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...
THE FIRST ANNUAL SPOZ'S RANT AWARDS ADELAIDE MUSIC SCENE / January - December 2008
You've read a million like it before, and now you're about to read another! One whole year, 12 months, fifty two weeks and 366 days of awesomness distilled through 205 live bands and 110 episodes of drunken debauchery that represents the very best (and worst) of what the Adelaide music scene has to offer!? Oh yes kiddies: welcome to The First Annual (and quite possibly last) Spoz's Rant Awards! Part One has already been published here and the best is only yet to come!
PART TWO: THE ARTIST AWARDS Clearly it's all the retarded shit we've just seen in Part One (aka: The Scenster Awards) that makes you rapidly forget just what this blog is REALLY about: celebrating everything that is head explodingly awesome about the Adelaide music scene by taking the absolute piss out of it at every available opportunity. It helps to remember this shit sometimes; as much as I'm well aware that most of you idiots who ever read this junk couldn't give half a shit either way about this "scene" (and are only out there every weekend so you can get loaded, get blown and leave a grinning corpse by the gutter at the end of it all) it's ALL about the music! Without it to inspire our depravity, we'd lead nothing but quiet lives of nine to five industry and efficiency, our economies would be paradigms of growth and prosperity, and we'd secretly hate ourselves. So let's spare a thought for the artists, the architects and the idiot savants who bring so much colour to our worlds. Let's give them due credit for all they do. We're done with the "technical awards" now, it's onto the meat and potatoes! This is what matters most, this is where all the arguments will start, these are the awards you've been waiting all year for! Sure there are no trophies here, there are no cash prizes (and clearly I have no right to judge any of this shit in the first place) but if ever you were looking for that entirely useless quote for your myspace (before you nail that all important Richard Kingsmill review) then THIS is where you can claim your sweet moment of victory! YEAAS!
EGOMANIACAL BASTARD OF THE YEAR Every band starts with a lead singer. Actually no, that's an outright lie. Every band starts with a kickarse drummer, quite possibly a robot sent from the future to kill us all cunningly disguised as a hobbit who can speak telepathically in synch with a bass player, preferably a cute female bass player (it's NOT a cliche: it's the most awesome thing ever!) and combined they can channel everything that is awesome about punk, post punk, math rock, garage and indie with drilling body popping precision (and everything else you now add to that band is window dressing at best!). Still, think back to the last few decades when an arrogant twat out front still mattered a shit for a rock band and I think you'll agree that these recipients of the "Egomaniacal Bastard Of The Year" have everything that it takes to lead any suicide squad into glorious victory. They're everything a lead singer should be; not necessarily for all the right reasons but they still have it in spades!
WINNER(S) - TRAVIS (TYGER TYGER) + SASCHA (ZETA) Travis the lead singer for Tyger Tyger isn't much of a front man to look at. You're probably wondering what the hell I'm on about here. For one he's got this altogether irritating Australian accent, it's ocker as fuck, half the time he's rapping it more than anything else and in his own teeny tiny peanut brain he probably thinks he's one of the Wu-Tang Clan. He also gets bored easily, and I mean REALLY easily. He'll tend to drop out of a song midway and start dribbling out something entirely incoherent that's sounds strangely like it's meant to be Mexican before attempting to pull a mad gangsta sign and start a chorus of "N.. I.. G.. G.. A.. spell it out motherfuckers.. it's not a dirty word! it's not a dirty word!". He's also scrawny little fucker, he looks in every way like puberty hasn't got a fucking clue what to do with him, he's equal parts David Spade, Edward Furlong and a chihuahua. So why the FUCK does he win this award!? It's all about the ego maaan! All lead singers have one granted, but with Travis here, he possesses an ego so diabolical in size and gravitational scope that it blots out the sun and eats entire planets. He may look like he's twelve, but he acts like he's GOD. He gives as much shit as he takes, he'll fight anyone, he'll fight dirty, better yet he'll spit out lyrics so insanely perverse that he'll stop anyone three times his size dead in their tracks. He's a born heckler, he's the nastiest little weasel you'll ever damn face in battle; he's part Eminem, Alex Turner and Julian Casablancas and all the more awesome for it. FUCK YEAAAAH! He's Travis the underdog, punching way above his weight and for being ever more than the sum of his ridiculously shrunken parts: we freaking salute him!
And then we have Sascha the lead singer for Zeta: equally worthy of this auspicious title in his own right, for even with a silly little girl's name you can't deny he has what it takes to be a lead singer. For one he can actually sing. Sure it may sound like he's singing out of both his blocked up sinus cavities whilst someone proceeds to break all of his fingers and thumbs one by one; but he sells it all the same, he freaking nails it. Better yet he also looks the part. He thrashes about like a tortured genius up there. He's kind of angst ridden archetype the 90's alternative scene was best at. Scruffy, unkempt, mildly hungover, hasn't had a decent feed in weeks (and quite possibly hasn't been toilet trained either) with a middle finger raised and a fuck you to the establishment. He's a matyr complex with both barrels of the shotgun ready to blow his brains five ways against a wall. YEAAS! And yet as much as girls find that shit ever so strangely attractive (or at least so I've been told) he goes one better. Not only does he play the role brilliantly, but he takes the piss out of it too. He's an oversized ego with a self destruct mechanism. He's cynical and sarcastic as fuck. He's ever so slightly batshit insane. See enough of their gigs and you'll see it too. The weird outfits, the retarded faces he pulls halfway between a grimace and shitting out a pineapple, the insane exaggerated gestures he pulls as he near about kills himself on a stage, his willingness to go beyond the call of duty to make an absolute dick of himself for the greater good! Oh yes.. his mastery of the craft is beyond caricature, it's beyond parody, it's something else altogether and if not for his band keeping his shit under control every night; he'd surely go fucking beserk and explode out there! This year wouldn't have been the same without his shining shit a brick example. Sascha: he just the kind of Egomaniacal bastard that Rock & Roll was invented for!
