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 SCARLET IVES + THE KEEPSAKES + GRIMEY LIVE @ SUPERMILD / Thursday April 9th 2009
The way I figure it, I've been on tour non-stop now for the past three years. I've been everywhere, I swear, all for the sake of this running commentary. Living like a hunter gatherer, constantly on the move, dressed for combat, drinking the night dry, foraging for food like a wild animal. Living life like a hotel room trashed, frequently abandoned for a typewriter entrenched: this is my career trajectory into oblivion. And it's true what they say too: the more you tour, the more things look the same. You start to lose track of the finer details. Everywhere you go. Every club, pub, bar and live venue does the same 'ol dance. The same sounds bang on and on in your skull all night long, ringing your ears to a four-four loop. The same bands play every week. The same musicians swap instruments under an infinite number of aliases. The same faces smile back at you again and again. "Who the fuck are you again? and where the hell did we meet!?". Swap the names around, it's all just two degrees of separation. Short of a few strands of DNA we're nothing but interchangeable chimpanzees. Past all the smoke and mirrors it's all just white noise, subatomic particles, waves, vibrations, pan dimensional strings, iridescent green sigils of the matrix then an infinite void. Whoaaa fuck.. I think my brain just bluescreened! Yup, I've been on tour for SO long now, that even I've forgotten the punchline: I've been everywhere and anywhere and yet I've never even left Adelaide!? Yup, it's been one helluva trip. I recommend it to anyone! (and I wonder if it's something they put in the water?). Still I need something new, I need something different, anything unique in this Groundhog Day mad science experiment; so why not here? here at Don Don Korean BBQ? I'm pretty sure we haven't pulled THIS shit before! Remember when it used to be called "The Village"? back two years or more when they had those spicey chicken wings like crack cocaine, the dim sims, the prawn balls and the spring rolls!? I wonder what kind of live bands they'll host here tonight? I wonder if they even know we're coming!? fuckit.. let's find out!
Yup, I'm pretty sure they've never hosted a live gig in a fast food franchise before, just as I'm pretty sure there's no chance of that changing anytime too soon (if you think Mickey D's on Hindley is bad enough as it is.. imagine if a band like God God Damnit Damnit took a dump in it?) for no sooner had I burst through that door tonight did I found myself here in Supermild instead. Wow.. who didn't see THAT plot twist coming!? (I know I sure as shit didn't when I fell headfirst down those stairs). Fuuuck.. Supermild AGAIN!? Yup, it's just like that Looney Tunes cartoon where the chipmunks nail the furniture to the ceiling. Or the one where Porky Pig and the Do-Do bird trip the fuck out in deepest darkest Salvador Daliesque Africa (fuck I loved that shit!). I swear I've gone past the event horizon now. Week after week in a row it's been The Ed Castle, then Rocket Bar, now this!? Where am I again? oh yeah.. where else!? I SO gotta get out of the West end!
Still.. let's not dismiss this outright as yet ANOTHER one of Spoz's psychotic breakdowns. Sure I may find myself here at the end of every freaking night, drinking myself retarded for as long as I can remember (or in other words can't "remember" THANKS to all the drinking.. aaaah memories!) but have you EVER seen a live band playing in here!? now THAT'S something truly special! Or at least it would've been if you couldn't remember back a few years ago or more when they used to pull this shit regularly on a Wednesday or Sunday night. I only caught one or two that I could remember back in the day, but fuck they were awesome! There's something magical about a basement gig like this, under low lamp light. That "speakeasy" roaring 20's vibe, that catacomb buzz. And in the dead of winter when the rain spatters those teeny tiny windows way up high on street level? That scurrying of feet, those headlights whizzing by, whilst way down here in the dark, we're all cozy, drinking our long necks and soaking it all in!? Aaaaah this shit's almost romantic!
