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...
PEABODY + THE PLEASURE OF BOOKS + THE AMCATS LIVE @ ED CASTLE / Saturday December 6th 2008
The brain is a delicate, fragile, and easily misunderstood organism. I should know: I've lived with one my entire life. I don't know how the fuck it got here, or from where it originally came from (perhaps indigenous to the Pleadies star cluster or the Horsehead nebula); but once I worked through the comprehensive users manual that came with it (written entirely in a whimsically butchered mix of Singlish and Japlish dialects with wacky manga cartoons to boot) I've never looked back. Me and my brain are the best of friends and the worst of mortal enemies, we finish each other's sentences, we are utterly inseperable, and as much as it tries to gnaw through it's own spinal cord and slither the fuck away, it will never leave me; I love my brain! And as clueless as I am to fully understanding it even now (believe me, we've had our moments), I have picked up a few pointers along the way that may begin to help you with your brain. For one I've learnt that it takes very little to startle a brain. Brains are by their very nature a paranoid and untrusting species. Given them the wrong sensory imput: say an incomprehensible sequence of numbers, letters, lights, colours, smells, textures and a few too many jägerbomb and you'll find yourself faced with a blue screen, an error message, and a Sunday afternoon wondering what the fuck just happened. Just last week in one of my more wildly hallucinogenic moments (I swear I don't take acid.. I just use it as a wacky literary device!) I tried to explain to it the concept of n-dimensional Euclidean space and next thing I knew it, I woke up on a Sunday afternoon halfway up a tree covered in weird bruises (thanks wikipedia). It helps not to overwork a brain. If cornered it will hiss, spit and throw furniture at you. It helps not to overcook a brain: do NOT put yours in a microwave! (no matter how tempting it may be). The brain is a trickster, do not believe everything it tells you. It will constantly fight with your heart, it will argue with your spleen, it will abandon you constantly in your time of need; but your brain is here to help you. Feed it with plenty of food, water, fresh air, sunlight and the occassional book to read and trust me it'll open up a world of wonder!
Yes the brain IS a magical, part mythological, pan dimensional gatekeeper and keymaster to many a wild abstraction. It's a source of inspiration that many of your lesser organs (like your pancreas) would otherwise balk at. It's equal parts sage, nutmeg and walnut. It's a soothsayer, cipher and citrus flavoured spaghetti bomb into the infinite unknown. We only use 5% of it at any given time (and you really don't want to know what the other 95% gets upto when your back is turned) and science is yet to fully comprehend its full potential; but there are also limits. Know thy brain well. A few too many swift blows, a few too many crayons up the wrong nostril, a few too many nights out on the town like I've had recently (duuude don't get me started!) and it won't speak to you for days on end (gee.. I wonder if anyone could tell!?). Its limits are physical, chemical and metaphoric. Its pathways and connections can get tangled, riddled, noodled, lightly baked and fried in vegetable oil. It's true what they say: a little knowledge IS a dangerous thing, the more you learn the LESS you know. Be gentle with your brain: expose it to too much too soon and it'll surely wipe those harddrives clean, tabula rasa, and start that shit all over again.
"The more you learn the less you know". It's an oxymoron, like many things in life where a square logic fails to bash through a round reality, but it's oh so true. Many an acolyte to faculties both fecund and profound will understand this phenomenon all too well. You start off thinking you have everything at your fingertips: an internet archive, an entire history of recorded music, a bittorrent, an ipod filled, a lastFM library whimsically ecclectic, a social network, a year of accumilated experience in the Adelaide music scene: a microcosm stretching to the macro, only to lose grip on everything the ever wider that horizon stretches. I thought I knew it all by now, surely! and yet I see that insane universe expanding before me, ever further beyond my grasp, I know nothing! Fear sets in, then wild-eyed wonder. My brain hates me, it doesn't have the words, it doesn't know what to do, I'm a fool. I'm here at the Ed Castle. The beer garden's packed with a veritable Hogwarts of smoking paraphenalia (isn't it always?). I know next to nothing on half the shit that's going on here tonight (I'm also reaaally hungover). What better place to start! When all other preconceptions are left pissing in the breeze? only then is true wisdom gleaned!
