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...
BOOSTER + WILLIE MCRAE BAND + AMBUSH MARKETING LIVE @ THE GRACE EMILY / Saturday May 23rd 2009
Everytime I write one of these blogs I like to have a "theme". A handy conversational topic I can pull square out of my bottom round at a moment's notice that neatly encapsulates the night into a nifty unifying narrative. Maybe it's a heavy handed plot device, maybe it's a frequently referenced punchline (aaah serial killer jokes.. you haven't failed me yet!), maybe it's a proverbial punching bag du jour (ie: see my speed dial selection of "Rocket Bar douchebag DJs", "fuck I'm SO hungover.. again!", "heeere comes the Apocalypse!" to me picking on an easy target like "The Touch") or if I'm being really ambitious I'll even throw in a character arc like I'm Steven "Fucking" Spielberg. Beats me why I go to all this trouble each week when we all know it's just about the Adelaide music scene; and yet I practically tear my hair out going batshit beserk, climbing the walls and screaming at inanimate objects trying to dream this shit up. I swear my web browser's gonna need fucking crisis counseling after the week I've been through: no shit, if you could've bottled the profanity I unleashed upon Friday night's episode alone and aired it on network TV in the US? it'd sound like someone on speaker phone prank dialing the Antarctic. Every blog has got to have a topic. Without it I might as well admit what it's REALLY about: absolutely nothing, and even then Seinfeld has his standup comedy routine to bookend his shit. I swear there's only so many ways I can write: "Spoz verbally abuses A B and C, Spoz gets drunk.. THE END!" and yet here we are. How I've managed to get this far after three or four years without becoming Rove "Fucking" McManus is beyond me. Sheeiiit maybe this is my calling? Maybe I'm a literary genius!? Squeezing blood out've a stone!? *pfft* that's nothing dude! Wait till you see ME make a "definition of insanity" look like a fucking magic eight ball! WHO KNOWS WHAT I'LL COME UP WITH NEXT!?
And now that I've wasted a good paragraph on that, here we are with another one.. FUCK!! I was stumped tonight I really was: and then somewhere between 10AM and 12PM on a Wednesday morning, after I'd been up all night, verbally abusing what is for all intents and purposes just a glorified typewriter hooked up to the most technology advanced porn gathering network ever envisioned by man; it finally hit me. THIS delerious stream of "director's commentary" would be my narrative! My shattered synapses and THIS hallucinatory wonderland (that could only come from two hours sleep) would be my muse! It's pure genius, it really fucking is! Of course it's got nothing at all to do with why I'm spending a night at The Grace Emily but that's besides the point. Who ever pays attention to all that shit anyway!? Fuckit, let's verbally abuse some live bands!
AMBUSH MARKETING (***) myspace :: But first, let's take some time out from playing "balloon animals" with our opening act's fragile lack of self esteem: "oooh they look just like deer in the headlights! let's smash the gas pedal!!" and give due praise to whoever's responsible for the lighting tonight at The Grace Emily. In fact I'm pretty certain it's like this every night. Come to think of it, the minute I finally lose the last marble rolling around in of my skull (thanks to say a violent sneezing fit or another Monday to Tuesday game of "keyboard ping pong".. YEAAAS!!) be sure to wheel my foaming carcass down Waymouth Street, prop it up against the front door with a post-it note slapped on my forehead (detailing feeding times and bank account details) and I'd be more happy to live the rest of my days circling these lights like a fucking paper moth. "ISO 400 baby! geek up it like a motherfucker!!". In fact if it was at all anatomically possible I'd have wild monkey sex with it and have millions of hideously deformed but wonderfully luminescent babies (aaah could you imagine if Chris Cunningham directed THAT music video!?). I know I've said it before (Queen's Theatre.. will you marry me!?) but it should NEVER be taken for granted. Thanks to golden photographic opportunities like these I'll actually believe I'm an a-grade fucking "camera assassin" and not one of those mumbling simpletons who shoots birds at airports (or better yet a paparazzi working for the Sunday Mail social pages.. hi Andrea!). Yup, this is our opening act Ambush Marketing, this is