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...
TAME IMPALA + LIKE LEAVES + BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR LIVE @ JIVE / Sunday February 22nd 2009
Everyone needs an escape from reality. Reality is suffering, reality is death, reality is every overwhelming odd stacked up against us, like a great big fucking avalanche of rocks, and all we've got is one teeny tiny cocktail umbrella to protect ourselves? Fuck reality! As the first species on this planet to discover it we sure as hell know how to avoid it. We're an exercise in abstraction, we're artists, we're architects, we're a belief system written in mud, civilisation is our culmination, it's an awesome way to live; or so it would seem in theory, try living in one! Everyone needs an escape from reality, especially all the absurdist ones that we create in which to torment ourselves; and this one's mine. This music scene so far removed from reality and all its earthly absolutes that it is, in itself, its own set of well defined clichés. This is where I can escape: disembodied, floating, observing, documenting and celebrating the human condition in all its hilarious dysfunction, it's an awesome way to live; or so it would seem.. fuck! I swear I can hear Thom Yorke singing in that mocking tone: "denial.. denial.. deniiiiaal!!" and I believe we're missing something here: am I a workaholic? a social alcoholic? a chronic aversion to vitamin intake? a private life bordering on an astral projection? or willfully subject to a 21st century surveillance society dissecting my every word? I sense a disconnect in this equation and it still needs balancing. Everyone needs an escape from.. well, I'd hardly call it a "reality" anymore but that's where we are at regardless: pick a night, any night, this Saturday night, and get the fuck away from it all? shit yeaaah.. reboot the Matrix!
For all of you wondering what my "private life" is like, well.. there isn't one. When I'm not entertaining all you idiots in this blog I'm glued to a computer screen "working". I disappear for days at a time, I cease to exist.. it's awesome! (you should see all the wild and wacky conspiracies people come up with to fill in the blanks though.. woooo!). Still if I DID have one, it may look a little like this: or pretty much like any other fucked up misadventure I choose to write about. Most of it involves beer, some of it involves a curious shade of "green", the rest who knows!? either way I seriously gotta get out've the house more often (and yes, I'm aware of the irony!)
Which reduces the sum total of THIS Saturday night to the following wildly entertaining tidbits: I went to The Ed Castle, two of my friends threw birthday parties, and then seven hours later I woke up dead in a ditch somewhere, laughing my arse off, with a good portion of my brain gone missing.. FUCK YEAAAH! And until all the facebook paparazzi catches up to me and presents all kinds of incriminating evidence to the contrary *cough* that's all that happened.. I swear!
(which of course you obviously believe because you've NEVER read this blog before!)
Of course there's more to it than that, there were also some live bands involved. Bands that play surprisingly often, more often than you think, even when I'm not around to take photos and document them all (yes it's true, the Adelaide scene can actually exist outside of this blog!) and I would of course name names; but that would defeat the whole purpose. Just like it would be entirely pointless to explain anything of what you see in this photo that I took afterwards. What happened next? absolutely nothing! why? because I wasn't there.. and this never happened!
And yup, that's my Saturday night! Is this some kind of sly social commentary? Am I presenting all of the above as nothing more than an affront to a escalating surveillance society of facebook stalking, where every aspect of our personal lives can be public domain, and our every action can be scrutinised at large, is the most awesome thing ever and NOT a massive invasion of privacy? no.. why do you ask!? You're just happy to eat that big bowl of fruitloops, sit on that couch, watch your Spongebob Squarepants and laugh your arse off all day aren't you? fuuuck maaan I envy you I really do! (for the sake of argument.. let's call you "Corey"). It's whacked out chimps like you that inspire us all! reality? *pfft* what reality? there's nothing but goldfish here! They look surprisingly like people at Supermild at the end of the night.. but nope.. they're goldfish!
"Hehehehe goldfish.. good times!". Which in a roundabout kind of way brings us to our antidote tonight: Sunday night where such laughably antiquated concepts such as reality, sanity, science, the truth, the spacetime continuum, the force of gravity, nine to five employment and the ability to focus on simple shapes and colours without laughing hysterically, dozing off, or developing an insatiable appetite for microwaved snack goods quite simply don't exist. Oh no! where WE'RE going we don't need no roads, we'll fly right above them like madcapped children and up into outer space, you'll see! and then we'll explode and die because apparently that's what happens when you pull shit like that in the vacuum of space.. but still *sigh* what a life it would be!
