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 HONEY PIES + STEERING BY STARS + OH MY GUARD! LIVE @ THE ED CASTLE / Saturday March 7th 2009
Nothing's more vital to me than a sense of humour. It's the only true belief system I ever adhere to. It's what I value the most and in the end it's all I've got. It's my exit strategy. It effects how I see this world, every angle, every nuance, it breathes life into this waking hell and it makes it sing, it's a beautiful thing; and when you can just keep on laughing no matter what? it's a good day to be alive! I believe Hunter S Thompson said it best: "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side..". Yup, a sense of humour is surviving those odds, it's you coming to terms, being able to see yourself and all those around you for what they truly are (ie: nothing but an endless source of amusement despite and thanks to all of their glaring faults) and moving on with a smile. It's awesome! It makes me prize all these stupid moments we share. It spins a positive on everything. Which is easier said than done, believe me! A sense of humour is a dangerous commodity, more so than ever, a luxury of the innappropriate, a vile, crass, uncalled for measure even in the depths that we now find ourselves in that lend so readily to its free expression. Instead there's all these short fuses going off now; all the lights are going out and we're at each other's throats like dogs? Even weirder, we often mistake this for maturity? I'm wallowing in its depths! I'm thrashing that Interpol, that Radiohead, that Nine Inch Nails from "The Fragile" to "The Downward Spiral", I'm right where existentialism meets nihilism, I'm in the thick of it, with a blackening stare and a shit eating grin. I've got nothing left to lose, don't ask me how I got here (it's been a long time coming!). What am I without a sense of humour? up shit creek? Apocalypse Now? Hmmm I dare not even imagine toying with an experiment like that.. or DO I?
A sense of humour is distance, detachment and all those other things that would otherwise piss me off if it was right up in my face all the time and egging me on for a fight. Just as it's clearly about finding myself at the fucking Ed Castle without fail, every weekend since November and not going completely fucking insane! What can I say? I love this place! all the best bands are here! there's nowhere else to be in Adelaide.. I shit you not! Clearly they've got us all trapped, they're keeping us in cages like animals and all we need is a few well placed explosives and we'll all be free! I know.. I was laughing the first few times and here I am at it again! YES! There's NO way in hell that you're sick to death of me IS there!? hell no! It's a comedy of distance, what distance? there isn't any! I just fall asleep in the corner now (or fuck that, let's all go to Supermild!). Here in Adelaide every week's a brand new adventure and I'm its spastic cuckoo clock!! WOOOHEHAhAHaHA!!
A sense of overwhelming dread fills me as I walk into this room tonight. Not just in my festive surrounds which (rather befitting to the occassion) look like the front cover to "Turn On The Bright Lights". Not just in all the Interpol b-sides and remixes I had spinning on the ipod moments earlier that's giving me that awesome to be around with "undertaker" glow. Not even in all the smiling faces that now mirror my own, cursing under their breath, obviously ever so happy to see me again.. FUCK YES!! But more so in what is yet to come. These musicians, filing in one by one, like a funeral march: they will make this blackening despair their muse, they will drag all of us down with them kicking and screaming into hell. There's something ever so poetic with this grim fate and we're all on the same page here tonight. No one's going to get out of here alive, that ship will keep on sinking below those waves and we'll just keep on playing till the bitter end!
