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...
SYDONIA + QUIET CHILD + BLACKCHORDS LIVE @ THE CROWN & ANCHOR / Saturday April 11th 2009
It would've been a scene straight out of a Spielberg's "War Of The Worlds" remake. It would've been a scene straight out of hell. We're talking every nightmare ever so viscerally realised on a wide screen. We're talking humanity at its VERY worst; and no we're not talking Tom Cruise's "brilliant" performance promoting the film (although I can see why you'd think that). I can picture it now: that iconic image of "rats fleeing a sinking ship", of bodies piling on top of bodies, all squirming and writhing in the dark, all fueled by fear and desperation. Claws out, whites of their eyes, scrambling for higher ground. This would've been Darwinism at its most grim and deterministic. Granted there were no alien tripods bearing down on us with heated death rays blasting; we didn't need any of THAT to fuel the rising panic. This was just any given Thursday night before Good Friday at any given suburban drive-through bottleshop in Adelaide: as every dickhead and their dog made a mad dash to stock up on alcohol supplies. I pity ANY fools who would've drawn the short straw to work THOSE frontlines, moments before something very much akin to "The Battle Of The Somme" swept through the perimeter and devoured everyone in sight. Yup, desperate times call for desperate measures. I don't know how the fuck ANY of us survived that Friday night, clear headed, with nothing better to do than to hire a DVD, watch repeats on TV, talk to our friends and family, and catch up with a good book; The horror, OH THE HORROR! (this terrifying vision is brought you by "Jebus And The Latter Day Saints!" *shudder*). I mean shit, I love Zombie Jebus as much as the next person, I really do! Wasn't he the same bare footed hippy who turned water into wine!? grass into marijuana? sugar into cocaine? vitamin C into ecstacy pills!? Damn.. we could've ALL used a bit of that on a Friday night around here. When Zombie Jebus "takes a night off" all of Adelaide takes a night off; and it's a damn grisly sight to behold!
And when Easter Saturday rolls around, I can tell you this much: payback's a bitch in this town. All of Adelaide has the shakes, the cold sweats, and they're out for revenge. From out of their homes, their shanty towns, caves, tunnels and gutters, they come; swarming as one to hit this city like a storm. All with one aim in mind: to get as ridiculously shitfaced drunk as possible in the shortest time possible and take all of what's owing to them. Like clockwork I get the call from one of my fellow "career alcoholics" at seven. It's Sean Kemp, drummer from Booster, he's had enough of this mad moment of "clarity" this weekend and he's on a mad mission to destroy! I'm promptly dragged into The Ed (before heading here to The Crown & Anchor), plied with plenty of piss, only to escape well before the dreaded WOW! hits at nine. Yup, not a moment too soon I'd say!
By the time I made the journey into the Eastend ghetto two hours later, I'm already three or four pints in and gargling (I like to thank the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their new album "It's Blitz!" for getting me there in a suitably surreal fashion too). Which, if ever you've found yourself at the Crown & Anchor on a regular basis is the ONLY way to be. You really do NEED to be blitheringly incoherent to appreciate it here. I've seen this place sober, I've seen it during the day (even on a Monday!) and I've seen stains here that haunt me still. This may also be indirectly responsible for me missing the first band tonight, Saving Savanah, as I was much too busy dribbling shit with the former drummer (aka: Optimus Prime) from Tokyo City Sex Shooters outside (to notice they were ON the stage tonight). Or seeing just how many BBQ flavoured chips I could cram into my mouth all at once here, whilst posing for a photo with Charlie inside. Awesome! Yup, and if I'm the most comprehensive source of live music journalism in Adelaide? then clearly we're ALL screwed!
