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...
SPECIAL PATROL + SKIPPING GIRL VINEGAR + TYGER TYGER LIVE @ ROCKET BAR / Friday October 3rd 2008
Tonight we interrupt your irregularly scheduled dose of the nonsensical to bring you one of those "once in a blue moon" stories which goes to show just how singularly awesome Adelaide's nightlife can be when a chance few idiots (missing a few too many marbles) get together and cook up some mischief. And no I'm not just talking about me and my fuckup friends on any given night of the weekend (as clearly we're just ruining this shit for everyone) but none other than Max Dance Club & Karaoke Bar (the awesomest party pad in all of Hindley Street to get hilariously shitfaced in) which "allegedly" got caught cooking a little too much mischief of the WRONG kind this week. Yup according to everyone's favourite misinformation source (no not wikipedia: the other one) State and Federal police and Customs officials raided it on Wednesday, uncovered a "clandestine laboratory" out back, and seized upto 128kg of a plant extract called "Sida Cordifolia". Which ANY kid with a chemistry set will tell you can be used to synthesize upto six kg of pure ephedrine: one of the key ingredients in the manufacture of methamphetamine (aka: "ice", aka: "crystal meth", aka: "wow! I smashed this mirror with my fist and now my face's gone missing!? awesome!"). Which as tragic a news story as it is (duuuude a karaoke bar was a freaking methlab!? fuck yeaaah!), does go to show that Hindley Street is STILL keeping that "dream" alive. Wow! just when you thought all the murders, stabbings, overdoses, drive by shootings, race riots, violent thefts, arsons, vandalism and taxicab sexual assaults were on the slide, along comes Max Dance Club & Karaoke Bar to put that smile back on your dial? YEAAS! our redlight district's still got it! :)
Still, you gotta spare a thought for the poor fools who ran this joint. If you worked here all week and had to put up with roaming packs of pissheads busting into your establishment at odd hours, screaming like a bag of cats fighting, and murdering all your favourites golden oldies from the likes of Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper and Guns & Roses; you'd wanna get into all the hard stuff too. And if THESE drunkarse photos don't provide nearly enough evidence for your insanity plea; then the sounds of Dick Dale butchering the mic to James Brown sure as fuck will!
So here's to you Max Dance Club & Karaoke Bar! For all that you've given us, you will be sorely missed! For all the fond memories that we'll be drinking a lifetime to forget, for all the busted up microphones, for all the B-grade backing videos and mistimed lyrics, for such a glorious acoustic space that was always (mercifully) whistling on empty so that there were never any witnesses to our crimes against humanity (and for the fact it was free!?) we freaking salute you!
And speaking of the one of the many OTHER nine plane of hospitality hell you'd never find me working behind the bar for (even if I was speedballing cocaine and jacking myself upto the eyeballs with heroin): we fastforward from our felonious flashback to bring you tonight's A-list of entertainment courtesty of Rocket Bar. Aaaaah Rocket Bar, what a wonder! (a wonder of what I'm not entirely too sure.. but I do often "wonder" all the same!). The fun times you and I have had over the years! the countless tales, the speak of legend! Sure, we don't meet eye to eye all that often anymore (not since all the scenster fled to the Ed Castle: and my prized "permanent door listing" along with it), but back in 2007? duuuuude THIS was the place to be!
