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...
CLUE TO KALO + SLY HATS + MONA LISA OVERDRIVE LIVE @ ROCKET BAR / Friday November 7th 2008
There's a common misconception passing as "science" that claims we use only 5-10% of our brains. Whoever came up with that "fact" is clearly an optimist. I'll wager 90-95% of us use even less than that, less often than we'd like to admit, maybe 5-10% of the time at most. We think we're smart, we could be smart, we've come up with some amazing ideas but we ain't smart, we're asleep at the wheel and any minute now some other evolutionary upstart is going to discover we've been "shining it on" all this time and we're going to be eaten. You may laugh now but it happened to the Neanderthals and it will happen to us. Look around you: we've have a long and proud history of punishing the brain. We've done everything in our power to discourage it. We've created Gods, Kings and Queens to do all our thinking for us. We've "elected" high officials who disregard it entirely. They create the rules, regulations and fiery retribution against anyone who dares engage it. They define and redefine the definition of "normal" in effort to restrict it. They plot it on a curve. They medicate it right out of our system. They create the daily routine. We love our daily routine. We're just like everyone else. We all have our roles to play. We're in the groove. We're all on autopilot. We're just like Pavlov's dog: that bell rings and we salivate to serve even if we forget the real reason why we're here in the first place. You'll see it all around you as they plod along down well worn paths. You'll see it in the mirror reflected right back at you: all cow eyed and sheepish grins, the end product of 3.5 billion years of evolution. We're the very definition of insanity doing the same shit over and over and expecting different results. Stand tall and be counted each and every one of you, we're shining examples of the human race!
This is not to say I ever think for a moment that I'm any smarter than the rest of you dribbling dimwits. Far from it, I'm as stupid as they come, I sleepwalk through life just like the rest of you and it trips me up again and again. Take Rocket Bar for instance. Over the years I've observed one simple and unassailable fact: nothing here EVER runs on time. Simple I know, yet for all of my "genius" I've never figured a consistent workaround for it. I used to turn up at nine and they would leave me hanging till ten. So I'd turn up at ten, and they'd leave me hanging till eleven. I'd twiddle my fingers, curse and swear, then I'd wisen up to it and turn up at ten thirty only to realise NOW I've turned up much too late. We do this dance everytime I'm here and it's done it to me yet again tonight. I know I could just as simply blame Rocket Bar for all this nonsense (just like the time they decided to schedule MTV Kickstart for "doors at seven", only to leave us hanging till eight thirty instead.. ack!) but no clearly it's all me, I should be smarter than this! here I am running up these stairs in a mad panic, here I am outwitted AGAIN to the closing refrains of our opening act!? Damn you teeny tiny peanut brain.. DAAAMN YOU TO HELL!!
MONA LISA OVERDRIVE (??) myspace :: I should be more observant, I should be more aware of my surroundings, the very survival of our species may very well depend on shit like this! Yet here I am rushing headlong up those stairs to catch the last five minutes of Mona Lisa Overdrive: a band I've seen a million times before this year!? "pfft I'm such an idiot!". With a sigh of relief I switch my brain off. Sheeeeiiit! I could write this review in my sleep! Even better I could simply plagiarise it wholesale: words, sentences, paragraphs, photos and videos from thesevenOTHERreviewsI'vealreadywritten (with a few choice words thrown in from that review I did on UK Special back in January too) and none of you monkeys would be any the wiser! I'm laughing at how clever I am, punching these buttons on my camera, going through the motions, phoning it in, and then it hits me: "what the FUCK is Jess their keyboardist doing on the drums!?" WHOOAAA!!! It's only then that I realise the full scope of it. They've switched it up on me, they've pulled the rug from under my feet, I've been outsmarted again and it took me two whole minutes to realise the error of my ways!? Shit! In any other arena of battle this kind of lapse in judgement would've had me smeared all over the curb like a Jackson Pollack exit stage right, but at least rock photography (for the most part) is a little more forgiving. I'm told they pulled this stunt for two or three songs. I'm now arriving at the end of it. It sounds like The Beatles "White Album" spun in reverse, Alex shredding a reed thin sound on his guitar like a sitar, whilst the rest of the band play on like Martin Sheen from Apocalypse Now going up shit creek without a paddle. I half imagine him chanting "Paul is dead, Paul is dead" as five thousand years of accumilated history unravels around us like an imploding house of bricks. I'm standing with my monkey brethren at the start of it all. The black monolith rises from the horizon. I've been asleep all this time. It's all becoming so clear. It's a quest for fire. I can see it all!
