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...
MOUNTAINS IN THE SKY + QUA LIVE @ ROCKET BAR / Saturday November 1st 2008
Tonight's episode is brought to you by what's left of my circadian rhythm, now nothing more than an insect consciousness of hive minds buzzing slow rings erratic through my swiss cheese soul. Day turns to night and I'm still weaving through these city streets crashing into the curb. I'd rather be anywhere but out, lights out, but instinct takes hold as it always does this Saturday night. I'm an autopilot light long since blown out and filling with gas. The terrorists are in control now. They fly me into those buildings, buildings ablaze with lights and colours and screaming sounds; make an impact, leave a good looking corpse. Whoaaaa.. what a head rush. Where am I? What year is this? And why do I smell something burning? It's in times like these: all aches, blues, blacks and bruised, surviving on less than four hours sleep (and I think you know why), that I'm reminded of a song by Interpol: "I haven't slept for two days, I've bathed in nothing but sweat, and I've made hallways scenes for things to regret. My friends they come and the lines they go by. Tonight I'm gonna rest my chemistry. Tonight I'm gonna rest my chemistry". Of course I realise what I've just recited are lyrics about cocaine abuse but the picture still fits. The mad adrenaline rush, the killing frenzy, the candles burnt at both ends, all waxed to their wane, the post mortem siftings through those ashes, hair, teeth, blood and bone. Its a cycle of growth and decay and I hit the groove just like the rest of us: a willing participant in this mad monkey dance called life.
We've been on this sharp trajectory to oblivion ever since we came out of those trees and began chopping them down. We call it progress, profit, growth and productivity; the great leap forward that fuels the insane and abhorrent engines of our industry to ever ridiculous extremes. We piss all over the old world, we make new ones to call our own. The sky is no limit, there is NO finite resource, to infinity and beyond, we defy those laws of physics, we pile copies upon copies up high and we rival the output of the sun: I laugh at just how ridiculous it has all become. Someone asked me the night before: "have you ever been diagnosed with ADHD!?". I'm only driving as fast as everyone, I'm obeying the speed limit! but perhaps the world is making me crazier in leaps and bounds, bound and gagged, in tune to its motion blur the faster we go. It starts with toothpicks to eyelids, then coffee cups to chemicals, a shutterspeed strobe, a driven beat then we are all wired to its network: all the more technological means to defy the natural order. We don't need sleep, or oxygen, we simply atrophy it all behind: floating minds in jars, we'll see it all!
So here I am at Rocket Bar on a Saturday night and yet I'm not all here at all. Clearly I'm somewhere else. I'm two panadols dropped in the afternoon, a caffeinated free fall, hitting the ground running, lights dull flickering, moths to the flame. I'm at all points of the universe, superpositional and diluted to a mass solution stir fried. There is no escaping the great magnet, we're all on a terminal velocity, so fuckit I thought I'd run with it; see where it takes me. Forces should not be in opposition but harmony, me and my environment as one. Let my music resonate within and without me: tuning forks in the desert that'll show me my way home..
10:09PM - Only I'm then awoken from all my genius (bordering on insanity) by one timely observation in the here and now: "shit! am I the only one who bothered to turn up?". I see the orbit of Pluto long since demoted, I see it and I as two chunks of ice circling the dead of space and I'm frightened. Surely we didn't kill them all last night! Where the fuck did everyone go?
10:16PM - So I flee the solitude of Rocket Bar and its nervous clinking of glasses for a brief drink down at Enigma Bar: an enigma to match the riddling and the unravelling of my whistle blown mind. I've learnt a few counterintuitive lessons in my time: first that I cannot be killed by conventional weapons and second that this beer will keep me well awake in ways entirely not specified on the label. I begin to wonder if it's simply everything and anything that's keeping me awake of late, that I'm in a constant state of ready, ready for what I couldn't say but I always seem to be there for it all the same: am I the problem, or am I the means to its solution?
10:32PM - Back to Rocket Bar and it appears the situation has shifted drastically. Chance birds, insects, rodents sent adrift on fallen logs have found this desolate rock and claimed it their own, whilst somewhere way off in the distance the Ed Castle laughs at such a reversal of fortune; but this night is still young, set up those smoke signals from afar and who knows what we'll find?
11:06PM - For when there's smoke, there's surely to be fire and a littany of Adelaide's finest bucket bong illiterates to breathe those fumes in. These fiends and freaks alike have little use for mathematics, ergonomics, economics or years of inherited histrionics. They are merely the end product of five thousand years of memetic evolution, living on the ashes we left behind. Stoners, psychedelics, tweakers and dropouts we may verily entitle them somewhat mockingly, but we have an understanding. Senses stunting yet enlightened we all read from the same page..
