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...
THE BARONS OF TANG + GOD GOD DAMNIT DAMNIT + COLONEL KERNEL LIVE @ THE JADE MONKEY / Saturday March 14th 2009
I know I've said it all before, but it's true. Progress is a myth. Evolution works both ways. The industrial revolution, now well into post production, has been proven to be nothing but smoke and mirrors; a trick of the eye. The tide is turning back the clock, it's rising up to our ankles now. No amount of director's commentary can save this sinking ship, the rats are drowning. Turns out the canary in the coalmine didn't much care for the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl may keep on swinging, but this bird's already swung well off its perch. The only inevitable truth we can count on now is entropy. It's a Great Depression seasonally adjusted with a lump sum figure, a spoonfull of sugar to chase the tumours away. I know I've said it all before but it bears repeating. Back then it was a distant roar, a sonic boom through a THX soundsystem and a rapturous applause when the curtains fell. "Wow that Roland Emmerich sure knows how to Disney the fuck out've the apocalypse!". It's a different story now when you find it pooping on your lawn, doing burnouts in the driveway, or setting up shop at your bedroom window, marshmallows at the ready, waiting for it all to burn. "Farenheit 451 and up it goes.. what a rush!". We lost the western front last night. It happened all too soon, I'm still feeling the aftershocks. Roaming gangs with clubs and spears (and broken guitars) are pillaging and looting as I speak, picking the bones clean, carrying away the spoils. Memorabilia and merchandise, be sure to pick up a Zeta EP! They'll need them where they're going, I wish them well, but I need to be somewhere else tonight. Far away from their gnashing teeth and their wailing, their shrieking and their funeral veils. Maybe here at the Jade Monkey? This monastic retreat nestled between the mole hills away from the mall. Here's where we can surely ride out this storm? Zac's got plenty of beer and bar snacks: what more could we want!? But they're coming! oh yes, they're coming! It'll be just like Helm's Deep, you'll see! All we need is Gandalf, a Dwarf and an Elf who can actually act and maybe we'll even live to see the dawn!
9:18PM - Still, Zac's no stranger to the seething stampedes, or the seige mentality. Those bars on the windows aren't just for show. He's fended off countless invasions from Diplomat, Double Handed, Skye Harbour, shitcrazy wall-of-noise Free Jazz Trios, even Radio Spectacular!!! and he keeps coming back for more. Yup, I'm more than certain that I picked the right place tonight: it's worked for Shaun Of The Dead, it's worked wonders for Zac too. Exits easily guarded, doors bolted, crossbows loaded, boiling oil and flame throwers at the ready, I can rest easy and watch the faerie lights twinkle without a care in the world! See that keyboard grazing like a gazelle? See those guitar cases snuggled in the undergrowth below? Sweet tranquility! But alas it is just but a trick of the eye. Those barbarians are coming, and they'll stop at nothing to burn it all to the ground!
COLONEL KERNEL (****1/2) myspace :: Still, I never thought I'd see it in the Jade Monkey. A place ripe with bohemian, bauhaus and boozy eloquence. "In Vino Veritas" all mixed up with beer and a few "incense sticks" out back? I've even seen weddings hosted here, it's a magical place of myth and wonder! But tonight those lights are winking out one by one; and most notably the signature "red". At first I thought it was nothing but a mischievous prank on part of their proprieter Zac: ever the trickster, making me play laser tag in the dark. But no.. this is something else altogether, this was a classic guerilla warfare tactic if ever I saw one. The first thing to go in a war is the communications network that surrounds you and he's got the upperhand here, he's got the fog of war in full effect (and it's just as well I know the lay of the land). Shooting in absolute pitch? *pffft* that's nothing I can't handle! When it comes to Colonel Kernel, the darkness suits them well! Lends a poetic air to the sounds they weave, a "calm before the storm" if you will; heightening one sense at the expense of the other. Yup, think of this band as a roaring 20's Speak-Easy meets a 60's Ratpack. A 50's Three Little Bops cartoon meets one from the 70's voiced by Billy Cosby. Or a late 80's Pink Floyd meets mid 90's acid jazz and downtempo. All the songs here mingle into one, like smoke, like following freshly brewed coffee down a Parisian dark alleyway. The shapes blur and swap hemispheres in your brain. It's synaesthesia. You could throw in just about anything here and it would stick to form the collage that you'd understand as Colonel Kernel in your head. I can hear Faith No More's bossa nova grooves from "King For A Day / Fool For A Lifetime", the ska abrupt collisions found in The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the frenzied hiphop riffs of Red Snapper's "Making Bones", the spastic jazz of Propellerhead's "Crash", "History Repeating" and "Spybreak", a teensy bit of Mark Ronson, The Doors and a good deal of Quentin Tarentino; effortlessly cool with a sly sense of humour. It's utterly unlike anything else we'll be hearing tonight (and the crowds filling this venue to the brim in various states of dystopian disarray sure as shit is hinting on it), but Colonel Kernel are a sightless sound no less welcoming. I need a mad whiff of this shit, like the smell of napalm in the morning: to give me strength for the challenges aheads; all the way up that river and without a paddle!
