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...
NAZZ AND THE RED PONIES + THE GOOD CHINA + THE HOLY SEA "TRIFFIDS TRIBUTE NIGHT" @ GRACE EMILY / Saturday October 25th 2008
I feel like I've come totally unprepared. I feel like I need to apologise. After tonight I've come to the conclusion that I pretty much know next to nothing about anything. Ask anyone and they'll tell you: I'm utterly fucking clueless, I'm an intellectual amoeba, I'm an empty parking lot, I'm a power blackout, my flag has no stars, I have no crayons left in my box. Weird I know. I used to think I knew things! I may even have had a degree or two to my name; but now I'm no use to anyone. I spend all my days and nights swimming in a pile of leaves. I laugh at the butterflies. I once spent an entire afternoon fascinated by the lights reflecting off my wristwatch; it was real pretty! Where was I again? Oh I'm sorry I think I forgot your name again. Some may say such a glaring ignorance would pose a big problem for a rock photojournalist. Aren't we meant to have information on just about everyone and everything!? Not anymore! I'm happy right here where everything's all shiny and new again. I'm finding new things! I'm discovering that I know less and less every day! It's an education. I'm a leading authority on the Adelaide scene and I haven't got a fucking clue! It's freaking awesome! You can yell, scream, string obscenities together and live in denial! You can pepper your speech with buzz words like "lol!", "lmfao", "ftw!", "epic fail!" and post funny pictures of kittens eating invisible sandwiches for all I care! I'm right where I want to be. I'm all about increasing the ignorance! Huh.. what? why are you looking at me like that!?
Oh yeah! This is Joe Blogs. He has a real name but nobody knows it because one day he simply called himself "Joe Blogs" and if it's on the internet it's got to be real! He knows next to nothing about anything either but he sure knows how to throw a wild party. Oktoberfest. It's awesome. It's just the thing to do on a Saturday after losing my fucking mind on a Friday, except clearly I didn't because all these photos were simply taken from other people's facebook profiles and google image searches (thanks guys, you're awesome!). Wow look at all those weiners! I know they look rather like sausages, maybe even frankfurts or hotdogs, but trust me; they're weiners. Why? I dunno, somebody told me once. Look at me, my entire night's going backwards!
This Oktoberfest has everything that is awesome about Germany. Or at least that's what they keep telling me as I'm pretty sure none of us have a freaking clue what's going on with all this shit either. Wait, you telling me you actually went there!? HA! You lie! It was Austria you dumb bastard! Yup, this is what Germany is all about! Its all about wacky half mangled catch phrases in Germanese, it's about boobies and Nazis and beer, it's about building a fuckoff Berlin wall in your backyard out of cardboard boxes because it's way too fucking awesome NOT to!
And I ask you: what is there that you CAN'T do with a cardboard Berlin Wall!? Shoot anyone who dares crossing it from east to west. Invite Pink Floyd to play a concert on it? Get David Hasslehoff to rock up drunk and piss all over it!? Or maybe we could all relive my birth in carboard form! Yeah I know! I bet it was the FIRST thing you were thinking too! Except as much as I know, my mummy wasn't a giant collection of boxes with the word "peniswangen" written all over her at the time of my ACTUAL birth (and I wasn't a full grown adult). Or wait, maybe I was? I wonder if I could Photoshop that shit up? I wonder if all your heads would implode if you saw it. I wonder if mine would? Wow, thank fuck we've got all this beer at our disposal or we'd be upto our nipples in therapy!
Speaking of beer, or things that have absolutely nothing to do with beer but quite possibly with Volkswagens (wow I sure know how to spin a segue!) Here's Matt "Sausage Fingers" Hein and his homage to all things "German people mover" with his awesomely accurate tinfoil effigy. Sure it looks a bit wonky and uneven on one side, and perhaps nothing like the real thing; but squint your eyes all funny and you wouldn't even know the difference. Fuck that shit's pimping!
And who could forget Spoz's time honoured tradition of featuring photos of people wearing really really stupid hatwear! Like Simone here with her oversized origami paper crane. Sure you may think this has absolutely nothing to do with Germany but clearly you would be lying. In World War II, moments before they lost Berlin to the Allied Invasion, Hitler actually flew one of these things from his concrete bunker to Argentina. I'm also told they have Nazi bases on the moon and most of our world leaders are shape shifting reptilians. Don't believe me? it's on the internet yo!
And of course no awesome Oktoberfest is ever complete without Paul and his wacky siren hat. Sure, I know he pulls this fucked up shit out everytime we throw a party, but y'know what? it never gets tiring! That's hours of entertainment right there! The flashing light, the colour, nay.. the adventure! Sheiiiit.. why I didn't spend the rest of my night here is anyone's guess!?
But clearly no episode of Spoz's Rant would ever be complete without at least some passing reference to our endlessly vibrant Adelaide music scene (laughingly fictional or otherwise) and tonight was no exception despite having most of my previous plans cancelled on my arse earlier this week (and despite me being in NO freaking mood to take any of these insane options on in the first place). As such my first choice would've been Buster Fidez, Neon Electric and Something On Broadway playing "Wish" at Producers Bar (which thanks to Buster Fidez bribing me crazy with beer weeks in advance would've been nothing short of journalist excellence) but thanks to a double booking it was playing host to a black tie function instead. Yeah I know, weeeiiird..
