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...
FIRE! SANTA ROSA FIRE! + LIKE LEAVES + STEERING BY STARS "ABRACADABRA" @ ROCKET BAR / Friday March 27th 2009
I'm all out of sorts this week. I'm an extraterrestrial. I don't belong here. I don't belong anywhere. I'm just like you. Who the fuck are you people!? I'm a hunter gatherer. I'm a culture vulture. I live off the grid. I don't produce any of my own food. I sift and scavenge it all from the concrete jungle: synthesised nuts and berries in rainbow colours, animals vacuum sealed and seasoned, liquids pickled, pasteurised, fermented and carbonated; fire up the microwave, artificial sunlight! My home is a roaming phone signal, a series of status updates: a cloud computing swarm of decentralised servers, ephemera and electronic impulses. My tribe is a chattering swarm, a fiction of faces: all fugly and fantastical, come say hi sometime! None of it is real. The "natural world" is an abstraction, we left the trees eons ago, we came back with chainsaws. Who the fuck am I.. but what I've created in my own image? What the fuck is this mess.. but what we've corrupted? This simulacrum, this garbage pile scraping the sky, this metropolitan moonscape, these roads and ruins regurgitated for the sake of revisionist history. Where the fuck am I again? Rocket Bar.. of course! I know because it says so on the "sign". You can't possibly miss it, it's ever so easy to find between blinking neon, tattoo parlours and tittie bars. I don't belong here. Am I in exile or is this an escape? I used to live at the Ed Castle. I'm pretty sure it's gone now, you wouldn't think so but a demon wears its face: stake it through the heart, it's the only way to know for certain! Zombies populate these city streets, Fringe post mortems with slackjawed expressions, they're the walking dead, none of them have homes. They're here with me now living it up. I know I don't belong, but at least for a moment I'd like to call this insanity "home". Aaaah sweet desk lamp by the bar, my only constant in such madenning uncertainty! It'll be just like it was back in 2006.. you'll see!
It's true, I've been tracking their migration patterns for years now. Only now is it starting to make sense. Hunter gathering with my sharp shooter. Behold the Adelaide scenster: watch as it moves from place to place snuffling with glee. First come the outcasts: the nerds, the geeks, artists, stoners and wastoids. Then come the photogenics: the architects, dilettantes and socialites. I'm the head of the food chain! Then comes the greate collapse, a blackhole when some wisearse thinks they can turn a profit. Signal to noise ratio now hissing white hot: it all falls inward, a singularity, a flash of light; then nothing. Rinse the walls clean and start over: disown it all only to be rediscovered once more. None of us belong, we simply move from place to place trying to make sense of it all. It dawned on me for real the other day: I came from England once, all that history is mine, right back to the Normans, Vikings, Angles and Saxons, nomadic tribes pissed drunk in the wild and out on the hunt. Clearly very little has changed. Dress a monkey in a suit and tie: it's still a monkey. Territorial pissings, shifting allegiances, movements, memes, building layers of grime in circling footprints. Dress it in neon, lights and sound: it's still an abbatoir. We're lambs to the slaughter, fashion victims to any cause that will take us, anywhere where we can belong. I rather like it here. It's awesome, it's complete and utter gibberish, it's right where I wanna be!