NOMINATED - MATT (NO THROUGH ROAD) Of course there were plenty more insane egos to go around in the Adelaide scene this year (the smaller the music scene: the harder they fall), and we'd be totally remiss if we didn't give due credit to the best of them. How could we forget Matt Banham from No Through Road!? Shirt and tie askew, staggering blindly around a live stage throwing his arms about wildly and slurring all the words: he was a hero to all the drunks out there who wouldn't go quietly without a fight.
NOMINATED - LEE (TONY FONT SHOW) And then there's Lee Cowan from Tony Font Show. Although arguably his finest work was seen in the live scene throughout 2006 and 2007, he still held his own this year. Who could forget his ridiculously oversized clown hair? his trousers hanging perilously close to falling down around his ankles? how he jumped about the stage and dove into the crowd like a retarding labradoodle humping everyone's leg in sight? how he managed to string together the most hysterically complex non-sequitur lyrics on rapid fire rape, pillage and plunder whilst simultaneously possessing an IQ below that at which water freezes into a solid!? He was a true master in the fine art of being a egomaniacal dickhead in every sense of the word. He was a true hero to the people. Why oh why did they ever break up that band back in June!? FUUUCK!! Lee Cowan, what a freaking legend!
NOMINATED - MARIO (THE KILLGIRLS) And speaking of "tortured geniuses" how could we forget the excessive histrionics of one Mario Spate, lead singer of The Killgirls!? If ever we were to award "Drama Queen Of The Year" this whiny little bitch would win it hands down every year! Theatrically overacting, wrenching every tiny drop of seething spit, hatred and hissy fit hysteria out of his microphone like a bag of cats fighting; like Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson going at it for another round. How he'd always invariably collapse on the floor at the end, so physically drained by it all!? Absolutely freaking brilliant!
HONOURABLE MENTION - DAVE (FIRE! SANTA ROSA FIRE!) And last (but certaintly not least) let's hear it for Dave Williams from Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! and all that he gave to Spoz's Rant this year. His was a strange journey in 2008: not only did he lose his voice in the beginning of the year when their band played support for Spank Rock, but he also found himself playing second banana to Caitlin Duff when she subsequently replace him on lead vocals midway through the year. But did he go quietly? did he shrink away from being the focus of attention!? OOOOH FUCK NO! You couldn't ignore Dave even if you tried. He quite simply never knew when to shut up! In between songs you'd hear him cracking jokes bordering on the increasingly distasteful, renaming the band to "Lobster Minsk" or "Power Fuck", heckling the audience with merciless glee, laughing it up, making a hilarious mess of things. You'd think this would be a bad thing, but oooh no! it only made this band all the more awesome to watch on a live stage. Everyone else in Australia may know them for "War Coward" but thanks to the tireless work of Dave Williams in 2008, we knew Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! for ever so much more!
SHRINKING VIOLET OF THE YEAR Still don't get us wrong, it's not all about the insane ego. To be a lead singer in a band doesn't always mean you need to be ten foot tall, bullet proof, breathing fire, shooting laser beams out've your nipples and screaming unholy hell upon all that stand before you. You don't necessarily need a retarding god complex to rule supreme, you don't need to be a hilarious dickhead. No, sometimes the reverse approach works best to awe and inspire us; the art of passive resistance. It worked briliantly for Gandhi and it worked wonders for these shrinking violets too! These were the quiet achievers that made 2008 ever so much more in their awkwardly shy presence..
WINNER - PETE (QUIET CHILD) Our winner of The Shrinking Violet Of The Year in 2008, Pete Spiker the lead singer of Quiet Child, is everything this award to introverted excellence exemplifies. Sure he may look like a cross between Kevin Smith and a Microsoft company employee circa 1978, sure he may be really into Nintendo, possess numerous allergies, be constantly plagued by common colds and flus and be entirely awkward in most social circumstances; but the minute he steps onto a live stage, squints awkwardly into the light, adjusts his glasses and lets rip into the microphone you can't deny the magic: this nervous gnome has the voice of an angel! Possessing all the finer qualities of a Maynard James Keenan from Tool and A Perfect Circle, a Matt Bellamy from Muse or a Chino Moreno from the Deftones in the ill fitting body of Captain Caveman: his quavering vocal cords damn near make you cry tears of happiness in his presence. He has a voice bordering on the operatic. He is not of this Earth. He is one in a billion. He's freak genetic abnormality that stands above us all, yet hides so well in plain sight. Stand tall and be proud Pete; no don't run away! we're not pointing and laughing at you, we're simply in awe of you! You are truly one of the greats! The finest our miserable species can aspire to! In 2008 you well and truly captivated us all!