OH MY GUARD! (***1/2) myspace :: Which makes no better an entrée for a band quite like this one to leave their blackening mark on our souls. If you're looking for one sentence: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here" sums it up quite nicely. By any other name it would be Dante's Inferno and we're about to be dragged through all nine layers of hell; but they've chosen "Oh My Guard!" instead. It's no less potent in imagery though, say it out loud, and when that sickening American pronounciation of "God" rolls past your tongue (ie: simply imagine Fran Drescher from The Nanny saying it); you'll get the joke. It's the only joke they have to offer, and believe me nobody's laughing the minute they start playing. They're the sounds of Interpol, Brian Eno and Mogwai shaking the cold boney hands of The Cure's "Disintegration" (especially on the bass) with a little of Pink Floyd's "Delicate Sound Of Thunder" thrown in for good measure. They're a palette of black and blues painting pictures of the beaten and bruised. They're a David Lynch movie minus all the gallows humour and the hallucinatory whimsy. They're the closing scenes of Anton Corjbin's "Control". They're also completely improvised, with a band that features of revolving door of some of Adelaide's finest indie, post punk scensters. Sascha and Anthony from Zeta on guitars, Alex from Lumonics on bass, a shuffling procession of anonymous pallbearers (no less accomplished) behind the scenes working the murk ever further in rhythm and melancholy; and then there's Matt Hayward their vocalist. He's the bitter and twisted malcontent out front driving this band to the brink of despair. You can hear it in all the cheerful lyrics he comes up with from the start: "this divorce is final.. this divorce is final.. I am the destroyer!" and it all goes rapidly downhill from there. He's got a bone to pick, there's just no negotiating with him, he'll take it out on everyone (and I sure as shit got a serve) till by the end of this death march you'll either want to give him a much needed hug, knock him out cold or hang yourself. I'm pretty sure it isn't an act either; its all just part and parcel of the heart warming Oh My Guard! experience. Sometimes it's really moving, beautifully bittersweet and in the end uplifiting. But like all improvised acts, it has its ups and downs and this one simply bled me dry and filled me full of hate. No mean feat mind you.. I actually consider that a compliment!
STEERING BY STARS (****) myspace :: I stood there seething in silence, teeth grinding, and to think I usually take a joke at my expense so well!? Especially one of Matt Hayward's wacky little pisstakes.. damn he got me good! (can't say I didn't deserve it either). Seriously where the fuck has my sense of humour gone? So it was an altogether strange place to be in when our next band hit the stage. Steering By Stars. On the surface they interweave the widescreen 80's orchestral elements of Vangelis, The Doves, Sigur Rós, M83 and Explosions In The Sky and make music you can score shitcrazy vampire films with. And yet Steering By Stars don't so much as write these songs or perform them but compose movements, sweeping gestures and grandious statements that make just about every emotion sound epic, enormous and carved out of granite. You see what you're up against as Lachlan silently screams a symphony, a choir of torture into that microphone; and you realise quite rightly, just how stupid you are. You're one person and they're an entire freaking universe echoing an infinite of woe back at you from afar. Sure there's only four of them on stage making this otherworldly racket; but you soon forget the trivialities of time and space, or mortal beings, you trip balls, and you see a whole lot more. You see Harrison Ford falling punch drunk at a piano, unsure if he's a replicant or not, as a hazy dream sequence of unicorns and forests open up before us. You see the ape coming to terms with the ascendent, in terms no less lofty or literate: "Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman--a rope over an abyss...what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end...". You see all of existentialism, nihilism and all of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical ramblings (minus all that shitcrazy "Übermensch" Nazi crap no less) tied neatly into one. Steering By Stars are not just a band, or a sideproject, or a prog rock circle jerk, they're an architectural sensibility that makes all of post modernism's alienation and emptiness sound beautiful and poetic in every way that it shouldn't. They take you through all four stages of that grief, until you reach acceptance and peace. It's not entirely perfect.. nothing humanity comes up with is ever without flaw (and this set had its fair share of them) but you gotta love the fact they're trying. For a brief shining moment they show us what great heights we all could aspire to!
