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...
TEENAGERSINTOKYO + BACHELOR OF ARTS + YOUNG HEARTS FAIL "ABRACADABRA" @ ROCKET BAR / Friday April 24th 2009
"Lust is falling for their idealised perfection, Love is embracing all of the faults instead". I think I remembered hearing that shit once, and as much as I'm likely misquoting it now, it's true of SO many things in this world. Not only does it explain most if not ALL of the insulting rubbish I ever write for this blog for all the "right reasons", it also may begin to explain the number one reason why most of the major record companies fuck it up good and proper for all the wrong reasons. Do a quick comparison study between "popular" and "indie" and you'll surely see it too; you'll see why it's destined to fail in the long term. Popular music is all about lust. By any other definition, it's nothing short of a prostitution racket: you fall hard and fast for their "smash hits", for their glossy tits and arse music videos, for their airbrushed centrefolds, you throw down your hard earned cash, take them back to your place, give them a good "three minute" thrashing, get all guilty about it the next day, and then throw it all away for the next quickie. It's your most basic needs met again and again and nothing more. It's an industry based on one-hit-wonders, hoards of hormonal teens screaming for more, a host of record executives spoofing all over the Top 40 with glee, and you feeling all kinds of stupid. No wonder they're getting angry now that no-one's "paying up". No wonder they're getting desperate with their girl on girl action. We all know they're pimping nothing but shit. It's a joke, it's junk food. it's everything that is wrong about the music industry and given a few too many drinks past 3AM on a Saturday: its the exact same reason we STILL make dicks of ourselves on a dancefloor to it. I know it, we've all been there, and it sure as shit ain't pretty!
And then there is "indie". And it helps to know what the REAL "indie" is, for SO often they'll try and fool you with the facsimile. It's not about what is "fashionable", fresh out of Sydney, London or New York with a thrashing buzz angular guitar riff. It's not a haircut. It's not fucking Evermore or End Of Fashion thrashing a shitty dance beat or whoever was responsible for raping everything we used to love about the Kings Of Leon. No, true "indie" is about embracing all the hilarious defects, the character flaws, the quirks, the rough edges, celebrating all those differences that makes life infinitely more fascinating and LESS about dressing alike and banging the same five songs in a loop (isn't that right Rocket Bar douchebag DJs!? yeaaah you know it!). It's all in their low budget music videos that become cult classics on youtube. It's in Thom Yorke's maddenning squint, Karen O's hilarious harlequin outfits, Nick Cave's ridiculous moustache, Patience Hodgeson with the largest birthmark you've ever seen flapping about like a ragdoll and shrieking in giddy hysterics; it's in how Robert Smith, Bjork and Billy Corgan can STILL have so many fans for every reason why they should've been committed to a mental asylum. These are the misshapen freaks who always got picked last in school, these are the ones that speak to us like nobody else, this is the real music we come back for again and again: the music of geeks, dweebs and the genetically downtrodden. As for what's any of this got to do with another fucked up night at Rocket Bar and some of the worst stage lighting I've ever seen in here, thanks to all the "douchebag DJs" running this joint to the ground on a Friday night; who the fuck knows!? guess we'll soon find out!
YOUNG HEARTS FAIL (***) myspace :: Yes this is the fifthtime I've seen this opening act thisyear. And YES I know what you're all thinking. But as much as I could simply be stalking them for one Xixi Cao: the cutest damn female vocalist in all the Adelaide scene (and how!), they're also making it ridiculously easy for me to "stalk them" in turn, by playing SO many freaking gigs in the last few months that it's literally impossible for me to avoid them even if I tried. Yup there's no doubt about it, Young Hearts Fail are this year's "Mona Lisa Overdrive", and just like Mona Lisa Overdrive before them: it's getting harder and harder for me to review them without making this shit sound like cruel and unusual punishment. So for the sake of all involved, let's focus on their potential and brush over everything else with "rose coloured glasses" shall we? (or in other words let's employ the exact same strategy I use for this entire blog everytime I drink myself to death each week.. YEAAAS!!). Young Hearts Fail. In all the times I've seen them live they've presented a curious dichotomy between that which is their jaw dropping studio sound: like all the "goose bump" elements of Interpol, The Cure and Bat For Lashes all rolled into one, and how it all "translates" onto a live stage. Stage fright is one way of putting it (mentioning both Ladyhawke and Cat Power in the same sentence is another), but to their credit they ARE improving. Xixi, their shrinking voilet HAS gained some much needed confidence, so much so you can ALMOST hear her haunting vocals, and by "almost" I mean feel free to totally disregard the howling feedback at the start of their set thanks to the house mixer cranking her mic levels to the ceiling to compensate (aaaah comedy!) and they're nothing but magic! And then there is the band behind her. Like a blitzkrieg through Poland, they'll launch into song after song of driven rhythm and oppressive guitar that rarely lets up the intensity from beginning to end. On the one hand this invariably adds to Xixi's breathlessness by drowning her out for four minutes at a time (as I suspect they've yet to master the verse/chorus dynamic that'd work around her more "subtle strengths") but in doing so they've also added weight to their fledgling artistry by giving their songs a distinctly "asphyxiating" emotional drive too. Yeah I know it's a bit of a mess, I know the pieces don't quite fit and yet I still see SO much potential here! As much as I'm clearly being far too easy on them, one day I swear they'll prove it to us all!