me sabotaging half of their gig review, now let's go fuck up the rest of it for them. There's two things that immediately strike you when you see this band live. Firstly there's Matthew Hill's voice (no relation to the uber producer): that sits in that arguable "sweet point" between the shrill nasal overtones of a Mick Jagger from The Rolling Stones and the lisping wank of a Frank Spencer from the seminal 70's BBC sitcom "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em" (it also helps that he looks rather a lot like him). Sure it's shit like this that should come with it's own "peanut allergy warning" but it still has its own distinct charm; especially when one side of you face goes completely numb after listening to it for protracted periods of time. Secondly it's Ben Campbell's guitar: I swear it sounds just like a greatest hits compilation of Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood having explosive orgasms in everything from "The Bends" to "OK Computer" and it is without a doubt the BEST thing ever! And as much as these two extremes should combine to a form something rather akin to a snuff film soundtrack: it does have its merits. Think UK whiny britpop veering towards the snotnosed punk and post punk end of the spectrum, or rather like Franz Ferdinand, The Rakes, The Kooks and The Vines meeting up in a mental asylum to swap brain medicine and that'd be your Bambi smeared all over the tarmac tonight. Sure it's utterly batshit dysfunctional and yet you can still hum a tune to it!
WILLIE MCRAE BAND (***1/2) myspace :: Up next we have our second act, obviously; because proclaiming this to be our fifth act tonight would not only be wildly innaccurate, but better yet would provide conclusive proof that all these coffees I've been slamming down hard in the last few hours in the vain effort to write this shit is having absolutely no contribution whatsoever: except perhaps for a thin trickle of blood leaking out of my left nostril: "brain tumour? what drain tuba hexagonal ostrich dick flop!?" and the irrepressible urge to unload my bladder as many times as entirely unnecessary. This is the Willie McRae Band. The only reason I'm stating that shit AGAIN (when clearly it's already mentioned in the title) is to point out that their lead singer is in actually fact Willie Bidstrup and I've got no fucking clue where the "McRae" came from; unless of course they have an accompanying fast food franchise based solely on the teachings of the Raelian UFO cult. Laugh you might but if ever you've seen Willie Bidstrup's other sideproject The Torrens and the songs they chose to bookend their "performances" with (ie: him and his buddy Tom Ireland standing dead motionless in head to toe white sheets whilst popcorn techno bounces about the room) would likely appreciate the irony. You'd also likely be joining me in attempting to wedge a sizeable beach towel up my nose in effort to prevent my head from exploding. But do not confuse the electro/hiphop of The Torrens with anything we're seeing here tonight; they're chalk and cheese. Firstly this is a country and western band, and secondly.. I think I just had an aneurysm. "Hi, I'm "Spoz" and I'll be taking over for the rest of this review". Willie McRae Band. They sit somewhere between the genuine lifelong struggle of a Johnny Cash's "Walk The Line" and whatever that pisstake was that starred John C. Reilly. With a greatest hits selection like "Zombie Farmer From Hell" to "Truck Driving In Space" it's not hard to see how I'd come to this insane conclusion but there's still a quirky charm here that wins you over all the same. They're Garth Brooks meets Mel Brooks, they're Neil Young's "Crazy Horse" meets Ween's "Piss Up A Rope" and in every way this shouldn't make sense (especially in the way that Lee Michael Dewey plays his bass quite like Craig Nicholls from The Vines would fly a kite) it still works wonders. It's Willie on leads aping all the best qualities of a Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus, it's Rob Bidstrup's easy going shuffle percussion bringing home the bacon and it's also the ridiculously awesome sight that is two bald freaks fronting the ONE band. No shit, if ever Rob followed suit they could rename themselves to "The Trio McWillie" or "Nutsack City Limits", blow a load every night and rake in the millions! Still, it's early days yet. This may only be their second gig here tonight but already they're proving that they've got the goods to go far!