Which is just the kind of "rose coloured glasses" you'll need when you turn up on time for "doors at 8PM". Only to discover that the door's locked. Only to be ushered inside by the organiser of said "event": a panic stricken Gavin (from The Scarlet Ives) who's cursing under his breath over the fact that (a) the "mixing desk" is nothing but a DJ cross fader, (b) their entire "house sound" consists of two teeny tiny ceiling mounts, one amplifier and a subwoofer, (c) there's no "stage lights", (d) and I mean there's NO light at all: it's freaking pitch black in here! (which explains why the videos suck so bad) and (e) there's no "door" setup either (and yet 20 people have already snuck in scott free!?). All for a show that takes a full hour to get its shit together at 9PM!? FUCK YEAAAH! So what CAN you do in moments like these but put those "beer goggles on", watch them all congregate, cluelessly pulling wires.. and laugh! Aaaaaah it's magic, it truly IS! And yet wouldn't you know it, but all credit to Gavin's insane pioneering spirit here, he STILL damn near pulls off the impossible here tonight! Yup, THIS truly will be a night to remember.. no shit it'll be awesome! Supermild at its best! One of those unique events that we'll be telling everyone about for years to come until Supermild puts it back on their regular schedule again! Just LOOK at Anthony Wignall here pulling the insane closeup, look how ridiculously happy he is!? how could we possibly go wrong with that! no shit.. they should make this the NEXT poster! Let's make it the first of MANY to come!
GRIMEY (**1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our exciting opening act: this solo singer-songwriter by the name of Grimey. Woweee it really don't get much better than this! No shit you just KNOW you're gonna have the time of your life when some acoustic arseclown like this comes to spank out a ballad or two.. and before you proceed to pelt me with beer bottles *ouch!* "you got me in the eye!" let me explain. I HATE solo acoustic acts. I REALLY do. With a passion! With a few possible (cute female) exceptions (and quite possibly Mikey from Artax Mission) they're my number one pet peeve. I know.. I really should learn to get over this shit, and clearly none of this has anything to do with Grimey here tonight (he's probably the nicest dude once you get to know him) but still I feel it needs addressing. I've been to countless house parties ruined the minute some "self important douchebag" with an acoustic guitar, let's for the sake of argument call him "Brenton" (clearly not based on anyone I know *cough*) switches off whatever mad jam you've been buzzing to on the ipod all night, only to strum out cover after cover of overwraught Pearl Jam, Coldplay or Red Hot Chili Peppers to anyone within earshot; willing or not. It's my living nightmare.. it TRULY is! The minute THAT shit happens, it's all over. In quite the same way that goon rapidly ruins any taste you can acquire for fine wine later in life, it's shit like THIS that ruins one man here and his acoustic guitar. Yes, I understand it's one of the many building blocks to making a solid rock & roll band. It STILL doesn't make it any easier for me. Still, all credit to Grimey, even as he's drowning below the waves of a chattering crowd tonight, banging out ballad after ballad, he's still doing a bang up job. In the right surrounds, say The Grace Emily on a Sunday, Grimey would have a lot to offer. At most I'm reminded of Joze Gonzalez and his cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop" or maybe Gary Jules' iconic take on the Tears for Fear's classic "Mad World". That rounded vocal, that distinct sonorous timbre, that bittersweet melancholy. The guitar playing also has a nice, almost middle eastern chromatic feel to it. If I was to reach any further I'd wager there's an element of Iron & Wine, Angus & Julie Stone and even The Doves in here.. although there's a good chance I'm probably just reaching with this shit. This ain't my strong suit, just as THIS really isn't his night either. Catch him at the Grace Emily on a Sunday however and I'm sure it'd be brilliant.
