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...
ANGELIK + BOOSTER + THE IRRESPONSIBLES "VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE" @ THE JETTY BAR / Saturday February 14th 2009
Aaaaaah can't you just but feel the love in the air tonight!? Nostrils flared, champing at the bit, for that ripening stench? those sickly sweet fumes? those musty scents? smouldering incense? rich perfumes, choking pheromones? wafting crotch and armpit stains? You can barely see inches in front of your face, arms outstretched and groping.. Love is blind! you're struck down with its sweet disease *ouch* those fucking malaria mosquitos! fat flying infants, scoring kills with their impaling projectiles! Now you're thinking in nothing but riddles: "I love you! I hate you! you love me? but alas it is gone! oh for our love to burn ever so brightly yet ever so fleetingly *sigh* such bittersweet melancholy!" *pfffft* or at least I would be if I ever bought into this mess! Valentine's Day. So named for Saint Valentine: Roman priest matyred during the reign of Emperor Cladius II in the 3rd Century AD. Caught marrying Christian couples, beaten with clubs, stoned, decapitated.. wow we sure DO know how to pick them don't we!? how freaking romantic!? Such is the fate we're all faced with if we don't buy into this great "token gesture". It comes but once a year! That one day of the year to "shine it on", to show them we truly didn't leave everything to the last minute. Give your fiesty little fuck puppet, your summer fling, your sperm bank booty call, your hopelessly unrequited, your nearest and dearest to a pair of binoculars (ever since that restraining order) a teeny tiny sign that you'll be sure to treat them with ambivalence for all the other 364 days of the year.. YES! Candy hearts with "I WUV U!", chocolates, roses, fancy dinners, a few too many glasses of red and a little consensual rape in the evening!? Wow, I really should stop listening to Nick Cave and Trent Reznor if THIS is the shit I'm coming up with! Valentine's Day? I know what you're thinking but I ain't bitter! I swear! I ain't here at all! I'm as fucking far away as I could possibly be short of a whiskey bottle, a shot glass, and me counting down the hours! Valentine's Day!? let's not even go there! let's escape those mad ringing of bells and a million Pavlovian responses salivating in turn.. let's get the fuck out've this cityside cesspool and flee to the suburbs!
Yup, if Valentine's Day ever dared step foot in here, it'd take one look at this place and soon after it'd follow my gag reflex barking at the porcelain for the rest of the night. If love is blind, then clearly the remedy is to get blind drunk here tonight. I know.. how predictable huh? If ever there was a character arc to this story; I traded in mine long ago for a procedural crime scene. Every show is the same. Every night we make a killing. There's a loud scuffle, the bodies drop, crowds swarm in to witness the commotion, flash bulbs, take notes, we're culture vultures, we pick the bones clean, nothing remains but claw marks on the walls and footprints on the ceiling. Rinse, repeat, it's a real ratings winner! We're in sweeps week now, it's cold blooded murder at a seaside resort! woweee!! what could possibly happen next? I'm imploding with anticipation!
Yup, this is Glenelg: it's the same spelt backwards as it is forwards. It's forever chasing its own tail. A sentiment that's not without a sense of irony. Nothing changes here, and if it does, it's on a geological time scale. One old gum tree bent with age, perpetually stoned (quite possibly pickled). Shuffling plate tectonics and crusty old regulars shifting back and forth between the bar drifting ever more senseless each year. Lend them an ear and you'll surely hear the ocean; salt is a preservative don't you know! Take a good look at this animated crowd, this police lineup, this identikit assembled here in Jetty Bar tonight partying like it's 1999, try and guess which one is Keyser Söze, which one is the REAL killer!? If you guessed ALL of them then you're smarter than most. They're all complicite in this maddening conspiracy. They're all limping about, stammering and laughing. Not a single braincell will be left standing around here when this night is done..
Still one may stop, pause and wonder; audience to such an underwhelming spectacle in brown, grey and denim; why the fuck would we ever choose THIS place? why Jetty Bar out of all the shit dives out in the sticks? fuck.. where ELSE would you want to be!? Weren't you getting sick to death of seeing The Ed Castle every other night in this blog for weeks on end!? I know I sure as fuck was (awww you know I still love ya!). Doubt me still? Just take a moment to breathe in all this character, we've got plenty to spare! The lustrous casino carpeting, swirling patterns to match the beer stains, walls in mauve and beige, plasma screens celebrating the very best that mack-daddy blaxploitation, golden oldie 70's and 80's, and bikini cameltoes gyrating to Top40 ringtones has to offer: "fuck is that Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas again!? awesome! I love this place!!". Spiked hair, collars up, chains, roaming packs of junkyard dogs spitting monosyllables. It's hiphop out here in the hood. No-neck baygans. Check out the new subwoofer system under my back seat! Bitches and hoes, all leg gazelles, don't linger too long, their pimps will come at me with knives, TAB betting as far as the eye can see, rows of skyTV screens.. nag racing! naaaag racing!!
