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...
ZEAL + WE GROW UP + THE WARSAW FLOWERS LIVE @ JADE MONKEY / Friday October 24th 2008
It happens to everyone. You have one of those moments. You have, dare I say it a moment of clarity, when you stop, you wake up and you wonder: "why the FUCK am I still here!?". You begin to doubt shit. You begin to consider your career options. It's last Saturday: you're knee deep in the dead, a littany of shattering glass, broken bones and spitting teeth raining down upon you. Dickheads are everywhere, sweat and stench, they're climbing the walls. Your ears are ringing to their retarding screams, they're swarming like bees, they're armed to the teeth. Guitars cutting like chainsaws, you're holding back the stampede. It's every weekend for you. It's a flight or fight, kill or be killed, zombies and their clawing fists flying out at you from all angles. You have no one to blame but yourself: you chose this, you live for this, you're a combat photographer! Point blank range and frontline infantry. You have a teeny tiny compact camera. Now it's broken. Now you're fucked. Damn. I'm surprised I didn't quit this shit years ago. But here I'm at it again! I've found my niche, I'm living the life! I don't care how much I toil for so little. I'm living the scene! Like Caine from Kung Fu: walking from venue to venue, meeting people, getting into adventures. It's the thrill of the hunt! And then I break a camera. FUCK! I take hundreds of photos, I take videos. I download. I sort. I tweak. I upload. Hours upon hours. Days well into the night. I write like a madman. I publish. I take pride in my work. I make it my own. I sacrifice all else. And this is ALL I have to show for it!? $400 spent for a replacement unit!? I have trouble sleeping. I wonder if it's a lost cause. I laugh hysterically. I start it all up again. Why the fuck am I still here!? This is Adelaide, I'm doing this for nothing! I'm pissing my life away! I consider giving it all up. I choose to get real paid. I'm no combat photographer! I'm shellshocked, curled up in a corner, rocking back and forth, wondering when it will all end. Guh! it's just too much for one person to handle!
I probably shouldn't be back so soon. I probably should have spent some time to "process". Wait, what am I talking about!? it's just a fucking camera and I've already bought a new one! I don't "process". I don't take holidays. Ha! I laugh at holidays! I can't be killed! I'm the last one standing! Everyone else has given up, they've all moved to Melbourne. I see those tumbleweeds blowing right past me; fuck 'em all! more for me! Still I admit I'm hanging by a thread, I need to run and hide but I know a place. I could turn it all around, I have the Jade Monkey! This fairy light sanitarium for misfits and broken toys. Hidden away in relative seclusion down Twin Street. Far away from the baboon screams, the breaking glass, the cacophany and the waking dread that haunts me still. I don't care if you've never heard of these bands before. I don't care if you never read this blog. You'll find me in the corner with the IV drip cunningly disguised as a brown bottle with a green label. You'll find me sinking below these waves with a smile. Plug me into that socket. Wait till that red light turns green. Tonight my faith in insanity will be restored!
THE WARSAW FLOWERS (***1/2) myspace :: Which in my fragile state of mind either makes this first band the best possible choice in opening act to inspire me, or the worst possible choice: right up there with listening to Iggy Pop's "The Idiot", being married to Courtney Love, or dropping a toaster into the bathtub the minute "White Rabbit" peaks. The Warsaw Flowers. Not to be confused with It's Warsaw! (who are yet another reason to kill yourself and everyone around you) they're a band that reminds you of everything that is awesome about Christian Slater's acting career, or most notably his 1990 film "Pump Up The Volume", or a name that's clearly inspired by the early years of Joy Division, oh and an entire review that's brought to you by ouiji board from two confused guys called Omar and Cedric. The Warsaw Flowers. They're the slow burn of Johnny Cash, Beirut, Okkerville River and Elliot Smith laced with the post punk desperation of The Smiths, Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen with a deranged Elvis sneer. They're black clouds, black walls, black fingernails and scribbling black thoughts in iambic pentametre into a tiny black book moments before your vision fades to black. They're songs about winter. They're songs about breakups. They're songs that inspire a few too many pills and a bottle of red. They're your nearest and dearest given the onerous task of carrying you in a pine box, moments before you wake up, screaming and clawing at the upholstery under six feet of compacted dirt. And they're all my sadsack friends in the early 90's swapping rare 12'' vinly Japanese imports of The Cure and wearing metal and plastic dog tags around their neck if ever their mortal remains needed to be identifed in the event of a nuclear apocalypse. They're The Warsaw Flowers. The happiest, grooviest sunshine party band you'll ever damn hear!
I admit this isn't the first time I've seen them. I saw them about this time last year. They had a different drummer back then. He wore a dark hooded robe, rode a pale horse and made some wickedarse balloon animals. He later went on to become vice president for the Bush administration. Of other notable difference tonight: (a) they're not limping about making weird moaning noises and snacking on people's brains (except for maybe their bass player Angus Stewart), (b) someone appears to fed their lead singer James Stewart at least ONCE in the interim. Trivial I know, but worth noting. The Warsaw Flowers. They may have gained a new appreciation for vitamin C and sunlight, they may even have written a whole stack of happy songs since then (like this one below) but they're no less brilliant in their ability to suck the life out of your cold cold bones and make it dance a slow shuffle. So when you're next finding trouble hitting that vein or tying that knot to the ceiling fan: give them a shot! Weepingly melancholic. Fun for the whole family!