10:39PM - Yup, we saw them filing in one by one during Colonel Kernel's set, and we all knew who they came here for. They were an aggregate army assembled enmasse with the vague colour and consistency of gravel. I saw shoeless hippies, derelicts, squatters, buskers and aimless drifters. Tie dyed, cheese cloth, tooth decay, sporadic hair loss: matted with mange or lice (or quite by design) they decorated themselves. I saw heads shaved, tattoed, warts, horns, pierced, dredlocks like padawans or exploding into afros. I saw culture jamming commune dwellers, ferals, freaks and granola geeks reared by wolves. Prison guard lesbians, vegans, neo-pagans and techno savages they screamed "off-the-grid". Spitting on walls, smashing bottles and butting cigarettes into the floor they made their presence felt. Leave a bowl of fresh fruit out in the open, fix a timelapse camera and you'll see the colours bloom. Place civilisation under the exact same microscope and you would see this: society's endgame. Yup, if you ever wondered what we'd all be like this same time NEXT year? George Miller only got it half right with Mad Max 2: THIS is the terrifying reality..
GOD GOD DAMNIT DAMNIT (***1/2) myspace :: Yup, this is a live band like no other you'd ever experience in Adelaide. It more resembles the slums of Calcutta than anything I'd ever seen after four years of arts school. And yet THIS is the dedicated audience they attract in droves everywhere they go, they're a following: part suicide cult, part religion, part Night Of The Living Dead. They swarm in from all the cracks of the earth. They fill the room whole, till there's nowhere to go, nowhere to run, and then they tear the place apart inside and out and devour it whole like white ants. This wasn't the first time we've met in battle either. I got a taste of it back in December at the Fasterlouder Xmas Party: back then it was a bit of a laugh seeing them up on stage, a mad thrill, I got heiniously drunk, jumped on stage and fuckit.. I joined in! The second time for "The Last Show Of '08" however, it was an entirely different story. It was like they pressed a button in the ceiling, blades started spinning and then the shit hit the fan, and seeing them again tonight and it's not hard to see why! I apologise in advance for all this flash photography: there's just no other way around it, forget all that I've said about either Tony Font Show or even Robotosaurus, THIS is war. God God Damnit Damnit. In the loosest caricature they're quite like you'd imagine the human race as portrayed by an alien race: as an antagonistic swarm, a virus, or an all devouring planetwide plague. It's next to impossible to count just how many band members there are on stage: anywhere from eleven to fourteen depending on where you lost count. There's a three piece trombone section, a two piece saxophone section, countless guitarists, multiple drummers, it's fullblown bedlam, it's an undeniable stench! Visually it most resembles that Michel Gondry video to "Ride" by The Vines featuring all those musicians exploding in duplicate. Sonically it most resembles a thousand ipods, every one of channeling Mike Patton's personality disorders playing at once, System Of A Down's Serj Tankian in full flight complete with a horn section, an explosive bout of tourette's or Tony Font Show replicating on a mad tab of acid. It violently jerks from one insane extreme to the next, without warning, whiplash abrupt, stabbing horns, buzzing guitars, ear piercing screams, spit sprays, ska riffs, thrown beer bottles, and a crowd that'll throw you three metres into a speaker stack scattering schrapnel, or teleport you halfway through a wall. I don't think I've ever been more terrified, wishing I was anywhere but here.. and yet loving every minute of it! I couldn't escape it, I couldn't fight it. Within moments Zac had thrown up that white flag, posted that "sold out" notice on the door and hoped like hell the quarantine would hold. I'd hardly call any of it music but I still won't forget it in a hurry. How the hell my camera lens didn't get ground into dust in this shit is beyond me!?