THE KEEPSAKES (****1/2) myspace :: Our second act tonight has no such handicap however, despite any apparent (and clearly unfounded) similarities to other artists that'll surely provoke a violent response; like say a Ben Lee for example. Even if you wanted to punch Ben Lee in the face, pull that acoustic guitar from out of his boney-white-fingers the minute he hits the ground with a pissy dull thud, continued to beat him black and blue with it till there's nothing but splinters, only to bugger off to the nearest Crime Converters, buy up another guitar and beat him bloody some more: "hmmm maybe I'll try a classic 70's aluminium neck Kramer?" it's STILL next to impossible to hate this band. They're that ridiculously infectious. They make you forget just how much you HATE "Catch My Disease", "We're All In This Together", or anything off of "The Rebirth Of Venus". They even make you forget that whineyarse bitch of a video clip he did for "Cigarettes Will Kill You". They're THAT ridiculously awesome! You'll be beaming with a broad smile from ear to ear like nothing else matters. The Keepsakes. There's very few bands like them that can still make you appreciate the lost art of the "pop song" quite like they do (ie: back when it still had an innocent 60's cache and waaay before the Top 40 fucked it up). Think of them as like all the best elements of the Foo Fighter's self titled album, Blur's "Parklife", Weezer, The Shins, or The Dandy Warhols. They're cheesy sunshine happy pop in the best possible way, like The Beatles used to make before they all got into acid. So much so they even make you forgive Paul MacCartney for all the crimes he inflicted against humanity the minute HE left and started that misguided solo career. No shit.. every song here is a radio friendly masterpiece! It's ever so utterly stupid, innocent to the point of embarassment (a hint of Peter Combe perhaps?) yet impossible to deny. You hear it in the Wignall brothers Anthony and Jon, with their matching black rim glasses, jamming it out on leads and bass. You hear it in the recent addition of "Lisa Simpson" (aka: Clemi from Zeta) effortlessly swapping between guitar, trumpet, organ and tambourine with a lilting voice not too dissimilar to the country twang of Cat Power. You see it in the halfling midget Jeremy shrinking behind those drums with a goofyarse grin. I know they're pure evil, they probably kill kittens, throw puppies into blenders and send anthrax envelopes to Third World nuns but you couldn't care less; because they're The Keepsakes! They're rainbows and lollypops! They're the opening credits to the sitcom "Friends" with everyone dancing about retarded in a public fountain laughing it up! They're pure joy personified!
And as much as I'd love to hang shit on them for it, when you see these hysterical groupies they attract in droves tonight, just like they do any OTHER night, it's hard not to get caught up in it. I don't know where the FUCK they all come from, or how they could be flapping their arms about screaming so feverishly; because clearly it CAN'T just be about the music. I mean shit, perhaps Anthony's into some kinda fucked up voodoo, shrunken-monkey-head, witchcraft shit; who's to know!? but I swear it's just like the footage you used to see of The Beatles back in '64, or like a band full of Andre 3000s and your mum's going apeshit in the front row. With any other band I'd be crying foul. I've seen my fair share of "rent-a-crowds" in the past: need I mention Former Child Stars? Skye Harbour!? any other "buzz band" The Adelaide Advertiser confuses with artistic genius (just because one of their band members has some tenuous link to D-grade celebrity?). No this is different, this is the genuine article! This is worse than anything else we could've EVER imagined!
And this is them moments later when they steal my camera off me, point it right back it me and laugh it up taking photos. And if it looks very much like I'm fearing for my life here, like I'm a rabbit caught in the headlights, like I'm half expecting them to all surge forward any minute now like a screaming avalanche, like a tsunami, like a locust plague, devouring everything in sight till there's nothing left but carcasses picked clean on the stage behind me!? Yeah.. that WAS pretty much the look I was going for here. Still *cough* I could think of many worse ways to go..
THE SCARLET IVES (****) myspace :: Which is why we're ever so relieved to have survived THIS long to see our headlining act; to see this, The Scarlet Ives. Yup, this is a band of rare pedigree; they truly are! A band you'll be sure to hear a lot more of in the coming months. For despite this only being their second gig, they have a long and illustrious history in this music scene. Not only because they feature the ever infamous Travis Williamson on drums (who you'll be sure to recognise from a million and one punchlines I've abused at his expense when he fronted Tyger Tyger last year) but also thanks their lead singer Gavin De Almeida. He's one of Adelaide's many ubiquitous scensters. Chances are at ANY given gig, you'll see him attempting to keep a low profile somewhere in the back of the room; almost as often as you're likely to see ME (and curse under your breath) when you find my smiling face flipping you off at the front. He reviews bands for Fasterlouder. I won't say what his username is (as there's no point ruining HIS music career after I've effectively ruined ANY chance of reviving mine thanks to THIS blog.. YEAAAS!!) but he's out there every night watching, listening, writing notes; plotting your step by step character assassination. Which when you're doubling as a musician can be more a curse than anything else. As not only does it mean half of Adelaide's quite possibly out for your blood, but it can also make you a self flaggelating perfectionist as well. Which is very much the white knuckle "fear and loathing" that must drive Gavin and The Scarlet Ives to hone their craft. This may only be their second gig, but chances are they've been perfecting this sound a lot longer than most; and tonight it shows. The Scarlet Ives are a force to be reckoned with; even from the outset. They remind me of both Radiohead and Muse in their infancy. That same simple sound you'd find in "Pablo Honey" and "Showbiz", yet with all the hindsight you see leading to that articulate songcraft just over the horizon. It's in Gavin's vocal delivery. How he sounds like Jeff Buckley as reinterpretted by Daniel Johns. Its in his guitar arrangements. How they glide, weave and dive under and over each other like a moonlit pod of dolphins, like Interpol performed by candlelight (it's even trippier in the solos). How it all fits together ever so seemlessly and cohesively with both Rick on bass and Travis on drums. Songs that flow like a domino cascade. And as much as Gavin's likely sweating bullets over this review, and as much as I'd LOVE to take advantage of it (we ALL know I'm pure evil!); there IS a lot to like about this band, there's a lot of promise; I only see good things from here on in. Yup, the Scarlet Ives are truly a band to watch in 2009. Come in droves, bring your friends, bring torches, pitchforks, stand out front chanting as one, staring right back at him; and freak him the fuck on out. I'm sure he'll appreciate it!