STEERING BY STARS (***1/2) myspace :: I'm feeling a little lost of late, I know I'm stumbling in the dark. This ain't no whimsical metaphor it's right there in front of me, striking me blind inches from my face. Sure I love a good challenge, I love Photoshop, it's been leading this way for the last week or so (Earth hour anyone!?) but this shit's bordering on the ridiculous. If there's a moral to this story it's never let a DJ to do the lights, especially if they're photosensitive, vitamin D deficient, prone to porphyria and vampirism: do you know that fingernails and hair grow for weeks after death? no wait, that's just a lie. What's this got to do with Steering By Stars? who the hell knows: just ask Lestat on the keys. He's "Lachlan" by any other name, he's living it up: please no pause for the irony. You can hear it in his muffled screams, his dramatic death rattle, hunched over, rasping on the microphone throughout the entirety of the set; he ain't no Liberace, he's a lost soul swimming down the river Styx looking for a way out. He's an ape sapience dreaming of an Übermensch translated into existential angst. I know what you're all thinking, scratching your heads in search of a dictionary: but none of us speak english anymore, we simply communicate through birdsong. It's all here in the sweeping gestures, the widescreen symphonies and the cinematic character arcs: The Cure's "Disintegration", Vangelis, The Doves, Sigur Rós, M83 and Explosions In The Sky; and if that still doesn't make sense? just nod your head like you're standing in an art gallery and people will think you're profound! Steering By Stars. They're either one of the most articulate and emotionally expressive bands to come out of the Adelaide scene in recent months or self important twaddle. But hey, why live in absolutes? clearly they're both! You can see it in the pained expression of Rory: tracing around himself with his guitar, once he forms a complete circle the floor will give away and he'll disappear. Adrian on the bass: brooding like an undertaker. Tom with his itchy trigger fingers: looking for any excuse to kill us all. They're a trinity of darkness and Lachlan's working the puppet strings. It's pure genius! Sure their mix may be a mess tonight, it may spin wildly from A Place To Bury Strangers to the end of a tape, hiss blasted on full: but even so it's like the most blissful sleep I haven't had in well on three years. For all the oceans of woe around them, that tranquility speaks to me still.
LIKE LEAVES (****1/2) myspace :: Thanks to Steering By Stars we've been drifting in a twilight zone: a metaphoric, magical, part mythological no man's land located between day and night where all things are possible like unicorns, gnomes, faeries (and a speedy economic recovery) all crossed with a bad teen horror movie (and if you've ever heard an M83 album you'll know exactly what I'm on about) and then someone turns the lights back on. I never thought I'd ever say this but "thank fuck for Matt Hayward!". That rat bastard, part Johnny Cash crossed with a gopher damn near saved my night! I was blind and now I can see! Everything comes roaring back into "focus": which with a band quite like this one, is not without irony (and in the best way possible). Like Leaves. They take on many shapes and forms tonight (many of them BBQ flavoured). They existed between worlds. Between summer and winter, life and death, heaven and hell; they're our spirit guides, crazy indian spirits manifest in coyote, buffalo, eagle and prairie dog form (I'll let you make up your own mind on which is which) shuffling us to and fro between this mortal coil: electrically charged, crackling like a bug zapper and the infinite beyond. They never fail to feed the soul and fire the spirit; especially tonight. If ever you're confused, unsure of who you are, where you are, why you're here, or what you're doing with a live chicken and a hand grenade, dancing naked on the medium strip? this is the band for you. Granted this makes them none too dissimilar to our first band, only with added rows of gnashing teeth. Like Leaves. They truly are a band for all the people: whether they be animal, mineral or vegetable. They're infinitely accessible and yet infinitely inexplicable in any language ever uttered by humanity. Think of them as a primordial soup that blends Josh Homme's Desert Sessions with My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails' "The Fragile" and My Disco. Think of them as a post apocalyptic zen of rusted car parts sculptured into fine art, a pyramid of bleached cattle skulls making morse code for the aliens to return. It's batshit insane, ever more so in the neandering jams that they weave, yet it all makes such perfect sense! They're our nomadic past coming back to haunt us, to remind us: home can be anywhere, even here in outerspace!