BOOSTER (****) myspace :: Obviously I've already written way too many half arsed "reviews" taking cheap shots at THIS headlining act in the past to have anything new to say. Even more so considering I've known their drummer Sean Kemp from every other band he's ever played in stretching way back to the mid 90's (and I mean just look at him, he already writes his OWN punchlines ferfucksake!!). Still, for the sake of filling a suitably thick paragraph of assinine non sequiturs, that half of you won't even bother reading (as you frantically scroll down in search of the Supermild's "drunk, munted and fugly" photo selection) I'll just press on regardless. Booster are a stoner, psychedelic and 70's fuzz metal band performing in the fine tradition of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Meatloaf (oops there goes that punchline again.. damn you Sean!) although chances are you already knew all that. So instead I'd like to dedicate tonight's review to the late great Craig Lewis, for the simple fact that it'll make about as much sense as anything else I've already written. His mastery of the guitar is unparalleled. The way he rips through every riff and blistering solo with such understated ease is damn near electrifying to watch; especially considering he was declared dead almost three years ago. You wouldn't think it from the looks of him tonight, but thanks to someone swapping his heart pills for LSD back in June 2006: a team of dedicated puppeteers from the Jim Henson Workshop have been rocking all the power chords post mortem in his memory (some may even claim he's been a little more "lifelike" since then). Oh and would you also believe Craig Lewis is actually a grandfather? no probably not. Booster. They're an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, rolled in a carpet and thrown off a bridge (or quite like what happened to their former bass player "Nick Oliveri" when he exposed his king missile too many times at their all-ages shows). Oh and might I also add they've only just, in the last six months, truly come of age in their song writing? perfecting a distinctly Death Valley freak jam that not only spares no inch of the buffalo carcass in their BBQ construct but also combines all the best elements of Queens Of The Stone Age, Eagles Of Death Metal, Kyuss and Josh Homme's "The Desert Sessions" in their cinderblock rocking delivery? Yup, check out the video to their brand new psyche jam "You" (below), and when Sean fires up that falsetto solo at three minutes and five seconds? WHOAAA!! Booster may've always had the dim sims, the dumplings and the crispy fried duck in their repertoire but now that they have the wanton soup to float it all in; duuude they're like nothing else! And if you still don't know what the fuck I'm on about, duuude come see them for yourself. Be stupifyingly bug-eyed at Sean's hypnotising stick twiddle antics, Craig's death defining shred acrobatics and Josh Biggs pineapple crapping bowel movements (who hasn't made a single mention in this blog up until now for reasons that are entirely beyond me!). Oh yes, let that freak flag fly and taste adventure!
12:11AM - It's usually here (at the midway point) that I like to take a moment to pause and reflect on all that has passed. As I summarise just how these three bands have contributed to the rich tapestry of society at large, or scratching that just the Adelaide music scene, or scratching that insult their intelligence in the most childish, degrading and demeaning way possible. Recently I've figured I could shoot all that onto video, edit it up and send it off to a large international music publication so the entire world can laugh it up at their expense because clearly I'm THATfuckingevil (and I'm SO not kidding.. that actually happens!). Of course I'm doing none of that tonight because apparently I'll be staring blankly at this collection of knick-knacks over the bar for a good hour instead. Which of course would surprise just about no one as this is usually point in any given night where any notions of reporting on "perceived reality" is quickly overturned in favour of an overly elaborate hallucinogenic non sequitur about zombie apocalypses, serial killers and me poking fun at some guy called "Stefan". So without further ado, heeere goes "nothing"!
1:02AM - An hour or so later I find myself here at the opposite end of town at The Exeter. Now obviously there's a logical explanation for all this. I clearly got a lift here courtesy of a few friends of mine (thanks Warwick & Heidi) to follow a few other friends of mine who'd since left (who I'd spent the last hour or so talking shit with outside The Grace Emily) and now thanks to all THIS I'm here now at The Exeter. But of course as we all know I'd much prefer to explain away all this shit as me somehow "teleporting" here thanks to a freak convergence of electromagnetism, swamp gas refracting off the planet Venus, the illuminati, Richard Nixon's head pickled in a jar and the weaponised plutonium content found in a single serve 45 gram bag of "Burger Rings". This of course doesn't begin to explain why I'd choose to take THIS photo as a suitable caption for all this but by the time you even begin to consider any of that shit, you'd be SO bewildered by everything else I've just said here that I would've already moved on to the next photo.. genius isn't it!?