QUA (****) myspace :: Our opening act for the night has no need for chronology as written in sequence or any set of easy to follow instructions. They're a brand of batshit insane that chooses to tagteam simultaneously with their headlining act instead. Still for the sake of clarity we'll assume otherwise. Qua: part one of two, a simulcast strong in twin propellers. You've got to love a band who's name is nothing more than three letters and one syllable strong. In the least they present that in simplicity. The rest in experience is somewhat akin to tuning all the worlds ipods to one and stopping the mad science experiment moments before it hits white noise and collapses the turtle that holds the world up; although it doesn't start that way. It starts simple. It starts with a singular voice. A simple breathe in and out and we are returning anew to the womb. To its twin this voice finds a heartbeat pulse and it builds over and over upon itself. So simple. So soothing. Momentarily I'm reminded of Jean Michel Jarre and Oxygène parts I to IV. It builds again in bleeps and xylophone keys and now its the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars. It's Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes with their bulbous heads bobbing in and out of time on flutes. It's getting frenetic. More and more the cascade builds up on itself like Jenga blocks teetering on collapse. Now it's Radiohead's "Kid A", it's Thom Yorke's "The Eraser", it's Autechre, it's Squarepusher, it's Aphex Twin swapping notes in class and it's all becoming a mad jumble of chinese whispers in between. It's fucking disphoric, it's a mad jumbling of beats and it's a criss-crossing of time signatures in between. It's fifty thousand tibetan monasteries erupting like golden acne on the face of the moon as it collides with the sun viewed pixelated on a teeny tiny cellphone screen; then it's nothing. That's one song, they do many more just like that. It's ever so peaceful and yet ever so utterly fucking insane.
I understand that the sound of Qua is pretty much like nothing else that would EVER make sense in any other reality that I would like to call home. I understand that most of what I've written in its description above is impressionistic at best. I also understand very little else in its wake. Glitch techno does that to me every time. My mind merely blue screens to their siren song, goes black, reboots, then runs it in a loop (and when you're as fargone fucked up as I am tonight there's few other places you would ever want to be). Qua. It's Cornel Wilczek running a dizzing array of electronic wizardry: laptops, PDAs effects units and his compact sci-fi futuristic guitar quite like what you would imagine Tom Baker's 70's Doctor Who of cardboard Darleks would resemble with David Tennant's BBC budget. It's his sidekick, tall stemmed, bean poled, and bird beaked (aka: "Bongo Legs") running sticks to his upright drum pad like a cuckoo clock drinking water. It's a hypnotic swirl, it's batshit insane, but it's me feeling more at home here than anywhere else. When all the rest of the world has gone to pudding, maybe THIS is the one frequency worth tapping into..
Which then brings us to our headlining act, or more accurately simultaneously in tandem with our opening act. Yes I understand how this can get a little confusing; so if I direct your attention to this blackboard instead I can explain more fully. What you understand as "time" is rather like this white line I'm drawing in chalk right now. This is merely an illusions that your mind employs to blind you from the truth. What we're really experiencing instead is somewhat more akin to this circle I'm drawing now. Still not getting it? hmmm maybe I should draw a face on it? No wait.. ok, in one hand I have this blue pill, in the other I have this red one. No! don't listen to what the Architect is saying in the 2nd movie! that's the KFC recipe for 11 secret herbs and spices you idiot! Scratch that; I have this box and this cat and.. um shit.. where'd everyone go!? Mountains In The Sky. It needn't be this confusing. To compare them to the former in ways that won't cause your head implode (or in other words, in every other way that I haven't described next to everything so far): they're the "energy" companion to the complexity of "matter" that defines the Qua. You could also say that in working together they form a simple harmonious equation and a feedback loop that defines the universe. Or you could simply call me barking mad and throw beer bottles at me (each to their own really). For nothing is quite so simply soothing to your psyche than the sounds of Mountains In The Sky. You may not get it yet, you may need to go a little cross-eyed and tilt your head to see it all, but you'll understand the full scope of it soon enough!
Mountains In The Sky starts with the live drums of Stuart McFarlane: breakbeats like crunchy cornflakes, crispy chips and crashing cymbals. They're textures within textures, whole savoury flavours that take on a mind of their own yet echo with a syncopated simplicity. Nothing is quite so welcoming as these beats but then it only gets better. On top of that comes the salsa, the sauce, the dip, the lightly seasoned melodies as provided by mastermind John Lee on the left and their new female keyboardist on the right (who for the life of me I can't seem to find a name for), who bobble head behind their switchboards like a Jim Hensen puppet show, working a light flourish, a trickling flow, a wash of soothing soundscapes that build like a gentle cascade of lightly dappled wind chimes: in, out, over, under and throughout the mountainous scaffolding of Stuart's drums and send you dreaming those impossible dreams. They call it "psychexotic-breaktronica", it's like Chemical Brother's "Exit Planet Dust", "Dig Your Own Hole" (and most of their blissfully psychedelic b-sides from album's three to four) minus all the sirens, squelches and acid bleeps; and it's the most blissed out joint in the universe. It's rebuilding all my atoms from scratch. It's finding new connections and pathways in the ether. It's taking us right back to the beginning!