FIRE! SANTA ROSA FIRE! (****) myspace :: Which is an awesome way to shoot yourself in the foot if ever you're THIS band tonight. Damn. In any other circumstance our headliners could've owned this stage, and yet they've invited two impossible acts to follow. What the FUCK were they thinking!? (their humility is to be commended). Still by comparison, it does bring all their better qualities into sharper focus. Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! I've known them for years now. I've followed their journey, stranger than most, as they blundered their way cheerfully out of obscurity late in 2006. And if nothing else, they've been a growth industry: always honing their craft, coming up with new surprises. With pencil thin guitars and Dave's shrill screams on lead they cornered the "angular indie" buzz band aesthetic: a "scenster tragic" discopunk shred that took Rocket Bar by storm way back in 2007. So much so, that the latest idiot savants to claim this "crown": The Touch, would daydream endlessly in their infancy over the chance to share such a stage with them. But then they pushed ever onwards, they evolved, they crawled out of that swamp. Through an awkward "adolescence" of busted up vocal chords in 2008 they brought in a new vocalist: Caitlin, a new sensibility, and a much needed artistic credibility. It's still ongoing to this day. They may have won Triple J Unearthed, they may be signed to a record label now, but their best is yet to come. Tonight's set shows this for good, bad, but never the ugly. You can see the old in their unabashed geekiness: how they mash in the lyrics to Kayne West's "Gold Digger". How Caitlin squirms in front of a microphone: a mix between wide eyed wonder, toddler temper tantrum and frowny faced resolve. How Art grips onto that tambourine for dear life. It's a whimsical comedy, it's awesome: but there's SO much more to this band, many don't see it. It's that unmistakable killer groove. It's Caitlin finding her voice in the mix. A precision pendulum in interlocking guitar, bass, keys and drums; a caged canary let loose that makes Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! float like a bubblebee. You hear it in the martial crunch in "War Coward" when it weaves in and out with dog fighting guitars. You hear it in the infectious "Bad Trip" like the pitter patter of teddybear feet through a Michel Gondry forest. It's ever more pronounced in the newer material. They're finding their way: between the blissful ecclecticism of Broken Social Scene's "Fire Eye'd Boy", the angular funk of Pink Floyd's "Money" and the driven urgency of Interpol's "PDA" and when they nail it and make it their own? it's like the best thing ever!
1:10AM - After Fire! Santa Rosa Fire's finale, I find myself fumbling lost in the dark again (such an awesome song, such a shit video capture "damn you Matt Hayward you fiend, you did THAT on purpose!!"). And when all the lights came back on? not only did I discover half the audience had their clothes on back to front, but I also found myself on stage "20 minutes later" and this band's nowhere to be seen. Weird! So in effort to "centre" myself back into reality again, I took another photo of Ryan from Like Leaves drumkit. I like to call this one "midnight blue". You may wonder why (even more so when you realise just how many of these I've collected over the years) but not only is it a clear indication that I'm still on planet Earth and not floating beyond the third moon of Jupiter, or in another dimension, and clearly this is an ongoing injoke (as Ryan's in everysecondband in Adelaide of late), but it's also useful for insurance purposes. Laugh all you want but when Lady Strangelove had all their shit stolen last year? photos like these were a freaking life saver!
1:15AM - Clearly I'm more lost now than ever before. What the fuck am I on about again!? And clearly I need beer now, more than ever before (because cleary that ALWAYS works!). Still this was easier said than done, when moments before I could hit the bar, I'm confronted by Adelaide's "number one music fan". You may remember this twit when he gave us his impromptu "Zeta" impersonation last December. And this is him tonight, giving his due "appreciation" for Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! Still, before I could beat him upside the head with the blunt end of a fire extinguisher *cough* I'm interrupted by Christian: former lead singer of It's Warsaw! who wants everyone to know that not only does he think Juliet Hunter from Like Leaves is the most awesome thing ever tonight, and that she looked a lot like Lily Allen (and he found that all kinds of insanely hot), but also a whole lot of other shit I've chosen not to publish (ie: every reason why Juliet should file for a restraining order). Oh and apparently I'm also meant to add that some girl, who's a nurse, who's name I've completely forgotten, who cornered me for a blithering conversation for the next half an hour: was ever so ridiculously proud that she drew blood this week and wanted everyone one to know, because blood apparently makes her squeamish.. awesome! Moral of the story here? that "serial killer" joke I've kept running for the last year or so (that's in no way related to how much "Dexter" I watch) yeaaah I SO wish I wasn't kidding. Hmmm, now where DID I put that taser?