THE AMCATS (****) myspace :: Tonight's opening act at the Ed Castle is The Amcats: an American alternative rock band, formed in 1997 in Detroit, Michigan. The group consists of songwriter Shane McIntyre (vocals and guitar) and Renee Andrighetto (drums), who have remained the consistent line-up (except for a brief period in 2003 when Renee invited Jason Stollsteimer from the Von Bondies to join them on bass, Shane had some issues with it, there was a punch up, Jason quit the band, and things have been a little weird ever since).. *cough* oh wait, I've done the wikipedia joke already? Shit! (and it was a damn good one too!). Have I already done the one where I used all of those cheesy photos of Jack and Meg White by "mistake" in the opening gambit? (because clearly that joke's never been done before!?) Wow! first ever review I wrote on them huh? Bugger. Guess that's it then huh? We get it now: The Amcats ARE The White Stripes, well ok.. maybe not THE White Stripes, but definitely if anything untoward were ever to happen to the original (say if they ever decided to release an album with a duck whistle and a few too many bagpipes and started embracing the colour "green"), then we could just as easily dress Shane up like a head-on collision between Willy Wonka and a Mariachi band gone horribly wrong, put Renee on so many conflicting brain medicines she'll think she's chasing parked cars out there (wait.. why are you looking at me like that? we all know Meg White's expendable!) and nobody will be any the wiser! It's true The Amcats have everything you could ever want for from The White Stripes: the whiskey tone blues guitar, that "singing voice" Shane's got nailed between a strangled cat and a Bob Dylan on a mad hit of cocaine, that whimsically cute little head lilt that Renee's got rocking behind the drumkit (and the fact she can actually PLAY the drums!); it's all there. We've seen it from day one. It's almost go out on a limb and say The Amcats are everything we USED to love about The White Stripes in album's two and three before they went all batshit insane in the fifth album. In fact they're better than The White Stripes. We might as well retire all those jokes now; it's about time! The Amcats have stepped out of that giant shadow and they've well and truly come into their own..
Shit.. so NOW what do we do!? I could've kept all those White Stripes jokes coming thick and fast for years! I could've photoshopped shit together, spliced some video footage, worked those thin walls of reality to the point where you wouldn't know where one band ended and the other one began. I could've taken this shit on TOUR, they could've won Grammys! This shit would never get old! (and I so totally wouldn't be pelted with bottles everytime I crossed the street too!). But no it's time we moved on, we're grown ups now (it's a technicality at best.. but humour me here!). We're not gonna rely on the Fiery Furnaces, The Black Keys, The Mess Hall or even Jackson Firebird to play backup here. We're gonna reboot this shit, start all over again and see them with new eyes! The Amcats.. no really! what CAN we say about The Amcats!? They're the happiest damn blues band you've ever heard for starters. I mean shit, I don't think I've ever seen a band play such gut wrenching jams, yet still beam smiles and coy looks at each other across the stage, quite like this one! It's so damn near retarded in its cheerful irony that it's pure genius! It's a driven primal beat teamed with the distorted chug-chug-chug of a guitar like a crank driven Model T in every colour as long as it's black. It's eavesdropping on a dinner for two. It's Renee Andrighetto fanning herself behind the drumkit like a southern belle, whilst Shane McIntyre yammers out the punch drunk love. It's a classic crossroads scenario with a devil and a golden fiddle. It's homemade lemonade, catfish creole, a honkytonk piano, bar brawls aplenty, missing teeth spitting tobbaco, and a catagory five cyclone wiping out the slums only to build it right up again. It's extended jams like tuning forks to the caged beasts in us all met with howls and cheers of a crowd lapping it all up and begging for more. It's like I've never seen them before, I know nothing, I'm being educated anew. Convergent evolution be damned, this shit tonight could be nothing else but The Amcats!