*cough yeah ok, I confess I was bribed. When you're a no budget, fly by night operation here, what else would you expect!? "Unemployed actor" fits the profile nicely. I don't think any of us quite get paid what we think we're worth. We're all playing make believe, we're all living a "dream", none of us are really musicians, artists, performers, photographers, I sure as shit ain't a journalist; we're all avoiding our day job. The bad news is, everyone knows it in the city; that niche is already filled and they're passing it down from generation to generation. But out in the sticks? even better.. beyond that? out in the country where the slack jawed yokels, cannibals and mutants roam free? this is where they pay you the REAL danger money!! These are the "cash cows" you hear about in hushed whispers, hit and run, everyone's up for it, where else would you want to be!?
Granted there's no bottle cage here, there's no chicken wire fence, band members will go missing all the time, I've seen countless keyboardists and drummers vanish into the night (they burn the bodies out back don'tcha know?). You'll be lucky if they shutdown the casino in the "band room" when you play; those low bit ringing klaxons and sirens will send you eeringly to distraction, There's always a women's toilet behind the stage for some inexplicable reason, sometimes you're just grateful to find yourself on an actual raised platform with lights. This is how they did it in the "good old days", the wasted years; back in the late 90's. Ask around: Holdfast Hotel, Seven Stars, Royal Kent Town, The Tonsley, The Highway Inn, Exeter on Semaphore. Being here tonight is like an acid flashback: to when five people was a crowd, when every night was an adventure, electrical faults, random beatings, all that vomit? aaaah so many memories! such sweet nostalgia!!
ELVIS (*****) Speaking of acid flashbacks.. how else could we describe our opening act? Arguably he wasn't part of the schedule, he wasn't listed on any of the posters, in any of the gig guides, nobody really knows who he REALLY is; but he stole the night netherless.. OOOH FUCK YEAH!! this crazy old bastard made my freaking night! From out of nowhere (or quite possibly just down the road) he came like grease lightning, like a flash in a pan, or more accurately like an interrupted yellow stream trickling into a pan; fuck.. maybe there's a whole nursing staff looking for him; but he's here right now! a golden gift to gonzo journalism! They simply call him "Elvis". He's here every week. Collar up, toothless sneer, a grin and a swagger he ambles his way to the front of the stage chasing the marbles that led him here. He's got to be well into his eighties, possibly his nineties, in and out of nursing homes and asylums for the last thirty years (there's conflicting stories). He's completely deaf, arguably mute, and he shakes and shreds that acoustic guitar left handed like there's no tomorrow. Sure it didn't make a sound, you couldn't understand a fuck of what he was yammering about; but it didn't matter. This screw loose lothario had it ALL going on, a true showman in every sense of the word! he owned this crowd tonight! They cheered him on, he had them in the palm of his shrinkwrapped hands! YEAAS! He's Elvis. Maybe THE Elvis, if only in his head. If we look to those who stand before him on life's highway: Neil Young, Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, Ozzy Osbourne; he may very well be their ancestor, their white wizard, Gandalf himself! Granted there was once so many more just like him; the Crown & Anchor was surely teaming with them once: that white haired lunatic in the tuxedo top hat and tails who used to tango with the ladies at the Austral!? Rundle Mall's ever infamous singing trashcan collector? Now it's just Elvis: he stands alone out there, he stands proud, one of Adelaide's rarest rock & roll survivors!