Of course no journey "up the river" is ever without casualty. Jimi Hendrix sacrificed his guitar, John Lennon sacrificed his life, Syd Barret sacrificed his brain (I sure as fuck have lost most of mine) and tonight Mona Lisa Overdrive sacrificed a guitar amp. Again I was too late to heed the warning. Here I was still taking photos of the band, still dumbfounded to their maddening dysfunction when a friend yells into my ear: "I think I smell something electrical burning!!". Of course it was much too loud and I completely misread what she was trying to tell me. All I could hear was "I think they sound like Electrical Bernie!!". I half imagine a spaced out hippy in a purple dinosaur outfit, large psychedelic block letters, pressed onto vinyl, collecting dust at a garage sale next to that Star Wars disco record for $2.50. I ask her to repeat it, still no wiser and then the smell hits me..
This was their guitar amp (aka: "Electrical Bernie") over 41 years of age going up in smoke moments after their last song, this is me cursing all my dumb luck for arriving much too late to this party (and yet arriving just in time to capture the best bit) and this is Mona Lisa Overdrive very much living up to their namesake at the end of it all. Fuuuuck! I no longer doubt their mastery in the dark arts. These freak geniuses of unknown species (or genus) are not of this earth, they've come from outer space! I breathe in those fumes, I breathe deep all that history and my mind lights up like a xmas tree in their passing. Whoaaaa! there is no turning back now. We're opening new doorways of perception. We're tuning into new frequencies. We're unlocking single, double nay triple digits of arcane alien intelligence. Who knows what madness we will unleash!?
SLY HATS (****) myspace :: Which is just the kind of mad trip you'll experience after living through our follow up act. Some take peyote to get here, some drop acid, some boil up some "funny" fungus they find growing under the sofa cushions, others may simply slip all three ingredients into a dime bag and sneak it inside of a guitar amp back in the 1960's so the cops won't find it (only for it to be let loose like a demon spirit on an unsuspecting rock photojournalist late 2008.. whoooaaaa!!); either way it's a well documented phenomenon. Lose one of your senses, lose three or more, circle the drain deep into a dribbling delerium and what little remains at the bottom of that tea cup will surely make your mind explode all around you when you stop to think about it. Sly Hats. They're the proof to the fortune cookie wisdom that claims the whole is much more dangerous than the sum of its parts. Look past the bespectacled stick insect on the guitar: one Kamerah "Hats" Darling shrinking away from the light, channeling all the nervous nerd energy of McLovin, DJ Qualls, Rick Moranis and Stephen Hawking combined. Look past his ever so captivating (yet equally nervous) female companion on the cello, her coy glances through smoke lit eyes, how she's clad in black velvet like Emma Peel from The Avengers, how she's not even there at all. Look past all their awkward silences, look past their backing tracks numbered one through to four, look past it all, tune it all out, and your ears will fill and your heart will drown with the most potent of black and blue despair. It's the sweetest thing. It's the saddest thing. It's the beginning and the very end of it all!
Sly Hats. They're just like Pandora's Box: ever so tiny, yet ever so lethal with a littany of dread. They're the sound of dappled guitar, downtrodden, drowned in the thickest of reverb, plunged deep into the very heart of hell. They're the sound of cello strings slow slicing the vein, the swing of the rope, the drop of the chair. They're the sound of heartbreak and that feeling still lingering that you could never hope to win back. You'll want for nothing more than to wallow here for days, you'll want for all your days to be blacker than night, you'll want for nothing more than for these two lost souls to echo and amplify your endless oceans of woe right back at you. Awesome! So subtle, so simple, so damn near terrifying: Sly Hats. It's in the way that Kamerah sings ever so falteringly behind his mic, his thin mousey lisp drawing ever shallower lung fulls of air. It's in his partner and how she cowers from the light like she barely has the strength to continue. It's Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison in the body of Woody Allen. It's Beth Gibbons from Portishead starved of air. It's Meg from The White Stripes doing "In The Cold Cold Night". It's Thom Yorke's skeleton giving up the ghost time one last time. They're a backing track ticking like a doomsday clock, they're counting down the hours and it's me never wanting to leave. Wow, this is some seriously fucked up maudlin shit but fuck me I can't get enough of it! Sly Hats, they quite simply killed us all!
CLUE TO KALO (***1/2) myspace :: And then just when we're well and truly lost howling in the corner, our minds working overtime to the sudden burst of white noise, weighed down by a million and one thoughts all exploding from none and all of it pointing to the end of the world: the clouds break and up comes a chorus of muppets singing as one. A sound that could be none other than the whacked out hippy swansong of our headlining act bringing us home. Clue To Kalo. Yup, when all else has been let loose to unleash chaos upon the world, they're the one happy thought that remains. They're the one teeny tiny voice within us all that says everything will be alright. Sure we've been laughing at it all this time. Sure we've been laughing at it in disbelief. But it's always been there, ever since the 60's. Clue To Kalo. They're the space cadet sounds of Simon And Garfunkel. They're the sunshine pop of The Mamas And The Papas. They're the tie dyed, fancy free and cheese cloth insanity of Woodstock and the summer of love. They're the sounds of you skipping barefoot through open fields of green moments before the riot police drop the tear gas and let loose the dogs. They're a fine line between genius and insanity. And they're you absolutely giddy, goofy and oblivious to it all, stuffing a flower into their service revolver, painting a giant daisy on a combivan and rediscovering your inner child. I understand it's fucking crazy, I realise it's the last thing you'd ever think of but when all else fails, perhaps this shit truly IS the best solution we have!
