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...
SWORDS + THUNDERCLAW + BRONZE CHARIOT LIVE @ THE ED CASTLE / Friday February 6th 2009
Let's face it: a city ain't a city worthing living in if it doesn't have an identity, a personality or a story worth writing about. If that city falls to ruin and there's no one around to see it, did it ever stand for something other than a profit or loss? it should for the sake of us all. Words, sounds, pictures, lyrics, movement, canvas and culture, when we play that word association game: New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, Berlin or Beijing; we all make the same connections. Lives flashing before our eyes and projected onto movie screens. Lives worth living, collecting, coveting. Hollywood, Broadway, Bollywood, The BBC, NME, RollingStone, Spin, Triple J all the way down to the street level, broadcast wi-fi, bittorrent and out of every ipod: Drum Media, Inpress, Mess + Noise, the democratisation of rhyme and reason, a diversity of time and place and people dwelling within them, it's a beautiful thing to behold! Which is likely the all kinds of warm and fuzzy you'll be feeling right now until you realise that you live in THIS city, this soul sucking void, this cultural wasteland and all YOU have to show for it is ONE lousy arts festival, a few bottles of plonk and an overabundance of serial killers? YEAAS! Welcome back Adelaide! I bet you were starting to miss me weren't ya!? It's been a month, more than a month in fact, forty days and forty nights since last we met. I took a "holiday". I thought it was a good idea at the time and I could've sworn someone else would've taken my place by now but nobody ever did.. *shit*. I don't know what THAT says about this city but I'm frightened! If this blog and a few rolls of toiletpaper is all that stands between you, me and radio silence, we're pretty much fucked! Adelaide needs this shit more than ever, I don't know how the hell you survived without me!? This is Spoz's Rant. It's back for another year, it needs no introduction, we all know what we came here for, what we've been searching for lost and longingly.. duuude what the fuck are we waiting for!? there's a whole live music scene out there for the taking maaan.. and it's mine! all mine!! WOOHEHeHAHAhAhA!!
Which is easier said than done until we realise just what we're up against now. This ain't 2008 and the summer of love no more, this is 2009, this is war! This is the year that'll pull both hemispheres of our brain out of our skull through our bursting eye sockets, pop them like two freshly cracked eggs, splattering, sizzling, black and charred onto the tarmac while the rest of us rotates on a spit for days on end. It's fire, floods and famine, we're flat broke, it's biblical, it's everywhere, it's economic collapse, doom and gloom sixth extinctions, peak oil pole reversing, AI singularity viral pandemics and supervolcano asteroid impacts. It's the mother-of-all apocalyptic convergences moments before the earth spirals into the sun, there's some serious kentucky fried shit going down around here, we're on the verge of the null and void and we're still three years shy before the Mayan Calendar presses the reset button!? This ain't the time nor the place for a live music blog! This is the end of the days! Sheeiiit! The last thing we'd ever want to do now (especially on a 42C stinkfist like this) is to poke our heads into this pre-heated oven, watch the sweat beads climb the walls, while both our eardrums burst like popcorn kernels to a Friday night cacophany!
Fuck that.. you're better off parking your arse right here by the twin nipples in the beer garden where the still air flows freely, watch Strangelove Azz slip some discs, suck some sweet frosty brews and be a bobble head toy to the bongarse jams. Who gives a fuck when we've got all we need right here!? All the fermenting colours of the rainbow, beading a fine frost to glass, sucking them down icy cold one by one, thoughts to a trickle, EEG to a flatline sustain, glassy eyed grinning, coma on stilts, feed the fishes, talking codshit.. shiiit yeah baaaby THIS is the life!
And if ever you get tired of all that (pfffft.. I mean, really!?) you could spend hours upon hours staring into this koi pond instead. Awesome! It's just like a 3D magic eye puzzle: go slightly cross-eyed and you'd swear there were actual fish swimming around in there.. YEAAAAS! here's to living in denial! here's to sticking our heads in the sand going "la la la" till it all goes away!
*cough* and so it's against all my better judgement that I finally drag myself back into the fray tonight (jury is still out on the fish, although I swear I did see a cigarette butt float by once) and yet I couldn't have chosen a more poetic moment for it! Just as 2008 began with Thunderclaw at the Ed Castle, so it begins in 2009. Joined by Bronze Chariot and Mathematic we're here to pay homage to Swords who're playing their final set tonight (damnit!). Everything's come full circle: the end is the beginning, the beginning is the end, who knows where it'll go from here!?
