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...
CHEER ADVISORY COUNCIL + BYE BYE MOUNTAIN + JON MARCO LIVE @ THE GRACE EMILY / Saturday April 25th 2009
It's been raining solidly for the past three days: and as much as that statement wouldn't even warrant a mention anywhere else, here in Adelaide: where our weather for the past few years amounts to little more than a simple slider switch on a thermostat and a stifled yawn THIS shit comes like nothing short of a revelation. Take pause to soak it all in, marvel at all those moonlit reflections when the cars whizz by, then duck for cover before you start to resemble a drowned rat? duuude it's freaking awesome! It couldn't have come at a better time either. Everyone needs a brief respite. I for one have been fighting an extended stalemate with a common cold since more than a week ago. Aided no doubt by four nights out of nine killing myself retarded with alcohol, combined with enough sleep deprivation in the other four out of five days to start my very own "Fight Club" and I'm very much surprised that I'm not washing out to sea right now. And yet against all odds, it never got past a tickle in the throat!? whoaaa! As much as I must surely possess the immune system of a tank by now after pulling a stunt like that, and as much as I may in fact no longer be human!? (vampire? werewolf? sasquatch? Aphex Twin's long lost identical brother!?) a change in weather like this gives me just enough pause to appreciate that even idiots like ME need to observe the laws of physics. Put the breaks on, soak in that rain, take a moment to appreciate all the wonders that human frailty can bring and spend a night at the Grace Emily. I swear nowhere else is better for flipping that little light from red to green in next to no time!
The Grace Emily is truly the live music equivalent of you taking time to "smell the roses". Nowhere else was this made more apparent than a conversation I had with Carly from Cheer Advisory Council moments after stepping through that door, where I rather flippantly remarked that the last time I ever "took a week off" from this blog was back in February 2007. A week where I got KO'd by a particularly vicious hit of the flu (thanks to doing round after round of absinthe at the Crown & Anchor the weekend before) and even then nobody noticed anything was amiss because I still faked an episode regardless. You'd think they'd suspect something after I used that photo of Wham! in place of Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!? but nope none the wiser! After hearing this, all that Carly could muster in respond was "maaan you must feel exhausted!". Oh you have NO idea! Still I have found the occassional night at The Grace Emily whether it be semi-acoustic or otherwise has worked wonders for my "war effort". Whether it be Cookie Baker back in February, Booster back in November or Mr Wednesday and The Sea Thieves back in July: every one of them's put hours back on my clock, every one of them's felt like a much needed mad hit of Chinese green tea.
It's the wealth of warmth and character throughout this venue that does it for me the most. You see it in the front bar with all those spastic knick-knacks, the bollywood posters, or that joking sign that reads "drum machines have no soul". You see it in the antique antlers next to the dartboard, those well worn thick candles with the dried wax tentacles, that old television set stuffed in a corner perpectually tuned to SBS or that portrait of Bert Newton by the front door. And then there's the band room out back (more a living room than anything else) with its wall to wall carpetting, rich velvet curtains and corduroy couches aged like a fine wine: there's no need to stand in here, simply grab a glass spreadeagled on the floor and let the music soak in like a warm bath; what more could you want? And need I mention the freakingly awesome lighting that I'm blessed with tonight? (responsible for some of the best live shots I've scammed all year!?). I swear, after all the retarding depravity I've put through these past few weeks, this shit feels like home!
JON MARCO (***1/2) myspace :: Our opening act tonight is a solo acoustic act, which in any other occassion would be a recipe for disaster. As a general rule I've never understood the appeal of it, as I've had this entire genre effectively ruined for me by arsehats at every house party I've ever attended in the last ten years or so tearing into an acoustic in the mistaken belief that they're the next Bernard Fanning, or worse; the next Jeff Buckley. I realise I've said this all before, but it bears repeating. Still there's always exceptions to the rule. The first is in hosting this shit in The Grace Emily tonight: which is bar none the perfect venue for any acoustic gig, and better yet on a night when it's raining: as it just adds that little extra. The second is how one approaches the acoustic in a way that's actually entertaining, engrossing and in no way makes you want to claw your own face off screaming for it to end; and Jon Marco is one such solo performer. You may recognise him as the lead singer for The Honey Pies, and before that, as one of the co-vocalists from Poly & The Statics. You may also recognise him as that kid who was hilariously miscast as Darth Vader in that first Star Wars prequel, or maybe as that other infamous child actor from Home Alone you always wanted to punch in the head (as apparently playing under the name of "Macaulay Calkin" would've just been asking for too much trouble). Oh and would you also believe he suffers from the same congenital birth defect Gary Coleman has, and despite all appearances is in actual fact at least 34 years old!? No probably not, although it may begin to explain two things: firstly the "stubble" that Jon's sporting in effort to look older tonight and secondly his iconic shitcrazy singing voice. You can't miss it. It's one of the many reasons why he's so entertaining: whether he's performing solo or as a lead vocalist. It sounds like a pre-pubescent mashup between Matt Bellamy, Devendra Banhart, Craig Nicholls and Bobcat Goldthwait out of Police Academy after he's huffed too much helium; and with his hysterical yodeling and incoherent high pitched yammering it's like the BEST shit ever. Combined with his staccato guitar technique and his endlessly whimsical lyrics it makes for a totally batshit insane, yet utterly captivating live performance. Overall I'd equated it to being rather much like The Libertines as performed by a chihuahua; and it's a brilliant way to start the evening!