11:25PM - Yup, finding yourself in the presence of a packed crowd like this one: whether they be the fifty or more inside (or lining up around the block outside) can be a daunting prospect for just about anyone in the Adelaide scene. Especially when you're stuck in a basement below Hindley Street, where the teeny tiny windows above the stage are FAR too small to crawl through (and there's not nearly enough shotgun shells to make it up those stairs). Even worse if some arseclown like ME starts writing "glowing reviews" about you. Or worse still you get one of Richard Kingsmill's dreaded "four out of five" reviews on Triple J Unearthed. Yup, if ever THIS shit happens to you, break up your band immediately BEFORE it's too late! Otherwise you'll end up being one of those "critically acclaimed" bands and you'll start attracting colourful defects quite like THESE freaks everywhere you go: like Ben Revi on the left, or Sia in the middle or that shrieking banshee formerly known as "Jenna" on the right (fuuuck I know!). Don't ever make the same mistakes The Keepsakes and The Scarlet Ives did. Fuck no! Be laughingly mediocre, get matching haircuts, dress like MGMT, sound exactly like The Kings Of Leon or Coldplay, get high rotation airplay on Nova, move to Sydney and make regular guest appearances on MTV. Trust me.. you'll thank me later!
11:34PM - Which in a roundabout way, is one of many reasons why I can't get enough of Supermild. No shit.. whether you're one of Adelaide's recessive genes, junk DNA, mitochondrial misfirings, chromosomal car crashes, or if you're from an entirely different species altogether, you'll feel right at home here! There are no clones or carbon copies here, only one of a kind prototypes! Take Kat here for example. Beats me what kind've batshit insane turban she's wearing on her head tonight (and whether it's a clear sign that the "pilot light" in her head has blown out looong ago) but y'know what!? she's freaking awesome! There should be more people just like her. Well actually there shouldn't, that'd clearly defeat the whole purpose (plus it makes me picture a particularly horrifying doomsday scenario) but you get my point right? YEAAAS!!
12:56AM - Or what about these circus freaks up on the stairs!? Sure I don't know who the fuck half of them are, except for everyone's favourite "fashion gaysian" Alex Dubios on the left (no shit.. you should see the 60's heroin chic fashion shit he pulls with a camera.. mind boggling!) but they're some of the finest freaks you'll ever damn near meet drunk in a bar at 3AM, promptly forget the name of, only to be added on facebook, followed on twitter, and tagged in every second photo; or in other words welcome to the confused look on MY face every time I walk in here! And y'know what, as much as it makes me feel like I've got an inoperable brain tumour for not being able to keep track of all this shit on a regular basis.. duuude I wouldn't have it any other way!
1:17AM - And speaking of brain tumours, or arguably being absent of a brain altogether (which let's face it, isn't entirely necessary at this end of a night) how could we possibly forget THIS guy!? Alex Fimeri, one of the guitarists from everyone's favourite band barely featured on Spoz's Rant (lead or rhythm!? aaaah fuckit.. flip a coin!). He's here all the damn time. I'm pretty sure he lives here. Which is weird because I frequently joke about the exact same thing and I'm pretty sure EVERYONE else who's ever been here has made the exact same joke too, and yet none of us ever pay the rent (or maybe we DO with all the money we spend on alcohol here.. hmmm). If ever there was a moral to this story: it's never attempt to start a blog on the Adelaide music scene, otherwise three years later you'll find yourself writing captions as near ridiculously retarded as this shit!