12:05AM - Surely that was the best and worst of it tonight. Surely such a crass display of compound skull fracturing, lung puncturing, punching, stabbing, eyeball gouging and full frontal lobotomising was more than enough. There was at least a hundred in here, maybe more. You couldn't sneeze, breathe or blink without causing the imminent deaths of at least five people around you. The entire room was a mosh, even all the way to the back of the room and upto the bar. At this point you might as well unzip and piss on the floor, you weren't going anywhere (and I'm pretty sure that many did just that). This was hell on earth. The Louisiana Superdome: days after Hurricane Katrina. I was hallucinating something fierce. I swear former Guantánamo Bay detainee David Hicks and an umpa lumpa were both in attendance: he was three foot tall, had a forest green smurf hat and wore a bushy black lincoln beard and as for the umpa lumpa!? Woweee.. headspins! Bearded ladies, fire breathers, stilt walkers and contortionists!? there was a definite carnie folk element developing here. Maybe it's just the asphyxiation talking. The air's sucked out of this room quicker than it's being replaced. The good news: death will come swiftly. The bad news: it also meant there'd be no "fuel" left to burn all the bodies. This is how Zombie Outbreaks begin: and stupid me I had to find myself in the epicentre of it!? oooh fuuuck!
THE BARONS OF TANG (****) myspace :: And then our headliners hit the stage and we knew it was all on for young and old. Any hopes for objectivity and journalistic integrity are long gone now (as lets face it I was pretty loose with both to begin with). We could unleash any manner of utterly crass 21st century cliches in effort to dismiss them; but I believe that "sinking sensation" that the Roman Empire must have felt over sixteen hundred years ago sums this band up quite nicely. We know them all by name: Huns, Vandals, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, Jutes, Saxons, Angles, Avars, Vikings, Orcs, Goblins, Gnomes, Leprecauns, Scientologists and Sock Puppets; their terror is absolute and their living weapon is The Barons Of Tang! For some entirely inexplicable reason they also hail from the exact same city that every other raping, pillaging and plundering miscreant (metaphorical or otherwise) derive their perverse pleasure from: Melbourne, just across the border. And yes I have completely unsubstantiated evidence to back me up: it's the exact same source that Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Grinderman, Baseball (I believe this video speaks for itself), Sailors Of Swine and Rocket Science all derive their volatile energy from. Part convict heritage, part history of organised crime, part shit awful weather and hilarious ethnic exaggeration. In Melbourne they truly spew up bands like no other, bands that'll make you cough up diesel from your lungs and spit blood from your ears: the colours, the noise, the urge to stab someone in the neck like nothing else? and if you think for a moment this is merely a spat of interstate rivalry? we're Adelaide, we're all serial killers, we make children disappear all the time: let's be friends! The Barons Of Tang. They call themselves "gypsy deathcore", which pretty much nails it. Think a Frankenstein's monster of traditional Irish, Jewish, Polish and Russian folk, polka and zydeco all mashed up together with a slamming drill seargent punk brutality. In amongst all the screaming and wolf howls however you also pick up some strangely familiar gene sequences: The Simpsons theme, Inspector Gadget, Pulp Fiction and for some utterly batshit insane reason a little bit of The Beatles as well. All realised in saxophone, tuba, flute, double bass, piano accordian, fiddle and trashcan percussion. I may be tripping balls though. It's hard to make out the details, the crowd makes short work of that. It's just like sticking your head in a rock tumbler, your phone starts ringing and then the whole roof collapses. Love it or hate it you can't help but move like a madman to it, if only to get the FUCK out've the way of the nearest and dearest looking to connect their fist with your face!