WE GROW UP (***1/2) myspace :: Our second band tonight hits a live stage quite like a ray of sunshine after a cold winter's night: all fluffy, bright eyed, and chasing their own tails, blissfully unaware of the littering corpses piled up around them in The Warsaw Flowers' wake. Or rather like the sudden impact your clock radio makes smashing through the bedroom window on a Monday at 6AM moments after one of those morning show announcers beams with a "and isn't it a wonderful morning?". Or everything that is awesome about having a younger brother lose your prized Stone Roses CD at a party when he was 16 (sorry Dave!). Or the bluebird of happiness being clubbed to death at a My Chemical Romance concert (if only they weren't too weak to wield the cricket bats over their heads). Yup, that's We Grow Up, and true to their name they're a band that lives in cheerful denial over ever having to do just THAT despite being well into their second album. They're the whimsical clunkiness of The Shins and Death Cab For Cutie mixed with the blissfully hungover sounds of Tapes N Tapes. They're bouncey castle melodies, happy go lucky grooves and high spirited singalongs. They're about weird gang harmonies that sound rather like a hive of drunken bees. They're about buying clothes that are five sizes too big, leaping off roofs, skinning your knees, using up all your pocket money to buy lollies and still believing in Santa Claus well into your teens. They're every movie Tom Hanks did in the 80's. They're We Grow Up. For everyone who say that rock & roll is nothing but a pissy excuse to extend your childhood well into your adulthood: this band is your poster child!
We Grow Up. Despite being about as cheerfully complimentary to our opening act tonight as the explosive decompression you'd experience between sets by Sigur Rós and The Grates; they're still JUST the sort of alt-country and indie fuzz pop my shellshocked carcass craves so desperately. From week to week I find it's ALL about enjoying the contrasts, that and laughing hysterically at all the five inch policemen that live on the ceiling. Where was I? Oh yeah! We Grow Up! It's all in their lead singer Jonathan Mortimer and how he hams and quirks about on his microphone like a long lost member of The Wiggles. It's in their guitarist Anthony Golding and how he shrinks nervously behind HIS microphone like The Edge from U2 doing a grade five book report. It's the beaming Kindergarten smiles of Prudence Hart on bass that makes you half suspect she's a serial killer. It's Jakub Tengdahl hiding behind them all on his teeny tiny footstall playing the keys like he's all of eight years old. It's Tom Mackay on drums secretly hoping nobody notices that puddle on the floor after he got a little too excited in the last song. We Grow Up. They're dorks, they're dweebs, they're characters straight out of a Charlie Kaufman movie but they're no less welcoming!
ZEAL (****) myspace :: And speaking of pint sized individuals most likely to succeed against all odds (in getting the shit kicked out of them in highschool) here's our headlining act! A one man band (looking for all the world like a post graduate from the "Seth Green School Of Bucket Bong Puppetry") by the name of Robert Jarvis, aka: Zeal. Besides being conclusive proof that a mad proficiency in consumer grade electronics and a prediliction for lo-fi ecclectic space jams will effectively stunt your growth to the point of dwarfism, he is also the polar opposite to anything that I could ever have hoped to have lead to the untimely destruction of my camera last week. Least likely to hurl pint glasses at a band during their support slot? check! Least likely to throw up on stage? check! Least likely to throw a mic stand at your face? check! Least likely to pick a fight with an audience member only to leave a venue bandaged and bleeding at the end of the set? check! (although ironically enough he's also probably the MOST likely to be building a doomsday device in his toilet that will bring about the end of the world). He's Zeal. He's my shattered nerves breathing a sigh of relief tonight that nobody's gonna get killed out there. He's everything going according to my insane plan, and as long as he doesn't drop an EMP grenade in the middle of this shit there's actually a good chance I might get out of this insanity with all my shit intact. Zeal. It's all about the awesome geek cred he's rocking on stage. It's in having a laptop Mac (running Windows XP) supplying all your crunching beats. It's in incorporating one of those spastic mouth organs with a blow tube as an integral part of your sound. It's in thrashing about a fucking "Guitar Hero" game controller on stage in the insane believe you're as badass as Joe Satriani (duuuude.. awesome!). It's the calculator nerd watch he's rocking on his wrist. Short of any band featuring Ben Revi, this may very well be, without a doubt, THE most spastically nerdy live act in all of Adelaide!