11:39AM - Suitably inspired by the shining example laid out before us in act one, the crowd flees for all available exits in the wake of The Amcats' set: for blithering ignorance and childlike innocence alike found in both the actual and the ethereal (or in other words the exact same mind numbing awesomeness you'll also hope to find in bottle, tap, or whatever the fuck "fungus" those space lizards from Lady Strangelove are gargling out in the beer garden tonight *cough*). Which leaves act two a little lost for what exactly to do with themselves. One minute they're host to a swarm of locusts and now there's nothing out there but the chirping of crickets!? awesome!
I mean shit.. why would ANYONE leave so soon!? the night is still young! And from the look of the drumkit alone, we can tell THIS second act will speak nothing but volumes on the art of awesomeness! Clearly they're an authenticity and a well studied mannerism in scholarly rock beyond both the graduate and the post doctorate! They've been crunching those numbers, running those simulations, building those miniatures, sending dogs and chimps to the outer reaches of space for years; what could possibly go wrong! oh duuude.. where do I even begin!?
THE PLEASURE OF BOOKS (**1/2) myspace :: Let me start with the positives. Although this IS the first time I've ever seen this band in action, it's not the first time we'd ever crossed paths. I'd already spoken with Matt Reiner (their nostril flared frontman hovering over a microphone) a few weeks ago on myspace. He's the nicest chap once you get to know him. Humble, well mannered, chooses his words carefully (ie: very much unlike anything you'd ever read here). In a few short messages shuffled back and forth we discussed the inner intricacies of The Triffids (after a tribute show I saw at The Grace Emily). I admitted I knew next to nothing on the subject, he agreed. He also went on to detail just how little the rest of the bands knew what they were doing either. We laughed and we laughed. Aaaah if only there were more out there quite like him we'd all be infinitely the wiser! And granted I'd also heard OF The Pleasure Of Books, I'd known about them for months, it's hard to forget a name quite like that. I was intrigued. If anything (beyond all the mockery and the inane piss drinking hysteria) this blog is all about discovering new bands quite like this one: new sounds, new stories to tell, broadening our horizons, it's what I live for! and The Pleasure Of Books didn't disappoint on that account. From the very first note I was drifting off into a peaceful slumber. I was dreaming of those horizons painted in oils, acrylics, water colours, muted browns and greens, framed, hung on walls and sold at country fairs. I was dreaming of the musical equivalent of a pastoral landscape: one tall tree in the foreground, one teeny tiny sandstone cottage off into the background, the measure of thirds, golden means, stretching way back to the college greens of yore. I was dreaming of sailboats painted on calm seas, shopping for antiques, mid-morning strolls, Sunday afternoons spent having tiny cups of tea with my grandparents. Next thing I knew it I was waking up a good fifteen minutes into this set with a loud snort, a snap of the neck, a surprised look, and a line of drool stretching to the floor. Wow, The Pleasure Of Books indeed! I haven't had a narcoleptic hit this strong since last I attempted to read up on all my assignments back in University!
