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...
LUMONICS + ZETA / FINAL FAREWELL SHOW LIVE @ THE ED CASTLE / Friday March 13th 2009
Tonight in yet another madcapped installment of "Spoz goes to The (Fucking) Ed Castle again" we present to you all the head exploding excitement that comes from Adelaide's premiere live music destination to take copious amounts of drugs in. Like that one time when that blitheringly obscure interstate indie act everyone's been talking about lately (no not that one.. the other one) played that awesome show to three people that was advertised at the very last minute because Sid double booked them; only to break up a week later? Or what about that other band (you know the one with the bass player who's always two steps ahead of you in the dole queue) tuned all of their guitar amps to static for fifty minutes straight and everyone fucked off to the beer garden? Or what about that bearded goon you always find at the Exeter (the one that used to print all those fanzines) who did all that amazing shit with only fifty guitar pedals and a glockenspiel? Or all those other bands with mismatching cardigans who only gig at The Metro now because they all went to highschool with Matt Banham? Or what about that other band with the saxophonist who's also a hairdresser? Or that freak on the bongos and drums who screams a lot off mic? Or that time when Craig Nicholls from The Vines went insane and then they cancelled that Australian tour!? And how could we forget all those other sadsack bastards who are here every OTHER weekend: shoegazers? post rockers? proto-grunge sludge metallers? homeless hippies with no shoes? busted strings? legions of the awkwardly introverted constantly swapping instruments? Mathias in yet another Lady Strangelove side project? Mikey from Artax Mission!? And oh shit here comes another metrosexual explosion: Transmission Live! WOW! LMAO!! laser beams! laser beams! ZOMG! ROFL! LOL! cheezeburgers!! The Touch.. run fer ya freaking liiives!! WAAAUAUGHHH!!! Or what about tonight's gig (to end all gigs) that clearly I won't mention a word of until at least ten paragraphs in!?
Wow shit I know!! but don't just take my word for it! The Ed Castle has so much MORE to offer, above everything else I've EVER featured in this blog: in the fourteen other times I've been here this year, or the forty or more other times I was here last year (and am I sick to death of this joint!? OOOOH FUCK NO!!). Let's take the misguided tour shall we: through that front door, past that Kwik-E-Mart bouncer they hired ever since that balding bouncer with the hangdog expression likely hanged himself late last year (awwww I know, he always looked so desperately in need of a friend didn't he?), past that pokies lounge they've got stuffed into a janitor's closet (that we all pretend isn't there) and to this Indiana Jones pinball machine by the bar. This awesome Indiana Jones pinball machine by the bar that I'm pretty sure nobody has EVER actually played.. why!?
Because everyone would much rather play THIS instead: "Big Buck Hunter Pro", everyone's favourite rage blackout with an orange and green shotgun cocked and loaded, situated ever so conveniently at the crossroads between dropping a "load" and getting loaded all over again; as clearly nothing is better for the occupational health and safety of THIS live venue (and society at large) than to provide drunken yahoos like ourselves with plenty of firearms experience!
Aaaah just look at all these wide-eyed smiling faces! (ie: from late last year) And hey, isn't that Mathias!? woweee he sure looks excited! Aren't they ever so happy to be blowing the fuck out of everything and anything they see moving in front of them.. doesn't it give you peace of mind!?
I know it sure as shit is keeping ME awake at night! whoaaa!!!
But that's not all, how could we forget this INSANE kitchen sink out back in the beer garden!?
Or this gas tank? What's it filled with: oxy-acetylene? hydrogen? helium? nitrous? What's it used for? beats the fuck out've me! (and if you blurted out "it's gas to run the lines for the bar taps you eeediot!" then clearly you're dead wrong!) I know: let's throw lit matches at it and find out!
Or this lightbulb? There's plenty more just like it. They come in different colours too! woweee!
Or this table and chairs, hidden waaay off in a corner.. spooooky!!
