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...
JIMMY & THE MIRRORS + COLONEL KERNEL "ABRACADABRA" @ ROCKET BAR / Friday April 17th 2009
Some of you may occassionally wonder what it takes to write one of these fucked up episodes, what's my secret? Well, as much as I'm dimly aware (and believe me I'm almost as clueless as the rest of you) there IS a method to my madness. Every writer needs one. First I find it's helpful to spend anywhere from two to three nights howlingly drunk: I like to call that my "muse". After all that I'll either find myself: (a) clawing madly through quilted upholstery, pine wood, and six feet of compacted dirt, or (b) with anywhere between one to two thousand photos to sift through, several live videos, a series of utterly incomprehensible SMS drafts masquerading as "notes" and five facebook "friend requests" from people who I can't for the life of me EVER remember meeting. These are the raw materials with which all episodes are derived from (it also makes for one FUCK of a hilarious hangover). Now comes the fun part: attempting to make sense of it all. Somewhere within this myxomatosis of sensory imput there is an actual story to tell. I know! It may appear to be nothing more than white noise but I swear it's there! Go slightly crosseyed, lose lots of sleep, drink lots of coffee, scream abuse at your computer screen for hours on end, spend an entire Monday night crippled with writers block (and how!), shuffle it all about, and eventually you'll see a pattern forming. Or in other words something rather like a 3D magic eye puzzle crossed with a conspiracy theory. YEAAAS!! That's your story! In the event there ISN'T one, simply invent one. Dream up an hallucinogenic non sequitur about zombies, serial killers, space aliens and the apocalypse and they wont be any the wiser! Yup, writing this blog may come with its own unique mental health hazards but somewhere in my swiss-cheese skull? I swear this ALL makes sense!
Clearly the unifying factor here is chaos. That's the rossetta stone. It's not just me laughingly on the piss every night, that's trivialising matters; there's an actual science to this shit. It's called "Entropy". Its the Second Law Of Thermodynamics. It's every ordered system breaking down into disorder over time. It's every episode of Spoz's Rant you've ever read devolving into hysterical gibberish a few paragraphs short of the end (and how!). It governs the whole fucking Universe. Thanks to "Entropy" we have stars, planets, giraffes, and sofas to lose our car keys in. Without it we'd be nothing but an infinite amorphous pudding existing in perfect peace and harmony. It is both the driving inspiration for everything I write about and also it's biggest curse. Entropy has no inbuilt narrative, no character arc, no conclusion, it merely happens all around us on a whim; and then we wake up halfway up a tree with a hilarious grin on our face if we've done it right. And it's been driving me nearly insane for three years now attempting to write about it. Take tonight for instance. Friday night. I've just spent the previous Thursday drinking enough red wine, Heineken and hotel mini-bar style liquor bottles in the space of three hours to kill a small rhinoceros (thanks to Sean Kemp's birthday party at Worldsend). Now I'm at Rocket Bar for "Abracadabra", $3 pints between nine and ten, three live bands, and the shittiest stage lighting EVER thanks to Modular's resident douchebag DJs hogging that lighting rig and spinning metrosexual arserape tunes all night. There's no fucking logic here but it'll only makes it all the more fun to write about, you'll see! This is what the live music scene is all about. As a wise man once said (or quite possibly just Matty Matt from the Testeagles): "if you don't fuck it up good and proper? it ain't live, if you're looking for perfection? just play the fucking CD and go home!". Hmmm wise words indeed..