THE IRRESPONSIBLES (***) myspace :: Let's not dick about here: THAT was an impossible act to follow, I don't envy anyone who would ever attempt it.. no shit dude, we're talking the second coming of Elvis Presley here! nobody can fuck with the Elvis! we might as well call it a night, burn this place to the ground and erect a golden statue to this momentus event! So it's to the infinite credit (and some may say brass balls) of our second support act that they faced this firing squad tonight like true matyrs to the cause. And even better, to all the professional marksman out there lining them up in their crosshairs itching to take them down? (*cough* who me.. never!?) our lead singer even brought her own novelty hatwear.. SCORE! Yup, this is The Irresponsibles. They're one of those rough and ready pub rockers you'd always expect to find thrashing out in the outer suburbs; at the local watering hole, footy club, shopping mall, retirement village, chook raffle and City Council family fun day. They're a grand tradition: part garage rock, amateur theatre and cover band. They're a jack-of-all-trades, band for hire! They're also an unintentional comedy act thanks to all the wide-eyed innocence in which they approach their songs. Everything is deliberate and exaggerated, you can't miss it with their lead singer: Miranda, she screams "talent quest" in every sense of word, she steals the show! I can easily imagine she's been a baton twirling since birth, she's got all the moves. With a voice like a mix between a husky drag queen, Cher (yes.. there IS a difference!) and Ella Hooper from Killing Heidi she belts out these numbers like it's nothing short of a Broadway production; whilst the band around her proceed to beat her childhood dreams to a bloody pulp with the gutterball riffs of a new metal act. The Irresponsibles. Everything about this band feels like it's caught in a comical timewarp, it's all late 80's to late 90's FM radio: Blondie, The Baby Animals, The Superjesus, Anastacia; you name it, they shred it. In a brief glimmer of keeping up with the times, I almost imagined a little Evanescence too. Yup, if ever Liv Tyler was reared by her rock & roll dad from Aerosmith, she'd be very much like this. And as much as I'm doing my very best to hold back tears of laughter here (I'm SO very sorry!) you still can't deny they put on one helluva show!
And then there's the finale, that moment that would've just about rendered me speechless if I wasn't laughing so hard. Yup, just when I thought The Irresponsibles couldn't take it any higher, they bring out the trump card, the rabbit out of Miranda's oversized clown hat, the most ridiculously awesome cover song EVER! It can say a lot about a band, perhaps more than they'd like to admit: their influences, their inspiration, their (dare we say it) secret shame? So when out of a world of insane possibilities they whip out Kylie Minogue's "Confide In Me"? duuude we hit the jackpot! Naturally they kill it, they freaking nail it, Miranda blasts it out like Amy Lee from Evanescence performing the National Anthem at an AFL Grand Final; but what no shit.. shoots beer out my nose? is when just as they hit the climax, out comes none other than crazy man Elvis: who joins in for a guitar solo. Duuude I swear I couldn't dream this shit up if I tried! encore!! encore!!
BOOSTER (****) myspace :: It's all beginning to feel like a pissing contest around here; and clearly in the most batshit insane ways possible. Who could have thought that a deaf, mute, octogenarian of dubious mental faculty and a badly strung acoustic would present such a fiercesome challenge!? but it's true! Elvis is pissing all over them tonight, and not because we may be questioning his bladder technique (although it's gotta help that the carpet colour around here is so dark as to cover up any unfortunate "accidents") but because Booster clearly have an impossible challenge ahead of them. Indeed, faced with such insurmountable odds, many other bands may've felt the need to exercise extraordinary measures at this point, pulled something sizeable out of their arse, performed a few magic tricks or at the very least make complete and utter dicks of themselves (The Irresponsibles for one have made it into an artform tonight.. and they're all the better for it!); but not Booster. Oh no, they've done this shit before: almost five years in this band, almost fourteen if you count every other band Sean Kemp has ever been in (or quite possibly half a century if you count their guitarist Craig Lewis). They don't even blink in the face of it. True to their laconic nature, they take it all in their stride, they're self-effacing to the point of self-depreciating; they're a no nonsense battering ram. Into every song Sean simply announces, and rather dryly at that: "here's our next song if you give a fuck, if not then.. whatever!" before the band proceeds to tear it all apart, limb by limb with thundering efficiency like a fat man let loose on a Christmas turkey. Every song is a quest for fire, rough hewn, furrowed of brow, neanderthal driven, lumbering, living under rocks and in caves, covered in dirt, clothed in animal furs and killing wild beasts with clubs and spears!