Which is where you'll be sure to find Anthony from Kytes Of Omar: as he hides here in this exact same spot every Friday night. Come by and pelt him with beer bottles, I'm sure he'll appreciate it! (just like he'll likely appreciate me reusing THIS photo from way back in October.. YEAAAS!)
Or what about this frosty fresh jug of beer? it says "global wombat"!
Or what about this pool of vomit?
11:16PM - And in case you're wondering: yes THIS is what I was doing for a good hour, bored shitless before the show tonight! Why? because this is a moment in history! This is a moment we will treasure for years to come! This is a moment where we will give pause to all that has passed before us, all that is yet to come, twiddle our thumbs for hours on end in silent contemplation at the gravity of it all.. and then wonder: just WHO exactly left that vomit by the bar!? Hmmm.
Which in a roundabout sort of way brings us to our first band for the night. If this is the first time you've ever seen or heard of them, then clearly you're already waaay too late as this is their last ever gig (fuck damn!). Zeta, formerly known as "Zeta League", formerly known as "The Zeta League of Extraordinarily Long Band Names (If Only Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! Hadn't Already Beaten Them To It)" is a band that meant ever so much to ever so many of us but to me personally mostly meant THIS the shining moment that truly defined them: Sascha signing his guitar with his own blood after a gig at the Crown & Anchor back in February last year. I may've seen them play several times before that but this well and truly proved they were a band that could offer so much more; not just for what is clearly a glaring example of Sascha's sloppy guitar technique (you should see him try and tune one of these things.. yeeeouch!) but for their tireless dedication to a live performance. Zeta was a band that took no prisoners and tonight would be no exception!
ZETA (****1/2) myspace :: On a surface level, Zeta appear to derive a majority of their influences from the mid 90s indie scene: back when it was all about being grunge, post grunge, post rock or a post graduate doing a few too many bucket bongs on the couch, in front of the TV, watching episodes of The X-Files, wasting your whole life away, after you've come to the cruel realisation that your hard earned "arts degree" or PhD in Philosophy was good for absolutely nothing and now you'd had to get a real job: quite possibly in the fast food industry, or worse still as a speech writer for the South Australian Government. This was Sascha, their lead singer: he may've been ten years too late, but he sure as shit made the most of being an a-grade slacker (he even rode a skateboard!). As such his voice was soon found studying those illustrious few that came before him: Gordon Gano from The Violent Femmes, Stephen Malkmus from Pavement, Kurt Cobain from Nirvana, Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins, Thom Yorke from Radiohead, Ethan Hawke from Reality Bites and Hayden Christensen from Star Wars II: Attack Of The Clones; practicing and perfecting the fine art of being a whiny-arse bitch. We can see him mastering this masochistic level of expression with such songs as "Pen Vs. Sword", the soul sucking crawl of "Slacker" and at its height the hissyfit hysterics of "Runaway": the way his voice crackles through several octaves all at once? nothing short of inspired. But it didn't end there! Teaming up with Anthony (aka: Ned Flanders) they forged a "glass half full, glass half empty" dynamic. Sascha the beaten down pessimist, Anthony the shit grinning optimist; a bipolar disorder that would lurch from one extreme to the next in such a compelling way. Into this mix they're soon joined by Clemi (aka: Lisa Simpson) on the bass: like the bluebird of happiness, calm and serene as she strums those strings (aaaaah you should hear her sing on "Hikikomori".. goosebumps!) and Tom (aka: Norman Bates) the seething hatred beating those drums, forever on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Together they were like four seasons in one day and you felt every single one of them in passing. Zeta in their deepest levels truly had that knack for crafting real songs, songs of true measure; not just a means to travel from A to B, from verse to chorus, but to explore all the extremes and make them resonate like a Richter Nine. They were a dysfunctional relationship that worked in every single way that they shouldn't. They were an inspiration to us all. And after all that they had achieved in the Adelaide scene, and all the potential they had yet to give!? Why the fuck then did they have to break it all up!? WHY!!?