JAY WALKER AND THE PEDESTRIANS (***1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our opening act. From any other perspective outside of one I frequently find myself inebriated in, none of this shit should EVER make sense. Let's start with the bleedingly obvious shall we? Short of shit like "Andrew Higgs & The Sandcastle Harum" (which clearly takes the urinal cake in any pissing contest) this is either the most fiendishingly badass band name I've ever encountered in any Adelaide band (no shit.. how awesome is it?), or it's clearly the most stupid. Seriously, what IS it with Adelaide bands and their insane need to use entire sentences complete with punctuation in effort to identify themselves!? (yes I'm looking at YOU "Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire!"). No shit, we've just lost three perfectly good bands with simple single word titles like: Swords, Zeta and Lumonics; and THIS is the hell I've got to deal with now!? FUUUCK!! Yup, as first impressions go they're not off to a good start, but then it only gets worse. Not only are they cursed with some of the worst stage lighting I've ever seen at Rocket Bar (damn you flaring white spotlights.. damn you to hell!) and it's also only their third gig, but they also appear to be missing a bass player too!? Awesome! I'm SO gonna love trashing this band! Or at least I would've if they weren't so damn freakingly accomplished at what they do. Damn! Jay Walker And The Pedestrians one of those chance discoveries: as if from nowhere they arise, fully fledged, and they blow everyone the fuck away. I swear there's a lab somewhere where they're all grown "test tube" style hooked up to ipods; and they ever so slightly freak me out. In essense they're a garage band, in the classic vein of the 60's British Invasion: think a mix between The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, a little bit of Lennon's nasal twang cross-faded with Lou Reed; and that'd be your monkey. Granted this kind've shit is dime a dozen of late, but it's their delivery tonight that truly nails it. With Dan on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, and Ryan on lead guitar they cook up riff after riff of infectious twang that fills the entire chromatic scale. They don't just shred them out like idiot savants, like some monkey-arse "fashion" band, there's some real thought put into this shit. A smokey blues feel, guitars swinging in and out through complimentary octaves, tripped out solos, noodling grooves; you don't even notice the bass is missing. Combined with Alister on drums chopping it up short and sharp, and some (arguably cheesy) lyrics from Dan and it's a fiendish combination. They've mastered the art of the three minute pop song and it's only their third gig!? Score! I don't even care that the lighting sucks, or that my photos will get crapped on, and that my video footage will be even worse (or about a million and one other things that could possibly go wrong tonight), they've got that easy going mad buzz happening; they'll go far!
COLONEL KERNEL (****) myspace :: Yup, if it ain't the lighting, then surely there's something else that Rocket Bar could humiliate you with: and for our second support act it's this ridiculously small stage that (almost) proves to be their downfall. You could almost make a game of it, wondering just how many clowns you could cram up here till the whole stage collapses down three flights of stairs and explodes out into the street below. And if you think this band's having a tough time of it with a three piece rock band plus two saxophonists, a bongo percussionist and a keyboardist crammed into the approximate dimensions of a broom closet; could you imagine all thirteen members of God God Damnit Damnit pulling the exact same schtick!? Still, whether they be stuck in a lift poking each other's eyes out, or playing in an open field, Colonel Kernel still deliver the goods. With their madenning jazz improvised style, they thrive in this chaos. Think of them as a New Orleans creole cook-off crossed with a spaghetti western. Think of them as Faith No More's "King For A Day / Fool For A Lifetime", the sounds of Red Snapper and The Propellerheads (I swear I hear elements of "Spybreak!" in here somewhere) and a filmscore to any given Quentin Tarantino feature. Now imagine all that jamming in a port-a-loo tonight with someone flicking the light switch on and off. Granted it's not for everyone, but it sure as shit works for me. The real appeal I find is the loose way in which they interpret each of their songs. It's not so much the structure, but the many twist and turns they make along the way that keeps it engaging. It's the way each musician plays off each other like a slapstick comedy, like cartoon characters. The lazy flamenco yammerings of Tim Inglis as he jams away on lead vocals and guitar. The synchronised way in which both Rohan Goldsmith and Frank Morris Jnr swing their saxaphones about like they're on a mini golf course. The batshit insane antics of Kevin van der Zwaag, flapping about and shrieking on the keys like he's fresh out of the Muppet Show. There's so much interaction going on stage, it's like they don't even need an audience. Which when you're dealing with Rocket Bar's imfamously fickle "fashion" crowds, all hidden away in the dark, isn't without a tinge of irony but Colonel Kernel are still winning them over all the same. Even in Rocket Bar with half the band members stuffed away in the corners they still find what they're looking for. It ain't the best I've seen of them live; but it'll do just fine.