1:55AM - I sometimes wonder in moments like these (yes.. I finally DID get that beer and perhaps three more to follow *burp*) what would aliens visiting from other planets think of all this small talk? all this bickering? all these people and their petty politics that unite and separate them? There's this racist notion that "all chinese people look alike", in quite the same way that from THEIR perspective "all caucasians look alike and have really shit hygiene" (yup, can't argue with that one *fart* scuse me). So if we humans have so much trouble fitting in, how would it look from an outside perspective where we're all the same, six billion shaved apes and climbing, chattering incessantly in the same indecipherable dialects? from a petri dish? from the barrel of a Death Star? Ever felt like you didn't belong? just look at us all: it's human nature.. we're all arseholes. How we haven't wiped OURSELVES clean off this planet by now is anyone's guess?
2:26AM - Clearly in a mood to celebrate again, as clearly there's nothing quite like drinking yourself retarded to get over all your silly differences and unite you with the rest of your dribbling kind (wait.. I'm just as human as the rest of you blithering fools!? awww man.. that blows!). I decide anywhere but HERE at Rocket Bar is the best place for this happen (ie: do I really need to explain the logic?). And so, throwing myself headfirst down those three flights of stairs with glee (careful not to leave dents in the walls ahead of me as I go) I'm off in search of the great Australian dream. No it's not owning a quarter acre block you eeiidiot: it's being shitfaced drunk!
2:31AM - Which clearly leads me here: is this home? is this where I truly belong!? Granted there's numerous conspiracies out there claim as such, one's I've arguably spread myself, one's that claim I sleep in the crawlspace under the stairs out back. Oh and do you also believe that I'm actually over twenty thousands years old, thawed from a block of ice found buried deep in the Scandinavian fjords, I'm secretly employed by the government, I work in a black ops division of ASIO and I do all their "wetworks": political assassinations and the like? oh sure! Just as you'll believe that whilst I was in Supermild: not only did Dave Larkin from Dallas Crane get thrown out for smuggling in a bottle of wine from the Grace Emily, but one of the members of God God Damnit Damnit got unceremoniously turfed moments later after he whizzed in the beer garden. Yup, because you always believe everything I write in this blog each week now don't you? Of course you do!
4:40AM - And thus for no apparent reason: here's a photo of some random freak I found outside of Supermild moments after I left (*cough* we all know this is for show, we all know I walked back in moments later.. so just humour me for a moment?). Of course we all know this photo doesn't belong here, I mean really, who the FUCK is he!? and it really has no place in any blog about the Adelaide music scene; but since he was begging for me to take this shot, and I've got nothing else better to do with, than publish shit like this for a few short of a thousand people to read each week *pfft* it probably has about as much business belonging here as any other junk I've ever uploaded to the internet. I mean really.. why ELSE would you be here in the first place? surely it isn't for the scene, the music, the bands!? damnit.. do I even KNOW you people!? sheeesh!!
Let's face it: none of us belong here, the flies buzzing in our skulls tell us that we're ALL long gone. We're space aliens, anachronisms and hilarious dysfunctions. We're detached from any sense of time and space or reality that would otherwise bind us. There is no society: it hasn't existed for years, decades, centuries, perhaps it never did, never in the cohesive sense. This MacDonalds mentality of the 80's only made it ever more glaring; it's regurgitated return, again and again in the 00's, nothing but a reminder, a crass mockery. We're hunter gatherers, we're roaming tribes, subcultures within subcultures, splinter cells, growing and dividing like bacteria. We find our own frequencies in the chattering hysteria. I'm confused now more than ever but I love it here. It's a human zoo as much as it's a jungle unbound by law and I'm happily floating up that river, up shit creek without a paddle, in search of that heart of darkness, to drink my fill.