And now for the negatives. Matt Reiner, if you're reading this right now (and I know you are) this would be the moment to tune out, I apologise in advance, I'm so very sorry for what I'm about to write.. wait! what am I talking about!? there ARE no negatives here!! The Pleasure Of Books are everything you love about The Grace Emily on a Monday night. They're everything you love about Darren Hanlon and The Lucksmiths (or at least that's what I've been told.. personally I don't have a fucking clue). They're everything you used to love about the Howard government and all those awesome advertisements (thinly veiled as propaganda) promoting all their bold new initiatives in superannuation, industrial relations and work for the dole! YES! This band is nothing but a breath of fresh air after all the shit I've lived through these past few months! I mean who could possibly forget the witty banter that Matt Reiner and Clinton Cenko on bass regaled us with constantly between songs: "so um.. we've got a new EP coming out next year don't we Matt? we're just waiting for the cover art to be done.. um.. originally I had this idea to do something with shoes.. it was shoes right? but then we got this other graphic designer.. he's probably not doing something with shoes.. Matt, anything else you want to contribute?". Wow we were on the edge of our toes and losing our minds! Or who could forget how well measured and earnestly they performed each of their songs note for note? Or that awesome cover of The Go-Betweens!? Oh yes! they were spectacularly adequate in every possible way! They were an alt-country hit of sweet valium knocking me flat out cold and taking me to mad places I never imagined waking up to. They were the thunderous applause dumbstruck to silence: everyone was speechless, translucent and damn near invisible. The message was clear. Understandably I sure as fuck didn't get it, and I would probably be the last to recommend it (meh.. it has it's own quirks and charms!) but I can't possibly understand why everyone left!? you're missing out duuudes! this shit rocks!
12:43AM - It was at this moment, or perhaps a few moments later when I eventually came to (damn.. I dozed off again!? weeeeird), stunned by the meditative silence swirling around me in the band room, that I half wondered if I was witness to yet another apocalyptic postscript: part biblical plague, part viral pandemic, part Roland Emmerich über epic and part whatever the fuck I was drinking last night (draino!?). At least this time I came prepared. To the accompanyment of the whistling tumbleweeds inside, I loaded my shotgun, fueled my chainsaw, donned my gasmask and stepped out into the beergarden expecting the worst, only to be hit slap in the face with it: a stampede, an avalanche, a clusterfuck and a cacophany of sound. It took a few rounds unloaded my shotgun into it till I realised this WASN'T a zombie outbreak, but just the Ed Castle teaming with life on a Saturday night *phew!*. With a sigh of relief, I gave the all clear to the crowds outside (I disposed of all the dead bodies.. oops!) and I stepped back into that band room..
PEABODY (****1/2) myspace :: As it turned out, only five or six people actually followed me in, as granted most of them were still living in shock after I accidently shot and killed a dozen of them under the pretense they were the "living undead" (ooops.. I mean you totally know how this shit could happen right!? what with all the laughable stoners and the braindead hippies in this joint: it was an innocent mistake I swear!!) but what those chance few brave pioneers discovered when they made that insane journey inside and stepped foot into that band room, made trusting THIS madman in the gasmask all the more worthwhile! Peabody, our touring headlining act from Sydney: I didn't have a fucking clue who they were either, but when I saw that name on the poster a few weeks ago, I knew it sounded important! To add to my ignorance, they've also been around for years now, for more than a decade even. They've released three albums: "Professional Againster", "The New Violence", (and launching tonight..) "Prospero" and all the while they've been building a reputation around Australia as an explosive touring act with few equals. Watching as lead Bruno Brayovic and his band bludgeoned about like dodgems, punched holes in the walls and ceiling with their guitars flying about; and I could sure as fuck see why. They were snotnosed, belligerent, impatient and carnivorous. They were caged animals, shaved apes, in shirts and shoes let loose on the neighbourhood. They were a stabbing fist of adrenaline. They were killing everything that moves. Oh yes! there was no fucking about with this shit! They were the absolute antithesis to everything that The Pleasure Of Books had so painstakingly built before them. They were every good reason to drink myself near retarded, forget everything I ever knew and join them! YEAAAS!