JIMMY & THE MIRRORS (****1/2) myspace :: And now we've reached that moment. That tipping point we always hope to hit in any given night on the piss: between sobriety and rampaging stupidity, between that which is real and that which is surreal, between any hope of keeping a cohesive narrative and that which fast becomes the closing scenes of "2001: A Space Odyssey" all mixed up with "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" and a mad tab of acid. Which when you're a headlining act quite like THIS one is no better place to be. Jimmy & The Mirrors. They're a classic "party band" in the best and WORST ways possible (but more so the former). Everything about them screams "binge drinking epidemic" in quite the same way that their spastic mismatched shirts will be sure to echo the technicolour applause your screaming innards will make all over the porcelain soon afterwards. For what they arguably lack in polish or articulate songwriting skills (let alone colour coordination) they easily make up for in shit-staining energy on a live stage. It's the same balls-to-the-wall strategy that's often employed by many infamous party bands in the past from Tyger Tyger to Tony Font Show and when you're blind drunk and in the thick of it? sure it may be fucking retarded, but it STILL kills a crowd dead all the same (*cough* isn't that right The Touch!?). Which when multiplied by the fact they're also shooting a live video tonight thanks to Nigel Koop (aka: that bearded goon from "Home For The Def"), guest appearances from both Nick Bastiras (on mouth organ) and Timmy Friday (on trumpet) from Tyger Tyger, and a veritable locust swarm of screaming fans they've invited to totally lose their shit out front; makes for a truly deadly combination. Oh and need I mention that their drummer Kaurna has freaking glitter on him!? No, possibly not. Chances are you won't even notice tiny details like that beyond everything else they're throwing at us tonight. Like a fork stuck in a light socket, watch everyone around you do the "Michael Jackson", duck and weave through all the flying debris and flung faeces, wake up hours later yammering halfway up a tree; aaaah what's not to love!?
I realise that doesn't begin to explain much of anything about who Jimmy & The Mirrors are as an actual band. And if you were here tonight: chances are you wouldn't be able to explain much of anything either (or be able to process solid foods). True to the name and true to their nature, there's a lot of smoke and mirrors at play here; I'd expect no less from a "party band". Still if you CAN stop your head spinning for a few second there IS some actual substance here beyond all the flashing lights and screaming groupies. Their sound, as much as I can gather, channels most of its influences from the angular extremes of brit dancepop: from Franz Ferdinand, The Arctic Monkeys, Last Shadow Puppets, The Kooks and The Wombats to the early 60's shred of The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones. They've got that iconic four on the floor beat, those happy handclap choruses, the buzzing guitars, it's all there infectious as fuck. You can hear it in that live video "The Beat Of The Drum". It's dumb as all hell, but it's catchy; it's all about the energy with this band. And then when they pulled a guest hiphop MC up on stage and busted out with an insane "Mark Ronson" style cover of Edwyn Collins "A Girl Like You"!? No shit it fucken blew the roof off!
Yup, tonight's performance is a classic case of the "shock and awe" tactic and then some! Right up there with The Waterslides, Robotosaurus, that infamous Cut Off Your Hands set here from back in 2007 and any crimes against humanity Central Deli Band were guilty of back in 2006. Half of it is thanks to the crowd, half of it is thanks to the band egging them on; either way, within moments, all hell breaks loose. Take this hilarious groupie in these two shots for example. She leapt onto stage unannounced midway through their set, laughing it up and posing for photos, all while the band attempted to play on around her like nothing was out of the ordinary. Granted it's not like they would've complained, they don't actually needed to play their instruments half the time anyways (you'd think that would be scathing criticism but it's not: I'm way too drunk laughing it up to this shit to care either way woooo!). Even funnier she was hardly the WORST offender either..
