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...
ROBOTOSAURUS + THUNDERCLAW + COERCE LIVE @ CROWN & ANCHOR / Saturday October 18th 2008
Spoz's Rant is a tall tale often told in front of a lens: documenting, dissecting, destroying and desseminating the teeny tiny insignificant lives of the Adelaide music scene in photos and video for all the world to see. A music scene you probably wouldn't even notice in your mad rush to step right on over it (not even stopping to check your shoes in the off chance you accidently trod in it.. mmmm stinky!) if it wasn't for those chance few frames you see here each week. It is also a tall tale often told behind the lens: in words that are badly chosen, in sentences that are poorly structured, in grammar next to non existent, in a murderous mismatch of drunken superlatives and adjectives colliding on a screen that barely provide you with narrative link from one poorly chosen image to the next. Pieced together and seen as a whole (and with a few beers and / or smoking paraphenalia to cushion the impact): one could almost confuse this insane mess of quasi-philosophical ramblings and laughable non sequiturs as something almost approaching rock photojournalism, perhaps even "gonzo" journalism, in years hence these insane works of "fiction" may even become a documented history of "fact". But what is often overlooked are the tales from the lens itself. These silent servants, these battery driven automatons that both whirr and click that have captured all these chance moments and yet never have had a voice to call their own. Until now. These are the cameras of Spoz's Rant, and THIS is their turbulent tale..
This Canon IXUS v3 was the first camera to enter active duty by my side, or quite possibly the second if you count that all too brief flirtation I had with a film camera back in the mid 90's (which we all knew would never last as I could never be arsed developing the film). It was a 3 megapixel marvel of early 21st century technology, box shaped like a tiny 1950's refrigerator, bought for the princely sum of $800 from a contact known only as "Munga" after it seemingly fell off the back of a truck. I called it "Sparky" (quite possibly after the fact), and it first saw battle in the frontlines of the Adelaide music scene on Friday April the 4th 2003. The gig was Your Motive For and Barcode at the Proscenium just off of Hindley Street. The rest they say is history..
Or at least it would've been if Sparky wasn't subsequently wounded in battle a few short months later on Saturday August the 9th 2003 during Dirty Sanchez, August Falls, Subwoofer and Goodhed at the Rhino Room. This near fatal blow was caused by one Craig Bolton, a friend of mine, who got a little too close to the action documenting Subwoofer's set and caused Sparky's screen to malfunction. I was otherwise unavailable to kill Craig firsthand as I was on stage cutting up some retarded "breakbeat terrorism" at the time. Yup that's right: I used to be in a wacky "techno band" called Subwoofer (and yes it was kinda shit) aaaaand we're moving right along..
Limping but not totally lost to the cause, Sparky was sent to be repaired under warranty in some factory off in Japan somewhere. A few short months later it entered active duty again on Friday October the 10th, 2003 for a gig featuring Subwoofer vs Goodhed (again) at the Rhino Room. Many months of faithful service followed covering everything from: The Testeagles, The Spazzys, Good Buddha and the Tea Party until Sparky was nearly destroyed once again on Saturday, February the 26th 2005 during the Adelaide Uni O'Ball featuring Eskimo Joe, Gerling, Evermore and The Hot Lies. When asked about the incident later, I've always chosen to blame Eskimo Joe (and the fact they were kinda "shit") for causing Sparky's camera malfunction that night..
Whilst anyone possessing even a rudimentary intelligence above that of a sea sponge would clearly point the finger at a Shihad gig that I went to over two weeks prior (on Friday, February the 11th 2005 at Adelaide Uni Bar) for providing the excessive amount of what I would later be described as "something not unlike beer" found swimming in Sparky's innards.
In subsequent weeks (whilst Sparky was drying out in AA meetings and questioning its insane devotion to such a deadend career path) I borrow a "no name" 3 megapixel Canon IXUS II from a friend of mine and throw it into battle on March the 12th 2005 for The Prodigy and their headlining slot at Two Tribes. Surprisingly, despite being swamped by a medicine cabinet full of uppers and downers (as pictured), it STILL makes it out the other end with nary a scratch to show for it.