Still, when I could take a few spare moments to think about it (ie: in between losing most of my front teeth and a few of my back ones embedded at least three inches into the walls) I was hard pressed to place just what exactly they sounded like. There was an element of The Ramones and The Clash here (that much couldn't be mistaken), just as much as they drew some of their sound from an infinitely more intangible 90's fuzz. They were the raw energy of The Hives, meets the guitar feedback and noise of Sonic Youth. They were the geek pop sensibility of Weezer with River Cuomo's nipples hooked upto 40,000 volts of electricity. They were Blueline Medic meets Bluebottle Kiss (or so I've been told). But more than anything else they were an insane energy inches from being completely unhinged yet coiled itchy trigger sharp like the spring of a mouse trap. It was in the way that Bruno and Tristan Courtney-Prior found themselves halfway through walls, guitars swinging wildly, slamming into amps and squealing with feedback. It was Ben Chamie on bass standing like a tree trunk, only to uproot and flail off the stage without a moment's notice. It was Jared Harrison on drums inches from a nervous breakdown in between. Sure there was barely anyone in here tonight, the room was wiped clean of all fingerprint, footprint, stain or evidence of their passage, but Peabody didn't care. Peabody came to fuck shit up on a live stage no matter what, and if nobody showed up? Peabody would damn well fuck themselves up till somebody, anybody, called an ambulance and they'd HAD themselves a party! To a packed house, to an empty house: Peabody would stop at nothing.. and for that I freaking salute them!
2:17AM - Stepping out from the band room at the tail end of Peabody's set I felt infinitely wiser to have witnessed yet another awesome live act that I would've otherwise never known existed; only to stumble into the beer garden infinitely more retarding and ignorant thanks to these grinning fools, and more importantly the lunkhead on the left (Azza from Lady Strangelove) who were celebrating his birthday in fine style tonight. As such, all things considered equal in this world (and especially my "world") there are always two forces at play here: my need to discover new music, broaden my mind, and broaden all your minds (in the utterly whimsically gibberish way in which I write on this blog). And also my need right now to shrink my mind like a frightened little turtle with everything that only a chronic thirst for alcohol induced amnesia could ever provide!
Which may begin to explain why next to everything I always write beyond this point sounds like the most hysterically hallucinogenic garbage you'd ever read this side of Hunter S Thompson (and absolutely nothing like what actually happened tonight that I've LONG since forgotten!)..
Which may begin to explain all these fucked up photos I take in following (just in case I need any circumstantial evidence for why all my shoes, socks, my wallet and my spleen have decided to go "missing" the minute I wake up the next day after I put myself through all this shit again)..
But in no way could explain just how Shane from The Amcats managed to sneak himself into every single one of these photos. But hey at least that means if I wake up the next day missing a head in the middle of Mexico somewhere, I know who's door I'm gonna come knocking..
3:02AM - Speaking of heads going missing (or quite possibly the contents within them): an hour or so later my laughable attempt at a cohesive narrative finds me here: doing circles like a goldfish on the floor, whilst the Ed Castle's finest brain injuries (aka: resident hippy trash Mathias, Brendan from Lady Strangelove, and Pat and Dan: those two wookies from Like Leaves) proceed to blow away small furry (pixelated) animals on screen, laughing hysterically all the while, as apparently nothing is more awesome (or misguided) than giving illbient freaks like these (ie: prone to smoking trees of weed and tripping balls on acid) ready access to firearms..
In the exact same way that this photo in following is as absolutely hilarious (because the shotgun is bright orange and can't even aim straight on half the shit thats happening ON screen) as it is damn near terrifying (because let's face it.. Mathias really doesn't need the weapons training). Just think what would happen if we ever got video footage and sent this shit to Today Tonight or A Current Affair!? Aaaaah the fun we would have!! (shit.. come to think of it, why didn't I!?).
3:50AM - Ever so mysteriously I find myself here almost an hour later, staggering blindly down Hindley Street. I got no fucking clue how I got here but I dimly recall half an hour spent hiding maybe twenty to thirty of us upstairs in the balcony of the Ed Castle, a whole lot of drinking, maybe some funny brownies in following (wait.. that was just the mold growing under the couches!? oh shit!) what may've been sirens (oh crap somebody reported all those bodies I "dropped" earlier) followed by the sight of us running, screaming and flailing down this street moments later (or in other words, just like any given Saturday night spent in Adelaide.. weeeeeeee!).
Oh and if anyone else can explain just WHAT exactly all these idiots are doing right now with all the hand signals crashing into the walls outside of Enigma Bar, or why they all felt it entirely necessary for me to capture it on camera.. duuude please, by all means enlighten me!