And then from out of nowhere it happens (or quite possibly from out of the same semi-fictionalised laughable headspace from which all the insanity "happens" in this blog). They were three of them, maybe more. They came bursting into the front lines. They entertained us all with what could loosely be described as "interpretive dance" but more resembled what happens when Kermit the Frog gets struck by lightning crossfaded with Ian Curtis having a violent seizure; and then they simply vanished from whence they came. I didn't have the foggiest clue what inspired them with this sudden burst of fucked up activity, but duuuude it was freaking hilarious!
It was only later that I was told by Clemi from Zeta here, that they were simply fucked out've their minds on E. Which granted possibly begins to explain a LOT of what I just witnessed out there but still leaves us with the deepening mystery that is Will Spartalis (in the tan vest behind her) and why he apparently hasn't moved an inch, blinked or sneezed in the last two hours..
Still, as I briefly consider calling an ambulance, calling a priest, or calling ET the extra terrestrial to call Will Spartalis a taxi back to his home planet; the band (now bands plural) play(s) on as Mountains In The Sky in no particular chronological order are joined by Qua on stage (I believe they pulled this shit at least three to four times before this) as they provide us with an earth shattering swan song: which either sounded like the heavens opening up and pissing golden showers of bliss upon our witheringly white souls, or rather like the entire Triple J music library being hit by a category five cyclone as reenacted by puppets. Shit damn was it funky! (I'm also told they're playing next year's St Jerome's Laneway Festival, be sure to check 'em out).
1:27AM - Feeling altogether reinvigorated by my insane choice in live music tonight (but in no way less inebriated as clearly I've decided to come HERE), I arrive at Jive; very much redefining the definition of what is still considered "alive" and what you'd otherwise find matted in brown fur and clogging up your shower drain moments before you burn your whole house down..
Which granted should give me no problems blending in with THIS crowd tonight..
1:35AM - Speaking of such, it takes no time at all before I'm ambushed by these three blithering nitwits, who some of you may otherwise recognise as (a) Joe Blogs: the founding father of the Adelaide chapter of "Alcoholics Synonymous", (b) Simone: attempting to "make like a tree and leave" only to fail spectacularly, and (c) Miss Moira: your number one reason to change the locks, change your name and enter the witness relocation program since 2007. Why I ever chose to answer the SMS they sent out (instead of nuking this entire venue from orbit) is anyone's guess or maybe it's bleedingly obvious to everyone but me. Did I mention I'm piss drunk, I've only had four hours sleep, and I'm barking up the walls insane? well ok then, moving on!
1:37AM - Just as predicted, seven or eight beers in (and just like the night before), Nick Hadley makes his utterly befuddling appearance on the dancefloor; whilst I secretly wonder to myself why I never thought of lojacking the freak (or at least sneaking a bell around his neck) so we'd all know well in advance WHEN to flee the scene way before he has a half a chance of stealing it..
1:39AM - Only for everyone flee that SAME scene, screaming hysterically, moments before the "containment field" holding Joe Blog's shitcrazy golf pants together lost cohesion and threatened to unleash a "three dimensional" gas explosion that would've taken out most of west Hindley Street (if Joe Blogs hadn't otherwise decided to excuse himself out of the premises, taken a taxi home and simply destroyed a suburban Micky D's somewhere in western suburbia instead). This may also begin to explain why the alarms in Jive kept going off every five minutes (because clearly that never happens every OTHER time I'm here) or fuckit, maybe it doesn't..
1:50AM - Speaking of alarms: right here should've been more than enough reason for all of mine to start ringing in unison, screaming at me to get the fuck out of here (and into some kind of psychiatric treatment "oh wait.. you see them too!? whooaaa!"), if only it wasn't the first wave of freaks spilling back into the city from an infamous "Church Halloween" party. One that I would've otherwise gone to later tonight (if only it hadn't been shut down by the cops at 1AM).
2:07AM - I tried getting a straight answer on what the hell HAPPENED at this party to cause such a "disturbance of the force", like say from Zombie Jesus here and his pious sidekick, but short of a dimensional rift opening a portal directly into hell itself unleashing an army of darkness on our soon to be crispy BBQ carcasses (otherwise known as any given night I ever venture into Producers Bar), some hysterically gibberish along the lines of "braaaaaiiiiins! braaaiiiiiins!" and me beating them upside the head with the blunt end of a shovel, I was really none the wiser..
