her (which I somehow found myself in possession of moments earlier when some passing drunks handed them to me outside of the Ed). And as for why Sascha's blowing smoke all up in her face.. aaaaah seriously, why the fuck not?
3:43AM - Whilst this photo neatly illustrates that (a) I can't focus this camera for shit, (b) if you stand outside on a Saturday night, in the dead of winter, in the freezing cold, in the rain, with a pack of smokers and you DON'T smoke then you're a fucking idiot and (c) clearly I'm way too drunk to know any better. Still, while you're at it, you might as well look insanely badass..
3:54AM - I spend the next hour or so making an absolute twat of myself on the dancefloor with my arms and legs flailing about wildly (ie: rather like THIS video), only to realise Josh from Lady Strangelove is pulling even crazier dance moves than I am (can we say: "Peter Garrett thrown into an electric fence"?), briefly consider dropping into Jive across the road for the tail end of Gosh! only to reconsider it and catch the next late night bus the fuck outta here..
And if you're wondering at the tail end of all this shit just what the fuck all of this meant, then I believe you're right where I started and I have more than enough evidence to close this case. If ever you find yourself peeing into bottles, mixing checks with stripes, stripping naked on stage, smearing yourself in peanut butter, screaming at someone dressed as a penguin (or *cough* joining Scientology), then you're just a few rolling marbles away from losing your fucking mind. But hey, look on the bright side! without people like you.. duuude, we'd ALL be fucking insane!