No that prize clearly goes to THIS serial pest. At first I thought she was simply Modular's resident photographer: in the way she displayed hilarious disregard for just about anyone around her (she also looked a lot like the actual one, until I bumped into HER later that night), only to be told she was actually the drummer's sister. Damn! No shit, you couldn't miss her if you tried. She ran around the stage throughout the entire gig, constantly bumping into band members, knocking shit loose, cheesing it up with her arm around the drummer, like I swear she freaking owned the joint. And as much as I suspect I would've been thrown down three flights of stairs bloodied and bruised by security goons within SECONDS if I had even thought of pulling the same shit myself (damn you "cute female photographers" it's like you can get away with murder!!) *cough* all power to her!
Still I gotta hand it to her, she DID pick the safest spot to shoot tonight. Every few seconds out front for me it was an entirely different story altogether. Getting thrown about like a dodgem car into speaker stacks, getting my aim thrown off by flying elbows and squinting through flashing lights, only to duck for cover the minute this wingnut pulls the one and ONLY attempt at crowd surfing; as chances are the security goons really didn't appreciate how HE almost took out that lighting rig out and likely threw his carcass down three flights of stairs for his efforts. Which is a pity, because crowd surfer shots are the funniest shit ever (need I mention this one I took of Fox from Double Handed back in 2007!? classic!). Aaaah if only every gig had idiots like these!?
And then there's THIS guy: probably the happiest damn guy alive in all of Rocket Bar right now, I mean like he's REALLY happy, I mean no shit.. just look at him! He's SO happy there's a good chance he's suffering a mild stroke and he's gonna be stuck like that all night; or even worse any minute now he's gonna snap, go beserk and kill everyone this room. Oh yes.. he's THAT kinda happy! Someone buy this dude a beer, or twelve, or whack him in the back of the head with a bar stool and roll him down those "other" three flights of stairs that lead to Electric Circus. I'm sure he'll feel right at home; moments before the "blinking diodes" pick his bones clean.. YEAAAS!!
Still, that being said, as much as I've become increasingly wary of all this "shock and awe" shit and suspect bands are simply using it now to cover up for all manner of hilarious shortcomings (and will now grade my reviews accordingly) nothing quite beats the buzz of almost getting killed attempting to capture it all. No shit.. when Jimmy their bass player descended into the crowd at the end of their set, and half the crowd reciprocated in kind by storming the stage, and the entire band disappeared below those waves of gnashing teeth and fingernails tearing them apart with such giddy abandon!? Amazing! Sure, chances are they didn't survive it all, and we'll never see Jimmy & The Mirrors play another live set EVER again but wow what a send off! Check out Nigel's black box recording when they finally release it "posthumously". Duuude, I'm sure it'll be freaking epic!
12:57AM - It's now been a good fourteen minutes since Jimmy & The Mirrors finished their fateful set tonight. Still no sign of the band surfacing out there in the crowd (*sniff* so young, so soooon!). Meanwhile Modular's resident douchebag DJs are now banging something fierce in a four on the floor: that sounds rather akin to a back alley transvestite dosed up on ritalin attempting to slur out a Berlin street directory, stuttering all the while, to the sounds of Ed Banger ringing a cash register (and if you think that's awesome? you should hear the CSS remix!). Predictably enough, the dancefloor is now packed to the ceiling, and I'm wondering just how many silver bullets and flame tipped crossbow bolts it'll take until I can clear a path to the bar. I'm imagining that opening scene from the first Blade movie just now, and in NO way is the sound of me laughing hysterically disturbing in ANY way shape for form! Hmmm.. looking around again, still no sign of Jimmy & The Mirrors *sigh* oh well fuckit, guess I'm off to the bar again to get more hideously drunk!
1:14AM - Moments later, thanks to pint after pint of pale ordered over the bar, courtesy of Rocket Bar's awesomest bartender: Kassandra (no shit.. someone give her a raise!) I've managed to drown out the 12" jam that douchebag Modular DJ is now blasting out those speakers that reminds me very much of what Thomas Bangalter would sound like with half his brain removed, doing lines of coke off someone's arse (or quite possibly it's just the Van She Tech remix). And I'm now hiding out in the "darkest corner" where no one will bother me (or in otherwords pretty much anywhere in this venue.. take your pick!) and I'm deleting photo after photo (hundreds of them in fact) that I effectively fucked up attempting to dodge those white spotlights all night. It's then that I'm interrupted by these all too familiar freaks Matt and Dave gagging for a photo opportunity. And yes they actually asked for THIS fucked up photo, knowing full well I'd publish it? Awesome huh!?