MATHEMATIC (***) Our opening act is brand new to the Adelaide scene. So much so they don't even have a myspace, they're barely into their third set tonight and already (rather like everything else in the world now) they're bitching and complaining about everything that's gone wrong; or more accurately everything that's gone wrong in the teeny tiny world according to James. He's awesome, he's the best thing about this band, he's a midget, he's a whiny little bitch and he's pretty much allergic to everything and anything (with the possible exception of sunlight). You may remember him as the guitarist from that fist fucking ode to ranga rage that was My Sister The Cop back in 2006. Now he plays drums and complains a lot: "my mouth is too dry", "this fan is giving me cramps", "my right arm is freezing up" whilst all his friends in the crowd proceed to hang shit on his every word and laugh it up in spades (although considering just how fuckoff hot it is in here tonight he has reasons to complain). Joined by two further female members of the chronically shy on guitar and vocals; their performance tonight (and the resulting shit-kicking from the crowd) most resembles what I Heart Hiroshima's "Tuff Teef" and The Rapture's "Echoes" would sound like reinterpretted as a highschool class presentation. And yet for all the squeaky vocals, twitchy guitars, hyper kinetic drumming, awkward pauses and nervous glances it somehow works brilliantly in every way that it shouldn't. They're Mathematic. They're Monkey Magic singing the soundtrack to Mario Kart. They're karaoke meets kung fu. They're Pinocchio thrown in a wood chipper. They're Stephen Hawking "breakdancing" down a flight of stairs on a Japanese gameshow and everything that is punk rock about meticulously defining pi to thirty decimals whilst your classmates shower you with spitballs, wedgie you up to your armpits and flush your head down the toilet. Yup, if you've ever worn socks with sandles, coke bottle thick reading glasses, owned a Nintendo DS, written Star Trek "Fan Fiction" or ever rode a pink bicycle with a basket on it then THIS is the band for you!
BRONZE CHARIOT (****) myspace :: On any other night our second act would be fronted by Ben. Ben's sole purpose in the band appears to be little more than to stammer blindly about the stage like a hangover suffering an inner ear infection whilst projectile vomiting a sound very much akin to someone passing a kidney stone crossed with a particularly gruesome "poo baby" and a Neanderthal celebrating a fresh Mammoth kill. It's a visceral thing, it involves a lot of sweating, grunting and heaving but to his infinite credit he makes it his own. Some would call him a "lead vocalist", otherwise would simply douse him with a fire extinguisher and run. And when you're fronting a band quite like Bronze Chariot, you'd truly want nothing less. This is what you get in a live band when you combine Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, 60's Pink Floyd, a few too many bucket bongs and a LOT of distortion. Fronted by Ben on any normal night they'd go beyond mere token terms like "stoner rock" or "stoner metal" and approach the kind of territory best reserved for people reared by wolves, jumbo jets taking off and any of a full range of wildly colourful expletives as employed by drill sergeants that don't involve vowels. So it's altogether fascinating to see what happens when you take the Ben OUT of the equation tonight. Sure, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a drastic improvement to Bronze Chariot (I wouldn't dare be THAT transparent) but there's a refreshing clarity here; or as much clarity as you could EVER use to describe this band. Bronze Chariot. They're a thundering torniquet, a leviathan of unholy chug, an extended jam sequence of black noise twisting like a python sucking the air out of the room non-stop for an hour; or very much akin to your entire digestive to intestinal tubing, arse to throat, jerking about wildly like an out of control fire hose. Tonight they're coming at us loud and clear, we're all tuning fork tinitis to their fury, it's the mad spectacle of Mikey and Garrett prowling about sneering like junkyard dogs, it's Scott fresh out of prison wringing those necks and wearing those skins; and when that Stockholm syndrome finally hits you like a frying pan in the third quarter? duuuude you'll dig this shit something fierce!