BACHELOR OF ARTS (****1/2) myspace :: Moments prior to our second act Modular's infamous douchebag DJs, just like every other Friday night's "Abracadabra", have been raping our ears nonstop to an A-Z crack cocaine medly of banging electro tunes and remixes covering everything from Ed Banger, DFA to MSTRKFRT: or in other words everything you'd love from: finding your corpse foaming and twitching on the floor with both eyes rolling back in their sockets, to finding sweet relief in a pulled trigger blowing both barrels of your brain over all the walls and ceiling. FUCK I love this shit I truly do! Which only makes Bachelor Of Arts (from Melbourne) all the more welcoming when they finally make an appearance on stage tonight. This band is truly a no-brainer in the best way possible. The minute they start playing you forget all the bullshit above, you forget that you've been dismantling your camera screaming obscenities the entire night attempting to photograph this shit, you simply nod your head along, switch off your brain with a smile and go "yeah.. I fucking dig this shit!". That's the Bachelor Of Arts. They're a ridiculously abrupt, angular and abrasive sound that's infectious in every way that they shouldn't be. They're an itchy trigger assault in hyper-kinetic start-stop adrenaline drumming, body popping rhythms, hysterical gang shouting and bleeding guitars that bounce about the room in the most idiotic and unpredictable ways possible; and yet for all their rough and tumble spastic jams, they also possesses a great deal of range too; an endless palette of sound in which to feed from. In effort to describe them more specifically, think of them as a Frankenstein mashup between the math rock rhythms of My Disco, the satanic chug of Helmet and the volatile psychosis of both At The Drive-In and Test Icicles. In every single way that should be a complete fucking disaster, and it IS, it works brilliantly. This is what "indie" should be. For all their flaws, faults and hilarious fuckups they're only but strengths that drive their sound further. I bought what I thought was an EP off them for $15, it turned out to be a 14 track album, I thrashed it twice in a loop whilst writing this review and it only got better; what more could you want?
TEENAGERSINTOKYO (****) myspace :: For all its size and grandeur Sydney isn't really reknown for its vibrant local scene, at least not in the scope that Melbourne's gargantuan over abundance couldn't otherwise win hands down in a pissing contest. But do not be fooled: beyond that cold capitalist surface of concrete, steel and glass (and freaking Andrew Stockdale) you'll be surprised what you can find. It's not just a city for disposable pop music, DJs and major record labels; OOOH NO! There IS a distinctive Sydney sound that apes that alienating urban environment and turns it on it's head quite like no other. Pioneered (and later corrupted) by The Presets and Van She: every year you see another fiendish acolyte emerge ripe with that iconic hard edged 80's electronic, sarcastically subversive, yet infinitely accessible sound. It's awesome shit. You hear it in the paranoid film noir grooves of Lost Valentinos from "Man With A Gun" to "The Bismarck". You hear it in the infectious post punk Blondie style jams of The Cassette Kids. You hear it in Teenagersintokyo tonight. I swear they're all siblings to the same genetic strain; and as much as they may all (at least on the surface) represent every single reason why Rocket Bar should be burnt to the ground thanks to just how ridiculously fashionista they may look (wait.. does that bass player have freaking Spock ears!? never mind) dig a little deeper and they provide every reason for why Rocket Bar was built in the first place: it's all about the ecclectic post punk rhythms that bring you back again and again. Teenagersintokyo are rife with it. You hear it when Linda Marigliano (yes that "Linda Marigliano" formely from Triple J) hammers the body popping bass with a jam that kills like nothing else. You hear it when Rudy Udovich with the spastic homeless beard (the same beard he apparently promised not to shave for a whole year) pounds that metronome assault. You hear it especially when next to every one of them wields the sticks for "Black Bones" and proceed rattle your ribcage all at once. It's ALL about that mad rhythm, that mad off kilter 80's post punk jam you once heard from U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and INXS's "Original Sin", that same tribal insanity The Ting Tings and New Young Pony Club have been ripping off ever since. Throw in Sophie McGinn's "Interpol" style guitars and Miska Mandic's icey synths and it makes for a killer combination. But what makes any of THIS shit something you want to invest in long term and not just another mindnumbing throwaway!? It's all about the vocals. I find the key to ANY "indie" band worth its weight, is in just how hilariously discordant their delivery is. Think the dull drones of an M.I.A., the shrill screams of a Karen O, or the adenoidal midtones of a James Murphy from LCD Sound System and you'll know where I'm getting at. And when you hear both Samantha Lim on vocals and Miska Mandic on keys "harmonise": in how they grate your ears ever so slightly, and yet have you grinning ear to ear to the shrill cacophany of it; you'll know exactly what I'm on about!