1:34AM - Moments later, a bedraggled figure, bearing a vague resemblance to Banjo Weatherall from Jimmy & The Mirrors, stumbles out from a mess of arms and legs on the dancefloor. Upon recognising me he lunges forth, his pupils wide as saucers, yammering hysterically. I of course did what anyone else would have done in a situation like this: I beat him to death with his own shoe, stole his wallet, and continued to drink more beers at the bar. I mean let's face it, I've been doing this shit for HOW long? you'd think all of these Adelaide bands would've learnt better by now!?
1:39AM - Honouring all those who have fallen in battle tonight, and all the beers I've bought at their expense (and people actually wonder what I do for a living!? *pfft*) I spent a minute with Timmy Friday here, head bowed in silent vigil, as he played a sombre "Anzac Day" revelry on his trumpet. It was moving, it truly was (I think my bowels almost had "one" when he dropped that final brown note at the end). Oh and if ever you DO see Jimmy & The Mirrors play another gig, whether here, or anywhere else in Adelaide (fuckit.. maybe even the world!) they may still walk and talk and LOOK human, but I assure you they're not. They're merely the demons who killed them, "wearing their faces" now. Keep a sharp pointy stick on you at all times.. be forever vigilant!
1:43AM - And just like every other Friday night I've ever spent in Rocket Bar, moments later I flee down those stairs, many MANY hours before closing time. In fact I'm pretty sure I've almost NEVER been here at closing time. Or maybe I did once, back in the middle of 2006. Which considering every other venue I've ever been at in Adelaide is a bit of an anomaly. Hmmm. Maybe we could play a game of it. Call it "Rocket Chicken" if you will. Print up some score cards. Challenge your friends. See how long THEY too can survive in here, when they're banging all that hilarious electro shit all night, before they too run screaming down these three flights of stairs to safety. And if they ever do actually go the distance!? unless they're one of the barstaff, the house mixer, or they're on a whimsical cocktail of about three to four clashing medications? "de-friend" them from your facebook immediately, change all your passwords, change all your locks, cancel all of your credit cards, and park your car around the block lest they steal all of your hubcabs. Demons, all of them. And one day I'll prove it to you all YOU'LL SEE!! WOOHEHeHAhAHAHA!! (no shit.. demons!).
1:51AM - Clearly in no fit state to be wandering the streets at this time of night (although not so much for my own safety but for the safety of everyone ELSE "vitamin D deficient" around me) I stumble into The Ed Castle, bug-eyed and yammering, only to fall down those cellar stairs near the entrance, in the mistaken belief that I was at Supermild. YEAAAS! Would you believe it took at least ten minutes attempting to get the attention of one of the wall fixtures, in the mistaken belief it was one of the bartenders, until I realised just where the hell I was!? Oh of course you do!
2:27AM - Desperately in search for the "quietest room" in the pub, where I can be alone with all my yammering thoughts (or more accurately just the one that I have left that appears to be whistling the theme tune to "The Goodies" in a continuous loop for no good reason whatsoever.. hmmm). I slip silently into the band room, breathing a sigh of relief, only to be ambushed by these three idiots in turn: Eleanor, Anna and Miranda, laughing it up like they're having the time of their lives (and in no way because they're SO ridiculously drunk they'd fall over the minute they stood up.. oooh fuck no!). Thus in retaliation, I use the only weapon I have on hand, and proceed to take all these ridiculous photos of them; because clearly I've never done THAT before.
Thus we present photos as near brilliant as THIS one..
As near hideously as this one (I swear they stole the camera from me and they took THIS one for themselves! I mean no shit.. just look at them, they're just so freakingly "photogenic" GUH!!)
