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 EXPLODERS + TREETOPS + ANTONY OF THE FUTURE "THE SPLIT SINGLE TOUR" @ JIVE / Thursday March 19th 2009
"There's a time and place for everything". I got told that as a kid once and it bugged the shit out of me: "Why the fuck should there be.. who even makes up these rules!?". I was probably cracking a joke at the time (and a bad one at that), making light of a situation, not knowing my place, six going on sixteen. "There's a time and place for everything"? Fuck, it bugs me even now! Sure I'm an adult, I understand, we're a society, there are limits or we'd be upto our armpits in junkfood wrappers and bleached skulls by now (wait.. was that meant to be ironic?). Take "Thou shalt not kill" for instance, I'll buy that one: one of these days any one of us chimps could discover the cure for cancer, global warming, the economy, "democracy", invent a flying car powered by obesity or genetically engineer a breed of hyper intelligent squirrels that can play the drums. People are awesome like that, we should value every one of them; even the stupid ones (we'll always need test pilots!). Or what about "thou shalt not steal": we all know THAT one's solid right? especially when it comes to the internet, intellectual property rights (or anything else "invented" by Hollywood or Rock & Roll in the last 20 years) and *oops* before you know it it's a house of cards and we ALL know what comes next.. fire up the chainsaws! "There's a time and place for everything". It's a biological imperative breeding a biblical plague. It's an aggregate of nonsense regulations and you getting arrested dressed as a penguin, in a public place, without a permit, on a Tuesday. It's living life in boxes, working in boxes, ticking off boxes only to get buried in one. LCDs and laser beams, focusing on nothing but the fine print, till we're nothing but a sequence of doe-eyed digits and then the entire banking system collapses? Tyler Durden got it right the first time: only he's ten years too early and I'm ten years too late. Time and place. I'm Jack's venting spleen living on borrowed time, I don't belong anywhere, I wish I was living in all points of the universe at once and it's just too bad everyone else has tried it and failed before me: let us not forget the 60's..
I'd love to fuck with the system as much as the next person but we live in Adelaide and that ain't happening anytime too soon. We're a blue screen of death to willfull dysfunction. We're everything in its right place. We're an insane asylum to sensible living, no wonder we have so many serial killers! It all started with Colonel Light (and a city stuffed full of town squares) and it ends with me thinking that a Thursday night spent "out on the town" is nothing but a syntax error. Must be, I'm walking through those front doors tonight and there's barely a dozen lost souls in here.. *whoops!* I can already see Adelaide shutting down shop in favour of a reality show, a novelty ringtone and a rat race running smoke rings around the east end parklands. It's a baby proofing mentality bordering on the infantile. But we're working needles against that grain, we're scratching that record up till we break it and start all over again! When IS a good time and place? When does this scene become a populist movement worth signing onto: when it's a fad, a fashion (state sponsored fascism!?), or when we are free to come and go as we please? I like to think the latter.. they'll learn soon enough. Here at Jive where the curtains don't match the drapes, where everything is out of sync, out of time and place and we're all out of our minds on muppet fur, ceiling stars and sirens blaring over exit signs? It's shit this willfully misguided that makes the most sense to me now. Fuck, clearly I'm more insane now than I've ever been.. awesome, just how I like it!
LYLA (***1/2) myspace :: There's a time and place for everything and for this opening act that would place them squarely in the late 60's: back where The Beatles met The Rolling Stones, where "Sgt Peppers" met "Let It Bleed" and well before it all went south: before Yoko Ono married John Lennon (or when the Hells Angels met those crowds at Altamont Speedway and put an end to the Summer Of Love). Some say that's where this shit should've stayed long dead and buried (along with any memory of Ringo Starr); and yet without fail every five to ten years another band reanimates that corpse for a "Weekend At Bernie's" style reunion tour. And why the hell wouldn't they? it's a winning formula ever since BOTH those bands stole all their moves from the African American blues scene of the 40's and 50's.. YEAAAS!! Take Oasis for example, or Supergrass, or Jet, or The Vines, or what about.. um.. Panic At The Disco!? (I'm so sorry.. I really am!). Guess we better quit this shit while we're "ahead" before we dredge up anything else Paul McCartney's been guilty of in the last 10-20 years (when we all know he's been long dead since 1966) or dare I mention Ben Lee!? (again.. SO sorry!). Yup it's times like these, watching a band quite as brilliant as this one, that we wonder what IS the statute of limitations on dredging up painful memories? If time heals all wounds, how long must we wait till the hideous visage of Nic Cester fades the fuck away into nostalgic obscurity, or until the US military declassifies that strain of "paranoia free marijuana" that will surely cure all of Craig Nicholls' ills, or until somebody finally puts a bullet in Noel Gallagher's head? And how long must a band like Lyla wait in the wings without us judging them for all the sins of their forefathers? I know the comparisons are unmistakable, they're uncanny, they're carbon copies with rose coloured glasses on, caught blissfully unaware, naive to the knowledge that all their infectious hooks they're shredding tonight have been done a thousand times before. And yet I bet they're waiting for the day quite like we are tonight, witness to such a furious spectacle of rock: when we can finally judge them on their own merits, when they can come crawling out of that Supermild basement and claim that throne for themselves. It's an awesome set, it's a swirling mix of gypsy mullets, jamming guitars, honkytonk keys and gang vocals ripping it up to a roaring crowd of next to no one? Awesome indeed. Fuckit.. if there's a time and place for this band, just as long as Jet don't fuck it all up for everyone by releasing a 3rd album, maybe that time will be soon?