So here we are at Jive, the Soup Nazi of the Adelaide scene! And if there's one thing we can always count on with Jive, is that they always know how to pull a capacity crowd! If a band doesn't pull a capacity crowd first time round then that band quite simply doesn't get booked again. Fuck yeah! Which by an accumilative action not to dissimilar to natural selection (but more akin to the first Highlander movie) eventually means there'll only be ONE band left that they'll EVER book and then nothing but an endless string of Saturday night sequels alternating between Gosh! and Glitter! and a mad cacophany of flashing exit sirens as far as the eye can see! It's a beautiful thing (lowest common denominator? what lowest common denominator!? *pffft* I'm there almost every weekend!) but it may have contributed to the simple fact that I haven't been here for a gig since October last year. But tonight that's all about to change! Tame Impala and yet another capacity crowd? Sheeeiiit duuude.. we're witness to nothing less than the dawning of a new age!
BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR (****1/2) myspace :: Yup, there's something about our opening act that we sorely need in a world as utterly batshit dysfunctional as this one; something you can't quite put your finger on when you first hear them. It's subtle, it takes a while to get your head around it, what with all the guitar pedals feeding into each other, like a peasoup fog around you, but once you go slightly cross-eyed and everything "comes into focus"? you never want to leave! They don't need a six piece horn section, they don't need bongos, sirens, confetti cannons, bubble makers, smoke or mirrors; they don't even need to shout it (they barely have lyrics as it is!) they simply shuffle about the stage silently, savants lost in their instruments, one song leading into the next and without words we understand everything! They truly are one of Adelaide's best up and coming bands for all the most unassuming of reasons. I mean take a look at their myspace: there's almost nothing there, they truly are ALL about the music! And when it sounds anywhere near as good as this? it's hard to beat! Billy Bishop Goes To War. They're post rock predominantly: existing somewhere between Mogwai and Pavement with flourishes of Broken Social Scene, Gerling (and even Radiohead's "OK Computer" in tonight's set) but there's more to it than that; you're half surprised no one else has heard of them. And yet more and more they're finding themselves in a strange new public domain, in front of a crowd that's not their own. Last week supporting the Damo Suzuki Network and this week supporting Tame Impala? could it be they're vying for Lady Strangelove's position!? They dabble fleetingly with the idea, their first song (with two drummers no less) sounds like Jim Morrison's back catalogue as covered by Wolf & Cub; but they're no chemical driven fury, they're a gateway drug, they ease you in like general anaesthetic. They could harvest all of your organs, play them like a bagpipe orchestra and you'd still be beaming with smiles, you'll float away happily as they join the dappled dots, as your whole world washes away and there's nothing left but a feedback hum then the light click of an off switch; but really who needs reality when you've got all that?
9:41PM - So here I am, a good ten to fifteen after Billy Bishop Goes To War, glassy eyed and grinning, head bobbing slowly like a cow chewing up scenery; stupidly and endlessly entertained by the mad shapes pulled in front of me. Aaaah mad shapes! Rock photography is all about the mad shapes. Suuure it's also about endlessly slagging off on all the shitty stage lighting I invariably encounter at every gig (duuude.. don't get me started with Rhino Room!), collecting as many shitcrazy facials as I can get in one night and wanting to kill every fucknard arseclown who's elbowing me in the back or landing on my head (guh!) but mostly it's all about all the mad shapes. Take Patrick Saraceno from Like Leaves here for example, tuning up that bass guitar, mad shapes duuuude! Light up a spliff and this shit's better than a TV tuned to static!