BYE BYE MOUNTAIN (****1/2) myspace :: Three members of our second act tonight will be familiar to some of you as the artists formerly known as "Little Ice Age": an iconic, melancholic "semi-acoustic" act very much beloved with Adelaide's "sadsack sorority". As such if ever you've been fond of quaffing a few too many glasses of red, been known to frequent the Wheatsheaf more nights in a week than is ever considered healthy for vitamin D intake; and in doing so have accidently found yourself as one of the founding members of either Steering By Stars, Love Stereo, Aviator Lane or Horse & Cart (aaaaah haven't we all at some time or another!?) then chances are this new band of theirs really won't need any further introduction. If however you don't fit any of the above criteria (and I know it's natural to be confused: you MAY need to make a few phonecalls first) then all you need to know is back in the day Little Ice Age did some freakingly amazing shit. For me personally, I remember rather fondly a gig that they played in Rocket Bar back in February 2006: thanks to a female bass player Rebecca Burge, and a desk fan that blew her hair about like a geek fantasy *ahem* but that's neither here or there; as regrettably she's not even IN this band. Still there IS a lot to like about Bye Bye Mountain. What strikes me the most is the gentle vocal harmonies they weave that sit somewhere between the kermit tones of Jim James from My Morning Jacket to the softer refrains of Fleet Foxes, Chris Isaac and Neil Young. It's in those harmonies that the band finds most of their strength: lifting their ethereal sound ever skyward and in turn lifting every one of our hairs on our heads electrified to the gobsmacking majesty of it. The rest of their instrumentation in accompaniment (which they constantly take turns in playing) alternates in a softer palette between a winter wonderland of lightly flecked acoustic six string and electric (that channels a somewhat Roy Orbison feel), to slow simmering bass and drum fills building a layered crescendo that best resembles that of a Mazzy Star. Combine as a whole it's like the chills you get from Radiohead's "Street Spirit (Fade Out)", or pretty much like every OTHER awesome song you've ever heard close an album that makes you wanna bawl your eyes out like an infant; or simply picture that dweeb out of American Beauty who loses his shit everytime a plastic bag pisses about in a breeze and that's them in a nutshell. That's Bye Bye Mountain. As much as they couldn't fight themselves out of a brown paper bag to save their own lives; they perform some truly awe inspiring stuff.
CHEER ADVISORY COUNCIL (****) myspace :: Which brings us to our headlining act fronted by the "familiar" sight of none other than Ben Revi. Granted he's probably only familiar to ME as I've used his iconic look and demeanor as not only the origin point for the "newborn giraffe": a term first used to describe, rather graphically, the way in which Ben Revi would twist his gangly frame about whilst performing with his former band "Meanwell College" (and latter used to describe just about any awkward "first timer" I'd ever see perform on a live stage), but also as a handy shorthand for describing just about anything I'd otherwise call "geeky", "nerdly", or "hilariously dorky" (aka: "pulling a Ben Revi"). Not only is his whimsical appearance on a live stage an endless source of amusement for me: as he often reminds me of what the illegitimate lovechild would look like if Steven Spielberg ever fucked ET (and check out that awesome "jewfro" he's rocking under the stagelights tonight.. SCORE!!), but also because he's never short of an endless supply of witty anecdotes. In short he's good value to have around. He's a natural storyteller both articulate, academic, endlessly self effacing to a fault; and it is these innate qualities that he brings to every band. Which is very much the "star power" he brings to Cheer Advisory Council. But clearly he's not alone, as this band is a nerdly übergroup of sorts featuring such luminaries as: Neil Clarke (formerly from Taught By Animals), Adam Osborn (formerly from 200 Motels), Carly Whittaker (from Humble Bee) and a brilliantly accomplished "bird beak" by the name of Brendan Moyse (from.. whoever the fuck knows where!?). Combined as one, their performance tonight is next to indescribable to my usual "musical thesaurus", except to say that they'll draw you in; and disarmingly so. It's soaringly autobiographical: both semi-acoustic and cinematic in its scope with sweeping strings, group harmonies, sparsely plucked guitar, bass, keys and light drum fills. It's also the best band Ben Revi's ever been in. Beyond that I'm next to utterly clueless. Any band or song that come to mind I swear sounds like an insult. I can think of Elvis Costello, Darren Hanlon or a Death Cab For Cutie which might be a good starting point; but beyond that all I end up with junk like Coldplay's "Spies", Silverchair's "Emotion Sickness" or dare I say it Billy Joel's "Piano Man"!? (yeeeouch!) Yeah I know. Clearly they're NOTHING like that, I'm embarassing myself, in fact forget I'm even mentioning it now. Quite simply Cheer Advisory Council is Ben Revi and friends banging out one hell of an epic soundtrack to a life not necessarily lived in regret, but one lived in constant fuckup, faux pas and heartfelt apology. Think of them as "Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Musical!" only at least ten times better than that actually sounds.