ANTONY OF THE FUTURE (***1/2) myspace :: If our opening act came direct from the 60's (or quite like a fresh frozen Austin Powers) then our second support act is equally as eponymous in its A-Z of archaic ancestry. It sticks out like a pack of "winnie blues" stuffed under a t-shirt sleeve. In their uncompromising shred tonight I can hear the china white fury of Iggy And The Stooges from the late 60's, the nicotine buzz of The Ramones from the late 70's, the bucket bong slacker slur of Pavement and Dinosaur Junior from the early 90's, the 9/11 NYC post apocalysm of The Strokes from the early 00's and even the cheesewhizz sounds of Antony Of The Future from the early 2007's. Yup that's right, they're THAT band: that wacky one hit wonder you've all forgotten about from waaay back in the good 'ol days, back when the economy was still flourishing, workers rights were floundering, myspace had cultural cache, post punk was still cool, everyone went to Rocket Bar (and weren't embarassed to admit it) and Justice, Daft Punk and The Midnight Juggernauts STILL had a good thing going (wow.. thank fuck that didn't last long!). Back then Antony Of The Future could do NO wrong, they reigned supreme. Thanks to fluking a winning spot on the Adelaide Big Day Out (courtesy of Triple J Unearthed), scoring all those accolades from both The Advertiser and Rip It Up (please.. no snickering) they were well and truly the "next best thing!" *cough* (what.. I didn't say anything!?) or at least they WERE until Joe Mount their drummer buggered off midway through the year to take a "permanent vacation" in Europe (or in other words.. somebody clearly pulled a "Patrick Bateman" and we're never gonna see him again). Yup, let this be a lesson to Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! (if ever Dave gets any bright ideas about "disappearing" Artyom Zinoviev in a carpark somewhere.. that shit can come back to haunt you!), as such was the fate for THIS band stuck in limbo for more than a year before Luke Eygenraam (from The Waterslides) saved the day. Now they're back, they're back with avengeance.. and OOOH SHIT does it show! Just look at Antony their lead singer, wirey as all fuck, tearing up a live stage. There's just no fucking with Antony Of The Future tonight. They've got the trigger happy shred of The Rakes, The Young Knives and The Vines screaming at full tilt. They've got a 21 gun salute of savage pop hooks that begin and end in the space of 2 minutes each. They've got the white heat, the snot nosed NYC incendiary fire letting rip with every riff and a devil's dose of nicotine and taurine smoking out of both ears. Oh yes! they're Antony Of The Future! It's their second shot at it and this time round I think they might be in with a chance!
TREETOPS (****) myspace :: And then there's our third act. I've got no fucking clue WHAT time or place these freaks hail from but I CAN hazard a few guesses: Syd Barrett, The Goodies, The "Madchester" scene from the late 80's to early 90's (ie: The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays or hell itself erupting in the deep recesses of Richard Ashcroft's face), the extended cast of "Trainspotting", any number of music videos playing on RAGE on any given Saturday night at 3AM, or whoever the fuck came up with "Badger Badger Badger". I'd also suspect that despite all appearances they are in fact not "out of work actors living in the town of Guilford" but are in fact visiting aliens from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Yup if ever we needed another sign that planet Earth will soon be demolished to make way for a interstellar hyperspace bypass (and believe me we've got plenty!), then it would be THIS band sending us all off with a smile tonight (and personally I couldn't think of a better way to go!). Treetops. They're a lysergic mix of about a million different influences (and I swear I hear Pavement in there somewhere!?) but mostly they're the smooth grooves of Chemical Brothers' "Exit Planet Dust" and Primal Scream's "Screamadelica", laced with guitar lines fresh from The Pixies, synth lines straight out of Pink Floyd's "Live at Pompeii", the sonic fuzz of Sonic Youth and the shrill vocal delivery of Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips. Then imagine all that thrown into a mortar and pestle, ground into a fine powder, mixed in with kava and ketamine and drunk out of a coconut shell. If your eyes are rolling back in your skull right now, don't worry, you're not the only one. In fact moments before our gig tonight their singer Ben Montero (aka: the moptop in the "Hershey Halloween" shirt) had such a mad hit of this shit during a "jam session", that he had to be admitted to the emergency ward (I think he had a raging case of what.. the hiccups?) only to rock up to Jive tonight in cutoff shorts and a dazed look on his face. Of course I only knew this shit because of (a) "wildly unsubstantiated rumours" from a girl I met last week at the Ed Castle (damn, what was her name!?), and (b) Ben not being at all shy about thanking all the "local emergency services" in tonight's set.. so y'know, take that for what you will! And yes as illogical as all this sounds it only made what they were cooking on stage tonight all the more ridiculously awesome. No shit.. any arseclown can pretend they're "psychedelic", score a sweet distribution deal with Modular and scam high rotation on Triple J but nobody can touch what these illbient space monkeys are offering! Just look at them: the grand sum total of every cautionary tale you ever heard in highschool: this is what being "unemployed in the Great Recession of 2009" is ALL about! Blissfully whacked out on the couch, pulling bongs, pulling an all-nighter on a jumbo bag of Cheese Twisties (hi Corey!) and blasting a mad hit of this!? Who said there isn't an upside to a drastic worldwide economic downturn!? Treetops? FUCK YEAAAH!!