NOMINATED - MOON (MR WEDNESDAY) Also worthy of merit (and believe me this one was close) how could forget Moon from Mr Wednesday in 2008!? Holding onto his microphone for dear life like any minute he'd fall over, averting his eyes from the audience, brows furrowed as if in deep pain and troubled thought? For years now I thought it was nothing but an act. I'd constantly crack all these "if pain persists: see your doctor" jokes in his direction. I'd laugh myself retarded. Little did I realise he actually suffered fullblown migraines out there (yeeeouch.. talking about foot in mouth!). Still it's just such a quirk to his fragile physiology that lends true gravitas to everything he sings. Sure he may occassionally resemble Fozzie Bear in human form, sure he may occassionally flap his arms about and make ridiculous faces when he sees a camera trained on him (nervous tick I'm sure.. you should see the outtakes!) but he carries the true weight of Mr Wednesday on his slumped shoulders. He represents the silent pain in us all, the existential angst, the needs gone unfulfilled in a nine to five of piling up paper work and flickering fluorescents. He's every man in a suit and tie holding a briefcase, dragging his feet on the morning commute. He may shy from the all the attention to the point he shrinks ever so eeringly from view, but he's the voice within us all begging to be let free!
NOMINATED - ALEX (LUMONICS) And how could we forget THIS guy, Alex Ciaravolo, lead singer of Lumonics. Not just lame running joke about an oversized head (that continually fell flat no matter how many times I may have exploited it from October to December) he was a shrinking violet if ever we saw one; introversion exemplified. As despite being chronically shy behind a microphone to the point of an illness he had THAT voice: that insane impossible baritone that stopped everyone dead in their tracks in 2008. He was everything in a vocalist that Ian Curtis ever stood for (and Paul Banks from Interpol ever denied he stole from) without all the nervous twitching and hysterical dance moves that came along with it, he stood tall and unwavering like an arrow with an afro, like a twig of asparagus, like a pencil. He was everything that geeks, dweebs and dorks everywhere could ever hope for!
AXE MURDER OF THE YEAR Every band needs a guitarist. Actually come to think of it, we all know this isn't true either. I can think of countless bands that do just fine with two bass players, a keyboardist, some douchebag on a set of turntables, or a twit fiendishingly efficient with a duck whistle (aaah we can only but wish!) but we all know everyone's secretly laughing at you if you do. A guitarist quite simply makes your hopeless excuse for a band infinitely more fuck-off badass than it really is. It's part skill, it's part presence and it's ALL in the ability to own a stage as your very own and cut down every motherfucker that dares stand in your way It's everything that rock & roll in all its many guises should be, and these proud recipients in 2008 showed us just how it was REALLY done!
WINNER(S) - KARL and ANDREAS (SOFT WHITE MACHINE) There's many reasons why we'll miss the demise of Soft White Machine when they left the live stage early in September. Sure we all know they'll surely return in some other form (as granted they're still recording a second album with the remaining two members Nick on drums and Karl on vocals) but THIS is what we'll miss the most: both Karl and Andreas on guitars cutting shit up. Karl spinning his shit around like an oversized toddler flying a toy aeroplane. Andreas the ever increasingly hairy, stooping over and driving his axe deep into the air before him. It was quite simply the most awesome shit ever. Part dogfight, part sword fight, part pissing contest and unabashed jerkoff: their ability to weave their chainsaws in and out of each other was unparalleled in any other band in the Adelaide scene. They quite simply owned the stage like no one else. The epic explosion of guitar they unleashed in "Tonight We Break", the impossibly intricate time signatures during "Broken Arrow", the subtle spaghetti western nuances in between: they had it all in their arsenal. They were five flavours of the ferocious few. They were everything that guitar players aspired to be in 2008. They will be sorely missed in 2009. Shit damn they rocked!
NOMINATED - JOSH (LADY STRANGELOVE) As for other equally worthy challengers to throne in 2008 we need look no further than the impossible standard set by Josh, guitarist for Lady Strangelove. Although his illbient skills were put on ice for most of the year (thanks to the fuckwits who stole all their equipment back in April) you couldn't deny this psychedelic freak had it all at his fingertips, he was forever on the cusp of stealing this shit all for himself. His playing style was unparalleled as much as it was next to indecipherable; increasingly wild and ludicrous are the terms we use to describe it: a cloud of bats, a flock of birds, an exploding amazonian ecosystem cascading over our ears in wave after wave of hypnogogic shred. And his sound was equalled in the way he would throw himself around a stage, frequently airborne, clucking like a chicken, plucking mad chirps, squeaks and squeals from his strings as he went. It's hard to say whether he was inspired by Tom Morello, Jimi Hendrix or a Japanese gameshow on acid: but he was a grand master of it all the same. And now that he's finally trained up his new guitar? who knows what illbient brilliance he'll unleash in 2009!?
NOMINATED - JESS (DOUBLE HANDED / DELUSIONS OF GRANDMA) And when it comes to cascading chords we also can't look past the genius work of Jess: guitarist for both Double Handed and Delusions Of Grandma. In Double Handed his axe work may have simply been the garden variety Tool meets Incubus meets A Mars Volta type fare you hear in a million other prog rock bands (duuuude.. don't get me started!) but in Delusions Of Grandma he was an entirely different order of disorder altogether. He quite simply killed out there. How he wove sound upon sound over themselves with his guitar pedals, layers folded over again and again like a samurai sword; the textures, the raw cinematic kaliedoscope? duuude it was like nothing else!
