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...
ROGER THAT + KYTES OF OMAR LIVE @ ED CASTLE / Saturday November 22nd 2008
Growing up in the 80's I always thought I'd live to see out the apocalypse. I'd be right there with my sunglasses on, watching it all burn, I would survive it all: the harsh year long winters, the skirmishes, the territorial pissings, my sawnoff shotgun and crossbow in hand, snuffling about like a cockroach through the wreckage collecting and disecting through the archaeology in coke cans, Micky D's and Walt Disney shrapnel. It'd be nothing but me and the bloodthirsty mutants to share in this afterworld, rebuilding it once more in our dementing image. This wasn't just a dream, not just a nightmare, but as sure as night followed day. It was in our video games, television and Saturday morning cartoons. It was in our movies: Mad Max, Terminator, War Games and Red Dawn. In our shitty Duran Duran music videos. In our post punk pop collision of mohawks, shoulder pads, war paint and tribal drumming. In the year that was 1984. It was all around us. It was preparing us for the day that it would actually happen. One day in the not too distant future, someone (quite possibly an ex-Hollywood actor with a raging case of Alzheimers) would do something entirely stupid and we'd be up to our oscillating tonsils in it. That lunatic scream like a chipmunk to the centrifuge, that shockwave blast, that big bag of popcorn popped and then nothing but applause. Fuuuuuck what a rush! Crazier still it almost actually happened in September 26th 1983: and if not for one Stanislav Petrov (a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Force) and his one fateful decision shortly after midnight on a Monday when he went AGAINST orders (and faced disciplinary action) we wouldn't even be having this conversation at all. I'd be wandering the desolate expanse with my geiger counter playing air hockey with your remains. Maybe we'd meet across the way, maybe you'd drop me with a sniper rifle shot between my eyes, maybe I'd be having you as food, maybe we'd be repopulating the planet together. For all those itching to bring back the 80's again and again, some things from that decade are truly best forgotten..
But then the 80's passed, the threat averted, only to divide and conquer with a thousand more. As it turned out the world wasn't going to go out with a bang but a whimper, no matter how much we begged for it. That one impossible weight hanging over us all, now split into ever smaller subatomic particles, like acupuncture needles, tailor made and individualised to every fear, a porcupine tree of paranoia that our cactus carcass would surely become. First it was the ozone hole, then rising tides, the fragmenting of the Soviet state, suitcase nukes, pandemics, alien invasion, kamikaze airline pilots, dirty bombs, climate change, grey goo and mini blackholes. Every day there was another one added to that fire, pick a card, hanging chads and rigged elections, fundamentalist christians, holy wars and fiery retribution, and now it's nothing more than a joke. Nobody watches CNN anymore. We've all switched off, heads up our arse, tuned into white noise, updating our facebook status.. Shit! maybe it's already gone and we never even noticed!?
I know I like to joke about this shit every other week but something's EXTRA wrong with this scene tonight. The empty streets, the tumbleweeds, the bugzapper lights and the bitter cold. Just another night in Adelaide you might say but there's something more: I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, gurgling in a way entirely unnatural and ominous (and not in any way related to just how much I drank last night), then the sound of one pin dropping. No, it can't be!? It couldn't be!? Not like this!! Surely someone would've posted it on youtube by now? you mean I missed it!? Fuck! NOOOOOO!! I retrace my steps to last night, surely there was a sign, but I remember very little: just me stepping into that taxi at the end of the night, gasmask on, moments before the "fog" rolled in. I walk into the Ed Castle, maybe this is where it all began!? Humans at last! We swap notes, we piece it all together. Everyone kept asking me for all the answers (damn how did they know!?). Wild theories abound, disinformation: schoolies, uni exams, rival gangs, zombie outbreak!? or maybe it was just the weather; a false winter perhaps? Only that could stop the drunken hoards I explained. "It's things you can't see! things in the air maaaan! microbes (and nanites) bringing about the rise and fall: War Of The Worlds maaaan! War Of The Worlds!!". The crowd seems satisfied: such clear headed logic, so clearly a lie. With averted gaze at last I ditched the empty cannister into the pond out back. I found a beer (I found five more), I found my audience amongst the "roaring masses": the last sum total of us all, we basked in the fire, we watched it all burn. Wow! Just like they predicted. And before the machines rise to kill us all, we will have this night. Yes! and soon (with the world now up for grabs) we will have it all!