Of course there's countless reasons for why ANY band would want to break up, too many to mention, many more than would ever keep anyone IN a band without a hasty backyard burial and a vacancy ad posted for "a new drummer". From personal experience I know, I've learnt just how hard it is to keep a two piece band from spiralling out of control when (a) one of you is single handedly attempting to mix, master and market your upcoming debut album at a time when everyone's declaring your chosen genre in music to be "dead and buried", (b) so much so it's making you physically ill, and (c) all while the other one is going through a particularly nasty divorce. Alcohol really does wonders too! As such we can all guess why this band is breaking up but we won't go into that here. This is about the celebration, the here and now and THIS: quite possibly the best live set we've ever seen Zeta play since that infamous launch party they threw back in July 2008, that same infamous launch party that got Rocket Bar busted for going over capacity (that one set that in hindsight I really should've given them five stars for!). This was one of those gigs, it truly was. They may have thrilled us in the past with their volatile ups and downs, but tonight they didn't hold back and they delivered one helluva fucked up finale! From Sascha's hilarious displays of drunkeness, his knack for self mockery and self flaggellation expressed with such fierce clarity, to Anthony's ability to reign in all those emotional outbursts with songs you'd swear only the lovechild between Paul McCartney and Peter Combe could ever be capable of (wow he always looks so happy out there.. I wonder what HE does with all the bodies!?), to Clemi's ever whimsical array of bass guitar riffs as she kept that bipolar pendulum kicking in between, to that feeling that any minute now Tom may explode and kill us all, and tonight he may finally act it out? He needn't have to: by the end we were long dead, buried, yet still standing like zombies moaning, groaning and clawing for more! YEAAAS!! Tonight Zeta gave that quarter life crisis within us all a loud voice, a thirst for vengeance and a loaded assault rifle, and it told us where to go!
Yup, you could see them all out there. You could see it in their faces. Wailing and gnashing, invading the stage, screaming for more and more encores, never wanting this night to end; even if they had to club each and every band member unconscious, drag them home, lock them up in an attic and forced them to continue playing gigs and producing more music for as long as they lived (or in other words: pretty much like any other record label contract you sign these days). No shit duuude.. this was a band that left an impact, a crater, and a spleen well and truly vented!
Or quite like this guitar that Sascha proceeded to smash violently into the floor in the closing chapters tonight. No.. this wasn't 'ol baby blue, we can be thankful for small mercies (dried blood flecks and all, THAT guitar should be mounted in a frame and hung on a wall for future generations to admire!), no this was a $90 "Casino": cheap as they come apparently, but no less rich in symbolism as it delivered the killing blow. What once was, was now no more! *sniff* And for all the awesome music they left behind? it's shit like this, that damnit.. I'm gonna miss the most!
12:31AM - Yup, this was a lot to take in tonight and not just with Zeta passing under that proverbial exit sign that's got us all choked up. We're witness to a scenster mass extinction the likes of which Adelaide hasn't seen since late 2007 (lest we forget 200 Motels, Morals Of A Minor, Poly & The Statics and Artax Mission.. yeeeouch!). In this last year alone we've seen the last of Tony Font Show, Soft White Machine, Skeletons, Swords, Dead Popes Of The Vatican AND Tyger Tyger shuffle off this mortal coil; that's quite a lot to swallow in one hit. And with Zeta's passing into the night, another can't be far behind. For this isn't just ONE farewell show but two tonight. The band room is filling to the brim: musicians past, present and future to pay their respects. A who's who of Adelaide's shoegazer sorority: Lachlan from Steering By Stars, that bearded goon "Marky" from Love Stereo, that floppy haired kid Nathan from "Add-Delay", that exciteable shaved midget who for the life of me I can't remember the name of (but I swear I've met a dozen times before) and that OTHER bearded goon from Aviator Lane. You can see them gathering, like the weight of the world rests on their vitamin deficient frames, their hunched paper thin shoulders, their eyes filling with sadness (or in other words what's new!?) oooh crap I can't bear to look!? OOOOH THE HUMANITY THAT WE WOULD HAVE TO FACE SUCH SWEET SORROW!!? NOOOO.. SAY IT ISN'T SO!?