LIKE LEAVES (****1/2) myspace :: Speaking of such: you sure as shit don't need to be on mind altering drugs to truly appreciate our second support act, but it sure as shit helps! Thankfully, quite like our opening act before us, this is a band that brings plenty their home grown. This is not to say that I'm in any way accusing this band for dabbling in the "dark arts": you're obviously getting them mixed up with Mikey from Bronze Chariot, Mathias From The Dead Sea, the artist formerly known as "Smoking Man Dave" and a whole host of other illbient brain wreckage found floating facedown in the Ed Castle beergardens or around the DJ decks in a cloud of smoke on any given Friday. I understand the psychedelic scene in Adelaide can be an incestuous and often confusing one, but unlike many others you'll meet this band is purely about the mind altering "sounds" and nothing at all to do with endless debates on where The Music (or Wolf & Cub) went wrong on their second record. It begins with a hypnotic bass grind, swinging back and forth like a My Disco song left to grow fur in a refrigerator; that'll be their opening number "Dancing On Glass" (see video) and it only gets better from there. Into that witches brew a tornado of guitars and an indian battlecry bursts forth then twists and churns into the Helmet fury of "Fruit", there's an extended prologue to ease it up a little, the math rocking musings of "Complex Denial", that awesome widescreen medly with both Daniel Varricchio and Juliet Hunter on vocals (fucked if I know what it's called but if My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Rós and Nine Inch Nail's "The Fragile" got together it wouldn't sound half as good as this?), and finally their conflicting closer "Swordfight". It's at this point that I realise I've just described an acid trip (short of a stampede of pink and purple elephants and the face Richard Nixon exploding into a cloud of bats) but it's there all the same. Like Leaves are a mixed salad, a chinese green tea, a rotating pig on a spit, pretty much everything you want them to be; they unlock the imagination and speak to the muse like a kaliedoscopic call to arms. They exist in a world of pure energy, pure freeform creativity, they're the many fallen leaves of humanity returning to live in trees again. It's paradise in here, we should never have left.. duuude we'll be here all night!
10:31PM - Still no gig review would be complete tonight without addressing the "elephant in the room". We're all about the elephant in the room with this blog, and tonight it's the crowd rapidly packing to sardine density around me. I don't know what it says about Tame Impala but two observations immediately spring to mind: firstly they're majority female outnumbering us two to one here, secondly a lot of them (especially up at the from) are totally batshit insane. One in particular, I couldn't forget her even if I tried: doe eyed deer, clad in black, ridiculously diminuitive in stature like all it would take is a single sneeze and she'd scatter like a game of "fifty two pickup". She made her presence felt midway through Like Leaves (during "Complex Denial") when she looked over at me standing next to her, then to the hairs on my forearm, then yanked a whole fistful of them, looked at them with a mix between genuine curiousity and abject horror.. then dismissed them into the breeze. She was, to put it mildly.. a little odd (and by all accounts deeply offended that three hundred people had decided to turn up to what she believed was her own "private party" tonight). And before you even ask? I swear I did NOTHING to provoke her! Then again, it's not the first time shit like this has happened: during Wolf & Cub's gig at the Ed last year, a girl stuck chewing gum in my hair. Hmmm yup.. next thing you'll know it they'll have red dots trained on me from afar! You truly DO write blogs like these at your own peril!
TAME IMPALA (****1/2) myspace :: But all that was soon forgotten the minute our headliners hit the stage: Tame Impala, rising stars of the Modular stable, thrashed five to fifteen times a day on Triple J, audience to yet another Pavlovian response of clueless hipsters who don't know any better than to salivate madly to every flavour of the month that comes their way. You can't blame Tame Impala for this. They're no seasoned professionals, they're no career musicians, they've yet to become so sick and cynical yet so waringly complicit to a system that chews bands up and spits them out with nary a blink that they'll do anything to stay "in the game"; they still don't know what hit them! Like all chance discoveries, they're blissfully naive, they're cartoon characters; almost laughably so. You've seen it in the wide-eyed terror of Ladyhawke, you've seen it in the shitcrazy antics of The Vines, you saw it in Silverchair back in the mid 90's and need we mention Nirvana? ooooh FUCK NO! (although let's face it.. if you were married to Courtney Love you'd wanna "redecorate" the tool shed too). They're like child actors. Throw them up in a spotlight, wait for them to develop an eating disorder and next thing you know it they're winning posthumous Oscars? staggeringly blindly down Sunset Boulevard with Edward Furlong? or worse still: shaving their heads and calling themselves "Billy Corgan" (don't lie.. we all know the real one died in the mid 90's)? Hey I know, let's introduce Tame Impala to heroin! YEAAAS!! *cough* I mean seriously.. you gotta wonder. From all appearances, they're barely out of their teens. Their newest fourth member (and second guitarist) barely looks like he's ENTERED his teens! I can't bear to look! There's gonna be a faked doctor's prescription and a candlelight vigil ANY day now, I just know it! Still, before we leap to too many conclusions and start cracking jokes about "The Hansons" (I mean.. c'mon!) they've already beat me to the punchline: it's right there on their myspace, in the headline: "mmmbop". Tame Impala, they actually have a sense of humour, they're having a laugh on us, there's hope for them yet!