Tonight they're a brute force, it's Josh Biggs on bass gunning it like a crowbar wacked against the length of a chainlink fence, it's Queens Of The Stone Age, Eagles Of Death Metal and Led Zeppelin's "Physical Graffiti" all smashed up into three minute blasts of utter disregard. Catchy, no bullshit, it's gone before you even know it. You begin to wonder if they were even aware there was a challenge set at all, and then; quite like every gig they pull one out of their arse. Those of you who've seen Booster live would know full well of what I'm on about (and if not, just watch the video and you'll soon get the idea). It's a song called "Prozac". What was once a simple verse chorus, hit and run and a wacky interlude; has since mutated into an insane, obscene, overblown opus. For almost ten minutes Sean well and truly loses the plot, he's on the drums, then he's out the front, he's chanting: "Here we are starry eyed, waiting for the tidal wave" over and over in a hypnotic loop. Short of a gong and a shitload of facial hair they could be Pink Floyd live in Pompeii, short of witches dancing naked around a pentagram and a whole lotta acid they could be Jim Morrison lost in the Californian desert for days on end. It's the most ridiculous display of bullshit rock & roll excess you could ever hope to see; but it's nothing short of utterly brilliant all the same. Completely improvised, pulled straight out of their arse; for all the new songs, and the old songs and the other in between that simply whizz on by, this is the one you'll remember tonight..
ANGELIK (****1/2) myspace :: For all the moments of excess, rock & roll antics, stage theatrics, histrionics, pissing contests and spontaneous acts of stunt geriatrics on display and spraying every which way but into a bowl (shit damn what a night!) our headlining act has a particular knack for cutting through all that. Angelik. There's really no trick to what they do. They're punk, they're rock, they're fucking loud, they shred it all out; what's not to love? Angelik. There's no bullshit to them. They don't juggle, shoot pingpong balls across a room, blow bubbles, tie themselves up into crazy little knots or require any silly outfits. You don't need to endlessly debate the size, shape, whereabouts or the existence of Angelik, you don't need to give them a lot of attention, and at full throttle they can pretty much cut through anything in next to no time; thanks to rows upon rows of rotating razor sharp teeth. Yup, try not to think about THAT too much right about now and you should be just fine! They're "The Art of Zen And Alcoholic Excellence". They're all the benefits of a lifelong drinking habit with none of the side effects, AA meetings or anything that otherwise involves a stripper, a bottle of tequila and you crashing a helicopter into peak hour traffic. In fact, just to be on the safe side we started drinking the minute we got here (thanks to Booster bribing me with a good portion of their beer rider) we're very much drunk right now and I can safely say that they're all kinds of head explodingly awesome because of it! Oh yes, Angelik truly ARE the quintessential "pub rock" band!
Everything about Angelik is hardwired to enable them to drink you under the table with considerable ease. You'll note for one that all of them wear black. This isn't necessarily just so they can look all kinds of ridiculously badass (or make it ever increasingly difficult for me to photograph any of them in front of black background) but simply because of a little known fact that it's brilliant for covering up all manner of messy stains you'll be sure to accumilate in your travels: (a) cigarette burns, (b) spilt drinks, (c) "miscellaneous". You can also wear that same black shirt for weeks and months on end, and unless you're near a naked flame, upwind of someone, or around small children; nobody's really going to care. You also note that the music, dare we say it, isn't all that complex, intelligent, or fuck full of "book smarts". One look at Sam "The Bullet" Baroudi on guitar, a few steps stooping, knuckle dragging down that evolutionary scale is probably a damn good reason why; that and the fact that Laken, their lead singer, occassionally looks like a spastic bullfrog (and quite possibly possesses all of the higher brain function of one in full flight). Every song is pretty much the same, only at varying different speeds and intensities. They're just like Nirvana's "Bleach" fronted by Chrissie Amphlett from The Divinyls, The Distillers fronted by Gwen Stefani on a mad hit of cocaine (or maybe Adalita from The Magic Dirt, fucking a chainsaw). I think you can begin to understand why I chose THIS insanity over Valentine's Day. If everywhere else you go is so full of it; then this is nothing but the ultimate antidote!
12:53AM - Now that I've effectively reduced my cognitive function to that which would struggle to light a small blinking diode, coordinate the fine motor skills necessary to aim drink at face without poking an eye out or happily navigate myself head first down a "full flight of stairs" (only to realise this entire building has only one "level" to it), I finally feel at home and at peace with all the fine folk at Jetty Bar. Aaaah isn't it always the way? no matter where you come from: north, south, east or west, whether you're white, black, red, yellow, brown, fresh mint or three foot tall and covered in fine fur: given nearly enough alcohol, we're all the same you and I, one and the SAME!