Rocket Bar. You're a refined quality in establishment that's close to unmatched in all of Adelaide. Yours is no retrofitted comedy club, gutted warehouse, crumbling cottage or moth eaten old gentlemen's club. Oh no! yours is an experience unique and purpose built! Yours is a venue that speaks of heightened modernity, of distinguished tastes, of inner urban class, low lamp lights, cumfy couches, fashionistas and thin stemmed glasswear. Yours is a live stage and PA setup that's second to none, a dancefloor forever pumping and plenty of nooks and crannies to hide all the bodies in. Who cares if you're directly opposite a stripjoint, fuck full of wankers and host to the most "cheerful" evil eye glaring barstaff this side of a Saturday night at Jive (hi Luke!). We'll happily wait in line outside for hours, well after your posted doortime, waiting for the place to open (when there's seemingly no-one inside.. even after the first band's started at 9:30PM); for the slightening chance to taste your sweet victory. Oh yes! for tonight, THIS is where it's all happening! Here photographing this lamp by the bar for the six billionth time (because surely I don't keep photos like THIS on file). Here where the magic happens! yipeeeee! :)
TYGER TYGER (****) myspace :: I could hear this opening act coming from a mile off tonight, or more accurately from the corner of Hindley and Morphett Street as the wafting refrains of "10ft Of Rope" signalled that I was running late to this party, despite passing it by a mere 10 minutes earlier to discover the place was still shut at 9:15PM (a mere 45 minutes after doors were due to open at 8:30PM) as written on the freaking poster I DESIGNED for this event: fuck I love Rocket Bar! (are they running one hour early? are they running one hour late? fuckit! lets flip a coin and force everyone to wait outside regardless.. weeeee!). Yup, never underestimate Rocket Bar's ability to fuck with your scheduling and from the looks of THESE idiots on stage tonight it appears I've arrived 3-4 songs late to one helluva party to boot too (awesome!). Tyger Tyger. They're an odd beast to behold as an opening act, and one that appears very much ill at ease with their place in it too. This is a band that LIVES to be the centre of attention, lives to be the headliner, lives to battle them all: and when you're dealing with the dreaded ice breaker slot like this one (and your spotting nothing but penguins and polar bears out there), you know you've got your work cut out for you. Still let it not be said that they weren't upto the insane challenge of winning this crowd (or more accurately stealing it). Whether it be thanks to a few too many "pre-show cocktails", Travis' yet to be diagnosed (yet bleedingly obvious) bout of ADHD, or the sheer boredom from all the other members present playing their same old schtick and balls for the six billionth time: Tyger Tyger were on FIRE, out of control, running with scissors and pissing up the walls tonight. Featuring songs mashed into each other, rambling hispanic interludes from Travis, interrupting band members, odd acapella renditions and a kitchen sink of the batshit insane: it was probably the messiest set I've ever seen (since their LAST opening slot) but a mad trip all the same..
And for the record this is also the 13th time I've seen them play this year (and the 2nd time I've captured "Buttons & Levers" on video) and initially I was worried I'd actually run out of shit to write about these arseclowns. So much so (and anticipating such an emergency) I've even been keeping a stockpile of insults on them JUST in case. Everything from a comprehensive back catalog of insults at the expense of Travis (an easy target), new song titles even MORE insulting than "Come Like 1000 Doves" and "Front Seat Of Car" (you really don't want to know what my perverted mind could come up.. weeeee!), to lashing out at all the OTHER band members for other entirely stupid reasons: Nick (his hair), Mick (his rainman impersonations), Mannix (his disregard for puberty), Tim (take your pick) and let's not forget Shane their all important bongo player (because if we don't mention him by name we'd almost forget he's even playing out there) but when you're dealing with a band that's forever coming up with new and baffflingly stupid ways to amuse themselves like with THIS set tonight: you NEVER run out of reasons for a return visit!
SKIPPING GIRL VINEGAR (****) myspace :: A few seemingly unrelated thoughts and images immediately spring to mind when our touring act from Melbourne (and de facto headliner here to promote their album "Sift The Noise") hit the stage tonight. I'm thinking soil erosion, red dust, brown water, the drought, utes doing burnouts, patchy phone reception, bank closures, flying doctors, white cattle skulls, yellow teeth, missing teeth and chewing tobacco. I'm thinking domestic violence, deep cut mining, nuclear testing in the 50's, third world communities, missing British backpackers and souvenir teatowels with roadmaps all over on them. I'm thinking one rusted sign squeaking on a hinge, unlocked doors, next door neighbours 3-5kms away, bad TV reception, rattling window slats, whistling breeze, windmills and dead trees. I'm seeing teenage pregnancy, incest, racism, poisonous snakes, increased salinity, thinning hair, leather red skin and an oversized hat, burning car wrecks, cow tipping, mulesing, Channel 9, The National Party, Johnny Howard and me slowly going insane quite like David Lynch in the thick of it all. Yeah I dunno why I'm thinking all this shit either, as clearly Skipping Girl Vinegar with their Sunday School smiles and their alt country drawl have absolutely nothing to do with anything I've just mentioned. You may recognise them by their ridiculously catchy Triple J high rotation "One Chance" with a knee slapping beat and a banjo; or if you're like me you simply think a loaded shotgun and the movie "Deliverance". Either way, they're bringing good 'ol fashioned hospitality back to the big smoke tonight! YEHAAAW!!