NOMINATED - ADRIAN (LUMONICS) And then there's Adrian, guitarist for Lumonics. For a few months there I could've sworn he was a bass player: partly because quite frankly I'm crap at paying attention to any of who's making WHAT sound out there (till I check the photos and count all the strings.. yes I know, I'm an idiot), but also because he pulled mad shapes on a stage more akin to what you'd see from a bass player than anything you'd ever see in a guitarist (although arguably this may also be due to the rest of the band save for the drummer barely moving at all out there). Deep in concentration, furrowed brow, plowing the impossible depths, he cut an imposing and mystifying figure. He also cranked out some ridiculously awesome sounds too. Articulate driven chords, melodies and layered tinkerings his ability with an axe made Lumonics all the more darkly poetic in his presence..
HONOURABLE MENTION - MICK and NICK (TYGER TYGER) And then there's these guitarists from Tyger Tyger: Mick and Nick. They were like brothers out there, like unlikely twins. Most of the mad appeal of watching them cut it up was simply in the sheer comedic value they provided with their endless "sibling" rivalry. Every gig you'd find them out there and to the left, bickering with each other, competing with each other, constantly picking fights and pissing themselves laughing all the while. Granted they also played a mean guitar when the thought occured to them: but it's not always just the skill you wield with an axe that proves your worth, but how much you make a complete dick of yourself in the process. And in this measure (and in many ways over that) these two proved their entertainment value again and again!
THE SPASTIC "FLEA" AWARD No band would ever be complete without their bassplayer. I'm not even kidding, don't even get me STARTED on this shit (two piece blues bands notwithstanding.. and yes, I'm looking at YOU Mona Lisa Overdrive!) without a bass player and their unique contribution your band is sorely lacking in not just sound but much more crucially in stage presence too. Now I admit in any NORMAL award ceremony we'd simply be focusing on skill here. And it's true, there really IS a fine art to playing a bass guitar. Not just in your ability to keep a rhythm driven tighter than a duck's twat but for all the artistry that comes with slapping out a mad cascade of brown notes whilst running around the stage like a headless chicken. Whichever route you choose to follow; nothing beats it when you get that shit right. Still this award is about SO much more than that. Let's face it: the REAL role of a bass player in a band is not for the sound or rhythm (that most in your audience won't even notice), but in pulling mad shapes like a hilarious space alien (preferably whilst dressed like one too). Yup, beyond that screaming dickhead you have out front pretending to be the REAL focus, they're the true personality to your band. To be the bass player, to twang about like a spastic contortionist, to be ever so much more: this is what being the Spastic "Flea" for 2008 is ALL about!
WINNER - TIM (TYGER TYGER) Yup there's really NO contest with this one. No one else out there even comes close. If ever you wanted a lankyarse spider monkey that exemplifies all that there IS to be THE most freakingly ridiculous bass player in the Adelaide scene: it's Tim Friday of Tyger Tyger. Sure he probably wasn't the most proficient groove merchant out there in 2008. If this was any kind of SERIOUS contest of skill (who are we kidding.. I mean really?) we'd easily nominate Mark and Jolan from Swords, Patrick from Like Leaves and this shit would be over in a heartbeat (or better yet all three of them could fight it out with Matt from Tony Font Show.. weeeee!). No we all know Tim Friday played fuck all ACTUAL bass out there. Most of his work in Tyger Tyger (short of the occassional keyboard and trombone) was simply to stand out there, pull various retarded karate poses and just throw his shit over his head at every available opportunity. But that's why he was the best bass player in 2008. He didn't even need to play bass, he probably didn't even have that shit plugged in, he was a circus performance all to his own; unchallenged and unequalled. All those increasingly ridiculous outfits he wore: the top hats, the oversized sunglasses, the fuzzy jackets, the clashing checks and stripes, arms and legs popping in and out cracking spastic poses (his ever questionable sexual orientation?) THIS is what being a bass player was all about in 2008!
NOMINATED - MATT (TONY FONT SHOW) Understandably Tim winning was an upset, I know there's going to be arguments about this, don't even get us started on this shit! If there's one thing we're never short of it's bass players. Some of the world's best call this city their own: and if this was any other year in recent memory we'd look no further than Matt O'Callaghan from Tony Font Show. He was the very reincarnation of Les Claypool from Primus and he didn't even WAIT for him to drop dead before he freaking KILLED it with his signature moves on a live stage. His ability with a bass guitar was unparalleled as much as it was near to impossible to keep up with. During 2006 and 2007 he reigned supreme, there was no doubt about it: he was the master of puppets, he pulled those strings like no other but then Tony Font Show broke up midway through 2008 and he simply disappeared without a trace (damn!). Increasingly barefoot, hairy and deranged as he strung his grooves into increasingly non-sequitur jams from January to June: hammering halfway between Rain Man and a toddler experiencing all his Christmases at once he was an inspiration to us all as much as he humiliated anyone else who dared oppose him in battle. It's anyone's guess why he quit (perhaps he had nothing left to prove!?) but he'll be sorely missed! Matt O'Callaghan, what a freaking legend!
NOMINATED - LYNDA (DEAD POPES OF THE VATICAN) And of course when it came to pulling mad shapes on a live stage in 2008 you couldn't go past Lynda Dedrick from Dead Popes Of The Vatican either. Every night she'd be out there hammering the low slung punk grooves, sneering and leering into a microphone: forever full of hiss, spit, and itchy trigger rubber band rage. She was a master martial artist bordering on the cartoonesque. She was the grand exaggerator. If ever the sight of their sweaty and deranged lead singer Ben, crapping out an asteroid wasn't nearly enough to make you want to come back and see Dead Popes Of The Vatican demolish a live stage again and again (and how!); then surely Lynda Dedrick popping and locking on bass would kill you every damn time. She is everything that was ridiculously awesome about chicks that played bass (it's any guess why they're so freakingly badass.. but I'm thankful they're there all the same). Oh yes.. she ruled supreme!
