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...
DELUSIONS OF GRANDMA + QUIET CHILD + WINTER'S LAMENT LIVE @ CROWN & ANCHOR / Saturday September 6th 2008
Sometimes the best laid plans go astray. I mean, how hard could it be? Pick a gig, shoot some shit, get drunk, have a laugh, write it up the following week? Fuuuuck! a chimp could do what I do! All I've got is a camera, a laptop, an internet connection, an ability to teleport through space and time and an invulnerability to bladed weaponry, projectiles and fire. Shit, doesn't everyone!? You step out that door every night and shit just happens. Live bands just throw themselves at you. Like it's all one big happy accident. I mean, how hard could it be? Take tonight for instance. Tonight I had it aaaaall figured out! All the way back to a month ago when I heard about this gig at the Crown & Anchor: Delusions Of Grandma, Quiet Child and Winter's Lament. All it took was for me to sift through a billion myspace sites and I found it. Then a week later I heard about a second gig at Producers Bar: The Killgirls, The Mischief and The British Robots. They're just across the road from each other! I could cover all six of them in one night. Maaaan I've got it all covered! And then two weeks later I hit the motherload with a gig at the Governor Hindmarsh: Magic Dirt, Leader Cheetah, Swords and Miss Golly Gosh. Who cares if all the tickets had sold out by now. You had an "in". You knew people who knew people. You could've gotten your name on the door and bagged yourself a trophy kill! A national touring act! One of the big ones! You could've gotten in, got out and no one would've known what hit 'em! One raised middle finger to the media establishment! Always one step ahead! Like you're an assassin! like you're a fucking Jedi Master! Shit duuude, with a plan as brilliant as THIS what could possibly go wrong?
9:26PM - So guess where I ended up!? Yup, Long story short: my door spot at the Governor Hindmarsh falls through at the last minute. That gig at Producers Bar gets moved to Higher Ground on Light Square. No one really explains why: gas leak, vampire attack, the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants "many Shuvs and Zools knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!" (aaaaah Producers Bar! always a barrel of laughs!) either way, unable to decide between Higher Ground or the Crown & Anchor, I flipped a coin and fuckit, here I am! Watching the procession of salt and pepper beards, berets, scalves, reading glasses and sensible shoes shuffling out of the theatre after a mind numbing performance of "Centrelink: The Musical". Watching as the entire venue empties out. Watching as The Killgirls setup all their shit for the next half hour. Waiting and wondering to myself when people would start arriving. Falling asleep to the gentle clinking of wine glasses and the chirping of crickets. Here in this lazy 'ol arts cafe with its relaxed dinner theatre atmosphere, here on a Saturday night, here where it's all happening! "Shit! what the fuck am I DOING here!?"
9:49AM - Yeah I know, I probably should've waited it out, it probably would've been awesome, but after constantly checking their ONE toilet cubicle every 5 minutes only to find it perpetually stuck in the "engaged" position, realising I'd probably have to duck down to Enigma Bar if I ever needed to take a whizz, realising I'd be here for another half an hour before anything happened, I finally snapped "ARRR FUCK THIS SHIT!" and went to the Crown & Anchor instead..
Still all things considered I really couldn't have planned it better. Or actually I didn't. Hang on where was I again!? Aaaaah here at the Crown & Anchor. Here prostrate before the ever mighty Unicron. Lord of Darkness, bringer of destruction, mechanoid planet destroying omnipresence of doom (otherwise cunningly disguised as a drumkit with a few too many cymbals stuck on at weird angles). Where else but here (or quite possibly out've my mind and yammering at the walls in a padded cell somewhere) would I EVER want to spend my Saturday night?
WINTER'S LAMENT (***1/2) myspace :: And speaking of needlessly convoluted journeys to get here, here's our opening act: Winter's Lament. You may remember them from back when they played at the Jade Monkey. Or if, like 99% of the population you have trouble remembering where you left your car keys this morning, let alone anything that happened over TWO years ago, then you probably don't *cough* yeah, funny story that. Back in November 2006 they played this gig: we laughed, we cried, we peed a little, it was awesome! The next day to celebrate, Luke Fazakerley (their drummer) ducked off to the corner store for a pack of cigarettes, we never saw them again, and two years later they're back again! Wow, time sure flies when you're having fun! Of course I could explain what the fuck happened in those intervening two years: but since J.J. Abrams was utterly crap at explaining what the hell happened to Sydney Bristow in the 3rd season of Alias, I'll leave it to your own warped imagination: suffice to say, never expose their singer Rachael Caerns to sunlight, don't splash her with water, and whatever you do, DON'T feed her after midnight! Yeah that's right, she's a freaking Mogwai! I mean just LOOK at her! she's freaking tiny! she's from the magical kingdom of Narnia and she's powered entirely by rainbows, gum drops and wishful thinking *cough* whoaa.. where was I? oh yeah! I'm fucking insane and THIS is Winter's Lament!