Lumonics. Fuuuck.. what can I say!? To be honest, when I first saw them they didn't exactly draw attention to themselves; this was only made all the more "bleedingly" apparent as I saw them on the exact same night back in February 2008 that Sascha ironically chose to pull that "cheese grater stunt". No.. I didn't need to see Lumonics "perform" to remember them by, what struck me the most was that sound, that post punk sound. Granted there was nothing new in that, a billion bands before them had attempted the exact same schtick before in the Adelaide scene and failed but very few would delve this deep or darkly articulate. Lumonics weren't a fashion band, a haircut disaster, a dance move, or a rush for permanent doorlisting at Rocket Bar: they straddled that great divide between the Manchester scene of the late seventies to early eighties and the New York revival of the early aughties. They were what happened when Joy Division, Gang Of Four, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Cure shook hands with Interpol, Kasabian and Unkle.. and when they topped it all off with a cover of New Order's "Crystal"!? duuude I was floored! This truly was one of those bands you never imagined you could ever find in your own neighbourhood, let alone playing at your "local" every other week. Damn.. and I was really hoping they would be shit too!
LUMONICS (*****) myspace :: But no, Lumonics would prove their worth more and more everytime I saw them. The genius behind them was that they were an ensemble cast in the truest sense of the word. No one member truly dominated, there were no egos at play (at least not in the obvious sense) in fact it's fair to say the opposite was true. You could see it in Alex their "lead singer": like a flathead screwdriver, like a pencil, like an arrowhead squinting nervously into the light. He was a reluctant leader if ever we saw one but one who's aim always stood true. They took turns: maybe so he wouldn't run the fuck away, maybe because they were all too terrified to be out there alone (gee I wonder why?) but it was this interchanging dynamic shrinking into the negative spaces that truly defined their sound. You could hear it in how the vocals all complimented each other: Alex dwelling in the shadows with his otherworldly baritone, Cosi hitting the skittish urgency with his tenor, Marguerita lilting light as a feather above like she didn't have a care in the world. You could hear it in the instrumentation: Adrian pulling mad meditative shapes in the void with his rhythmic guitar, Cosi countering it with layering pedals upon pedals driving that guitar of his to the brink of despair, Alex weighing down his bass ever more burdened with the woes of the world, while Marguerita on drums gleefully skipped over them all like this was nothing but an equestrian showjumping trial and she had a winged Pegasus at the reins. Each had their own role to play, a counterbalance to each other's volatile extremes. Take one way and it all fell apart, combined as one and it was ever so much more. Visually they had no stage presence sure.. but when you closed your eyes and looked inward they sounded ten foot tall and as loud as a concert hall. They were introversion personified, exemplified and magnified. They drew deep from that well of souls within us all: where emotions are bottled, forever on the brink of boiling over, on the verge of a nervous breakdown yet never released. It worries me sometimes that one of the reasons why I related so much to this band (and others quite like them), is because I really AM this fucked up inside yet I never choose to express any of this shit out loud. I could've sworn I was a robot, I could've sworn I was a spastic cuckoo clock but they proved me wrong. It's just as well there's so many other people here tonight, digging it like I am right now, or I'd be worried I was quite simply beyond all repair..