Skipping Girl Vinegar are an effortlessly endearing and easy going "alt-country" groove that sounds rather like a disarmingly sunnyside version of Johnny Cash, Paul Kelly, Ryan Adams (and any given country and western act playing a weeknight in Tamworth) colliding with The Shins and Death Cab For Cutie for that "indie scene" accessibility. Every song is sung through beaming smiles, bouncing beats, boundless enthusiasm and the sneaking suspicion that any minute now they're gonna bust out the tambourines and sing a song about "a good friend of ours called Jesus". They're all about old fashioned values: their CD tonight is being launched like a well loved book, complete with it's own library bag and borrowing card (and if you sign up to their mailing list they even send you POSTED letters with stamps on 'em and shit! woweee!!). Yes I know, I'm as frightened as you are; but they're just so damn earnest and eager to be here, and their music's so disarming in it's easy going charm you can't help but smile along with them. Skipping Girl Vinegar: they may be complete and utter dorks, but we freaking loved it!
SPECIAL PATROL (****1/2) myspace :: Moments before our last band hits the stage, FEMA arrives on the scene (fresh from being three years too late to tending to victims of Hurricane Katrina), wonder briefly if anyone at Rocket Bar tonight needs any emergency food, shelter, clothing or assistance in the wake of cyclone "Travis" earlier tonight; only to spot Tim their bassplayer packing up his trombone after a brief stage invasion for Skipping Girl Vinegar, only to run from the scene screaming right back to the USA (and yes I do realise that cyclones are actually known by girls names and yes, I really AM being that clever.. tee hee!). Special Patrol. There are many theories to explain this follow up band, most involving too few (or too many) chromosomes at play and a shitload of alcohol, but my current favourite stretches back to a few years ago and one of those short-lived fads all the "cool kids" used to be into. You may remember back in the early 00's when all of a sudden they all dropped out of the club scene, ditched the drugs and embraced their inner "nanna". Almost overnight these tragic scensters were all about lawn bowls, bingo, book clubs, croquet, knitting, wearing cardigans, sensible shoes and drinking brandy. Acoustic nights sprouted up in every live venue almost overnight. It was madness. It was hysteria. It was taking a few pills a day to stop all that and going home well before midnight. Yup, as far as short-lived fads go it was probably the lamest of them all but it's so nice to see that bands like Special Patrol never left it behind, and to this day are STILL flying their freak flag high for ALL things over-the-hill! YEAAS!!
You won't see any whizzing glowsticks, oversized sunnies, fluoro, assymetrical haircuts, skinny jeans, silver leggings, geometric v-necks and grinding teeth (unlike any other night at Rocket Bar) but with an acoustic guitar and a campfire singalong to boot they're everything this place needed as an antidote (short of a fullscale hazmat team, holy water, wooden stakes, silver bullets, and a nuking from orbit). They're Death Cab For Cutie, The Shins, Augie March and a high spirited cover of Bruce Springstein's "Dancing In The Dark". They're guitarists rotated more regularly than Spinal Tap goes through drummers (I hear the new one's from Jump! You Revolutionary and even more insane he ain't all that shit!). And they're lamb dressed as mutton but no less welcoming with a side of peas, carrots, mash potatoes and gravy. This is Special Patrol and this is them blowing the roof off this dump! OOOH YEAH! your nanna will love it!
And as much as you'd initially be thinking that this Sunday session schtick would "go down" with this crowd in as many ways as welcoming as a hooker with braces: you should never underestimate the insane (and seemingly supernatural) power that Special Patrol wields over a crowd, even one as seemingly hard to please and tragically scenster as THIS one..
but then you'll spot them out there: fleetingly at first, darting in and out of view..
gaining strength in numbers they amass a seemingly "innocent" following out front..
and then *BAM* before you even have a chance to escape they swarm in at all angles, a cloud of handbags, strappy shoes and flappy arms waving wildly in the air and shrieking hysterically like it's a hen's night crossed with a boxing day stocktake sale: only ten times more horrifying..
Yup, THIS is the insane power that Special Patrol lets loose on a venue time and time again. The girls flocking together like it's one big singalong, followed closely behind by the mouth breathing dorks and dweebs hoping to feed off the strays (rather like "Grinning Gums McGee" here) and before you know it you're upto your neck in it: a seething, roaring, shouting mass (and you secretly wondering when FEMA will answer your distress beacon: "HELP! HEEEEEELP!!")
Or rather like one of those old beer ads when someone cracks a tinny and as if by magic an entire pub falls out of the sky, followed by a BBQ, loose women and a whole lotta good times!