THUNDERCLAW (***1/2) myspace :: According to legend Eskimos have over a thousand colourfully descriptive terms for "snow". Of course anyone with an internet connection can soon prove that to be utter bullshit; but at least (thanks to the infinite potential of their polysynthetic dialect) they can be quite poetic with it. Take the phrase "kaniktshaq moritlkatsio atsuniartoq" for example. Roughly translated it says "observe this snow, it fornicates". Awesome! Still with that being said, you can't deny our third act must have at least a thousand different chords in which to articulate "hearing loss". Thanks to their awesome set tonight (and Bronze Chariot before them) a snowstorm of an altogether different kind is currently brewing inside of my skull now bereft of tweeters in which to articulate itself. Yup, that's Thunderclaw! True to the name they're quite possibly the loudest fucking band of the night, a bold claim I know, but I have the bleeding sinuses and microwaved synapses to prove it (plus I'm pretty sure my jaw didn't make this "clicking" noise before). Thunderclaw. They're an instrumental doom metal act blacker than black fisting you with sounds screaming deep into the red, but they're also winning legions of fans that love nothing more than to reinact that pivotal scene in Platoon when that soldier gets swiss cheesed to shit slow-motion style with arms outstretched in accompaniment to it (so y'know, each to their own!). Thunderclaw. They're an acquired taste, more tortuous than most; but rather like snorting wasabi "Jackass" style it sure packs a mean buzz. Imagine Primus, Pantera, Sepulchura, Anthrax, Smallpox and all the liquifying symptoms of the Ebola virus fed through about fifty distortion pedals. Imagine there's no end to it. Imagine there's nowhere to run. Picture false coloured red and yellow footage from the 50's and 60's of houses exploding into dust to US atomic weapons testing and you sitting on a toilet seat when that shit goes down. Awesome huh? what's not to love!? is that the phone ringing? sweeeeet!
SWORDS (****1/2) myspace :: Yeah I know what you're thinking: back in the Middle Ages maaan.. damn they had some truly badass live entertainment in which to draw the crowds in! Beats anything we've got going on now. You name it they had it all: hangings, drownings, decapitation, amputation, neutering, burning, beatings, whippings, crucifixion, disembowelment, pulled apart by horses, drawn and quartering; all available in the public square followed up by church on Sundays? fuck yeaaaah.. everyone could be a part of that shit maaan! As for why am I mentioning all this right now? *cough* no reason really.. we're nothing but love here at Spoz's Rant, there's nothing but a cool breeze wafting through the Ed Castle bandroom right now, climate change is a nothing but a myth and heeeeere's our headlining act! Still, all kidding aside, it's their final show this evening and it truly is sad to see them go, for they truly have provided so MUCH more to the Adelaide scene over the last eighteen months than we could've ever given back to them; especially in their infinite articulation and devotion to the colour brown, the sound of brown and the smell of brown that's sure to come smoking out've our ringing skull cavities after they're done with us tonight. For there's nothing quite like Swords; at least not in Adelaide, few other bands anywhere else even come close. I can name but two: New York has Battles, Melbourne has My Disco, FUCK.. why did we have to lose ours now when we need them the most!? Swords. The premise was simple: two bass players, one drummer. In practice it was ever so much more! Their bass guitars, as wielded by Mark and Jolan were no less than the most vicious instruments of subsonic doom ever conceived by man: Kramers. 70's devil prongs. Driven razor sharp in distortion, they cut like chainsaws through sheet metal, they cut through the bullshit, they tap into a kill or be killed primal instinct and they make it sound poetic, like raking pebbles, like trimming bonsais to the accompaniment of Steve's itchy trigger beats. Take Soundgarden, take Primus, take Helmet, reduce them to a dancing skeleton, a rhythm section, turn up the amps, make the walls sing and you have Swords. What's not to love about them? I can see it all now as if from afar: hunting with sticks and stones, meat, fire, beer, Swords. It was inevitable that their time would come and now they're gone; their work is done. It was a mind numbing, meat tenderising performance tonight. They were joined on stage with guest appearances by Nat from Diplomat (first video), Matt from Thunderclaw (second video) and a hundred strong throng shrieking for more. They brought us back to the stone age and we finally found that missing link that united us all. We are shaved apes. We are monkeys shot into space. The past, present and future are one and the same. Right here is our 2009 space odyssey!