1:43AM - And then there's THIS guy. You may know him as Mike Turner, the drummer from The Baron. Or maybe one of his next of kin may come to identify his remains after you totally lose your shit at the sight of him wearing this spastic poncho no less, and unload both shells of a shotgun into his face moments before fleeing out that door. Yup, same dude! He made a nonsensical appearance in one of last week's blog and now he's back again. Awesome! Which in conclusion can only mean one of two things on a Thursday night (a) he's clearly stalking me, (b) if we whack him in the testicles with a baseball bat and he breaks.. maybe candy will fall out!?
1:48AM - I believe these hilariously fucked up photos speak for themselves as I've pretty much run out've dumb things to say about Izzy here without inadvertantly promoting his band again. Which is just as well as I've completely forgotten the name of "said band", or that he does vocals for them, or that they just so have also happen to have a live gig at Adelaide Uni Bar on April the 23rd and it's the first of their Australian nationwide tour with "The Network" from The USA. Why am I even mentioning any of this shit!? Who the fuck knows.. I swear I don't even LIKE this band!
1:55AM - And here's every reason why Supermild will be closing in the next five minutes, as clearly it's got nothing to do with it being the Thursday night before a Good Friday, or that Adelaide is so hilariously anachronistic and antiquated with its liquor licensing laws that every club, pub, bar and live venue in town is forced to shut down for its entire duration because it's a "religious holiday" that not everyone actually observes (except for the fact it gives us a "day off work" and we're all hypocrites for taking it) and it has EVERYTHING to do with Ben Revi here. Or quite possibly the grimacing gargoyle to his left who I've conveniently forgotten the name of. Yup, it's all HIS fault!
1:57AM - Whilst this is me coming to the horrifying realisation that I'll be spending my Friday sober for the first time in seemingly forever. Or more accurately it's me coming to the sudden realisation that I no longer have the brain capacity to process anything further than the ability to stand upright and breathe in and out of both nostrils without slamming headfirst into the floor. I would also like to point out that it's the singularly most awesome photo I've ever taken of me and Sia here and there's a good chance she'll never speak to me again if she ever saw it.. YEAAAS!!
2:22AM - And it's at this exact moment in time, standing outside of Supermild moments after every other joint in Adelaide that also serves alcohol has shut down for the night (and for the next 24 hours too.. yiiiikes!) that Miranda finally decides to show up, and wow is SHE ever so ridiculously overjoyed to be here! Why you ask!? Maybe it's because (a) everyone's favourite fashion gaysian Alex Dubois also decided to make an impromptu appearance!? and he's nothing if not about spreading the joy and glaucoma far and wide with his eyegougingly fashionable attire (did you know he can also poop weaponised plutonium out of his arse on cue!? no shit!). Or maybe (b) she's suffering a mild aneurysm. Either way, she's sure as shit in a mood to party tonight!
2:23AM - Of course it was mere moments too late, when I fully realised the full scale and horror of Miranda's diabolical plan and just why she was grinning so. For no sooner did I put two and two together, did her (evil?) twin Eleanor make an appearance, skipping merrily down the road, dragging a heavy length of chain tethered to none other than Kane Banner (aka: "The Gimp").
2:25AM - Yup, you know your night is officially over the minute "The Gimp" arrives. I don't know what the fuck they're planning tonight, and I sure as shit ain't sticking around here to find out!
So this is me fleeing, arms flailing and screaming down Hindley Street, down the wrong side of the road. This is me being hit by every car that passes me by. This is me collapsing dead in the gutter, gargling in the pile of leaves, only to be scraped of the tarmac with an oversized spatula, thrown head first into the boot of a taxi, and then whisked away to safety. Only to wake up hours later to the sounds of hysterical schrieking and bullets whizzing past my ears when I realised that the taxi driver had NO fucking clue where I lived and simply dumped me in the front yard of a suburban house, in a random side street in Enfield. Yup, just like every other Friday night. Nothing changes around here, it really doesn't, it's all the same to me, except for the "trivial detail" that tonight is actually a Thursday. It's a small difference I know.. but at least it's a start!