Sparky was soon replaced on the battlefield by this Sony Cybershot DSC-W70. It was a 7 megapixel monster that mysteriously came into my possession as a "booby prize" at the tail end of one of those insane (quite possibly fictional) stories that may quite possibly involve: (a) a near miss employment opportunity for a leading music magazine in the USA in late 2005, (b) a second near miss employment opportunity for another "east coast" music magazine in the USA in late 2006, (c) the same music magazine that I was two weeks away from signing onto if it wasn't for my contact in America: (i) falling pregnant, (ii) freaking the fuck out, and (iii) subsequently dropping the contract on my behalf). I'm STILL unsure to this day as to whether (a) any of said events actually occured, (b) whether my American contact was actually Chino Moreno's "drug dealer", or (c) why this same contact mystery fell "un-pregnant" two weeks later (only to get hit by cancer a year later.. yeeeeouch!). Either way *cough* this camera first saw battle on Thursday, February 22nd 2007 for a gig featuring Mammal and Snap To Zero at the Crown & Anchor..
Only to be almost killed in battle a week later on the night of Friday, March 2nd 2007, quite possibly moments before (or after) this shot was taken, possibly after it was foolishly used as a flying projectile by one Andrew Dodd (aka: "Stoner Andy"); only for it to crash land, lens crushed into the stage of The Crown & Anchor. After much frantic resuscitation on the badly compacted lens, the Sony Cybershot made a remarkable recovery and was since christened with the name "Frisbee" for its near miraculous freaky aerodynamic (and death defying) abilities.
Sparky was subsequently brought out of retirement and back into battle as my "emergency replacement unit" the following night for No Through Road, Spindickle and 200 Motels at the Jade Monkey. Besides being plagued by constant screen flicker (and the occassional alcohol enduced "memory blackout") Sparky still performed well above and beyond the call of duty. If this one small tour of duty taught me ONE thing, it was that Sony makes incredibly awesome metallic projectiles (and very shoddy cameras), whilst Canon will likely go on to develop an artificial intelligence that'll usher in a nuclear apocalypse and subsequently kill us all.
Thus with this in mind, and after a week of extensive online research (when I probably should've been working at my crappy office job instead) I chose THIS camera as my next "weapon of choice". The Canon IXUS 950 IS. The best compact camera money could buy in 2007. An 8 megapixel beast, a class act of precision and flawless design bought for the princely sum of $549. It was christened "Gizmo" and mere moments after purchasing was thrown into the frontlines of battle on Friday, August the 24th 2007, upstairs at The Worldsend, for a wacky little punk rock gig featuring The Chevron Whores, The Gels, All Flight Crew Are Dead and Dead Popes Of The Vatican.
Gizmo would subsequently prove all the naysayers wrong by surviving (and thriving) in increasingly volatile conditions capturing photos of Cut Off Your Hands, The Midnight Juggernauts, The Young & Restless, The Vasco Era, Regurgitator (and countless Tony Font Show gigs in between), proving its valour by constantly dodging the slings and arrows of crowdsurfing dipshits in between, only to subsequently "drown", when accidently dropped into a plastic cup of Coopers Pale Ale a few short moments after a live set by Home For The Def at Urtext Studios on Friday November the 2nd 2007 (and for those of you who're curious yes I DID drink the "beer" afterwards.. mmmm tangy!).
For as a Tyler Durden once said: "on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero". Yeah I know. I never believed it either. I thought I could dodge bullets with this shit. I thought it would outlive me! And yet if I actually paid attention, I would've seen the signs of its untimely demise this night. Here on Saturday, October the 18th 2008. As I walked into the Crown & Anchor to the closing refrains of Nirvana's "Very Ape" from the "In Utero" album (a more apt description of the unbridled carnage I was about to face I would not find), I sealed its fate. Oh yes! These are the final moments of Gizmo II as captured on its "black box recorder"! These are its famous last words! This is the last battle where it went down fighting!
COERCE (****) myspace :: It would take a full hour until our opening act finally made an appearance on stage. An hour I spent pacing back and forth in front of the stage with murder on my mind; not necessarily for the band but more for the cannon fodder (part baboon, part combine harvester) that they were about to attract like a locust swarm to the frontlines. This may've been their first ever gig tonight, but they had a reputation and that reputation was Mike Deslandes. You may remember him as the screaming bloodclot from "Realist Few". You may remember the path of destruction he carved through the Adelaide scene back in 2006. You may remember his former bandmate Gary (aka: Beardy) smashing and throwing guitars through walls. You may remember Gary's brother punching and kicking a hapless "stage invader" to a bleeding pulp during Realist Few's support slot for The Young & Restless back in January 2007. You may also have the metal pins and the glass eyes to prove it. This was no teddy bears picnic: this was war, kill or be killed, death to unbelievers. And joined on stage by Karl from Soft White Machine and a one-two uppercut of ex cons on bass and drums I was half wondering if I was gonna get out've here alive. Coerce. They're hardcore thrash shitkicking a smoke alarm. They're broken bones and spitting teeth. They're a rage virus outbreak set to guitars and blood curdling screams. They're a pack of junkyard dogs prowling the stage inches from our face, held back by invisible chains that they constantly railed against. We're the only thing standing between them and the end of the world and here I am stupid enough to take photos of this shit? Awesome! Remind me again why I'm not dead yet!?