And these two which provide clear evidence for just how many drinks I've had upto this point which by the looks of THESE photos in particular, puts my IQ slightly below that at which water forms a solid, and a blood alcohol content slightly above that which forms a "gravy". Which now effectively qualifies me for driving a schoolbus, operating an oil tanker in Alaska and flying for Qantas. YES!
3:05AM - Fearing for my life like never before, or more accurately like every other night I've ever gone out drinking and done something entirely stupid (which let's face it is every single night you've ever read on this blog) I briefly consider my options and just how the fuck I'm ever gonna get out of here alive. At which point I bumped into Clemi here. I asked her which batshit insane religious cult she may belong to (and whether they were willing to give me sanctuary at exceedingly short notice): as quite frankly I didn't even care if she was Amish, Raelian, Branch Davidian or that fucked up cult out of that M. Night Shyamalan film; anywhere would be better than facing the wrath of Eleanor and Miranda (especially if they send "the gimp" after me). Unfortunately, all Clemi had to offer me in return were a few utterly nonsensical stickers, a C64 cartdridge of "Skate or Die" and a monthly subscription to WIRED before disappearing off into the nearest UFO. As much as I'd love to explain just what the hell any of this shit meant, I can't. She's a bass player, go figure!?
3:16AM - And so with my arms flapping about wildly in the air like a muppet, screaming at the top of my lungs down Hindley Street, I seek my air raid shelter here in Supermild: the ONE place in all of Adelaide sure to be free of pissheads, stoners, wastoids OR windowlickers of any description..
A dream just about shattered the minute I walked through that door. Because clearly I really never thought this shit through and we all know I'm simply a homing pigeon for this shit no matter WHERE I go anyways. Hey, maybe they could both add me on facebook? Yeah.. maybe not.
I'd like to take a moment to remind anyone reading this blog right now, that I've never met any of these two people before in my entire life and yet I'm still choosing to take photos of them!? Yup, this is my life: taking photos of drunks, briefly interrupted by the occassional live band writeup, followed by yet more photos of people being drunk. And if you think THIS shit is retarded, just you wait till everyone gets their stimulus package from the Krudd government all at once, and they blow it all on binge drinking! YEAAAS!! (dude, no shit.. I'm SO staying home that weekend!).
3:35AM - And now, entirely unrelated to anything you've seen up until now, we present our very own edition of Supermild's "Where's Wally?", I bet you can't find WHERE he is!? Yeah I know, this is quite possibly the most retarded caption I've ever come up with for a photo but would you believe that this is what I actually started yelling out, to almost everyone within earshot, the minute I saw this guy!? I swear I couldn't stop laughing for a good ten minutes after I spotted him. Yup, this dude damn near made my night. Just like he was SO overjoyed when he overheard me cracking all these jokes at his expense that he beat ME to death with my own shoe..
5:20AM - So this is me waking up in the gutter somewhere outside of Supermild a good two hours later. Wow.. time sure flies when you're having fun! Only to realise that I'm now an audience to approximately three people (and one hysterical umpa lumpa who bears a striking resemblance to everyone's favourite fashion gaysian "Alex") who were playing the wildly more popular Adelaide game of "Where's Spoz collapsing drunk tonight?". Which invariably leeds to the exact same (bleedingly obvious) answer as it always has past the hour of 4AM on a Friday or Saturday night. And yes I'm now lying in a foaming puddle of it making gargling noises. Be sure to roll me over to my side so I can breathe, put a few traffic cones around me, and duuude I should be fiiine!
I realise at the end that none of this shit makes any sense. Shit, when does it ever!? Entropy has no inbuilt narrative, no character arc, no conclusion, it merely happens all around us on a whim; and then we wake up halfway up a tree with a hilarious grin on our face if we've done it right. Sure, I might be in a gutter right now outside of Supermild, and cars may be bouncing over my skull like dodgems down Hindley Street honking their horns but it's close enough. I'm happy to come back here again and again to repeat the whole process like I'm the definition of insanity expecting different results. In a world where we spend every other waking moment attempting to smash squares blocks into round holes: it's chaos like this that puts everything else into perspective.