And in tonight's set it shows. This is a much more relaxed Tame Impala. We gave them hell in their first tour when they hit Rocket Bar. Thanks to Lady Strangelove and Like Leaves upping the ante it was a pissing contest to end all pissing contests; it was open warfare, stifling claustrophobia, and hundreds of poker faces waiting for them to crack under the pressure. Here it's nothing but the buzz; and a mad buzz aplenty! Tame Impala is the most unashamably clueless, blissful, barefoot hippy groove you could possibly ever assemble on a live stage outside of Devendra Banhart rolling a giant spliff and lighting his acoustic guitar by mistake. It's an underwater space jam, you can picture them surfing those rolling waves of feedback and fuzz, like a slow curl of cloud rising over the mountain tops and swinging arm over arm through the trees. They're that same simple summer buzz you feel when tripping balls to The Chemical Brother's "Exit Planet Dust", The Avalanches "Since I Left You", or even Eskimo Joe's "Girl" (yes they actually released a good album once!). It's a cross between Sonic Youth's latter work, Pink Floyd's earliest work and Jimi Hendrix at his prime. Songs will start off signature like "Desire Be Desire Go" or "Half Full Glass Of Wine" and then simply devolve into extended noodling jams, everything drenched in the phaser, light on the flange and floating for miles. Even when Jive's sirens invariably protest midway through their set (no doubt because a bug farted too close to them), Tame Impala don't even miss a beat, they start looping their drums to it and it's if both Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are joining them on stage, heads bobbing and playing along if only for a moment. I'd love to be a cynical bastard, I really would, but Spoz has left the building, Spoz is long gone. There's nothing here but a swirling kaliedoscope of water colours and a buzzing refrigerator sound where my head once was. They take you to another place, a universe of pure light where the four laws of thermodynamics have no say. Encore after encore.. pass the doob around.. awesome!
12:05AM - We stumble out those exit doors, not by bipedal gait, but by something more akin to Brownian motion, a gas leak, a collective unconsciousness consisting of nothing but vowels, a flowering brainfart cross pollinating into the atmosphere beyond. In a one mile radius every convenience store shelf, refrigerator unit, heated microwave or rotating spit is picked clean, as many spongiform fingers work their magic. One long bread roll halved, one giant bag of Cheese Twisties, one rainbow slushie and a mix tape of Michel Gondry videos is all we need for our grand vision, our utopia populated only by Jim Henson muppets to be complete, and then I look at my wristwatch.. *shit* "is that the time!?" damn reality comes crashing in around our ears..
*fuck* "I've missed my bus!". I'm cursing over the $20 it'll now cost me for a taxi ride home. I'm cursing over all that money I spent getting drunk on Saturday night, Friday night, all those weekends this year, last year and well into the past. I'm charting them on a graph, on a pie chart, time's arrow, a littany of grim statistics, head up displays blinking error message after error message, a life wasted on foolish fickle pursuits. Where will I find the money? Damn these absurdist means we've created in which to torment ourselves! I can hear Thom Yorke singing: "the infrastructure will collapse.." in that mocking tone. Reality comes flooding back. "denial.. denial.. deniiiiaal!!" wait.. isn't this a song about the failure of marriage and monogamy and NOT the fall of civilisation!? so many intepretations, "Your ears should be burning.. deniiiiaal!". I start to laugh. Fuck reality! Reality is simply what we make it.. and for a moment here I am free.