KYTES OF OMAR (****1/2) myspace :: So it comes as no surprise that I'd share humanity's untimely demise with this band. Do not be fooled by their scruffy appearance, their low brows, bedraggled and stooping, or their drummer all of twelve years old. They've been waiting for this fateful day all their lives, in every way the doomsday cult (minus the black robes and white sneakers) it's all right there in their debut EP "Let's Go Diagonal" in chapters I to VI. They predicted the economic slide, they predicted it all, shit even I'm surprised I didn't see this before! (well actually I did, I've been telling you all along, and quite possibly all five of us were in cahoots since the beginning, but let's just humour the ignorant shall we? *cough*). And if that ain't clear enough, let's start with the name. Kytes Of Omar. Rearrange those letters and you get "Kry Sea Of Mort": which either makes for the most hysterically retarded name for a screamo band ever (is it any coincidence that Anthony works behind the bar at Producers Bar, Syke on Friday nights!? anyone? anyone!?) or their true nature behind it all. Kytes Of Omar / Kry Sea Of Mort. It makes perfect sense! Sure the last word is inexplicably in french and the first is misspelt, but it's right there plain as the eye can see: "mort" is death, "sea of mort" is blood, "crying seas of blood" is tears, one of the many symptoms of the Ebola virus!? Oh yes! we're through the looking glass now! Clearly they've been harvesting a weaponised strain all this time: aerosol form, quick release, kills instantly on contact? And this fateful night? November 22nd 2008. 22 and 11? Two ducks in a line, sitting ducks? Twin pillars, the twin towers!? Those fiends!! It's so damn near brilliant in it's poetry and symmetry I wish I'd thought of it myself (as clearly I didn't just concoct this mad scheme in the last half hour just to fill a lazy paragraph of this review). Kytes Of Omar how could you maaan!? I mean really!? I swear none of you possessed a reading level above that of the 3rd grade!? duuuuude!
Still all paranoid delusions aside (don't look at me like that duuude, you know I'm right!), tonight is a night to celebrate and to the scattering remains of the day, to this ever faithful crowd now assembled before them (ever so mysteriously spared the wrath that otherwise claimed all the unbelievers that stood in their way). This was the night of nights! It's all in the fine details. We all could learn something by their example! It's in how, ever so conveniently, they chose Mad Max 2 as their cinematic backdrop, a survivalist anthem if ever I saw one. It's in how Mike and Joe on bass and guitar choose black to offset the white of Anthony and Matt on leads and drums: two sides of a coin (good and evil) you never quite know where their allegeances lie. It's in Joe's entirely ridiculous haircut that makes him look, quite like you imagine Julian Hamilton from The Preset's would look like, if only he was more flamboyantly metrosexual (I'm told his sister cut it too.. weeeee!). It's in Anthony on leads forever bringing that missing link to our Neanderthal past, of clubbing sticks, spears and banging rock, into ever glaring modernity. It's in the way their jangling cacophany sounds ever so much like surf rock for the apocalypse: The Strokes, The Pixies, The Subways, The Queens Of The Stone Age all mixed up in a long history of backpacker murders, mysterious disappearances, bodies in barrels and floating bloated down rivers..
Granted their set tonight started off a little uneasy (they probably had a world newly ripe for the plundering weighing heavy on their mind) but by the end they were thrashing it out like the fast spinning blades of a chainsaw connecting with the zombie scalp, brains splattering then no more. Some would probably much rather drink a few too many beer to achieve the effect, but you gotta appreciate the visceral imagery. And if ever a doubt remained in your mind then let the song above "Soldier" spell it out for you: "such a lonely day, I feel better.. because I'm leaving you.. yes I am!". Oh so very true. Almost makes me wanna pick up my shotgun and sing along! And then, as an extra special bonus, there's this new song below "On Me", featuring Joe Russo himself doing the disco boogie on vocals. Yup, when there's nobody else left on this planet but you and that bucktoothed gimp missing an arm, sometimes you gotta makes some hard choices to repopulate the species, and maybe THIS is just the song you need to get you in "the mood"! Yup, I dunno about you but something tells me that we're on to a real winner here!