2:17AM - And there we have it. We survived, we thrived, we crawled out alive, we left a littany of destruction behind: fire, flood, famine, drought, destitution, pestilence and war!? pffft isn't this just like every OTHER Friday night around here!? Aaaaah I tell ya, it's all a microcosm really, it all comes full circle; we'll all be back next week, mark my words we'll be back again! It might've been hell in here tonight, it might have been a blast furnace, a forge, a crucible, a cauldron, we may've cooked ourselves inside and out black and blue, but we made it. Stumbling, stupid, drunk and depraved out into the night; aaah don't you just love being a member of the human race!?
3:14AM - Yup if this blog has ever taught us anything over the years, it's that we're not exactly the brightest balloons in the bunch despite all our boastings to the contrary. The fact that the human species somehow finds itself as the top of this food chain and not somewhere in the middle is a fluke at best. I say celebrate the irony! Genius, insanity, depravity and stupidity? we all know there's nothing but semantics to tell them apart; to each is found it's own reward. For instance here I am stumbling out of the Ed Castle moments after closing because I seriously thought spending most of my night drinking myself retarded was the smartest thing I could possibly do to keep cool on a hot summer's night, despite the fact that (a) I spent most of the night in the hottest room in the house, (b) beer dehydrates, (c) the hangover will surely kill me. You'd think after all these years we would've learnt better by now; except that beer makes retarded shit like this nothing short of the most awesome shit ever. Which is why I am here. Which is why I'll always be here. It ain't smart, but when the entire world's gone shit to shovel, you can't fault the logic!
3:33AM - Which is why you'd always find me here at Supermild afterwards. Just like I've always done for the last six months or so except somehow Supermild has been relocated to the east-end ghetto now and some smartarse has since renamed it to the Crown & Anchor. Weird! You'd think I'd be trying to make a point here or something.. but dude, I'm as confused as you are!
3:41AM - Somewhere in this room, or quite possibly the room adjacent to it (ie: where all that wacky noise is coming from) is quite possibly the reason for this abrupt change in your regularly scheduled programming tonight. Either that or I'm just way too ridiculously drunk and you're thinking way too hard trying to decipher meaning to it all (really, I don't know why I write these captions sometimes!). Still if ever you DO find yourself stumbling dazed and confused down this end of town I'd actually highly recommend this shit. No really maaan.. the Crown & Anchor! it's actually a happening place again! Clearly we're in more trouble than we originally thought..
4:16AM - Speaking of such, it's moments later (again moments after closing) that I find myself faced with THIS. It's not exactly a sandwich board he's holding up, he isn't ringing any kind of bell, I'm pretty sure it ISN'T my birthday yet (and a few of you might realise just how creepy a coincidence this is if it WASN'T meant for me) but I'm freaking the fuck out all the same. I mean no shit dude, he was standing there on that street corner a good ten to fifteen minutes before I noticed him. Has this entire world lost it's chicken fried fucking mind.. or is it just me?
4:24AM - Not looking to find out any minute too soon (weird to think he was happy to pose for that photo though), I realised just what a horrible mistake I've just made venturing into the dead end of town. There was only ONE thing I could possibly do now: man the fuck up, face my fears, and run the fuck away shrieking like a little girl. Still for all my hysterical flailings, I did take manage to take in a little window shopping along the way: a pink ukelele, for only $29.95!? SCORE!!
4:37AM - And so we're right back here again at Supermild just like I've always been for the last six months running. Awesome! Why did I ever leave this place? But what's this.. it's closed already? it's been closed since 3AM? they were almost planning to close it at 1AM because almost nobody turned up.. to fucking Supermild.. the most awesomest place to be on a Friday night!? WOW! This couldn't possibly have anything to do with someone's genius plan to introduce a $5 cover charge after midnight in the last week or so now would it!? pfffft never! Does this mean I simply keep on drinking!? fuck no.. FUCK THAT! I'm going home! everywhere else is closed and even if it weren't!? duuude you wouldn't ever wanna be see dead there.. FUCK I LOVE THIS CITY!!
Adelaide: you're standing in it, your dragging it down the footpath, it's gonna need a stick to pry it loose, a good blast with a hose and perhaps a tetanus shot while we're at it; but that's why we love it around here. This is truly the life! Once a shithole, always a shithole. Recession proof, bomb proof, can't be killed by conventional weapons, insane as all fuck and always up for a party? Come by some time and wallow in it, go missing, get discovered by the cops months later identified only by your dental remains and become all kinds of famous! OOOOH YEAH! This is Spoz's Rant living the dream for another year running and I can't wait to see how much shit I can get myself into!