THE HONEY PIES (****) myspace :: And then there's our headlining act. Some bands truly have ALL the luck, and with two opening acts as downright bloodthirsty, menacing, morose and emotionally draining as what we've just faced (and how!) this band's probably feeling about as welcoming as a whoopie cushion at a funeral. Yup, that's The Honey Pies! One thing alone distinguishes them from both bands before them tonight (or for that matter most of all the other suicide attempts you'll see in the Adelaide scene of late) they're unashamably happy. We're not talking gumdrops, lollipops, teddy bear picnics or any of that preschool junk you'll find cluttering a Nintendo Wii (it's ok maaan.. put down that shotgun!) but there IS a refreshing optimism here. We can trace it to two probable causes, firstly that their name's clearly inspired by a song from The Beatles' White Album, "Honey Pie": THE goofiest vaudville number you'll ever hear John Lennon sing (which should come as no surprise because Paul McCartney wrote it). Secondly it's their singer Jon Marco. He's that blond moptop, yodeling disaster who's really into kitsch 80's video games (check out that Asteroids game on their myspace profile: I still can't beat 30,000.. fuck!!), prints his own novelty t-shirts, and performs every song like the world is the most awesome place to live (when we all know it's a bucket of shit). Yup, there's very few bands willing to go out on a limb and be that unashamably "sunshine" pop, I can only but think of Radio Spectacular!!!, The Keepsakes maybe even Clue To Kalo (if all their songs weren't about a girl who kills herself.. yeeouch!). They're a dying breed, we need them now more than ever and thankfully The Honey Pies deliver on all accounts. Their sound is ecclectic yet infinitely accessible. Imagine everything from Blur, The Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines, The Last Shadow Puppets and the anarchic instrumentation of Radiohead's "The Bends" fronted by what sounds all too eerily like Craig Nicholls from The Vines on a lot of pink and purple happy pills and you'd have it just about nailed. There's 60's pop influences in here, surf guitars, spaghetti western lounge grooves; it takes all manner of frenetic twists and turns and yet still holds itself together brilliantly (more or less) with a self assurance and a solid song writing that could only come from an ex Poly & The Statics member taking more than a year to get his shit together. It's been a long time coming; but it's been well worth the wait. Who knew Poly & The Statics breaking up back in 2007 could give us two bands this brilliant (first Billy Bishop Goes To War and now this?). Who knew they'd agree to share custody on their bass player Tom McCarthy-Jones!? And who knew they could take us back from the brink tonight? The Honey Pies. What more could you want!
2:07AM - Moments after The Honey Pies' set, I'm sifting through about a thousand bad photos taken tonight, to compensate for the impossibly dark conditions, cursing and swearing (although considering what I got? I had nothing to complain about!) when I hear a song by Nick Cave play over the PA system: "More News From Nowhere". There was no better time for it to hit me. It was awesome, it was right there in the lyrics: "Don't it make you feel so sad, don't the blood rush to your feet. To think that everything you do today, tomorrow is obsolete? Technology and women and little children too. Don't it make you feel blue? Don't it make you feel blue? For more news from nowhere. More news from nowhere. And don't it make you feel alone. Don't it make you wanna get right back home. More news from nowhere. More news from nowhere..". I start laughing. For all the things this song could've been about, in that final verse it sounded like it was written all about me.. sheeeiiit! I keep on laughing, and then an hour later (after drinking nearly enough to forget this night ever happened) I get the fuck outta here.. and not a moment too soon!
3:16AM - Of course everyone at The Ed Castle suggests Supermild as an encore. Sascha was even dragging my sleeve in that general direction like a golden retriever as clearly we both needed to be much more drunk than we were already and long neck bottles of beer were the only way to go (or maybe his drummer Tom had fallen down a well and I was meant to rescue him.. hmmm?). Either way as much as I love that joint, after a night like this, such a well worn trajectory would rank right up there with having both my bollocks blown off with chinese firecrackers while a flock of vultures take turns pecking out my eyelids. Oh and need I mention that ex prime minister Johnny Howard is in the same room doing a burlesque striptease to the collected works of Yoko Ono? (hmmm maybe not). So for the first time in seemingly forever I'm seeking sweet oblivion in the East End (formerly Ghetto) instead now springing to life with a shitstorm fresh from the lunatic Fringe..
3:40AM - Speaking of such, here's a few that the Crown & Anchor have prepared for me earlier (and have been flooding my inbox all night wondering where the hell I've been). You may recognise them from way back when Spoz's Rant used to feature colourful drunks at the end of every episode (and I used to mercilessly make fun of them.. YEAAAS!) and we'd all laugh and laugh at just how stupid and insane they all looked. *Sigh* I know I missed them too! I started to seriously question why I'd even include them in this blog but now it's all too clear! Everytime I spend a night in front of a stage like it's another day at the fucking office, taking photos under increasingly grim lighting conditions, cursing and swearing, feeling like I'm a fucking idiot for standing out there, feeling like everyone's glaring at me from dark corners, forming cliques, cults, and conspiring against me because clearly I don't take this shit seriously enough and when I DO take it seriously enough I feel like I'm wasting my fucking life away!? THIS is my antidote!
Well ok.. maybe these photos aren't the BEST examples (whoaaa shit, my eyes are bleeding!!)