And yet all of a sudden it happened, an experience very much akin to ears "popping" to cabin pressure (or more accurately I was struck with a mad case of "Stockholm Sydrome") and it all became so clear! The crowds once so viralent in their random sequencing of punches, kicks, stabs, eye gouging, and pogo-ing through the walls suddenly became ever so vibrant, like predictive text to me. I had the "rosetta", I figured out the sequence, they spelt out words to me. Here! I have a string of them: "FUCK SHIT FISTING BALLS C*NT SPHINCTER DONKEY!". Yeah I know! I didn't make a helluva lot of sense to me either but it's a start! So, to hell with it: I took the flash off my camera, I took a deep hit of what little oxygen was left and delved right into the depths of it. Sure it was fucking hostile, brutal, extreme (and occassionally smelt like hickory and smoked ham) but I dare say it was fucking awesome! If ever you've played Grand Theft Auto and spent an hour gleefully exploding cop cars with a shotgun, taking down choppers with a rocket launcher or standing on a highrise building with a sniper rifle playing "ooops, where'd that head go!?" and STILL manage to be a fully functioning member of society? then you'll understand just where I'm coming from. It's a thin line I know but I was surfing it all the same to sweet sweet freedom!
1:03AM - And then a good half an hour or so later I walked out that door more or less unscathed! Don't ask me how the FUCK that happened, there's just some things that don't bear explaining: short of an incident involving an HB pencil, a place where that an HB pencil has no rights in being, "Luxembourg.. huh, what!? I don't know what you're talking about?", and a blowtorch. But we're out've there now and that's all that matters! Let's never speak of this EVER again! Just like it's anyone's guess how Zac managed to empty out that venue in record time using nothing but a fistful of paper "currency", a few dozen foamy ales and nothing but a thank you? Fuuuck he's just like Gandhi! Who knew that simply "paying the bands" at the end of the night would shortfuse this volatile shitstorm and spare us this magical monastery of music for another night running!? YEAAAS! No wonder the Jade Monkey is one of the maddest joints to smoke in all of Adelaide!
1:38AM - Speaking of such, as clearly there's a segue in here somewhere (and it likely hinges on whether people STILL smoke copious amounts of marijuana!?) we find ourselves at The Exeter. You may ask: "why the Exeter!?", and I might respond with "what's that over there!?" before beating you upside the head with the blunt end of a fire extinguisher (weird, there always seems to be one at arm's length whenever I make that punchline). Yup, the Exeter, quite like the Jade Monkey before, is a sanctuary. You won't find just any 'ol low brow neanderthals snuffling about here.. hell no! THIS is the "Worldsend of the East", the "Adelaide Uni Bar of the South" the "Flinders Tavern of the North", the underground railroad to the undergraduate intellectual elite! We must cling to these safe havens: the lights are going out all around us, IQ levels are dropping, we must keep those fires burning! (progress can STILL be made in solving at least some of the world's many imminent catastrophes!). Which is exactly what we did when we got here: we "kept those fire burning" until we accidently set the beer garden alight instead, only to realise we'd lost that fire extinguisher and now we're all fucked, because clearly there's no OTHER way to put out a fire, in a bar that's full of.. aaaah fuck! let's just get the hell out of here while we still can!
2:17AM - In our infinite wisdom it was decided we should turn our focus westward instead. Clearly we'd done more than enough damage on THIS side of town tonight and I'm told it always pays to "brown" both sides equally. Thus we journeyed through Rundle Street, Rundle Mall and then Hindley Street in search of our answers only to discover THIS instead. You may have heard or read of this on the news or in the papers: this is Adelaide's social experiment to solve Hindley Street's "escalating" crime problem. Close off a section east of Morphett Street? and then make it all into a mini pedestrian mall so all these drunks can roam freely and picks fights on the street in front of members of the public!? Brilliant! And as much as it solves absolutely next to nothing, it does neatly illustrate just how much society at large has lowered its expectations of "humanity" in the last few weeks. As you can clearly see: on one side of this street we have state-of-the-art facilities where one can squat, drop one's pants and take a crap in comfort and on the other side we have a fresh line of portaloos. Genius.. it's the ultimate recycling solution: it's Soylent Green!