BLACKCHORDS (***) myspace :: Which brings us to our second act tonight. Seeing them on stage, I'm reminded of this hilarious live act I saw last year (let's for the sake of argument call them "The Captains Of Industry") and some timely advice I was given by an anonymous band member (who, let's for the sake of incrimination, we'll call "Mannix"). Before their show he warned me that the entire first half of their set would be "utter shite" (ie: it was fuck full of their slow songs), I should skip it and come back later for the vastly superior second half when they're busily ripping off Interpol (*cough* all jokes aside, they're awesome.. you should totally go see them!). Yup, if only someone gave me a similar warning about THIS band, this review here would've come out completely different. Blackchords. To their infinite credit they started off brilliantly and ENDED brilliantly. I hear elements of Sparta, Hard-Fi, The Editors and Franz Ferdinand here. There's a distinct, darkly driven rhythm that really nails it; even "semi acoustic" it's a mad buzz. But between these exceptional extremes (see the video you'll know what I'm on about) you're stuck with the sadsack middle section; where you'd much rather be off at the bar getting hideously drunk instead. Especially when your friends at said "bar" (hi Simone!) are busily sending you a string of SMS's reminding you just how much this band blows a goat and how you'd much rather be off drinking with them (I know.. don't remind me!). Still, maybe it boils down to personal preference. Maybe it's just how they've arranged the setlist. If you love Matchbox 20, Rob Thomas, Creed and Coldplay; if you LOVE a good "power ballad", there's plenty to love about Blackchords here. Clearly I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about.. I know! There IS an earnest delivery here, a heartfelt honest plea in the acoustic twang, it's powerful stuff, and in no way am I clawing my own face off (whilst attempting to take all these photos no less) wishing I was anywhere but here. Still if it helps, their lead singer Nick Milwright here DOES bear a striking resemblance to Charlie (aka: Dominic Monaghan) out of Lost, and I think we can ALL agree that Lost is freakingly awesome. No shit, how good is the fifth season!? how ridiculously badass is it? if you're downloading it like I am you'd know just what I'm on about. If you're still watching it on TV, it only gets better.. trust me! Yes I realise I'm laughably off track here.. and for good reason. Blackchords is a band you'd wanna appreciate with a short attention span. If you do, you'll dig 'em fierce. If not, blame Eddie Vedder for fucking it all up.
QUIET CHILD (****1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our next act, and conversly, a band that's best appreciated with a LENGTHY attention span (or better yet some psychotropic drugs to go along with it). No shit, find a spot in the middle of the floor, don't worry about anyone else around you, park your arse (lotus position optional), pack that bong, fire it up and enjoy the magical mystery tour they take you on; it's like nothing else! Yup, they're truly THAT kind of band. A band you'll appreciate for the "album" more than the "single". A band that takes you on a harrowing journey through all nine layers of hell "Dante's Inferno" style and yet still makes it magical. They're Quiet Child. Or as I like to call them "Silent Bob Sings The Blues". They may only have five songs in their entire setlist (believe me I checked), but they'll happily take an entire lifetime to articulate each and every one of them on a stage tonight (and you'll want to hang onto every note along the way!). Still, in sound, they're deceptively simple to describe (almost annoyingly so if you're like me and prone to writing rambling reviews that fill entire paragraphs). You could almost write it in a single sentence. They're Tool meets Muse. They're Hans Zimmer meets Helmet. Elaborating further still, they're all the finest nuances of Matt Bellamy and Maynard James Keenan (and perhaps a hint of Chino Moreno) channelled through one hairyarse gimp of a lead vocalist: who looks a whole lot like Kevin Smith but sounds eerily like the otherworldly voice of an angel. It's disturbing I know. I've seen grown men reduced to tears, foaming excessively over the brilliance that is Peter Spiker's ethereal pipes. You'll find them out here in force tonight, pilgrims from afar, praying to whatever crass combination of chromosomes and sinus medication produced such a geekly freak of genetics. Quiet Child. As much as it's all about Pete, it's also about the rest of the band. I know, good luck finding them out there: they all dress in black and hide ever so well in plain sight but they're the ones responsible for conjuring up this witches brew. You can hear it in Jason Mavrikis's praying mantis guitars and Brent Carraill's pendulum swing on the bass. They drive each song with a chugging momentum, like stabbing stakes into a vampire well dusted; like Bram Stoker's Dracula. You can hear it in Paul Backman "the blacksmith", as he keeps those fires churning and the steel blades spinning on the drums. You hear it all combine in an infinite intricate ways for twelve or more minutes at a time. Wow, no shit! I'm actually surprised I had THAT much in me tonight! So often I go to a gig like this filled with a million and one insane ideas and leave a "tabula rasa" like a babbling infant, in effort to explain it. Yup, to their infinite credit tonight, Quiet Child are everything you could ever ask for from a band that clearly rips off Tool so openly, and yet with none of the nasty side effects!