1:16AM - Which was just the sort of utopian dream we could all believe in if only, moments later I didn't put my foot in it, somehow equated the make of someone's blinged out Holden Commodore (ie: with the low rider suspension, phat rims, UV under the chassis lighting, surface to air missile launchers, bobble head Eminem and the inbuilt aquarium) with just how utterly crap those autotune effects were on the new Kayne West album: which inadvertantly offended his 16 year old girlfriend "Krysstelle" who he's just gotten pregnant thanks to that album and the back seat of his car (or all manner of equally inaccurate and laughably offensive "baygan" stereotyping I could otherwise exploit) and now I find myself here: daze, confused and stuffed into a service corridor out back; at the OTHER end of a drunken exchange with Kamikaze's Dick Dale for once.. whoooaaa!!
1:40AM - Clearly the sooner we get ourselves back to "civilisation" the better! I'm also acutely aware of just how ironic making a statement like that IS in reference to a location like THIS (or for that matter in relation to anything "civilised" I was arguably planning to do when I got there).
1:46AM - For the first completely trivial detail of my late night drinking escapades I find myself here at the Ed Castle. A "detail" that I'm finding increasingly redundant in including in these blog episodes of late, thanks to the glaring lack of repeat offenders like Nick Hadley, Joe Blogs, Nick Bastiras, Bartenders Sophie or Bec, or that other trainwreckage who looks a lot like one of the Olsen twins. And yes, the continuing mere mention of this is made even more ridiculously redundant by the fact The Ed Castle closed (early) only fourteen minutes after I walked in..
2:13AM - So naturally I found myself standing here moments later, outside of Jive for a good minute or three, attempting to take one of these entirely unnecessary "establishing shot" (I've got what.. like a billion now!?) until THIS laughing lunkhead decides to stand in front of it. And to think it's for silly reasons just like these that most of you even read this blog in the first place!
3:07AM - You know what's more mind numbing than Jive on a Saturday night of "Gosh"? When it's Jive on Valentine's Day celebrating an extra special night of "Gosh", and everywhere you turn you're surrounded by lovestruck couples.. YEAAAS! Remind me to blow my brains out as I get home! Except to be fair I don't think it was actually "Gosh" but simply one of many other subtle variations of "Gosh" that DJ Craig has since invented in effort to monopolise Jive on every other Saturday night of the year that he hasn't already booked for a night of "Glitter". I'm also very much under the impression that he's some kind of quasi-malevolent vampire entity and he feeds on human souls and he must be destroyed. And in other entirely unrelated news? I've since decided to fuck off to Supermild instead (which is news I bet you were ALL dying to know!).
3:34AM - Clearly this photo was entirely necessary. Not to signify that I'm here, drinking a longneck bottle of Pale Ale, just like I am every OTHER weekend, but simply to reassure one of the many members of Adelaide band Lyla that they still exist. Weird I know, but if there's one thing I've learnt, its that they're a highly superstitious lot and they need constant photographic evidence from me in effort to keep them in corporeal form (the jury is still out on whether they're Gypsies, Mexicans, Pirates or.. fuck I dunno Welsh!? however). Far from it for me to question their insane beliefs (I mean really what do I know!?) I was more than happy to play along..
4:01AM - Whilst clearly this photo was entirely unnecessary because Sia Duff took it when she stole my camera (baaaastard!). Still, of particular note however (ie: to distinguish it from all the shots that I would usually take?): (a) Freya actually looks kinda cute.. and not "munted" (which clearly wouldn't happen if I took it), (b) it still does nothing to improve the "munted" qualities of the other unfortunate individual to the left. It's for this second reason that I chose to publish it.
4:41AM - Which then leads to this failed attempt after leaving Supermild to photograph myself wearing a stolen traffic cone on my head, for the simple fact that I thought it would be freaking hilarious at the time; and in now way indicative of just how much I've had to drink tonight..
4:42AM - Only to be interrupted in repeat attempts moments later by a random stranger passing by who helpfully offered to take the photo for me. As I knew this was clearly the "oldest trick in the book" I offered to take a photo of HIM instead; wearing a traffic cone on his own head. He was of course more than happy to oblige, at which point I beat him unconscious and then stole his wallet and shoes. Oh and for those of you who actually believe I'm NOT simply joking and that really did happen? Keep thinking that.. it'll distract you from all the other shit I'm actually guilty of doing out there tonight that I haven't otherwise owned upto. No shit.. you'll be surprised just how many people you can make "disappear" in this city before anyone starts to ring any alarm bells!
As for what any of this shit had to do with Valentine's Day I hear you ask!? Absolutely nothing! and you know what!? duuude it was everything I dreamed it could ever be and so much more! :)