1:03AM - As much as the stage lights had been driving me nuts throwing my camera around the room all night. As much as all three bands have been a comedy of errors. As much as its been almost two years since Teenagersintokyo have graced the stage at Rocket Bar (and despite the venue being nowhere near capacity) this was just what I was looking for on a Friday night: probably one of the most ecclectic lineups I've ever seen throw a mad jam at Rocket Bar in a long while (and better yet I avoided a gig by The Touch at The Ed Castle while I was at it!? SCORE!). And considering this'll be one of the last shows Teenagersintokyo will be playing here before relocating all the way to London for a whole year to record their debut album, it might be a while before we get a mad jam quite like this too. Damn. And I rather liked those freaks too (SO much so I'd almost forgive them for using that song "End It Tonight" in that tampon ad *cough*). And as for what any of this shit has got to do with me using THIS retarded photo just now? Ummm I forget..
1:39AM - Yup, if ever the sight of both Spoz and Patrick Saracino lurching about like zombies isn't enough to send you flailing and screaming for the exit signs, then chances are all the OTHER hideous zombies who flood this joint from the fiery "pits of hell" and beyond (Electric Circus anyone!?) the minute those douchebag DJs start banging that ear raping electro again; will be sure to finish the job. No shit check out "shiny blond" prancing about on stage, thrusting her index finger about, like this retarded shit they're banging, is the BEST THING EVER! Isn't she awesome!? Isn't she the best!? Brace yourself duuude: it's only gonna get a whole lot worse from here!
1:51AM - Yup, just like every other potentially awesome Friday night of live music I've ever spent at Rocket Bar before (otherwise ruined by pretty much everything that followed soon after): one more beer (or possibly two for the road) is all I could handle of this insanity before throwing myself headfirst down those three flights of stairs and out that door to freedom: a full eight minutes after I made the exact same escape plan last Friday, but nowhere near beating the score I set a few weeks ago (back when Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!, Like Leaves and Steering By Stars played here) when I ran screaming down those stars a few minutes shy of two thirty. Seriously, if ever I make it past three and that "Stockholm Syndrome" ever kicks in and I start loving this shit something fierce (ie: it's just like alcohol poisoning; only funky!) put me out of my misery. Put a bullet between my eyes, lop off my head, burn the corpse, pulverise the bones and "salt the grave" with holy water lest I rise again; any of Rocket Bar's awesomely batshit insane bar staff notwithstanding (hi Kassandra!), that's a fate worse than death no one EVER wants to wish upon themselves..
2:02AM - Which, without an inch of irony, leads me here to The Ed Castle moments later..
2:05AM - Whereupon I'm ambushed by yet another "indie" club night (hmmm I wonder why I put all those quotations there *cough* nevermind) otherwise known as Transmission Live: as a packed out dancefloor celebrates yet another winning combination of live music and banging DJs that was surprisingly in no way ruined by the fact that The Touch may have played here earlier tonight..
2:08AM - Of course no night at Transmission Live is ever complete without making merciless fun of the DJs, because DJs clearly ARE the driving talent of the Adelaide music scene. No shit duuude! the way they can scratch those records back and forth? no wait.. the way they can beat match those records? no wait.. the way they can.. um.. WHAT exactly DO they do all night except for flinging CDs about every three to five minutes and getting retardingly drunk all night!? Yeah I don't quite get this shit either; and yet every week there's yet another night dedicated to them!? hiiilarious!