NOMINATED - TOM KRIEG (THE BATTERY KIDS) And when it comes to cartoon characters: how could we possibly forget Tom Krieg, bass player for The Battery Kids!? I don't know what drugs he was taking out there, or what combination, whether they were prescribed in effort to curb a mad case of ADHD (and failing brilliantly) or whether his playing style was merely the end result of mixing all the above with a few too many jägerbombs before the show; but shit DAMN was it hilarious to watch! He'd run laps around a stage, explode in hysterics and thrash about on his instrument like it was crawling with ants. He'd flail about on all fours, sweaty and crazed, hair going everywhere like he was a mad man raised by wolves. And when you're playing in an apocalyptic hissyfit outfit like The Battery Kids; it's just these kind of mad antics that not just make their nightmare vision all too real, but nails your coffin for you too. I don't think I ever paid attention to WHAT he played but it didn't matter: he killed it all the same!
WHACKJOB OF THE YEAR And now we come to the true backbone of any band: drummers. Ask any band stuck on the bench and they'll tell you why they aren't out there playing gigs every week: they desperately need a drummer. Everyone needs a drummer. Every band in Adelaide is constantly losing a drummer. It's why you'll often find the same drummer filling in for three or more bands just to cover the shortfall. It's same reason some bands hoard two or more of them JUST to spite you. Drummers maaan.. it's all about the drummers! Never underestimate what one of these assassins skilled in the art of sticks and stones can truly provide to your dog and pony show. They're not just pissy little timekeepers no more, many of them aren't nearly as low brow and neanderthal as you'd like to think, oh no! this ain't the 70's, this ain't Spinal Tap! In a world of razor sharp post punk, math rock and imprehensible psychedelia you need a REAL demolition expert to drive that shit home. These are the true geek fiends that can operate door knobs and handles, these are the ones that can recognise simple shapes and colours, they know their alphabet and their multiplication tables; they're worth their weight in gold! Sure they're probably less than four foot tall, mechnically operated, and live in only myth and legend (is that YOU Frodo!?) but we celebrate them all the same. Oh yes! these are the legendary few that define the Adelaide music scene in 2008..
WINNER - RYAN (MR WEDNESDAY / BROTHERSISTER / LIKE LEAVES) In the Adelaide scene you can't miss this guy (which is funny considering he's so freaking tiny). In fact those of you more observant would've already picked up on gross error in the title above and would've known of plenty more bands he also drummed in this year (they're just the names I could fit up there without it going into a second line). Yup, this dude's freaking everywhere, I'm not even shitting with you, he's quite possibly a leprecaun of some kind. Ryan Manolakis, grand master Hobbit of the Shire, drummer for Mr Wednesday, BrotherSister, Like Leaves and Cookie Baker is unparalleled in his fiendish proficiency with stick, kick, snare and cymbal (with the possible exception of Tony Mitolo who clearly disqualified himself from this competition ever since he fucked off to live in Melbourne, only to tour the world with Pnau.. baaastard!). Ryan's drumming style is unmistakable. Intricately complex to mathematical precision he utilises both junkyard percussion and impossibly articulate precision fills that extend his drumming beyond mere time keeping and into the realms of the synaesthesic. You don't just hear the sounds, you taste them too: a head of lettuce chopped fine, a bag of thinly sliced potato chips cooked crisp, the many swirling blades of a Japanese chef cutting up airbourne sushi. His drumming is a feast. And no matter how ridiculously complex this shit got, no matter how much shit he juggles out there, he never misses a beat. It's damn near freaky to watch. Every band he plays in freaking kills. And with so many bands in 2008 with him at the reins there was just no questioning that he well and truly reigned supreme!
NOMINATED - NICK (SOFT WHITE MACHINE / DELUSIONS OF GRANDMA) Of course Ryan Manolakis wasn't the only stick fighting dojo to distinguish himself this year, there were many more out there in the scene who could easily challenge him to single combat if ever he let his guard down. Leading the pack we had Nick Russell, drummer for both Soft White Machine and Delusions Of Grandma (and if we're keeping track: also lead singer and percussionist for Double Handed). His drumming style was more intuned with a jazz improvisation state of mind. Not just the conventional four on the floor here. We're talking time signatures beyond time signatures. Time signatures that would constantly switch at the flip of a coin. Time signatures that would both bewilder and confuse as much as they would tweak and titilate the circadian. Better still as much as he was infinitely skilled on the skins, he also looked for all the world like a anti-establishment bearded goon prone to blowing up post offices. Which as much as you'd think would make it a BAD thing, only made his shit all the more cooler (a fact that was made all the more apparent the minute he fronted Double Handed) a freak to be sure, but no less fiendishingly proficient!