It's true though. They drew all this shit out of us like few others could. And yet they didn't have the scream it down our throats, we didn't have to thrash about a room banging into each other like ping pong balls to achieve it: this wasn't emo.. this wasn't punk.. with Lumonics it was like fine wine, like we were raking pebbles, like we were in the eye of the storm; like an exorcism of ghosts set free and we simply saw it sing in the air around us. It's crazy to think they only ever released the ONE demo and yet they had so much more to offer. Through this ten song set tonight (and one cover) they went through that character arc in full. Through all the new songs "Save Your Time And Money", "Sound This" and "I Know And Know": anthemic in their opening refrains, to the brooding melancholy of "Beggars Choices" and the thoughtful repose of "Lord Rosse". From the sunlit sounds of "Unlikely Heroes" to the cautious optimism of "Oxygen". The call to arms of "Time Marches On" to the volatile shred of "Journey" and finally the spastic boogie we did on the dancefloor the minute their cover of New Order's "Crystal" drops (it sure as shit was cheesy.. but it sure as shit worked!). And then you realise in passing just how much you're gonna miss it. Damn: they only ever released ONE demo.. and yet they gave us so much!? Yes, I know.. I know.. just it'll surely drive Alex screaming up those walls in the epilogue but let's just speculate on what could've been if they ever released an album!? It'd easily be an equal to the likes of Mr Wednesday's "The Garden Where Parties Grow", Wolf & Cub's "Vessels", Soft White Machine's "The Great Divide", Morals Of A Minor's "Questions And Answers", Brother Sister's "The Wunder Tales", or Leader Cheetah's "The Sunspot Letters". Or it could've been more. Could you even imagine.. from just the songs we've already heard!? Another artist adding accumilative weight to the proof there's so much more to offer from this Adelaide's scene than JUST the Hilltop Hoods and a pack of ghetto gangbangers!? Aaaah if only the world could've heard them like we did!? Still to even speculate here is saying something. Even in this short period of time, Lumonics raised that bar impossibly high, they inspired others to carve their own unique path, and for that I thank them for everything. No shit duuude, they really didn't suck! They didn't even blow a goat, not one teeny tiny bit!!
1:32AM - But of course that wasn't the end of it. Bands may be forever breaking up around here (and more so than ever) but chances are they'll eventually pick up those pieces, pick up those guitars again and form new bands. In the end there never actually IS an "end" just new beginnings. Or at least as long as the beer never runs out we have nothing to fear! which quite possibly explains this encore we were presented with moments after Lumonics would've otherwise left the stage, when instead they were joined ON the stage by Zeta, they both joined forces, and they belted out a drunken rendition of The Pixies "Where Is My Mind?". Chances are this won't translate well to video, maybe you just had to be here, or maybe you just have to be as hilariously drunk as we were at the time (so that by the end when everything breaks out in that howler monkey chorus you can't help but join in) but I swear this was the best six minutes and fifteen minutes of the entire night, and by the last note? *sniff* there wasn't a dry eye in the house!
3:32AM - The next two hours were a blur. Most of it because we needed to get seriously drunk, which really doesn't make it any different from any other night; except for a heightened sense of occassion. I know for one that I spent most of the next two hours shrieking hysterically over the gravity of the situation. All mostly within earshot of Alex, Cosi, Adrian and Marguerita, as I howled into my beer: "WHY DAMNIT!? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO FREAKING BREAK UP!?". Come to think of it, this all may have made Zeta a teensy bit jealous at the time but y'know what? they released two freaking awesome EPs that I haven't stopped spinning to this day and Lumonics!? they only released one lousy, stinking (if altogether brilliantly mixed, mastered and packaged) demo. Which if we weigh up all the odds is more than what we ever get around here (no shit dude.. just YOU try and make it to a second album!). So what about the future? where do they all go from here? Anthony (from Zeta) can still be seen doing lead vocals for The Keepsakes. Tom (like many other drummers) is already moonlighting in about fifty billion other projects such as Horse & Cart, Aviator Lane and Steering By Stars (to name but a few). From Lumonics.. Alex can be found working the mixing desk at The Ed Castle, Adrian is also playing bass for Steering By Stars. As for the rest? be sure to say hi when you see them, shout them a beer, bug the crap out of them for the next few months asking why they broke up (I'm sure they won't pelt you with beer bottles for the gentle reminder *cough*) and when they eventually end up in shiny new bands!? start every single review by mentioning in wistful tones just how much more brilliant their previous band was and why THIS one is crap. Aaaah I'm looking forward to it already! See? there's an upside to almost anything!