Or in other words nothing quite beats getting so hilariously drunk after a gig that you're pissing it out of your ears only to find photos anywhere near as retarded as this (or occassionally much worse) on your camera. It's stupid I know, but it sure puts shit in perspective now doesn't it?
3:59AM - Yup just like I appreciated all of you dribbling fools above dragging me into this hellhole afterwards. It's just like what they say: "What ever happens in Shotz, at the bar in Shotz, after a few too many drinks in Shotz, that you didn't just spew up in the toilets in Shotz (I swear!), followed by whatever the fuck it was that you did on the dancefloor of Shotz.. sure as shit stays in Shotz! *cough* I swear this place only gets worse everytime in I'm here (and only all the more hilarious because of it!). To think it's been more than six months!? Fuuuck! I've missed this place! I really have! It's been too long! (and let's all promise never to come here EVER again!)
4:45AM - Which clearly always leads us to here: this unnamed burger chain franchise on the corner of Rundle and Pultney, because clearly nothing is more entirely satisfying after a heavy bout of liver, kidney and brain dysfunction (aaaah the trifecta!) than giving yourself food poisoning as well. It sounds stupid I know, but there really IS a logic to all this! Trust me after running yourself retarded through an obstacle course of this magnitude: your immune system will be so busy trying to reject every one of your internal organs for the next eight to ten hours, it'll forget a "hangover" was even meant to be a part of this insane equation and simply bypass it completely. Oh and as for that anonymous freak you see left of frame? nothing but a murky black silhouette and bug eating grin? I swear he came with the photo. I don't know who the fuck he was, but the minute I pulled that camera out for one of those lame (and entirely unnecessary) establishing shots that I always do for this blog, there he was! Damn shit cracks me up everytime it happens too..
4:47AM - Whilst clearly this needs no explanation. When it comes to drunks on Spoz's Rant: we have our extras, we have our walk on roles, our one liners, our guest stars and celebrity cameos: but what we're dealing with HERE are nothing short of award winning professionals! Sure it's not exactly an award any of you REALLY want to be aspiring for, but I appreciate it all the same.
4:54AM - In following, this clearly wins the award for cutest damn photo ever.. "Awwwww!". Which is exactly what I said moments before she coughed up a pickle. Well ok, maybe she didn't do that.. but I mean really.. it's just too damn cuuute! I gotta ruin this moment somehow don't I!?
4:57AM - Oh no wait I spoke too soon.. trust Joe Blogs and whatever the FUCK he's pulling here to come up with a solution! (hmmm "pulling"? you'd think I could've picked a better word). Yup, I believe this "award winning" performance tonight may illustrate one of many reasons why I stopped publishing all this retarded shit in the first place. Would you believe that ever since I broke this habit, my website readership has plummeted by more than half and now only two people are actually tuning in? awesome innit!? No wonder I love writing this shit every week!
5:02AM - Oh and would you also believe that moments after these photos were taken he returned that SAME burger to the front counter, complaining that it was grossly undercooked (and quite possibly a little "tampered with") and got a replacement cheeseburger instead? Sure.. just like you believe everything ELSE I tell you and this entire website isn't a hilarious work of fiction.. YEAAAS!
5:07AM - Of course I realise absolutely none of this has anything to do with the music scene of Adelaide, and there's a good chance nobody's tuning in right now regardless (aaaah I love the sound of crickets chirping in the morning.. weeeee!) and you know what? I couldn't fucking care less. What does ANY of this shit even matter in the greater scheme of things? This is Adelaide, this is where all good things go to die horribly. We also make frog cakes. No shit, they're heritage listed (I read THAT off The Honey Pies myspace!). What's the moral of this story: absolutely nothing! I'm laughing my arse off right now and duuude, I swear that's all that matters!
Tonight I was a mere hair's width from wanting to throw this whole thing away, I couldn't see the funny side of it anymore. To think I'm the only fuckwit foolish enough to do this shit every week, and that THIS was a story that needed to be told!? Y'know what.. THAT'S fucking hilarious! Who cares what happens in Adelaide? Who cares what happens anywhere!? You can get music all around you, it's like air, it's like running water, who cares if its live? No the real story is all the people out there that make this scene worth living, that's what gives me my sense of humour. Without them continuing to crack me up? duuude I can just walk right out that door!