NOMINATED - SEAN (BOOSTER) Not all drummers in Adelaide are diminuative creatures of the forest however; there are still some evolutionary throwbacks out there making a killing and making us proud for all the loudest and dumbest rock reasons. And Sean Kemp, drummer for Booster, is the longest living of them all. He's been out there bashing the skins and making one helluva racket for a good 15 years now. And although his playing style isn't altogether intelligent or articulate, you still can't deny he nails the point home regardless. He hits it harder than anyone else, he destroys, he's a lumbering juggernaut of sweat and fury that kills all before him. More disturbing still, he also doubles as a lead singer. He sings, he shouts, he shrieks a hysterical falsetto and he just keeps on coming. He can't be killed by contentional weaponry, he just gets plain crazier with age; and he'll be out there playing drums still when most of us are long gone! Sean Kemp, what a legend!
HONOURABLE MENTION - MARGUERITA (LUMONICS) And then there is Marguerita. You can't deny her skills behind a kit, she has the range. Not only can she thrash up a mad rhythm that can cover both the widescreen breakbeat collisions of Kasabian and New Order but can also articulate the more intricate shoegaze nuances as well. Better yet what makes her style even more befuddling is the mad equestrian trot she canters behind the kit when she does it too. It's a unique playing style and she claims it all to her own!
HONOURABLE MENTION - NICK HADLEY (DEAD POPES OF THE VATICAN) And last but not least we have Nick Hadley, drummer for Dead Popes Of The Vatican. As much as his skills clearly lie behind a drumkit, after already winning "Photogenic Fuckwit Of The Year" (ie: see part one of these awards) we all know where his REAL ability lies in this band: he's ALL about pulling faces, every mad face under the sun: grinning like a mental patient, howling with rage, gleefully making a complete dick of himself and yet STILL drive the beat. He's more a colourful cartoon character than anything else but shit damn does he kill it out there like no other!
THE EXPENDABLE "BEZ" AWARD Not every musician out there is entirely crucial to the sound of a band. Some are simply there for a whole host of other entirely useless (but no less whimsical) reasons: window dressing, comedic relief, making up the numbers.. fuck I dunno.. tax reasons!? And as much as you'd be thinking this award is simply designed to poke fun at them all (and in many cases you'd be dead right), in actual fact I'm here to celebrate them all. No really! If ever any of these musicians were to get signed with their respective bands and prove to be wild success stories? they'll be living in the lap of luxury in ways that the rest of their fellow band members couldn't even begin to imagine! They won't be out there night after night stressing over guitar arrangements, lyrics, or even that ever troublesome second album; they'll be laughing it up with all the hookers and blow having the time of their lives! Two shining examples immediately spring to mind: Bez from The Happy Mondays and Leeroy formerly from The Prodigy. Completely fucking useless the both of them and yet utterly legendary in their own right. They're an example to all of us who ever wanted to skip an honest day's work and cruise through life without a care, they're nothing short of THE Australian dream, and the Adelaide music scene was no shortage of their inspired example in 2008!
WINNER - ART (FIRE! SANTA ROSA FIRE!) Artyom Zinoviev, otherwise known as the much beloved "Art" from Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! is a team mascot of sorts. He's their resident punching bag, butt of all jokes, resident video blogger and cheersquad of one. And it's true this band wouldn't ever be the same without him but beyond that we're often clueless as to what exactly he DOES up there. Occassionally you'll find him playing the keyboards, occassionally you'll find him screaming on the microphone as he does ever so brilliantly during "Stranglehold" (where you'll either find him being rugby tackled into the ground by Dave or launching himself into the middle of a crowd) but no, his most prominent role in Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! appears to be nothing more than simply to rock the SHIT out of that tambourine. It ain't rocket science, it's not crucial to their stage act, it's not something you need to be all that skilled at (and there's a good chance anyone else could do the exact same job without him) but no one quite does it like Art. He rocks that shit like nobody's business and why wouldn't he!? Ever since Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! go signed to Dot Dash he's potentially found himself with the easiest job in the world. Smashing a tambourine for fame and glory? Fuck maaan who wouldn't want that!? Art: you may be completely fucking useless up there, but shit damn you rock our world!
NOMINATED - SHANE (TYGER TYGER) Then there's our proud nominees in following. What could more auspicious honour than this I ask you!? being nominated for most useless member in a band only to come second or third!? awesome! And what better an honour could we possibly bestow upon Shane Ettridge of Tyger Tyger than this? I mean what exactly does he do for this band you may ask? Shit maaan.. what DOESN'T he do for this band!? He plays the bongos! FUCK YES! Bongos rule! how much more fucking important and damn near vital (and damn near irreplacable) could you possibly get!? Better yet, he's fully aware of just how ridiculously superfluous he is in this band and he plays it up for all it's worth. For if you're going to be entirely expendable (and a sixth wheel at that) it always helps to be incredibly loud and proud with it too. Watch as Shane throws himself on the floor, on his back, going beserk on the skins as Tim straddles him on bass and the rest of the band plays leapfrog over him. Watch as he rocks the shit out his kit like there's no tomorrow. Sure, for the most part, Mannix on drums completely drowns him out night after night: but he sure kills it all the same!
NOMINATED - DEON (SATIN HAREM) And then there's Deon Capogreco, keyboardist for Satin Harem. I know what you're thinking; I clearly made some kind of mistake here! I mean fuck, he sure as shit LOOKS the part! He's got that wacky stack of keyboards piling up the ceiling, he's got the shitcrazy poodle hair and he always wears that same oversized coat like he means business; but does he ever actually DO anything up there!? Does he sleep with his eyes open, does he pre-program all his keyboard parts weeks in advance and dream he's playing World Of Warcraft instead, or did he simply drop dead years ago only for Satin Harem to have him stuffed, mounted and presented at every gig like it's all business as usual? Yup, we could wonder endlessly over the true meaning of Deon: he's a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a connundrum yet he's an endless fascination to us all!