THE EXPLODERS (***) myspace :: Understandably Treetops are going to be a hard act to follow. I don't know what The Exploders were thinking inviting THEM along on this Split Single tour, and not necessarily because they set such a ridiculously high standard (clearly such comparisons are "chalk and cheese") but more because we're so blissfully out of our skulls right now that we're finding it difficult to "follow" anything coherent in a 4/4 beat, or a forward trajectory, without smacking dead into a wall. Still all is not "lost". Do not be fooled by the "submarine" red stage lights that have since plunged this venue into impossibly murky depths (damn you Jive.. you pulled this stunt with The Vasco Era too!), or the fact that most of us have spent the last half an hour stroking the "purple fur" on the walls of this venue whilst giggling hysterically. No, when The Exploders hit the stage tonight we couldn't miss them for all the world. The first hint we're in for a world of trouble is when my trusty short sword started glowing blue. No that's not a "Dr. Manhattan" punchline (oh ha ha.. very funny!), that's the first sign that orcs were near. Yes, orcs: not just the stuff of myth and legend anymore! For it surely arrived in the diabolical form of their lead singer TJ Allender (still if you mentioned Juanita Stein from The Howling Bells, Patience Hodgeson from The Grates, or Katrina Noorbergen from The Cassette Kids.. *cough* wooohehehaha need I continue?). Yup, The Exploders are indeed not of this Earth. In fact if we were to hazard a guess as to their exact origin point (as clearly "Melbourne" is out of the question), then from the general size, shape, girth and voluminous airflow of TJ Allender's enormous sinus cavities: I'd place them squarely in Middle Earth, somewhere in the vicinity of Mordor and Mount Doom. Yup, that's The Exploders. As much as they're a solid (if arguably cut-and-dried) jam between Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Young's "Crazy Horse", The Beatles (circa: Revolver to Sgt Peppers) and any number of fictional rock & roll cliches from Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous" all rolled into one. As much as this wasn't their BEST gig of the tour (I think there were maybe 30-40 people at most). And as much as they still packed plenty of punch into every song, cooked up some mad hooks and that drummer of theirs threw his cymbals around like there was no tomorrow.. yeah it's pretty much ALL about TJ Allender's nostrils. You can't miss them maaan, even with the lights out! They're freaking huge, you could stuff peanuts up there one by one and not run out of room until you emptied a whole bag (fuckit.. let's try that with coconuts!), and I'm pretty certain I saw tusks. They're awesome. No shit.. best thing about the band! If nothing else go see them for that, come in droves, bring all your friends and family, point and laugh.. I'm sure they'll appreciate it!
Yup, it was one of those gigs alright. One of those gigs that would go down in history.. only never to be seen again. Yeah I know, I don't like playing by the rules this city sets either but that's the dice you roll on a Thursday night. Sometimes it works, sometimes there's a line up stretching around the block to see it, sometimes there isn't anyone and the highlight of the night is making cheap shots over the size of somebody's sinuses.. you find cheap amusement anyway you can!
So this is me making a hasty retreat, out those doors and off to my last bus home before Treetops lights one up in the dark, before TJ Allender "inhales", before The Exploders implode the vacuum of space around them and takes the rest of these mad souls with them into the void. Hmmm maybe that was their plan all along. Maybe they've disappeared off into some hithero unknown location not specificied in maps or on a schedule, where time's arrow isn't a trajectory but travels in a circle, where every sound has a scene, where we can surf them all on a whim, as floating points of pure energy, where the highlight of a week isn't just limited to watching cars go round and round in the east end ghetto. Fuck.. come to think of it why DIDN'T I go with them!?