12:47AM - Yup that's how you do a "quiet night out", it really is. It's like we're in a "retirement village" built for seasoned rock & roll and blues musicians, and age is no limit. We're all old souls in here. Recreational brain casualties, mental patients, shellshocked survivors, huddled over and yammering incoherently, nursing our beers and our wines at the front bar, listening to the rain tickle the rooftops and trickle down window panes. Such peace and tranquility you won't find anywhere else. Spend the next hour or so in quiet contemplation, getting roaringly drunk, or a mixture of both and think of it as a Buddhist retreat, or fuck, maybe I'm contradicting myself, it has THAT effect on people. As much as we're here on Waymouth Street, we could be high up in the Himalayans reachable only be sherpa or yak. Fuuuck, how drunk did I get in here tonight!?
1:49AM - Eventually curiousity got the better of me, or possibly it was just moments before closing time, I forget.. fuckit, either way feeling all kinds of refreshed I stepped out that door again and into the beyond. I wonder what had happened with the world in my absence, how long had it been, would I recognise anything or anyone!? has it been months, years, decades or only a few hours!? "Wow Swine Flu huh? you mean those snuffling pink bastards are airbourne now!? how's that working out for everyone!? that good huh? awesome!". It's amazing the little details you miss out there when you disappear into a place like this. The sign says it all, this is how it should be!
1:53AM - Stumbling through these city streets now: equal measures blind drunk and meditative, and everything seems.. I dunno, "brighter"? the lights, the sounds, the smells, even the subtle flavours (wait, maybe I shouldn't have nibbled on those.. whoaaa!). I'm marvelling at all the inky reflections even now as I'm being pissed upon. Aaaah such simple wonders they never cease!
1:55AM - Any other night this here would've just been another nondescript stretch of Hindley Street opposite The Worldsend and I wouldn't have given it a second's thought. A few hours hence and it would've been the staging ground for yet another infamous Cargo Club knife fight, roid rage blackout, and a multiple cop car pileup to clean it all out; but right now it's picture postcard. Awesome huh? All those inky iridescent reflections, that sweet symphony in white and orange!? Doesn't it make you go all misty eyed like that dweeb out of American Beauty, dumbstruck by it all? Doesn't it make you want to hit the nearest pub and drink yourself blind celebrating everything this pissy little city has to offer us!? Ok.. so maybe that's just me then? *cough* excellent!
2:09AM - And so, into this basement abattoir I stumble to join the rest of the baboons, booze hounds, hooting hyenas and dribbling defects that I like to call my own. I wonder what they've been upto all night? getting hideously drunk!? wow ME TOO! we've got so much in common!!
2:13AM - Except of course I soon realise that the rain had effectively scared away most of the regular degenerates from this place (ie: Sia, Stefan, Steve, Izzy, Jock Jacobs and all those other laughable gremlins you always find cluttering the back nine on the piss): only to be replaced with chances freaks like this one, weirdly "familiar" in that he used to be one of Tony Font Show's regular entourage back in the day (damn, what was his name again.. Jimmy!? aaaaah fuckit).
3:27AM - And so, seizing an opportunity to "disappear" for a while. I found a quiet corner to hide in, a few too many brews to hoover (what? they ran out of longnecks AGAIN!?) and went about the mind numbing task of deleting through eight hundred or more photos I took tonight (a little overzealous at just how ridiculously awesome The Grace Emily's stage lighting was) for the next hour or so. Yup, this is how I like to meditate, this is where I find my zen, and this is my peace and quiet all but shattered the minute THIS nitwit: quite possibly Matthew Gorgula, drummer for "Monkey Puzzle Tree" (a band I've never seen before in my entire life) discovered me and clawed at my camera screaming for me to take this shot. Damn how did they FIND ME!? oh wait.. I was hiding in plain sight all this time? sheeiiit! I swear, no matter where I go, they still find me.