ROGER THAT (****1/2) myspace :: Wow what a night! I could've sworn that was all it had to offer us, one last hurrah for humankind and then a littany of consensual rape, pillage, loot and murder as we fight amongst ourselves, whittling our numbers down to the very last one, skeletonising this bar from the ground up, kegs, taps, bottles and carrying it all off to our makeshift citadels in the desert. But no, there was one more surprise in offer, in the form of this headlining band. Flown direct from the Gold Coast by plane, boat, or maybe even a makeshift tour van held together by duct tape and wishful thinking. Either way it was sheer dumb luck that happened their grinning carapaces: scruffed, bedraggled and matted with fur upon our murderous postscript tonight. In sight alone they quite reminded me of that hapless busload of hippies from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original, not the remake) and short of that one token gesture in the wheelchair (who we all knew would "get it" first) we could easily imagine what would happen next: this was Adelaide afterall, we all know how to make our interstate travellers feel "welcome". But quite by surprise we DID make them feel welcome in a way that surprised us all. We gave them the live stage, we gave them their moment in the sun, and all the while we sharpened our knives and we played along. Roger That. If ever there was a diagonal slide into sweet oblivion that needed magnifying with guitar, bass, drum and electrified amp, they would be the one to deliver it. They're an authentic 70's sound ripe with decadence and decay. They're the sound of spiraling petrol prices, political scandal, a ready supply of heroin, roaming bikie gangs, botched invasion attempts, one raised finger to the man, a surfboard hitting that wave and fucking it all. They fly that freak flag up on high and into the sky. Swaying like the breeze, mind whistling like leaves, it's all in the way Jesse on vocals (with his Amish beard and anti-establishment grooves) make THIS band the very Zeitgeist of it all!
Roger That. They're a bedraggled, bearded, boogie down jam in flailing bell bottoms to the bottom of that bell curve. They're a spaghetti western act of desperado with both guns blazing moments before the salloon goes down in flames. If you could imagine Kings Of Leon "Youth & Young Manhood" and "Aha Shake Heartbreak" crossfaded into one with Jim Morrison and The Doors lost in the Californian desert, if you could imagine Primal Scream at their space cadet best chanting: "get your rocks.. get your rocks off, honey!!" back back before the millennial crunch cut a warpath through Bobby Gillespie's drug addled mind: then light up a spliff, mix up the peyote paste, let it all meld into one spirit journey into the beyond and enjoy the ride! It's the sounds of Deep Purple meets the (utterly fictional) sounds of Stillwater as Russel Hammond arms outstretched, speaks the acid addled truth on that rooftop. It's the spirit of Nick Oliveri, all shaved head, shitcrazy beard, naked and screaming. It's in all these swirling colours into one like a column of smoke, like a burning bush, like a wizard bong, singing that mad mad song into the Viking halls of Valhalla!
So really it was all rather befitting they'd choose this exact moment to make their appearance known. They're just the breath of fresh air we needed, smoking out the room to an intangible haze. Here walking the water and swimming the land, the second coming of the mad 70's blunt groove. Yup, if ever there was anything lacking from our apocalypse as envisioned in childhood, it's in the sights THEY bring to our feverish minds. Bikini girls on Harley's, swallowing swords and spitting out fire. Cattle skulls, eye sockets knotted with the interweaving movement of the rattlesnake, trodden on by a metal studded boot, doused in gasoline and set alight. Deep lines of cocaine, two nostrils wide, connecting the dots between Wolf & Cub and Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jimi Hendrix. It's in the way Jesse Bailey silhouettes in the light like the ecliptical passing between moon and sun. It's in Jimmy Long on guitar rooted in the ages like Treebeard from Lord Of The Rings mixed with Jim Martin the spectacled bearded freak from Faith No More. It's in their twizzle stick drummer Dan Briffa burning a hole in the floor. They do not belong to the nine to five nor to the orthodox order and especially not to the establishment. They've been tearing down those walls ever since Pink Floyd were busily building them up. Let it all float free, let it all hang out, get loose, get crazy, get naked and lose your fucking mind!
And so as Lach Leckie on bass does the spastic chicken dance all over the emptying floor of the Ed Castle we knew right there and then that we couldn't kill these freak geniuses. They were the decadent future as realised way back when. They were the missing link, the blueprint to us all. We raised our tankards, our burning torches, our cricket bats and our shotguns up on high and we saluted them all, each and every one for all that they had taught us. We drank deep from the mad brews that they provided for us and then we collapsed hysterical onto the floor. Eyes drooping, limbs heavy, minds blurring into one, then unconsciousness. Shit! It wasn't quite meant to end this way! Wait.. you mean to tell me they drugged us!? Damn you Roger That, your Gold Coast grooves and your easy access to home grown hallucinogenics!! DAAAAMN YOOOU!! You think we would've seen this one coming and yet we were fooled by the oldest trick in the book! GUH!!