My second choice would've been Swords, Skeletons, Thunderclaw and Ohana (launching their shiny new CD) at the Jade Monkey: which was scuttled the minute Thunderclaw read that awesome review I wrote about them last week (which was in no way influenced by just how pissed off I was about having one of my cameras destroyed), and probably would've led to the untimely destruction of more than just another camera if ever I was foolish enough to make an repeat appearance tonight. Which was kinda weird, cause I kinda liked them last week. I swear!
Whilst my third (and no less equally awesome) choice would've been Jimmy & The Mirrors, Colonel Kernel, Kytes Of Omar and Carnation playing a Jungle Theme Party here at Jive. Which would've looked just like THIS photo, except inside of Jive and with a shitload more "jungle"..
But by this point I was pretty much all set to settle with my fourth choice: "fuck it all, fuck the whole damn world, I'm drinking myself into a coma right here at Oktoberfest.. weeeeee!!" and this would've been me with metres of rubber tubing up my nose, typing my blog with the flickering of my left eyelid. Or at least it would've been if I hadn't received a phonecall at the last minute inviting me to the Grace Emily instead. Why? well why the fuck NOT that's why!
And thus we're presented with the REAL reason why I'm feeling so fucking clueless right now. As not only am I'm way too drunk to think straight (thanks to all the beers I drank at Oktoberfest), but the Grace Emily is hosting a tribute night to the awesome 80's Australian band The Triffids. Never heard of them before? shit neither did I till just a few moments ago; and considering this bittorrent I'm downloading of their classic 1986 album "Born Sandy Devotional" (*cough* I mean album I'm "buying") is currently speeding down my broadband connection at all of 0.1kBs per second, I'm still going to be clueless for most of this live review you're about to read. Oh yes, we're nothing but journalistic integrity here tonight! Still all is not lost when you have ready access to wikipedia. So here goes nothing: "The Triffids were an Australian rock band who achieved some international success in the 1980s. Formed in Perth in the late 1970s and disbanded in 1989, their best known songs are "Wide Open Road" and "Bury Me Deep in Love". Their vocalist and principal songwriter was David McComb (1962-1999)". Wow awesome! you learn something new every day! and just like all the other glaring holes in my music knowledge it's never too late to get an education!
THE HOLY SEA (***1/2) myspace :: Staggeringly blindly into the Grace Emily with a beer in my hand (always the sign that a professional's at work) I'm soon presented with a nifty foldout booklet that rather conveniently informs me of all the awesome live acts that I've already missed (otherwise known as a beginner's guide to all things "The Triffids"), including none other than the mindshatteringly brilliant Matt Reiner from The Pleasure Of Book, the utterly gobsmacking Adam MacBeth from The Mandelbrot Set, the dulcet tones of Goldentone and an utterly unforgettable performance from everyone's favourite band Sleepless! YEAAAAS!! Which means about as much to you reading it now as it does to me. I'm also told they performed a whole host of timeless classics from The Triffids that I've never heard before; only to be followed with the band I'm graced with now: The Holy Sea. Quite like the iconic 80's act they're paying homage to tonight they're a live act that bridges the divide between both Melbourne and Perth, with a seven piece band all crammed onto the one live stage tonight. It's a band that features the road weary Henry F Skerritt on leads, the pencil neck dweeb Daniel Hoey on keys, a special guest appearance by Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld on the cello and a few other ring-ins of various comical description filling the rest of the stage; or in other words I've just fronted up to an "end of year" exam right now, I'm drunk, I'm in my pyjamas and I haven't a fucking clue what I'm talking about, but wow these photos sure are pretty!
Their sound tonight, despite drawing obvious influences from The Triffids (from the simple dumb fact that they're covering them tonight.. yeah I know, I'll be doing this ALL night too!) appear to draw other key influences from both the rollicking swagger of The Cruel Sea and the blackening despair of Nick Cave: which is either an incredibly stupid and ignorant thing to say or a spot on observation of brilliance (I'll leave it up to your own mind to decide which is which). Still it's a moving performance. A shuffling alt-country recital thick with red dust and suburban ennui. Melancholic yet infinitely uplifting. I know next to nothing of this shit, but I like it!
THE GOOD CHINA (****) myspace :: Following up in act two tonight (and Grace Emily's sixth according to their teeny tiny booklet), we're presented by a brief introduction from Rip It Up's editor in chief: Robert Dunstan (who appears to be only slightly LESS drunk than I am right now.. but infinitely all the wiser in all things "The Triffids") who gives a warm welcome to the nine people who promptly fill the stage before him; moments before they burst into song, collapse the stage and bring most of the roofing above them down around our ears. I don't know if they're trying for a Guinness Book Of Records attempt here: but short of a few clowns, a graffiti'd Trabant suspended from wires, a shitcrazy Bono from U2 dressed as "MacPhisto" and a breakdancing elephant they've sure got my attention tonight. The Good China. Of all the names you could ever hope to give a band, they could either be some kind of pro Maoist political statement, or a clay shooting target for bored millionaires; but by appearance tonight they appear to be more of the latter. They're an all star band featuring Cara Lanyon from Melbourne band "16 Millimetre" and eight of her multi-instrumentalist buddies playing a game of musical chairs around her. Which I realise says absolutely nothing to any of you, but I was awfully proud when I dug it up from their myspace site all the same (duuuude I'm SO freaking drunk tonight, I wonder if anyone will notice!?). Bold, euphoric and ridiculously empassioned they're a live performance tonight that's damn near impossible to deny.