SYDONIA (****1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our headliner, the culmination, and also the utter confusion; as I've been ducking back and forth between here and the bar busily getting drunk with Joe and Simone all night (and if you don't remember WHO these two idiots are by now, you'll be sure to get a hilarious reminder later on in this episode). Seriously, how can I possibly form the phrases to articulate just what this band is when I'm THIS blitheringly idiotic? Do I even have any words left in the English language, or maybe something in Middle English? Middle Earth perhaps? I know, I can see the resemblance too! Yup, there's a reason why so many of our male species have such an affinity with all things fucked up sci-fi and fantasy. Given near enough liquor consumed and you too will either adopt a Scottish accent, a gutteral Orcish dialect or speak fluent Klingon. Which is just as well when you're faced with a headlining act quite like Sydonia. They're a band that screams the collected works of J.R.R. Tolkien like no other tonight. Not just in their lead singer Dana Roskvist's eerie resemblance to a towering elf (he's Scandanavian, so that's pretty much a given) but also in the tribal drumming of both guitarist Sam Haycroft and bassist Adam Murray when they unleash the goblin armies in songs rather like this one (which I recorded last time they toured here). As such they're prog-metal very much drawn both from the bucket bong philosophies of Led Zeppelin IV and the blackening shred of Mudvayne, Soulfly, Helmet and Sepultura. It's an insane dichotomy I know: the simian and the sapient within us all smashing beer cans into each other's foreheads in chorus as they sing along. And yet the way they perform it all they somehow make it sound so aristocratic and damn near articulate!? Yup, that's Sydonia! Granted they were off to a grisly start tonight, when barely seconds into their second song their drummer Sean Bailey stabbed through his kick drum (would you believe they gaffered the fuck out of it?) but after that brief setback and some insane flashing lights (that were next to impossible to photograph through) they ruled us all with an iron fist. They came to the Crown & Anchor and they conquered. They were the sounds of both cavemen and spacemen battling it out for supremacy. They were a mechanised Panzer tank assault. They were a tendon snapping, itchy trigger fingers fuck full of primal rage. They were an oil painting with a half naked woman in battle gear astride a dragon steed with a flaming sword plunged deep into a blackhole sun with guitars buzzing. Their lead singer also came up with the funniest joke of the night, when he gestured to the crowd "hey.. what's this?" mouthed both of his palms in turn and replied: "it's Jesus chewing his nails". Awesome! I'm drunk as all hell, the walls are spinning, I'm tripping balls, and duuude? I swear there's nowhere else I'd wanna be!
1:27AM - Which is why it took "considerable effort" for both Joe and Simone to drag me out of the Crown & Anchor afterwards (or possibly no effort at all as I have a very dim recollection of just what the fuck I actually did from here on in.. help!?). As they drag me ever further into drunken oblivion, all clearly with my best interests in mind. Yup, out of all the nights you could ever spend drunk: on any given Saturday night, on any given Easter Saturday when you're playing a much needed game of "liver malfunction", THIS is the unholy hell that both Joe and Simone unleash upon your mortal soul when you find yourself on a rampage quite like this one ON an Easter Saturday. It's true, there's very few I like to think who could drink me under the table, and as much as Joe and Simone STILL can't: it's only because my twitching body is lying on an autopsy table right now. Yup, I think we can safely assume it's gonna get a whole lot fuglier from here!