NOMINATED - MATHIAS (MONA LISA OVERDRIVE) And last (but certaintly not least.. as clearly we always leave the best till last) there's the towering enigma that is Mathias Northway. We've all seen this dude before. He's been integral to many a band before him, his legendary contribution to the Adelaide music scene is set in both marble and stone. How could we forget Late Night Matinee? or Mindshower? or Of The Dead Sea Scrolls? (who!?.. yeah I know, I'd hardly heard of any of that shit either) he well and truly made 2008 more than insanely awesome but many ridiculous superlatives above that! And here he is in Mona Lisa Overdrive, proudly at the fore, playing guitar in a band that already has two guitarists!? You'd think I'd be making a point here somehow, but I'm not. Oh no! this dude's a freaking legend!
It's often said in award ceremonies (or quite possibly ones not nearly as fucking insane as this one) that "it's an honour simply to be nominated". It's a cute idea, it gives you a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside and don't get me wrong, there is a LOT to celebrate here; but sometimes just sometimes (and especially when it comes to the following awards and their proud recipients) it's probably best not to know HOW you got nominated for this shit, nor how close you came to winning it. These are the most auspicious awards of them all. These are the "genre" awards that will likely get me assassinated in the presenting of it. Strap yourself in and prepare for hell as we bring you..
MOST RIDICULOUSLY OVEREXPOSED BAND OF THE YEAR WINNER - MONA LISA OVERDRIVE / nominees: Tyger Tyger, Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! Arguably there could be oh so many OTHER bands worthy of this award on Spoz's Rant. We all know this website plays favourites, we're not ashamed of it (I love accepting bribes for "free publicity".. weeeeee!) but still, there are always limits to just how much insane awesomeness I can take before my head quite simply explodes. And above all others Mona Lisa Overdrive truly drove me to that breaking point with their omipresence 2008. No matter where you tried to run and hide, they were out there ready and waiting. In the months between July and November alone I believe I caught them eight times without entirely meaning to; often within a week of each other. They supported The Mess Hall, they supported Rocket Science, they supported Children Collide, they played to the opening of a fridge door, they drove me screaming up those walls. Granted there's a lot to love about this band; they've got that whole mad Velvet Underground buzz, that whole Andy Warhol 60's schtick, they come up with some badass tunes (and I dare say after a month of not seeing them I miss their shit like crazy *cough* Stockholm Syndrome anyone?). But if ever there was truth to the statement that "absence makes the heart grow fonder"!? please for the love of all that is unholy (and dwelling below Producers Bar ready to devour us all) may it apply to THIS band in 2009! Come up with funny disguises, write an entirely new setlist, swap instruments all you want, swap Alex's brain medicine for tic-tacs, whatever it takes! (see you next week?). As for our proud nominees: Tyger Tyger makes the shortlist as clearly I never got sick of making fun of THEM all year long (fourteen times this year!? yeeeouch!), and as for Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!? need I mention their single "War Coward" and the endless airplay they got on Triple J? enough said.
TRAINWRECKAGE OF THE YEAR WINNER - IT'S WARSAW! / nominees: No Through Road, Robotosaurus If you can't be any good at something, why not just turn the volume way up and go fucking insane instead. It's a stupid philosophy I know, but you'd be surprised how many live bands excell at it. Granted this doesn't always necessarily apply to our nominees (as clearly both No Through Road and Robotosaurus have taken years to hone their own unique weapons of mass destruction: whether rendered through alcohol abuse or ultraviolence respectively) but it SURE as fuck applies to our winner in 2008. It's Warsaw! Almost nothing about this band was EVER about the music. OOOH FUCK NO! The drummer could never keep time, I think they only ever played two or three guitar chords and every song always ended abruptly at the two minute mark when their lead singer Christian Martino hit the floor (and rather painfully at that) howling like a banshee to the squeal of feedback. Still above all others trainwrecks in 2008 they excelled in making self destruction nothing less than a fine art. Quite like a carcrash or a trainwreck, you could never look away; they pulled you in time and time again despite all their glaring faults, you cheered them on and came back for more again and again. Yup, for being the absolute best at being the absolute WORST any live band in Adelaide could ever aspire to: It's Warsaw! were an inspiration to us all!
SCENSTER TRAGIC OF THE YEAR WINNER - THE TOUCH / nominees: Tyger Tyger, The Shiny Brights, Skye Harbour There are many paths to success in this music scene. You could either become exceptionally proficient at what you do through tireless practice: hone your skills to precision, and win the endless respect of your peers. Or maybe you can appeal to a more visceral level: be the giddy escape, be catharsis incarnate, destroy everything you touch till everyone around you simply has to stand up and take notice. Or even better yet, why not fuck it all and make it a popularity contest instead? YEAAAS! For surely with enough hype, hysteria and screaming female fans flocking to all your gigs in team t-shirts for apparently no good reason you'll soon become one of the very best this Adelaide scene has to offer. At exactly what it's hard to say, but you'll be there all the same getting into everyone's faces making one helluva insane racket. And above all others The Touch were absolute masters at this shit in 2008. They were more a political movement and a cult than anything else. They were all about being ridiculously popular for no good reason and loving every moment damn of it. They had it all. They had Josh Moore on vocals, cocky as all hell pulling all those cheesy metrosexual dance moves, the buzzing indie guitars, the frenetic dance punk beats, the legion of screaming female fans out front.. FUCK YES! 2008 was their year to fly right up into the sun and explode bright, loud and all kinds of retardingly shiny! Sure it made my eyes and ears bleed just thinking about it but gosh I'm ever so proud of these fashion tragics all the same!