Zeal. Humming about the stage like an oversized mosquito, throwing his tiny game controller about and tweaking endless knobs to the crunching accompaniment of his laptop beats is Adelaide's answer to Beck in quite the same utterly misinformed way that Mike Skinner of The Streets could be considered Burmingham's answer to Eminem. He is the psychedelic sound of The Beatles "White Album" mixed with The Postal Service, he's Darren Cross from Gerling tripping balls to Radiohead's "Kid A". He's Ben Lee getting the shit kicked out of him in the parking lot by Bernard Fanning to the sound of Unkle's "Psyence Fiction". Constantly singing to the looping refrains of his own voice pitch shifting and echoing around him, triggering low-bit crunching angular beats, working a hypnotic hum of homesick alien blues on the organ and joined on stage in the latter half by guest MC Subsketch who rolls out his philosophical riddles and rhymes with understated ease; it's a mad mismatch of autistic grooves and retrofuturist folk, it's utterly unlike anything you could ever hope to hear elsewhere tonight and it's all the more infinitely awesome for it. Zeal. You may've found him floating face down and gargling in the toilet back in school, but here in the Jade Monkey tonight, this freaky midget reigns supreme!
12:20AM - At last relenting the cold grip on the half squeezed trigger I had cocked, pulled and aimed at my head all night: I drink the last of the dozen beer bottles littering around me, I breathe in, I soak up all the ecclectic and esoteric insanity I was blessed with tonight, I smile and I breathe out again. All is good in the world once more, I'm happy, everything's cool, and there's nothing at all strange about the fact I was about to blow my brains out with a novelty water pistol (unless of course you subscribe to the "conspiracy theory" that it was in actual fact filled with holy water.. duuude!). Yup, once again Jade Monkey has saved the day! (as if I ever doubted it!?). And so satisfied in crisis averted, I step out those exit doors once more, ready to face anything and everything this shitcrazy world could ever possibly dare throw at me..
12:27AM - So at peace I am with this world now (and not at all affected by all those "tic-tacs" that Zac the psychic bartender has been secretly slipping into my brews all night) I float happily down Twin street, not at all bothered by the fact that the Adelaide City Council has since erected all this high security fencing, trip wires, motion detectors and security cameras in the unlikely event that the "Eastend Assassin" would ever choose to ditch any of his bodies in the dumpsters here tonight (when we all know the stockmarket crashes, bank collapses, economic recession, climate change and the continued existence of Bert Newton is doing more than enough to pile the dead bodies around him in copycat killings than anything he'd ever hope to aspire to himself)..
12:31AM - Only to pause briefly here on the corner of Rundle Mall and Pultney Street to stare bug-eyed and amazed at the newly unveiled "Rundle Lantern" light display, otherwise known as the largest game of Tetris ever attempted in the Southern Hemisphere (if only anyone was inspired enough to hack into the control box running this shit and set it all up.. *cough*)..
12:44AM - Only to grow quickly bored of it all after only 5-10 minutes (what.. it has all of four, maybe five colours and a few animating shapes flashing on screen at any given time!? woooweeeee that's $2 million well spent!). Only to gravitate towards the singular glow of this all too familiar blue bug zapper hanging outside of Union Street; because clearly this shit hole is infinitely more entertaining after six to seven to a dozen beers and nothing left to lose..
12:58AM - As I'm amused by all the infinitely stupider things the Crown & Anchor has to offer me inside. Such as Mick and Nick from Tyger Tyger attempting to sneak a mention of their band (and their drunkarse mugs) into yet another episode of Spoz's Rant. And no, I've got no freaking clue who the random chick is either; although I bet she'll STILL manage to track me down just like that other random chick who appeared in the background of THIS photo last week (a trivial observation which continues to surprise me as I swear no one EVER reads this blog!)..
1:49AM - The many hours of fun that is taking the piss out of the upright tuft of hair that sticks up at the back of Josh's head from Billy Bishop Goes To War. I'm also told if you take nearly enough acid it'll even start speaking to you (although I'm also told it's best not to be holding a pair of scissors at the time or you may end up with a haircut nearly as fuckoff insane as the one he's got, or the matching haircut they gave Sascha from Zeta). Moral of the story, never get a haircut when you're on acid. Or quite possibly on shrooms. Or on second thoughts it's probably best you stay away from all sharp objects altogether and leave your hands where I can see them..
3:40AM - Only to end the night with the time honoured (drunken) tradition of: "Spoz finds a stupid hat, Spoz takes stupid photos of himself wearing said stupid hat, Spoz forgets who the hat actually belongs to and Spoz almost goes home with it"; otherwise known as the least funny joke I ever pull in any given night, otherwise known as the exact same joke I tried to pull two weeks ago with the insane indian headdress I found at Supermild (if only the chick who it belonged to didn't try to steal it back from me, moments before I went home.. damnit!). Moral of the story is, Spoz is dumb as banging two bricks together and yes, he really likes stupid hats..
Thus bringing to a close yet another fucked up episode of Spoz's Rant. One where Spoz really begins to suspect there's something they slip into the water come October, maybe an allergic response to the month of September (duuude don't remind me!), or something involving super powerful magnets, light refracting off the planet Venus and a weather balloon that happened all the way back in August. Either way, I dunno about you, but duuuude I'm frightened!