1:32AM - For how else could we explain any logic, rhyme or reason behind willingly embarking into this grinning green hellhole again!? I could've sworn I graduated from here ages ago, migrating along with all the other irregular freaks who did themselves a favour and fled this shitpit before it killed them all with alcohol poisoning. Ever since the bouncers back in early to mid 2007 attempted to kick all the "riff-raff" out and tried to make it.. shit, I dunno.. classy!? (ie: read dead empty, so they could all go home early.. pffft, wimps!). I mean how else could we explain our repeat evictions for half the "mischevious pranks" we ever pulled in there? Or when those two bouncers actually dragged me outside one night to give me the "good cop / bad cop" routine: only to explain every sound reason WHY they never had any grounds to ever actually kick me out ever: except for the simple fact that we'd always wander in there past 4AM and have too much damn fun (I know.. we make a mockery of the whole "responsible service of alcohol" don't we?). But now they're all gone and now WE'RE back! And OOOOH SHIT! may Zombified Jebus have mercy on our spleens!
1:43AM - I dunno about you: but for some reason back in the day, we always figured this place to be a tragic (read: hiiilarious) "emo haunt". Not like we could care less either way, we just love to get drunk and trash the dancefloor here past 4AM on a Saturday night when every OTHER eastend haunt had shut down for the night (also I'm pretty sure MOST of the embarassing DJ selections here *cough* Justin Timberlake *cough* put them squarely in the cheesy "goth pop" meets Top 40 trash oeuvre anyways). Still either way, we figured it might as well "dress" the emo occassion just in case: no point sticking out like a sore thumb around here now is there? OOOH HELL NO!
1:46AM - It's only later that we realised just how ironic it is for all of us to "pretend" we're goth, or emo, pissing ourselves laughing on camera; when we're all dressed in black to begin with *cough* "I mean C'MON! just because I love listening to Interpol, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails.. oh wait, nevermind!". Still I think we can all agree, that THIS right here is some of my finest emo work.
1:48AM - Clearly way too distracted making complete dicks of ourselves to address the more important need to "drink ourselves into an early grave", we're thus reminded of that pressing need by Simone here. Who might I add, has a personal trainer who works here behind the bar. Hmmm..
1:51AM - The exact same "personal trainer" who'll be responsible with plying us with cheap drinks all night ($1.50 pints of Coopers Pale anyone), until we're completely unable to put one foot in front of the other without getting hit by a car, a tree, or faceplanting the floor in front of us..
1:57AM - Which we, in our utterly "intellectually" diminished state, find not at ALL ironic. Unless of course you count any recent findings in the "cutting edge field" of Phys-Ed that we're yet to be aware of. Actually come to think of it: open any newspaper or science journal lately, and chances are you'll find a half-arsed "scientific" study that'll justify just about anything stupid you could think to poison yourself with. Why? because they're all hired by fucked up drug companies THAT'S why!
2:04AM - Which I realise has absolutely nothing to do with any of the shit you're seeing right now (would you believe this is nothing but the result of a vegan macrobiotic diet, frequent colonic irrigation, spring water and plenty of vitamin supplements.. OOOH SHIT NO!) but still it's worth saying all the same. Think about it, if everything can kill you, why not do it all at once until they cancel each other out!? Genius I swear! with this shit we'll all live to be a hundred an eighty!
2:05AM - Just like you're likely to believe a single word of what I'm saying right now and this website will never be held accountable in a court of law for dispensing "advice" that you should NEVER follow if you EVER know what's good for you! No shit, never try any of this at home kiddies; try it out in public with a large group of friends, then film it and post it on youtube instead!
2:06AM - Speaking of such, I hope NOTHING like the following here ever gets released onto youtube (I wonder how many people "screen" the CCTV footage around here and piss themselves laughing at the end of the night?), or come up with an accompanying soundtrack as you REALLY don't want to know what kind've retarded song we were all pulling hilarious dancemoves to, or just how tragically uncoordinated any of this would've looked when played in "time" to the music.
2:09AM - Thankfully however I have no memory of this shit ever happening. If I would hazard a guess by sight alone, it was clearly the most awesome song EVER written in the history of rock & roll *cough* and absolutely nothing that Pink, Britney or Beyoncé were otherwise responsible for.
2:14AM - But of course just like any spastic carpet bombing of the dancefloor (although you'll notice for the safety of everyone else present, we actually kept well away from it!) it was cut short the second an even WORSE song hit the decks in sequel (dare I even remember what monstrosity THAT was!?). Thus we were reduced to other extracurricula activities in which to entertain ourselves: such as THIS shit that we pulled anytime the bouncers had their backs turned on us.. yeeeouch!!