1:31AM - Hours, maybe minutes (maybe mere moments later) I came to, only to realise Roger That had since emptied out the entire venue; they had taken it all. Every last drink, drop and bottle not nailed down, locked down or otherwise hidden in a plaster cast Virgin Mary statue or piddling infant was theirs as the spoils of victory. I stumbled outside, still unable to accurately discern shapes and colours to assess the damage, only to discover they'd stolen all the people too. Just think with all of them, all it would take is one lava lamp, a fantasy mural combi-van and some fuzzy dice and who knows what they could achieve in repopulating their numbers twenty to one over what little skeleton crew we had remaining to hold down this one. I gotta say as much as I'd vow vengeance upon their tribe, I gotta admire them for their tactics.. hmmmm.
2:09AM - Stumbling back inside, still overwhelmed by the littany let loose upon us, I discover that one of them had since returned: Jimmy Long, who in the infinite passage of time from one hour to the next had since spawned an ever faithful disciple. This munchkin hybrid between elf and halfling clad in tartan (perhaps from the hillsides of Adelaide where the ground was still fertile) braiding his hair, worshipping this bearded goon as some kind of freak monkey god? whooaaa!
2:12AM - I was both captivated and alarmed by this display in human interaction at its most simple (and some would say simian level). Indeed I was having my very own Dian Fossey moment: in the midst of Gorilla and gimp, many generations removed (some less so than others). I checked my beer for trace amounts of powdery white residue (thank you secret stash cleverly hidden behind the candy machines!). I looked back up, I didn't quite believe my eyes and then, ever so surely, making my way slowly I fled as fast as I could towards the exit. The Ed Castle was theirs now. It was their territory to do as they please. Gold Coast: 1, Adelaide: 0.
2:47AM - And so I wandered dazed and confused in this new urban wasteland, past car wreckage, gutted building and plane crash spilling its littered contents all over the pavement. I watched as the rodents, alley cats and rabid dogs, a pecking order now claiming back their rightful heir to the "throne" fought over the scraps that remained. My finger every ready at the trigger watching it all play out before (and somewhat half wishing I'd packed more lethal heat than this super soaker tonight). What folly had we become! What ruination was all this! How the mighty had fallen!? I stood momentarily and I took it all in. I found a brick riddled with graffiti as my keep sake of this bygone age. I weighed it up in both hands. I cast my eye to the Enigma Bar, I hurled it smashing through those windows and stole their television set. Suckers! Dragging my prize out into the street, I took it down those stairs to Supermild, pausing momentarily to step gingerly over the corpses (some still frozen in terror clawing madly at the air) and I jumped over the bar. I poured one fucking large drink and I drank all that history. Like a well of souls, I will live amongst them, these maddening spirits, and I would carry them with me forever more (or *cough* y'know whatever the base equivalent is in a shot glass with a wedge of lemon and some salt?).
5:00AM - And that's how it all ended. It was never quite like I imagined. I always thought there'd be more explosions, insane camera angles and quick edits, maybe a giant dinosaur in flames crashing through the middle of the frame on its rampage down Rundle Street. I could've directed it all, a mad symphony in lights, a tsunami tidal wave down Waymouth Street. But we all have our budgets, we have our limited means. Sometimes you just have to make do without the fanfare, the freaks and the fireballs. You need to wipe that slate clean. And if ever any of you survived this cold cold night in November, where everything came to an end, you may see me out there still, stealing one brick at a time to build my own imperial palace: waiting for that one fateful day when all the people of Adelaide would return anew, when surely I'd rule them all! (or maybe I've just gone completely insane, we'll wake up, and it'll be nothing but a dream.. weeeeeee!).
I mean I'm pretty sure that after all the anarchy and the destruction, after we've burnt it all right to the ground, after all we've taken, what's rightly ours, it'll all grow back? riiiight!? *cough* yup, when the apocalypse happens almost every week, you get used to a certain healthy sense of insanity and depravity, and as long as nobody ever finds out about all those "bodies" we keep burying, butchering, or floating downstream along the way, I think we'll all be fine in the long run! :)