3:37AM - But of course there's still five stages of grief to go through yet. I'm pretty sure I've already checked "denial" and "bargaining" (and what I believe most observers tonight described as fullblown "Ren & Stimpy meltdown") off that list, but there's so much more drinking that needs to be done before we can check the rest and reach serenity in acceptance. And since we've all been kicked out of The Ed Castle well after closing by now, there's only one place we can go from here..
3:51AM - Yup, there's nothing better than a long neck of Coopers Pale, putting our feet up and reminiscing about the "good 'ol days". Back when we were all filled with so much hope. Back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Back when everything was SO much worse in Adelaide scene than it is today but clearly we'll all argue otherwise because we're just so damn nostalgic: "remember back in the good 'ol days before anyone had myspace or facebook accounts and nobody ever turned up to shows.. and we never got paid.. and then we had all those noise complaints and the pokies.. and everything got shut down!? aaaah good times! goooood times!". Oh and as for these feet we're putting up here? Clearly they're not mine, they actually belong to Mike Turner instead: he plays drums for The Baron. He wouldn't have the first clue what all the fuss is about tonight: "fuck I dunno duuude.. they kinda sounded like The Strokes!?" but he'll happily get drunk with us regardless! why? because beer is hope.. and when there's beer there's always a future! a future and a short term memory that'll surely obliterate the rest! YEAAAS!!
4:01AM - As for these freaks? The pisshead in the middle with the bloodnut moustache is obviously Brett. You may remember him from "My Sister The Cop", one of those ridiculously shit awesome indie shred / post hardcore bands that once roamed the streets of Adelaide back in 2006. Or you may remember him more recently as that lunatic who got on stage at Fowlers Live late December last year during Diplomat's set and belted out that fuckarse retarded Fugazi cover with Izzy from Robotosaurus. Or you may simply remember him from every other time you've ever been in Supermild. I'm pretty sure he lives in the crawl space under the stairs now along with Kane Banner, Jock Jacobs and all those hysterical gypsy freaks from Lyla. As for that other idiot on the right? yeah we didn't know who the fuck he was either.. but hey, we sure do drink a lot!
4:27AM - And as for this? If ever there was a way to graphically represent just what the Adelaide music scene means to all of us right now in these dark times it would be this: all of us teetering on the edge of killing ourselves retarded for little or no gain, an insane jumble of letters that spells nothing but utter confusion, a black smudge, some pink blotches and quite possibly the foulest four letter swear word ever conceived by man (that otherwise describes a wondrous part of the female anatomy). Hmmm.. when you come to think it about it, it's all quite uplifting really!
5:11AM - The lights may have gone out on this city for another night, we may all be turfed out onto the streets with nowhere else left to go but home to sleep it all off, or further gargling down that proverbial gutter but as they say it's always darkest just before the dawn. We may feel empty, our hearts may be filled with sorrow, our back teeth may be floating but tomorrow is a brand new day: we'll all have one fuck of an ugly hangover caving our skulls in, and we'll wish we were all dead.. but after that it's a brand new night and then we can all get drunk again! YEAAAS!
We've seen wave after wave of extinction, we've seen them all come and go, a million or more, we honour them in their passing. They teach us well to cherish even the smallest of things, no matter how fleeting or foolish, no matter how much we may miss them when they're gone. We will live whole lifetimes in that instant, lost in that time or a place, safe in the knowledge that no matter what happens next from here on in: from past, present to future we will have this moment and next week we'll likely still be at The (Fucking) Ed Castle wondering just why the fuck we didn't join them. Yup, to appreciate something truly is to know that one day it will all be gone.