2:29AM - Or why not a game of "stacks on" with Lee here? the ONLY freak we still recognised in this entire establishment (and yes we'll excuse just how "politically incorrect" it looks, as let's face it this is the most freakingly AWESOME shit ever attempted with a wheelchair, period). Still it does make you wonder. Just where the FUCK is everyone else we know around here tonight? Where are all the "regulars"? Scottsman? Sara!? All those hideous ghouls, goblins and flesh eating zombies!? Have they all simply fucked off to Enigma Bar now!? are they still at The Exeter? The Crown & Anchor!? Is it simply waaay too early in the night to tell and we're simply asking way too much? guh.. I swear! what the HELL are any of us THINKING going to this shithole in the first place!?
3:19AM - The answer to which is clearly provided the minute we hit up the bar again for another round of $1.50 beers. Followed by one of Shotz's many stomach churning specialities: the tray of "everything you're about to chuck up in the bushes out back" as served in five greasy vials (aka: shots) all for the princely sum of whatever insane discount Simone's personal trainer is willing to give us. Which by the looks of it, may involve sacrificing at least 90% of our kidney function.
3:23AM - I swear I don't know what the FUCK they put in those things: white sambuca, vodka, snake venom, turpentine, oven cleaner, baileys, botulinum, herpies, weaponised anthrax (water!?) but they sure as shit wipe the slate clean! Just look at all our smiling faces, hitting the dancefloor like tomahawk missiles! Now imagine all those people scattering about us like ants! Isn't THIS what it's all about, when you hit Shotz looking to get shitfaced drunk on a Saturday night!?
3:28AM - Still, by now we've clearly we've caused enough damage in this dive to last a lifetime, so it's high time we took the show on the road. Destination? quite possibly Supermild. Although with these two nitwits? it's any wonder we'll get anywhere at all soon until well after the sun comes up.
3:35AM - Yup, I have no freaking clue where the HELL we are right now. I also have no memory of this photo ever being taken. I think we had video footage too, but for the sake of society at large, I've chosen NEVER to publish it; but only because I'm yet to decipher what "language" it's in.
4:35AM - And thus in no relation to anything else I've written so far, this is the ONE photo I took in Supermild when we finally got here one whole hour later (FUUUCK!!). Of course I don't remember what we actually DID for the last hour (oooh hell no!). I don't remember taking this photo. I don't even remember being IN Supermild in the first place. Although I DO vaguely remember how little it took to convince the bouncer to let all three of us baboons into this joint (as clearly they hadn't seen all the fucked up photos we'd been taking back at Shotz *phew*). Oh and if you did happen to cross paths with me here at some point in the night? (ie: anywhere between the hours of 4 and 5AM): could you please fill me in on just what the fuck we all DID in here!? help? anyone!?
5:03AM - And just like any other misadventure that involves making balloon animals out our small intestines, making whoopie cushion out of our large intestines, and otherwise shortening our lifespans in every way possible (that our entire species isn't otherwise signing a death sentence with, by shooting all our garbage into the sun) it invariably ends with us blowing our brains out here at a fast food establishment. In this case Mickey D's. And I know what you're thinking, but NO.. it wasn't the infamous one on the corner of Hindley and Bank Street (aaaah if only!). Still, the end result is largely the same. If YOU had a restaurant open 24 hours a day, up and down the worst human toilet, sewerage outlet in all the city of Adelaide: what else were you expecting!? Take one look at Joe Blogs here, imagine the rapidly plummeting intelligence-quotient of the idiot who's holding the camera right now and I believe you have your answer: "humanity" at its finest!
Yup, when the paramedic teams haul me away at the end. When their scientists in Hazmat suits pick my carcass apart with questioning faces, attempting to quantify exactly what "killed" me (and why I appear to be filled with styrofoam peanuts.. hmmm). They may stop to wonder the who, the why, the what of how exactly this came to be. And in reply, we'll simply point to that which will be written on my tombstone, that which will form my single line fortune cookie phrase when I "fake my own death": and it'll be THIS website address. Yup, this is what I'd call one fucked up night!