Winter's Lament. They're Rachael Caerns on piano and vocals, they're Luke Fazakerley on drums and backups. They're lightly dappled keys and bitter sweet melodies. They're tiny fluffy paws tickling the ivories. They're butterflies, sprites, faeries, pixies and wood nymphs frolicking amongst the flowers whilst the birds sing. And they're also a great big fucking bulldozer crushing it underfoot, killing it with napalm, sealing it in concrete and nuking it from orbit. Such is the schizophrenic beast that is Winter's Lament. On the one hand they're the porcelain sounds of Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Amy Lee, Delta Goodrum and Bat For Lashes. On the other they're the octopus onslaught of DJ Shadow, Unkle's "Psyence Fiction" and the Chemical Brother's "Dig Your Own Hole". Sure, it's like being tickled to death with a sledgehammer (and the mix in this live video probably isn't the BEST example) but surprisingly, for the most part, it works..
QUIET CHILD (****1/2) myspace :: Aaaaah everyone loves a prog-metal band! they're everyone's favourite live music destination! with the possible exception of the one borderline psychotic who writes this blog each week: who thanks to all the carbon copy "we love Maynard James Keenan" shit he's been subjecting himself to in the past six months (ooooh maaaan where do I begin!?), is inches away from letting loose an entire Schwarzenegger of joy on the nearest shopping centre, cause THAT's how much he loves this shit! FUUUCK YEAH!! Still when it comes to dying a slow torturous death one overwraught opus at a time (yeah I know, it's my problem, and I'm seeking more than enough "medication" at the bar to treat it.. weeeeee!), then you couldn't ask for a better way to go than with Quiet Child. Seriously, what's not to love about this band? Take Pete their lead singer for example. When he isn't suffering from a cold, the flu, pneumonia, hooping cough, the measels, the pox, the plague or "what the FUCK is that howling green abomination with the tentacles you just birthed out've your sinuses that's threatening to destroy Tokyo city!?" he's in possession of one of THE finest vocal chords you'll ever damn hear: it's a quavering falsetto bordering on a religious experience! Or what about J their guitarist? working his instrument ever so meticulously like a man plucking a chicken. Or what about the many mysterious shapes pulled by Brent on bass? Or what about Paul on drums (what about it? yeah fucked if I know dude.. he's a drummer, I never have descriptive shit to write about that!). Yup when I'm not dozing off loudly in the corner, I'm in awe, dumbstruck and a drooling puddle to the floor to the insane majesty that they weave!
Quiet Child. If ever there was going to be one band in Adelaide that could rip off both Tool, A Perfect Circle, spend an eternity and a half in the one song to the point of Chinese water torture, never get to the fucking point and yet still come off sounding like the most skullfuckingly sublime transcendental shit you ever hope to hear, then it would be these guys! They're the melancholy coma you love to wallow in. They're the blackening despair you want your friends and your whole family to enjoy. They're the exception to the rule that Spoz would rather be the "Goofy" mascot at Disneyland and get punched in the groin by 1000's of toddlers than subject himself to YET another prog-metal band for as long as he lives, that makes you want to come back for them again and again! And they're also this brand new song tonight called "Ocean Of Silhouttes" that sounds all too eerily like a valium rendition of Muse's "Assassin"; but is no less awesome because of it. Quiet Child. They're prog-metal as fuck, but ooooh fuck do they rock! :)
DELUSIONS OF GRANDMA (*****) myspace :: And now that we've all been reduced to a blubbering mess on the floor, curled in foetal position, howling and wailing the endless woe that is our mortal despair; what better time than this than for our headlining act to bring us back from the brink again. Delusions Of Grandma: probably the least likely bunch of psychedelic, freeform, jazz tripping misfits you'd ever expect to play at the Crown & Anchor, let alone headline it (come to think of it, Winter's Lament was a bit of a bizarre choice too), they represent EVERYTHING that this open sewer to alcoholism and anarchy is normally such an anethema to. They're artfully abstract, articulate, contemplative and smoothly chaotic. They're an intangible groove that hangs in the balance in every way that an Escher print shouldn't. They're the primordial soup from which all music evolves. They're the spaces between the notes and the notes themselves becoming superstrings with a gravitational pull that defies all the known laws of physics. And they're also me spouting forth the most fucked up hallucinogenic gibberish in the insane attempt to describe them. You don't explain Delusions Of Grandma. OOH NO! You simply take nearly enough acid till you think you can fly, and then let them provide the launching pad. Which (short of a trip to the hospital) is JUST what they did for us tonight!