3:53AM - Either way, we originally had plans to stumble into Supermild (because apparently that hasn't been done nearly enough on this blog) only to soon realise that the only way to get all eight to ten of us idiots in there, would require us to wait in line for a solid ten to twenty minutes whilst that bouncer (you know the one) stands around all ambivalent sucking his chubba chup (blissfully unaware of the fact that there's next to no-one actually inside), only for all of us to grow increasingly impatient and decide to take the drunken rampage to Enigma Bar instead..
3:57AM - I briefly considered my options between: (a) pissing on in the always awesome Enigma Bar with the pool tables, the internet cafe, the DJs banging AC/DC and Def Leppard, the giant welded sculptures of Predator, Terminator and Alien, with a bar where they don't serve Coopers Pale Ale and where they're always upto their necks in glamrock, cockrock and wastoid whackjobs (ie: especially THIS lunatic), or (b) simply duck into Supermild instead because I'm so fucking predictable that some of you have probably started a drinking game over this shit..
4:02AM - Yup, this would be the moment for half of you to down that "shot": as to the surprise of absolutely no-one, I ended up at Supermild. Or at least most of me ended up at Supermild, as I'm pretty sure my brain has left my body hours ago and is probably half it's way to Vienna now. Why Vienna? shit I dunno duuude.. I just always imagined my brain would escape there, take up a tenure position at the Academy Of Fine Arts and teach lessons in Cubism, Surrealism and the finer nuances of pissing into milk bottles (and if you think THAT's weird, you should try living with my brain in YOUR head all day and night; the fucked up shit it comes up with!? duuude!).
4:05AM - As such I'm utterly clueless to explain any of these photos in following, especially of Dario here: who appears to be about as shocked as I am that I can actually still hold a camera steady. Although it may lend to the theory that (a) I've been "sleepwalking" through these blogs lately and nobody's been any the wiser, or (b) something not unlike "Weekend At Bernie's" (which then makes you wonder who the FUCK is writing this shit now, as clearly I'm long gone).
4:09AM - Still I think in following, we can all agree that this photo of Katherine here with the spastically oversized hands is the singularly most awesome shot I've EVER taken (and whichever loose bundling of nerve cells and neurons actually responsible for coordinating this shit this late at night should be heartily congratulated, isolated, stored in formadehyde and studied)..
4:11AM - And by extension this is by far the most ridiculously stupid shot I've ever taken (as long as you discount about a billion other shots I've taken that are much MUCH worse) and is merely included at the tail end of this trainwreck because, let's face it, everyone loves stripes!
4:26AM - Yup I'm long gone, down the drain and gargling in a pool of my own foam (or more accurately the team of puppeteers operating my fly blown carcass have clearly lost all motor function and have since left the building). It doesn't look good. Fearing my brain was long since dead by now (and not otherwise receiving a Nobel Prize in Stockholm that links n-dimensional Euclidean space with the splatter patterns of projectile vomiting) the gathering crowd around me gave it a solemn funeral, followed by a swift burial. Ironically this was followed by a toast, a few long necks bottles of beer, a kamikaze collision into every wall on the way back into the beergarden and then what was later explained by the police as something not unlike a "gas explosion". Clearly brain damage THIS comprehensive operates not unlike a "domino effect"..
I remember little else of what happened tonight. I was half expected to wake up on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere again, so clawing my way out of six feet of compacted dirt was a nice surprise! I have no idea how I got here or how the fuck I got out of here as clearly no one remembered to bury my passport too (and next to none of these roadsigns are in english) and as far as any credible eye-witness to any of the events tonight goes I'm just about fucking useless. I know nothing, I've forgotten more things than I'll ever know, clearly I'm making this shit up as I go along: I'm right where I want to be. Yup, when you've forgotten everything you've ever learnt, when you know nothing else, duuude you're one step closer to understanding it all!