So much so I may've got all caught up in the moment and shrieked out at the top of my lungs to Special Patrol's lead singer Myles: "if it's physically possibly I'd so want to have your babies!!" only to seriously weird out the entire room (cause sometimes like to yell out the most insane thing that pops into my head.. YES!). Yup, such is the insane power of Special Patrol..
12:40AM - Moments before: SAS troops came smashing in through those windows, dosed the whole joint in knock out gas, and dragged most of the unconscious revellers back downstairs and into their waiting unmarked vans for cult deprogramming. Yeah I know, I so could've gotten a few action shots in if only I wasn't packing my "leaky" gasmask tonight (the other's in the shop after a "friend" borrowed it and had an accident with two strippers and a jar of peanut butter.. damnit!). Either way here we are moments later and surprise surprise Rocket Bar hasn't chosen to scare everyone away with yet another late night dosing of electro-wank and scenster tryhard but have instead chosen to reward us with the supreme 60's motown funk, soul and 70's to 80's spacejam weirdness of Clue To Kalo's Mark Mitchell here. FUCK YEAAAH! I mean I know I've made fun of DJs in the past (cause let's face it they're easy targets.. weeeee!); but anyone who actually takes the time to play ecclectic cuts from Paul Simon's "Graceland" instead of simply resorting to the cheap Vampire Weekend knockoff gets all the credit in my book!
12:53AM - Proceed to celebrate another battle hard won by drinking myself retarded at the bar. A hard task which is made all the easier by these two lurching gimps: apparently from some pissyarse little band I've never seen before called Buster Fidez who kept bribing me with free beers all night. For what exact purpose I'm unsure, but it did have the nifty side-effect of me bypassing all of Rocket Bar's barstaff tonight who are probably happily spitting and coughing up phlegm into all my beers after all those jokes I've cracked at their expense earlier tonight..
1:17AM - Spend the next few hours living it up like the D-grade celebrity douchebag you all secretly know that I am: "wait what's your name again!? Sally? and I've met you a million times before? and I keep forgetting your name? and you're on my myspace friends list? awesome!!"
1:52AM - Before like EVERY night before them, the bouncers downstairs let loose the floodgates and all manner of fucked up neon freaks and tragic hipsters storm the joint by force. I believe THIS dribbling pre-simian is from everyone's favourite scenster band "The Touch" (and no, I have no freaking clue WHY he's made up like that either: suggestions anyone!?)..
2:17AM - Moments later suspecting we're on a sinking ship that's sinking fast below the crashing waves of nu-rave, I decide to flee the premises with the idiots from Tyger Tyger (as clearly THAT's always a good idea) and head to the east end ghetto, only to get ridiculously more drunk in THIS strangely all-too-familiar location: "hey look, they replaced all those dry mounts that got stolen a few weeks ago! y'know what that means!? LETS GO SHOPPING!!"
4:15AM - Only to keep drinking here well after closing as clearly I'm fucking insane and I don't know when to quit: "I have three livers and nothing can kill me! woooohehehahaha!!!" (and I still wonder why there's all these Adelaide bands sending hired hitmen on me now? hmmm..)
5:08AM - This is me staggering blindly drunk down Grenfell Street back westward way towards the taxi fares that are $2 cheaper than the ones I would otherwise catch right here (and this is me also being surprisingly steady in keeping a camera upright to take this photo)..
5:19AM - "Aaaaah such pretty azure skies! they compliment the golden hues of the brickwork off Currie Street ever so nicely! and hey I almost stepped in some vomit.. isn't life grand!"
5:36AM - And this is where my night ends, or possibly a few streets down where I actually live as quite frankly there's no way in hell I'd actually end my night here: directly under a sign to a pizza house. I mean seriously, what kind of deranged lunatic do you have me for.. eh!?
And yet if you look a little closer at this photo (and the last three digits of that phone number) you realise we've come full circle. On the surface we may just be a "sleepy retirement village", a "touring speedbump", a "laughing stock of the eastern states" and a photo of a mild mannered pizza house (somewhere in the western suburbs that does "the TASTE of ITALY" for pickup or delivery) and yet scratch just below the surface you may find the Antichrist himself, here living right under our very noses all this time. Yup, that's Adelaide all right! always coming up with wacky new surprises (and seriously duuude don't try the "meat lovers"; I'm just saying!).