2:15AM - Speaking of places where the sun don't shine, I'm next greeted by these long absent freaks Dan (formely from Adelaide band Kasavett) and Kimberely flown direct our nation's capital (aka: Canberra, the best place to get your illegal porn and fireworks!) who looked all too eager to tell me the news of what they "both" got upto today; but thanks to my blitheringly drunk and sleep deprived state of mind I've since long forgotten what that "news" actually was (hmmm and they kept waving their ring fingers about like THAT'S gonna remind me.. weeeeird!).
4:14AM - And then somewhere after that (or maybe after a few more beers) it hit me. All four hours of sleep that I didn't get the night before finally caught up with me. I'm stopped dead in my tracks. The little battery indicator has been flashing red all this while and now it's winked out completely. I've just spent the last two hours staring into space like a goldfish blubbering. People occassionally stop by to check up on me, buy me beer, prop me back on my barstool, drink my beer and move on. What the fuck am I still doing out here!? I'm circling the drain fast, I'm not long for this world, I swear I'm starting to hallucinate. Did Shannon my infamous "arch nemesis" from Ricochet Pete just ring me up and yell at me in the hope I'd make her throw up? (awesome!) or am I seriously losing my mind!? fuuuuuck that's it! I'm done! I'm finished! it's all over!
But then all it took was one look at Dan's hang dog expression, stuck in Canberra all year round, suffering a pathetic excuse for a music scene that makes Adelaide look like Melbourne by comparison; living ever so vicariously by the tall tales I weave on my website and I just knew: I couldn't give up the fight! not now! not ever!! this night ain't over yet! it's only just begun!!
4:23AM - Oh yes! nothing could stop me now! I may be mixing my checks with my stripes, my verticals with my horizontals, my days and my nights, I may yet to be diagnosed with every known (and some yet to be known) psychiatric condition under the sun but I don't care! I have the means! I have the technology! there is NO mountain too tall to climb! no ambition too lofty to accomplish! no flesh eating zombies baring the slightest resemblance to Gavin (formerly lead singer of The Spires) who could possibly ever stand in my *cough* fuck, I saw WHAT now!?
4:24AM - Shit! I ask you: how many times has THIS happened on a night out? Here I am minding my own business, going off on yet another blithering tangent (on fuck knows what) that'll invariably lead me to Supermild and way too drunk than I ever should be and *BAM!* I'm upto my nips in zombies again!? Damn. I could've sworn I kept all these jokes (along with all those vague illusions to me being a serial killer) for the EAST end of town? Shit! maybe it's spreading! maybe I'm the last one standing between humanity as we know it and sweet oblivion!? Oh well, lets just be thankful they stock plenty of spirits and cigarette lighters in here: cause I sure as fuck am gonna need everything at hand if I'm gonna make quick work of this newborn apocalypse!
4:27AM - And so as I faced off against an ever increasing army of these shambling horrors, cigarette lighter in one hand, a mean collection of angry spirits within reach at the other, and as the air filled with a littany of their gutteral screams as their flailing and burning carcasses crashed hard into the ground before me, I knew! when you're in a city as near mixed up as this one, there's never a dull moment, never moment's sleep nor rest, we must forever remain vigilant! Around every corner there always more of them dribbling, drooling and howling at the moon..
And I will not stop until my thankless task is finished. I will not sleep till I take down every single one of these dribbling motherfuckers. HA!! Take that "Peroxide Prince"! Take that "Weird Guy In A Checkered Shirt Dancing Even Worse Than I Do On A Saturday Night"! Take that "Completely Non Descript Person Of Unspecified Gender Drinking A Beer"! Take that "Queer Eye For The Travolta Guy"! Take that "Weird Blond Guy With His Arms Up In The Air"! (oooooh that rat bastard SO had it coming!) take that "Hipster Freak Who May've Occassionally Served Me Beers At The Exeter That One Time"!! NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW!! I'M FUCKING INDESTRUCTIBLE!! I AM DEATH INCARNATE!! TASTE MY FURY BITCHES!! SPOZ IS MY NAME AND I'M COMING FOR YOUUUU!!!
4:40AM - And OOOOOH FUCK, I ain't touching THIS one.. screw you guys I'm outta here!
And so as I cower in this corner shitscared and shivering, clutching this crucifix sleeplessly and shifty-eyed until well after dawn; we bring to a close yet another misguided adventure deep into the darkest places we never had any hope of getting out alive from in the first place. I know! It's gotten way out of hand, it's all gone to hell, I'm the last one of my kind, I'm surrounded, I'm all out of ammo, there's no escape; oh dear gawd what the hell have I unleashed!?