If all the other gigs I've seen here over the years, this was quite possibly the most surreal. Not just in the music itself, but in the response it drew from the alcoholics, the knuckle draggers and low brow Neanderthals around them. Watch as they seated themselves in front of the stage, row upon row on the floor, drawn bug-eyed and attentive, in a trance, tripping balls, whilst a select few still standing did the slow winding spaced out hippy groove, their arms and legs weaving in and out of the otherworldly frequencies that Delusions Of Grandma transmitted. There were no songs here, no lyrics, only movements, themes and progressions. Abstract as fuck, and yet in a language we could all understand. And hey, even if that shit didn't work for you, how could you go wrong with a band that not only brought their own stage lights, but also brought a saxaphone AND rocked out with a clarinet, at the freaking Crown & Anchor no less? puuure genius! :)
1:06AM - And there we have it. We've come full circle. One insane and sublime lineup of music. One drumkit levitating a few spare inches off the floor in front of those velvety red curtains. One drumkit silently feeding upon our souls. Where all else was chaos and ruin tonight, right here at its very epicentre we've found peace and tranquility. Aaaaaah such a befitting and poetic end..
Or at least it would've been a poetic end, if moments later Jess the guitarist from Delusions of Grandma hadn't just flipped me the bird on camera. Aaarrr fuckit, lets go get drunk instead!
2:21AM - Speaking of drunk and disorderly, a thought just occured to me: what ever happened with Producers Bar? I know The Killgirls had to flee from there at the last minute, but why? So with curiousity getting the better of me, I slipped across the road to investigate, only to stumble into a scene straight out of "8 Mile". On stage was some no-name US rapper MC (sounding like a mix between 50 Cent and a toddler being mauled by a rottweiler), whilst off stage and all around me there was a sea of smashing glass and hoards of happy meals and troglodytes wailing into each other hand over fist. Heads through walls, busted up jaws, blacked eyes, bloodied shirts and teeth spilling out over the pavement; whilst one shaved monkey gurgles himself upright, wipes the drool from his chin only to realise some bastard has just rolled him for his sneakers. Yup it was stupid, it was needlessly violent, it was every single fucked up hiphop gangbanger cliche all rolled into one (and you should've seen the smiling faces of all the poor barstaff that had to serve them all night!) but damn if it wasn't some of the FUNNIEST shit I'd ever damn near seen!
4:32AM - And here I am at Zhivago over two hours later. Yeah, I could probably explain what I did in the last few hours to get here, suffice to say: there are things you CAN photograph, and then there's whatever the fuck nearly reduced Producers Bar to a steaming pile of rubble just moments ago and would've taken me with it if I was stupid enough to photograph any of it. I think at some point the army was called in, there was an airstrike, a mushroom cloud.. and um, here I am at Zhivago! Drinking my beer with a dumb grin like nothing happened in between. Wow, what a totally fucked up night. I so couldn't have planned it better if I tried!
Yup, you can scheme all you want, you can plot moves weeks even months in advance; but with all the chance variables, cancellations, relocations and alcoholic annihilations you can never quite predict how any of this shit will end up. With one roll of the dice I might've gone to the Governor Hindmarsh. With another I might've stayed at Higher Ground. With another I'd might be in New York City working for RollingStone Magazine and I'd be an arsehole. With another I'm married with three kids. I'm divorced. I'm a ventriloquist. I'm a cocker spaniel. I do not exist. But I'm here instead. And next week who the fuck knows where this shit will take me next!?