2:18AM - Yup, you don't need to tell ME that we need to do everything in our utmost to reduce our "carbon footprint" and this truly is the smartest way we can go (or more accurately the "smartest" us chimps could ever dream up) but like all bright ideas, there's always going to be critics. Take Sascha here and his disapproving tone.. "UH OH! what on Earth will we do!?". Not to matter though, we can simply chuck him into the "food processors" (wait.. which ONE do we choose from though!? I'm all confused now!) and then tell everyone that he took an indefinite trip to "London". It worked like a charm for Patrick Bateman in American Psycho and it'll sure as shit work for us too. Oh well, so long Sascha.. I really hope you find all that you're looking for on "the other side of the world". *shit* is that sirens I hear!? damn I knew I should've pulled those teeth out first!! RUUUUUN!!
2:23AM - Aaaaah y'know what? I've truly lost count of the number of times I've used THIS place as my hideout from the law. Sure we may be here almost every other week, but did you know that: (a) it's lead lined and reinforced with six inch concrete and steel walls in the event of a nuclear attack? (b) it houses its own dedicated air filtration system to protect it from biological or chemical attack (or from Brett and Jock Jacob's "whimsical" odours)? (c) it's been more or less "zombie free" since that outbreak of November 2008? and (d) the bouncers never ask you any of those "silly questions" you get at any of the OTHER Hindley Street hotspot like: "what's that smell?", "why are you wearing that gasmask!?" or "heeeey.. where'd you get that snazzy ziplock bag and all those neato scalpels and surgical saws!?". Aaaah Supermild security! so naive, so blissfully naive!
3:17AM - I dunno about you but I sure am peckish! and nothing quite satiates a hunger like a badly burnt helping of barely digestible pig gristle, testicle, anus and an extra special ingredient we simply like to call "miscellaneous".. mmhmmm! that subtle blend of salmonella and botulinum? so foamy on my tongue! *cough* Yup, and as much as I'd love to detail at large everything that we did in Supermild for the next two hours: who we did it to, and whether it simply involved "propping Sascha upright" whilst we threw beer bottles at his head (oh relax.. like as IF Sascha will ever read this!?). But until that courtcase is resolved we'd best not divulge anything further. Or at least not until we can figure out which band member from Lyla has any legal training or whether we can just get Jock Jacobs to sleep with a supreme court judge instead. Wait.. why are you looking at me like that!? I know all about the "legal system" in South Australia.. I went to private school yo!
4:40AM - Hours later, it dawns on me that perhaps my actions tonight (or pretty much any other night for that matter) are no better than the "animals" I choose to make fun of. Maybe it's a sign of the times, or maybe it's a literal "sign" of the times: a yellow traffic sign, and it's pointing all over the place and I'm too drunk to decipher it right now. Left? right? in some kind of swirly clockwise / anti-clockwise direction? give or take the actions of the correalis effect.. fuck I dunno!? Maybe we're just too stupid to figure this all out? we are ONLY human afterall! Let's just sit this one on the bench, leave the fates to decide, and when the Earth's poles finally flips out (oh wait.. they didn't mention we're imminent for one of those too!?) we'll simply live in the tropics in what was once Antarctica and start it all over again. I suggest we farm lots of penguins! who's with me!?
I swear it's all getting a little too visceral, too immediate, too up in our faces: we can smell the death on its breath, breathing down our necks. Progress is a myth. Evolution works both ways. And right now it's falling down those stairs and it's knocking its head on every rung, all the way down to the bottom. It's going to get a whole lot worse before it's gets any better, at least that's what they keep telling us and yet I wonder: wasn't it fucked up to begin with? did it ever change? maybe we're just lying to ourselves about all this economic "growth"? and maybe we're nothing but the same defective DNA that got us all into this mess in the first place. Fuckit, we all started out with nothing, we still got most of it left.. before it all goes to shit again, let's make the most of it!