Granted I'm rarely one to believe in such cheerful nonsense. They've always had a hard task convincing me before but something about tonight's set brings it all into clarity like never before. I'm nodding my head, I'm tripping along, I'm dull cow eyed, sheepish grin and yet I'm in a totally different place, my mind's ablaze, everything looks the same but it suddenly all makes sense! To any outside observer I realise it still looks like an utter impossibility. Most genius is. It's barely held together by Mark Mitchell on leads, all nervous stammerings and clumsy grins. It's aided by Curtis (playing his second to last show tonight, as alas the team of 12 puppeteers who animate him every night have since lost their jobs just like everyone else in the Bush administration) as he captivates us all with an oversized beard, fumbling away on an ever shrinking array of ill fitting guitars, flutes and mandolins. It's Ellen Carey, all squeaky childlike innocence and twee keys, looking so artschool aloof she's not even there. And it's Alan, all spider limbed adolescence (I'm told he may finally be celebrating his 13th birthday tonight.. yippee!) keeping it loosely on time on the drums. Yet tonight may very well be the most coherent set I've ever heard them play! It's freaky. It's like an octopus. The "brain" rarely knows what the limbs are doing but when you see the whole picture and all the colours start dancing around you, it truly IS a wonder to behold!
But don't just take my word for it! (or hysterical lack of it) take one look at our crowd tonight and their wall to wall wide eyes, beaming smiles and giddy handclaps (cunningly disguised as stone-cold poker faced ambivalence in a way that only Rocket Bar can ever achieve) and it well and truly says it all! Take this gleeful gimp for instance: he was there right in the thick of it all night and he spent next to the entirety of their set on cloud nine loving it on up! Look at him flapping his arms and mincing about, swinging wildly between lemon face, psychotic breakdown and jazz fingers. Right here is what Clue To Kalo is all about! Doesn't it make you wish you were right here with him!? (or quite possibly hiding off in the distance with a tranquiliser gun?) YES!
And then there were these three fun loving fools: so blissfully naive, so giddy with glee out on there on the dancefloor all clamouring for my attention (all except Miranda in the middle, who knows all too well that this photo will likely come back to haunt her when she sees it on this blog.. weeeee!). Oh yes! Such is the unbridled joy that Clue To Kalo brings! all our bleary eyes, shrinking heads, dribbling dementia, bumps and bruises that follow it into the next day be damned! who cares!? there are NO hangovers here, no ill thoughts and approaching doom! With the simple power of positive thought, who knows what insane and lofty accomplishments we could aspire to!?
1:51AM - Speaking of such, it was just such a burst of insanity that soon lead me to flee Rocket Bar in screaming hysterics moments after Clue To Kalo finished their set tonight, or in other words moments before all the usual suspects: the metros, the windowlickers, and the electro wanks flooded it to capacity (and killed all our buzz to their bugzapper beats), and subsequently lead me to the relative safety of the Ed Castle instead for all my after hours entertainment..
2:11AM - Aaaaah yes the Ed Castle! It's been too long since I sampled the simple joy that is you on a Friday night past the hour of two! The sweet respite from all the baboons, the monkeys, the drooling, dribbling and daftly demented that would otherwise crunch our skulls under foot. Oh yes! There's nothing to be found here but the awesome power of one's own thoughts..
Peaceful, reflective, meditative, ever so intellectually profound! You'll find it wafting through the air like a gentle summer's breeze, you'll follow it outside and into the beer garden where it multiplies aplenty, you'll breathe it in ever so deeply and forget quite where you are again! They don't just use 5-10% of their mental capacity, they use the whole damn coconut here! Some have even done away with the cococut altogether and moved onto even bigger nuts.. oh yes!
2:17AM - Speaking of such, after a brief "interlude" in said beer garden *cough* (I swear I didn't inhale) I find myself back inside, audience to the ecclectic music tastes of none other than the Strangelove DJs. Where too much Chemical Brothers, Jane's Addiction, Led Zeppelin I to IV and The Music (only the first album, before they all "sold out") ain't nearly enough! Yup, one look at Brendan cutting sick on the wheels of steel with his wikki wikki ninja skills and you just know you're in for nothing but the very best in "mind expansion" tonight! OOOH FUCK YEAAAH!