The Good China. With their jubilent shoegaze sounds, handclaps, choir singing and ecclectic instrumentation (guitars, bass, drums, violin, keys and glockenspiel they very much remind me of The Arcade Fire covering The Triffids, or most notably their second album "Neon Bible". It's all here short of the pipe organ, the snake handling, the speaking in tongues and Zombie Jesus rising from the grave to kill us all in a wacky song and dance routine. It's four or five of them take turns singing at once, it's every instrument wrung to an inch of it's life and if not for this teeny tiny carpetted stage containing them tonight, it's every one of them embedded halfway through the walls in their fanatical attempt to make us feel every note to the very end. Yup, it sure as fuck ain't subtle, but its no less effecting in its delivery. Oh and they also come up with one of the few covers of The Triffids that I actually recognise, with a spirited rendition of "Bury Me Deep In Love": which does just about everything as listed on the box. So for all that, they're kinda awesome; so much so I'm all kinds of insanely curious to hear what their original shit is like, hmmm..
And now at last we're presented with our headlining act, our final tribute to the work of Dave McComb and everything that was awesome and unforgettable about The Triffids (I'm so going to hell for this), with a band which could be best described as an Adelaide supergroup. On leads we have the pencil neck dweeb with his dick in a socket that you may recognise as none other than Nazz: lead singer of former Adelaide band King Daddy (in which case you may also recognise their lead guitarist Rich Gohl from the self same band). You may also recognise the blue collar tweaker with the dopey grin playing the bass guitar as none other than the ever omnipresent Matt Hills, super producer to just about every live band in the entire Adelaide scene, keyboardist for the Kytes Of Omar, or as one of the former members of Taught By Animals (before they brought in that shitcrazy bass guitarist to replace him and lost their fucking minds back in February). You may recognise Jamie with the wild staring eyes on keyboards from Unspoken Things and The Molting Vultures. You may recognise their violinist Bridgette (although personally I've got no fucking idea from where.. still, damn she rocked tonight!). Whilst clearly no one ever remembers the shaved gimp on the drums as no one's ever heard of Tyger Tyger in this blog before (he's Travis, Adelaide's answer to being punched in the groin repetitively by a four year old.. weeeee!). Joining forces on stage (quite possibly for the one time only) as Nazz And The Red Ponies they've come to blow our pink bits to the four walls with one fuck of a swinging swamp rock rendition tonight!
Their take on The Triffids could best be described as a mad mix between the swinging cocktail grooves of Nick Cave's "Grinderman" mixed with Perry Farrell from Porno For Pyros and Janes Addiction. It mostly boils down to the insane (and highly improbable) animal magnetism of their frontman Nazz. I know it doesn't look much in the photos, but Nazz is quite simply not of this planet (or any others charted in the annals of science fiction for that matter). Part Prince, part gecko, part gypsy curse, part Elvis's articulated skeleton, part unlikely sex symbol in shitcrazy afro and rubber band sinew, pulling Iggy Pop moves on stage like ego personified: he brings a distinctly shitcrazy eurotrash flavour to the fore. Into the mix they add the sly lingering looks of Bridgette working her violin like she's a prowling alley cat, whilst the rest of the band simply play on effortlessly like they're a cocktail lounge act straight out of a Parisian redlight district. Maybe I'm just retardingly beyond drunk at this point, but daaaamn have they got this shit nailed..
Nazz And The Red Ponies make this shit their own. They also come up with a brilliant rendition of the only other song I actually recognise: "Wide Open Road" and for all of seven minutes you can't deny that it's a classic. It may just be a tribute night, this may just be a "cover band", but for one night Nazz And The Red Ponies have this crowd in the palm of their hands, they're milking it for all its worth, and they truly have me itching for more. I may only have 16.3% of a album here (damn you utorrent, download! downloaaad!!) but thanks to THIS I'm still all the richer for being reminded that bands like this exist. And really, isn't that what this shit is all about?
2:54AM - Which makes just about all the other trivial rubbish I could've written in the postscript tonight all the more meaningless in its retelling. Who cares if I went from one place to the next: from The Grace Emily to Jive to Supermild, to everywhere in between? Who cares about all the alcohol, the insanity and the white noise that is MY life!? It's all about the music, stupid!
Yup if bands like The Triffids could've slipped me by for all these years then clearly I know nothing. I am humbled by my ignorance of such genius. I am inspired to know more. There's plenty more where that came from. They're all around me like ghosts. They're all out there yet to be explored. The journey continues with renewed purpose! Everything's all shiny and new again!