Coerce. To describe them past all the insane screaming, thrashing, bloodletting and the ringing of your ears; they most remind me of Nine Inch Nails ("Letting You" from The Slip, "You Know What You Are?" from With Teeth, "March Of The Pigs" from Downward Spiral or pretty much anything from their Broken EP), the militant rage of Rage Against The Machine and the black and blue bruising of Test Icicles, Fugazi and Tool. It's Mikey assaulting the microphone like a shaved monkey ready to be shot out into space. It's their bass player leaning way out into the crowd and decapitating people with his swinging axe (he almost took me out a few times with that shit). It's Karl on guitar hunched over and traumatized whilst the drummer unleashes the stench. They're an act of desperation. They're a caged heat. They're a pressure cooker in angular guitars. They're a rock tumbler giving birth to a tornado. Coerce. Fuuuuuck! What a way to start a night!
And now for absolutely no reason whatsoever (or quite possibly to distract you momentarily whilst the Crown & Anchor's bar staff cheerfully hose out all the blood and the bullet riddled carcasses from the band room), here's a photo of me with Brett: Adelaide's happiest homicidal bloodnut (formerly from My Sister The Cop) and his novelty green corn-on-the-cob party whistle. You may laugh at him now but when he's "sinking below the waves" in the mosh later tonight, that shit's gonna save his life! (or in a worst case scenario, simply help us to identify the remains!).
THUNDERCLAW (***) myspace :: If Coerce set our blood boiling on tethered chains in act one, then surely act two will test those chains to breaking point. They are a test of patience. They are a test of endurance. They are a psychological experiment in extremes to see if you'll totally lose your shit and explode midway into their set and take out half of the audience with you. Thunderclaw. In essence they're an instrumental act. Four members that for the most part form an inner circle away from the audience and lose themselves to a world of dirge stoner metal. Noodling jams that go (seemingly nowhere) for more than 10 minutes at a time. A circle jerk of chugging guitars, noise, aimless drumming and more chugging guitars with little or no audience reaction or even acknowledgement. A shapeless grind thats somewhat reminiscent of Sepulchura, Pantera, Helmet, "St Anger" era Metallica and a whole host of other primordial Neanderthal music that I know next to nothing about (short of throwing a few names in the air); although they DO remind me of a large chunk of my mid to late 90's when everyone pretended they were into this shit. I can see it now: a dank, smoke filled room cluttered with Slayer posters, half empty pizza boxes, beer bottles, bongs and Star Wars figurines. In the corner sits a Super Nintendo or a Sony Playstation. In the other sits an overclocked PC continuously burning up CDs filled with porn and pirated games. These are your friends. They're really good at Doom, Quake and Counterstrike. Their only goal in life is the smoke copious amounts of drugs and cruise around on their skateboard vandalising shit. Their names are Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. If ever they got over their homicidal tendancies and formed a band it would sound very much like this. Thunderclaw. They break you down one aimless jam after the other. They wears you down to a nub. They get stopped by the cops wherever they go..
It takes a certain type of person to truly appreciate this music. To their credit they've got it nailed to a blackening niche, to an artform. To me they may be alienating as fuck, but to you they may be nothing short of the viking gods of Valhalla pissing gold into your ears; either way they're sure as fuck having a volatile effect on the increasingly psychotic crowd standing before them as Thunderclaw have well and truly found themselves deep behind enemy lines. Every few minutes another empty pint glass flies overhead and shatters onto the stage. The crowd are tipping over mic stands. Their constant hurling of abuse is wearing the band down as much as their music is wearing ME down. I feel their pain. Their drummer Joel has worn down one of his drumsticks to half of its size. He doesn't have a replacement. He's twisted his ankle two weeks ago and now midway through their set that dull ache, growing ever sharper is shooting up his leg. The rest of the band briefly consider whether to continue or whether to don gasmasks, let loose a few Sarin cannisters and clear the fuck out've there before the cops arrive. Then just before a fullscale riot breaks out to the chant of "play some War Pigs!! WAAAAR PIGS!!" they let loose THIS beast..