Still as utterly clueless as they may look (and how!), they DO fill a dancefloor in fine style, and you've got to give them due credit for that. And HOW do they achieve this lofty accomplishment!? I'm glad you asked! I've been told there's a simple trick to it: appeal to all the girls first, get them to shake their booty out on the dancefloor, and the minute they start flocking in droves? the rest of us shaved apes will soon follow. It's dumb, it's simple, it appeals to the lowest common denominator of the human condition; but damnit, it works. You now have yourself a packed dancefloor all night long, a capacity club, drinks all round, the venue rakes it in five figures or more, and next week there's another one opening up in yet another live venue that used to host live bands: until just about everywhere you'd ever want to drink beer there's another velvet rope, another lame line up for hours in the cold, and a bouncer telling you that you and your friend can't come in because they're "over capacity"; only to let all the pretty girls in before you. The moral of this story? DJs clearly have the best gig going at the moment; which is every reason why I make fun of these rat bastards in the first place, because clearly I'm all kinds of insanely jealous..
3:24AM - Thus (in no way influenced by just how many beers I've been drinking for the last hour following this insane tangent) I've clearly decided that I'm going to quit all this ridiculous "photojournalism" gibberish before it damn near KILLS me (ie: for pretty much everything else I've written above) and start a lucrative career as a indie club spinner instead.. YEAAAS!! But in doing so I'm clearly gonna need advice from some of the finest, most accomplished, professional indie DJs out there; I need the best damnit! *cough* or scratching that I could simply ask Ross here, or scratching all that I could simply take more drunken photos of him and Olivia here instead..
Yup, not only did Olivia think that ME taking all these ridiculous photos at the time was the best possible idea EVER (as clearly this shit never backfired every OTHER time she ever asked me to pull this schtick in the past) but clearly I'm way too blitheringly drunk to argue. Awesome huh!?
And no this ISN'T the worst possible photo I've ever captured of Ross, I've got plenty that are far worse, so much so I'm almost considering hosting an entire exhibition devoted to munted photography of DJ RossRossRoss all taken after an exceptionally ugly night on the piss. Yup, if nothing else, THIS shit right here is clearly a sign we're dealing with nothing but a professional!
4:11AM - Deeply horrified by everything I'd seen in The Ed Castle tonight (or for that matter at Rocket Bar hours earlier), and yet still choosing to drink myself retarded in there for another half hour regardless (irony *pfft* what irony!? I'm nothing if not a man of principle!) I eventually crawl my drunkarse carcass out of there and down to Supermild for some much needed therapy..
4:25AM - Which may begin to explain the "genius" behind all of these photos that followed: of me screaming like an hysterical idiot whilst some other unspecting fool reacts to it, or maybe it doesn't, or yeah.. maybe it REALLY doesn't (I mean seriously what the fuck was I thinking!?).
Whoaaa.. shit, I pulled this stunt with the bouncer!? SCORE!!
4:47AM - Which for no reason whatsoever, might explain why Wonder Woman would choose this exact moment to make an appearance, or clearly it doesn't because clearly we've gone waaay beyond the point in which anything I could ever possibly write could ever explain anything..
No shit, would you believe there was a wacky fancy dress theme party in Supermild tonight (called "Super Friends" no less) and everyone came dressed up as their favourite superhero!? Yeah I know, from all the available evidence we've seen so far I wouldn't have believed a word of what I'm writing either. I mean I'm pretty sure Stefan on the right dresses up like a ridiculously effeminate pirate every other night of the week (and how!), but as for Ruby on the left!? *pfft* that's nothing! You should see the wacky 1940's Hollywood shit she pulls with an oversized martini glass.. freaky!
5:03AM - Which is pretty much where what's left of my liver ended up, circling like sediment at the bottom of a glass, or more accurately circling the proverbial drain moments after closing. I forget the significance of why all these spirit bottles were placed in a line like this, or just how I managed to get a photo of it so eerily in focus, although I do vaguely remember picking up the tabasco bottle, chugging at least a good twenty to thirty drops to the horror and hilarity of many around me, whistling merrily up those stairs and into the street above; only to promptly explode in a shower of red giblets (and yes before you ask.. I SO wish I could've taken a photo of that!).
Yup, just like every other Friday night that had fallen before it: it all ended an hysterical, hideous and horrifying mess; and not even by any epic proportions (I think on a Richter scale, I'd put this one as a mild 4.3). Still as much as any outside observer would consider this an unmitigated disaster in every other sense of the word.. duuude I wouldn't have it any other way! You might come for a plan well executed, but I keep coming back for the hilarious malfunction.