"NEWBORN GIRAFFE" OF THE YEAR WINNER - CLUE TO KALO / nominees: Humble Bee, Zeal, Radio Spectacular There's something altogether fascinating in watching these special kind of bands flailing about in gleeful dysfunction on a live stage. Don't be mistaken that this term merely applies to ALL geek rock.. OOOH NOOO! this is a whole other level of awesomeness altogether. So named "Newborn Giraffes" for resembling in many ways what just such an animal looks like when you see them at the Zoo (or on the evening news) as they attempt to make their first fateful steps on twittering limbs that can barely sustain their fragile weight. They're painfully shy to the point of dysfunction, they're introversion honed to an artform, they're cute and clunky and endlessly endearing very much in spite of all their obvious flaws. Yup for all their undeniable skill, song writing ability and talent beyond their years, they never quite seem to translate it all onto a live stage. They were a great many shining examples of this rarefied species in 2008 but above all others, precariously balanced on top, was this one: Clue To Kalo. Blissfully clueless, cluttered, and awkwardly shy with their folksy tunes and their twee instrumentation they were truly the very best that "Newborn Giraffes" everywhere could aspire to. Mark Mitchell doing his very best impersonation of Hugh Grant as he stammered between songs and the bearded lunacy that was watching Curtis fumble his way through a performance on a teeny tiny ukulele were unparalled in 2008. Still let us not forget our proud nominees: for who could forget the awesome "glock rock" glockenspiel antics of Humble Bee? the fiendish aggression at which Zeal tore through his Guitar Hero controller? or the five flavours of freaky that was presented to us when Radio Spectacular played the Jade Monkey back in February and sung a song about waiting in line at Wendys for an ice cream? So naive, so blissfully naive, how couldn't we quite simply weep tears of joy in their presence!?
THE "TOO WEIRD TO LIVE, TOO RARE TO DIE" AWARD WINNER - THE WATERSLIDES / nominees: Lady Strangelove, Delusions Of Grandma Not all bands can simply be described in terms of vocals, guitar, bass and drums. Not all bands simply write "songs" and perform "live gigs". Some are ever so much more than the sum of these humble instrumental parts. These are the bands that aspire to the sort of rarefied songcraft and live performance that can only be described in terms that are biblical, hallucinogenic or eye gougingly psychotropic. Whether through employing simple shock and awe tactics or letting loose a veritable psychedelic shitstorm assaulting every one of our senses at once (leaving us dribbling dazed and confused for hours on end afterwards not entirely too sure who we are, where we are or why our brains have since found themselves splattered against all four walls of the room) it is to these brave pioneers that just such an award as THIS one is given to. And in 2008, without question, the most worthy recipient of The "Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die" Award was The Waterslides. For being the circus freaks above all others this year that made confetti cannons, bubble machines, smoke machines and strobe lights an integral part of their act. For spending most of their gigs jumping around like dickheads wooping it up instead of actually remembering to play their instruments. For being an experience live very much akin to having every one of your orifices gangfucked by clowns. Oh yes, they were truly a sight to behold, I even heard rumours that one person actually SHAT themselves at one of their gigs, they're that fucking intense! They rendered me speechless time and time again. They were not of this world, solar system, galaxy or dimension. They were a declaration of war as much as they were excuse to fuck everything that moved and nail anything that didn't. The Waterslides. I bow to their diabolical fury!
THE CHEESY VIDEO MONTAGE WE HAD TO HAVE And finally in closing to part two of these awards we present some of what I believe to be the finest songs ever captured on video for Spoz's Rant in 2008. Some of these are simply here on the strength of the songs themselves: Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! with their ridiculously omnipresent "War Coward", Tyger Tyger with their infectious "Buttons & Levers", Zeta with their show stopping "No Direction", Kytes Of Omar with "Soldier", Booster with "It's Ya Birthday!" and Morals Of A Minor absolutely killing it with the raw heat and energy of "Halfway There" (to name just but a few). Some are simply here because above all others they simply captured the essence of being there: with insane performances by Poetikool Justice, Calling All Cars, The Mess Hall, Lady Strangelove and My Disco. But mostly we all know the REAL reason why we are celebrating all these songs now. This wouldn't nearly be an awards ceremony worth its weight in endless ego stroking if we didn't also choose to waste a considerable amount of time in the presenting of it. So sit back, crank that volume up on full and enjoy a mad hit of what the Adelaide scene had to offer us in 2008!
And just when you thought that was all there was to celebrate in 2008 for more reasons than were entirely necessary (and all the arguments that'll likely erupt as a result) stay tuned for Part Three: The Pinnacle Awards. For the best is STILL yet to come as we devote our final installment to artist of the year, NEW artist of the year, best touring act, best live event, best live venue and a whole lot more (which again I clearly have no right or qualification to be judging in the first place but apparently you all asked me for all the same!). All this and more coming soon (or y'know.. whenever I'm not anywhere as ridiculously hungover as I am now). YEAAAS! be excited Adelaide!