4:21AM - And then an hour later: after I clubbed him to death with the same camera, disposed of the body, or more accurately his "charred remains" (always remove the teeth first), in several nondescript garbage bags scattered throughout dumpsters in the west end, a few in the east end, and one donated to Mickey D's on Hindley Street (wait.. did I just say that out loud?) I returned back to Supermild to continue my work only to be interrupted again by THIS grinning chimp..
4:24AM - Unfortunately any hopes of making him "disappear" in quite the same way were dashed the minute his sister Daniella showed up. Damn. Oh well, guess there's no point pretending to be "introvert" anymore (ie: in the most bleedingly obvious spot I could find). I'd already left The Grace Emily, there's no turning back now.. fuckit, I guess it's time I joined the party again!
4:26AM - As much as I couldn't hope to explain any of this shit, THIS is Domenic. In all the other dives and drainpipes he's been known to circulate in, he's also known as: "Stretch", "The Dominator", "Jim ran-DOM" or "What the fuck is THAT over there!?" followed by the dull *thump* of a bottle to the back of his head, followed by you dumping his body in the middle of Hindley Street and seeing just how long he can play "chicken" with the traffic till the cops arrive (or maybe that's just in my head). He's hilarious, no shit! he provides endless hours of entertainment!
Take this hiiilarious stunt he's pulling with a simple plastic comb for example. As much as it rather graphically demonstrates just how little divides our civilised species from the chimpanzee (especially past 4AM on a Saturday night), it also shows that he's wildy proficient as a "prop comic"; and as we all know comedians like this are held with the "highest regard" here on Spoz's Rant (yup, for absolutely every single reason I could possibly think of that they shouldn't!).
At this moment, unseen on camera, an entire ecosystem (second only to that found in the Amazonian rainforest) flees from my hair folicles, flaps its wings and skitters past the exit signs thanks to the quick work of Domenic here. I swear (totally unrelated to everything else that I may have been drinking tonight *cough*) my head feels at least five pounds lighter.. woooooo!
4:33AM - And now in no relation to anything you'd just seen "whoaaa dude, that was in his HAIR!?" out comes the age old classic: the plastic comb as a microphone. Helped no doubt by the hysterical selection of classic crooning doo-wop and Motown that the DJ's thrashing tonight.
Yup and as much as I'd usually love to make merciless fun of the DJ for pulling this schtick. Just like I'm prone to shovelling shit on just about any other frisbee spinner I'd ever cross paths with lately (isn't that right Rocket Bar douchebag DJs!? aaaah you know you love it!). I swear on a rainy night like this, after all the ecclectic shit I'd seen at The Grace Emily, this shit fucking killed!
4:38AM - Or at least it did until I grabbed the "microphone" and busted into a rendition of The Marvelettes "Please Mr. Postman": a rendition of which many eye-witness accounts would later describe as something akin to "Richard D James throttling a goose as reinterpretted by Tiny Tim on a mad tab of acid" but hey, don't just take THEIR word for it.. who's up for a duet? aaaye!?
*cough* yeah.. maybe not.
4:42AM - And so another night ends mere moments before Griffy Griff shows up offering to throw down a mad rastafarian reggae jam (yeeeouch!), as I figured now was as good a time as any to escape Supermild and catch the last bus out of here, before we thought to release our very own Bob Geldof "We Are The World" style tribute in effort to raise funds to combat all manner of ridiculous causes we couldn't possibly ever fix, such as: global warming, the global economic crisis, global terrorism, the global "Swine Flu" pandemic (wait.. is it ACTUALLY a pandemic or do they just keep saying that to sell newspapers!?), that "pesky" binge drinking epidemic, the Somali pirate situation or maybe we can even put a stop to any further seasons of "The Biggest Loser". Hmmm come to think of it, we should've all supported that last one.. fuck why DIDN'T I stick around!?
Yup, a change in the weather can make me do some truly fucked up things to celebrate it, even going so far as to seek out a semi-acoustic gig. I know! Was this temporary insanity? the first signs of brain damage? (the FIRST signs!? HA!!), or just what I was looking for after all this time since catching that gig by The Middle East at The Ed back in late February!? To think something as simple as rain, could still effect us in such a profound way. And better yet that stalemate I'd been fighting with that cold for the last week!? the one I'd been killing with beer all this time, like an idiot? without even a sniffle it's now long gone. Mission accomplished, I'm good as new again!