And if you actually made it to the very end, that's not the entire song! That's all I could upload onto youtube before it violated the "ten minute rule". There's two to three more minutes where that came from. That depressing dirge, that black cloud, it just hangs here and sucks all the oxygen out of the room as the devoted few, true acolytes of the way of the Thunderclaw hold back the tide threatening to surge whilst more pint glasses come shattering onto the stage before me. Any minute now they're gonna start with the flaming arrows, then the siege towers and the clanging of swords on shields, then the goblins, orcs and uruk-hai are going to storm this stage and devour everything in sight. As fun as this is, they couldn't come a moment too soon!
ROBOTOSAURUS (??) myspace :: Eventually relief comes in our headlining act, and by relief I'm clearly meaning of the "Stockholm Syndrome" variety. The sort of multiple choice quiz that comes up with such tasty answers as: (a) being tethered up and torn apart by wild horses (b) burnt at the stake, (c) drowned or (d) buried alive. Robotosaurus. They begin their set with their lead singer "Izzy" throwing up all over the stage, throwing his mic stand at me (which I barely duck in time) followed by him leaping off the stage with kamikaze glee to violate anyone and everyone in sight. The floodgates swung wide open. The crowd exploded. People were scattering everywhere like rats fleeing a sinking ship but there was no escape. Izzy's got the taste of blood and he wont stop till a human sacrifice is made. As far as the sound was concerned, all I could remember was screaming, unholy and retarding screaming that scrapes layers of skin red raw at the back of your throat and guitars that cut shrill like dentist drills. I think Nick from Delusions Of Grandma described it to me as sounding somewhat like Dillinger Escape Plan. I equate it more with the sound of the gates of hell shrunk to the size of a cat's sphincter crapping out a cheese grater over and over with the volume turned way up. I think I even recognised "Kevin Smith" (aka: Dave from the Grenadiers) out there on guitars but perhaps I was just hallucinating. It was getting far too hairy out front, even for me. I shot off a few quick flash photography shots (most of them useless) then I got the fuck out of there.
Turning my back on the band momentarily and back tracking through the crowd towards the back (with aims to return for some better stage light shots as soon as the "body count" dropped to levels that wouldn't skeletonise a cow in ten seconds), I paused amongst the throng of flying helicopter arms that surged before me in effort to capture some of these fucked up slam dancing shots, pissing myself laughing along the way at all the stupidity that erupted around me..
Only for one stray hand to come flying out of the crowd to slap that camera out of my hand, sending it airbourne and crash landing "head first" onto the floor before me. I scrambled to collect it moments before some other wingnut could smash it, only to discover that the damage had already been done. Lens crushed, zoom fractured, neck vertebrae dislocated, camera long since paralysed from the neck down. My reaction of course was more than understandable..
I charging out of that crowd halfway between a crazed expression and a furrowed brow, frantically trying to pop the lens back into shape like it was nothing but a dislocated shoulder: "No damnit! not again!? GNAAARGGHHH DAMNIT!!!". I pulled this trick once before with my Sony Cybershot. Fuckit, I could do it again! And all the while it kept flashing that same message on its screen: "lens error, restart camera", beeping away as it attempting to right itself. After half an hour, maybe more frantically working to rescucitate it, it finally dawned on me. For want of better word, this photo of Mick from Tyger Tyger with a smashed beer bottle pretty much says it all..
Gizmo II was gone. Pronounced dead at 12:11AM on Sunday October 19th 2008. Damn. What a way to go! If I had to destroy another one, I couldn't have picked a more suitable killing field than this one. Of all the tragedy, at least it died a warrior's death. The rest they say is nothing but white noise, a million missed photo opportunities (and many more beers to drown in).
Yup, sometimes you know when a battle is lost. Sometimes you know when to walk away and let the animals piss where they may. Sometimes you simply say "fuck it all!" and leap into the fray for one last shot. Such is the way of things. On a lighter note however, hours after drowning my sorrow (over having to fork out ANOTHER $400-500 on my non-existent salary to replace this camera for next week.. yeeeeouch!) I return to the Crown & Anchor once more, only to spot Izzy, lead singer of Robotosaurus, stammering blindly out those exit doors, helped along the way by some friends; head bandaged, bleeding profusely from his forehead. In some warped way I considered this more than fair trade, in another I felt honoured that these two warriors could both face off in heated battle and neither would leave the victor. In both they have lead life to the fullest.