2:43AM - Still just like all geniuses before them, they're not without their curious (and often misunderstood) eccentricities, just like here: somewhere between the third and forth selection from The Music's self titled album (and an equal number of jugs of Carlton Draught downed in kind) when Brendan appears to lose mental cohesion and promptly loses the rest of his shit on the dancefloor in what could only be described as a "psychotic breakdown" of some kind..
2:47AM - Until it all culminates moments later, when in a madenning display of mental acuity (clearly miles above any of our mere mortal understanding) he leaps onto one of the table tops before him, contorts spasmodically to and fro (as if possessed by some kind of insane tree spirit) and yammers nonsensically into the air above. He then straightens up, produces a strange electronic device, waves it in the air until it makes a beeping noise, nods approvingly (as if proud of whatever this just signified), steps down again, resumes his position back behind the decks and proceeds with his song selection as if nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred.
3:02AM - In any other plane of existence, I would've merely dismissed such madenning antics as nothing short of brain damage, but clearly when it comes to the Ed Castle I have much to learn: when to the surprise of many Craig Nicholls of The Vines (and an alien intellect far greater than that which we have ever known) promptly materialises in a puff of green smoke before us, standing aloft on the exact same table that Brendan had found himself mere moments ago. We stood well and truly dumbstruck and amazed at such a miraculous turn of events!
3:03AM - Was this nothing but a mere coincidence, or was this the work of something far greater than that? we could speculate for days but either way it was still cause for celebration! It's not often that such a crass display of celebrity stunt casting finds its way into a blog like this at such an idiotic hour and we sure as fuck were going to milk THIS genius for all he was worth!
3:27AM - We had much to learn. Craig Nicholls had much to teach us. Most of it was more or less utterly incomprehensible in any dialect approaching english but such is the way of intergalactic space beings such as he (ie: ones who would choose to subsist on nothing but maccas, marijuana and madness for months on end) that not all that he would say would be readily understood by us all. He walked among us. He pulled mad shapes on the dancefloor. He climbed all over the furniture. He lit goofy cigarettes. He disappeared back from whence he came. If only we could be anywhere near as batshit insane as he, just think of all that we could accomplish!?
3:39AM - Suitably inspired by my time spent in study at the Ed Castle and with my hope renewed in the human race, I leave for Supermild to ponder further upon these thoughts now swimming in my head. I had much to tell my fellow space travellers, I had much wisdom to impart upon them all. Oh yes! this night of nights we would truly make our indelible mark on history!
3:46AM - Or at least we would've if I didn't slam headfirst into the usual chumbucket of laughable nitwits, malformed freaks and drunk and disorderly that otherwise populate and pollute this hour of the night. I mean shit, what else were you expecting in this joint? freaking Mensa!?
4:02AM - Thus we present Exhibit A (for every reason why we're not long for this world): provided in fine form by Sascha here, who curiously requested I take THIS photo (for reasons I never quite understood, especially in hindsight) and looking every bit the "room temperature" intellect his friends are gleefully swimming in right now. Wow, doesn't it just make you want to kill all your braincells and join him? (*cough* now where DID I leave that tranquiliser gun?).
4:03AM - Followed by the even more terrifying intellectual accomplishment of Exhibit B: who ambushed me the minute I produced my camera to take all those other photos above, shrieking all exciteably, grabbing my arm and demanding I take these ridiculous photos in following for reasons I could never quite fathom. I mean really, you'd think they would've learnt by now!
But alas, here she is pulling this exact same facial expression in every single photo. It's moments like these that I begin to wonder why every asteroid and comet in our solar system hasn't redirected their trajectory upon our planet to put us all out of our misery, or at least I would've if I wasn't pissing myself laughing right now publishing all this stupidity on my blog. Let's face it, it's evidence like this that proves once and for all I'm just as fucked as everyone else.
4:19AM - Which quite possibly explains why I utterly failed in gaining entry into Transmission at the Bull And Bear moments later as clearly I no longer possessed the higher brain function necessary to navigate down those stairs without falling down every single one of them. Still, all things considered I probably just saved you Exhibits C-Z in following (and most of them likely featuring everyone's favourite scenestealer Nick Hadley from Dead Popes Of The Vatican making retarded howler monkey impersonations) *cough* yup, I sure dodged a bullet there!
And there we have it. More than enough proof conclusive for just how fargone we are as a species. Don't believe the hype. We ain't smart. We're far from smart. We're far from anything even remotely approaching that. We're somewhere else entirely. We're bumping into walls, we're walking into traffic, we're falling off cliffs and we're multiplying like rabbits in ways that will eventually destroy us all but all hope is not lost! There are pockets of resistance. They play some mean tunes. They smoke some mean green. They will surely show us the way! And if it totally goes arse up and down the sink hole, they'll be there to repopulate the Earth. Awesome!