1:15AM - Y'see the truth is, going from place to place to get "hilariously drunk" is in itself an exceptionally dull way to spend an evening. Which is why it's usually customary for a drinking establishment to provide you with entertainment, or scratching that at least a thousand different (and increasingly infantile ways) in which to distract you from the simple fact that your spending your nights getting "hilariously drunk" instead of doing something more important with your life. Having dickheads flash lights and smash ear raping indie dance beats into your face is apparently the best thing going at the moment, taking a shitload of mind altering drugs and flicking a light switch comes a close second, or if you live out in the sticks: simply set fire to something, preferably large, and the whole night takes care of itself. Of course The Exeter has none of these things on offer, so eventually you're left to your own devices: and let me tell you maaan it got desperate, so much so I was actually reduced to having an "intelligent conversation" with someone (fuuuck I know!!) until at long last THE opportunity of a lifetime presented itself before us! I don't know WHO the fuck he was or why he was wearing a 70's daredevil yellow furry jumpsuit but damnit we just HAD to take advantage of it! And so: me, "daredevil dude" and Matt Kelsh here cooked up our very own humble homage to group photography in effort to milk this shit for all it's worth..
Presenting: (a) the "badass action hero" (see above), (b) the "junkmail catalogue" (see below)..
And of course my personal favourite cringe worthy finale, (c): "the awkward family portrait"..
2:45AM - Of course that stunt only provided ten minutes of cheap frills until "daredevil dude" ran away screaming to call the cops, only for us to be bored again, only for us to realise (over an hour later) that maybe there was at least a hundred OTHER places in Adelaide that could be slightly more entertaining than The Exeter an hour or two before closing time, especially after the rain had scared away a good two thirds of their regular clientele (hmmm now where could that be!?). We briefly entertained the notion of hitting up "Square One" (yet another wildly popular "indie dance club") at Rhino Room, only to realise upon arrival that it would cost us a good $5 we'd rather be spending on getting "hilariously drunk" (clearly we've got OUR priorities straight) only to stumble down to the opposite end of town to try our luck at The Ed Castle instead. Somehow, against all odds (or quite possibly because they were no longer charging entry) we scammed our way in..
3:13AM - This is Todd, bass player for Trixie Plain. Minutes after taking this photo I pissed myself laughing because, against all odds, Todd's look here somehow screamed "presidential". Duuude could you imagine if he ever ran for office!? despite having no policies, no election promises, a distinct lack of personal grooming and a speaking voice that resembles Yoda crossed with Bobcat Goldthwait from Police Academy he'd still win by a landslide victory on the grounds that he'd still be miles ahead of most the OTHER leading candidates you could put up against him. He'd spend most his days in political office slamming headfirst into walls, laughing his arse off, picking himself up again, slamming headfirst into the same wall again, blacking out cold, waking up just in time for lunch (where I bet he would make a really good sandwich), waste a few hours watching SpongeBob SquarePants, forget where the fuck he was again and then slam headfirst into a wall again. He'd be the greatest politician we will EVER KNOW! Oh and did I mention he plays bass?
3:21AM - Moments later The Ed Castle closes for the night, and to the surprise of absolutely no one here I end up at Supermild. And much as I'd love to justify why the fuck I'm in HERE again with a perfectly rational explanation; thanks to that "non disclosure agreement" I signed over six months ago with all those beadyeyed goons with the black hoods on (and an "initiation ceremony" that would damn near make your eyes water *cough*) I'm not at liberty to discuss anything. I mean shit, maybe the conspiracies theories ARE true? maybe they do lace the longnecks with "mind controlling" fluoride? maybe they do secretly run most if not all of the worlds major governments from this basement? maybe Griffy Griff even has an orbital ion cannon loaned to him from the US Military.. for what reason who the fuck knows!? or maybe I'm simply writing all this shit because I have no fucking clue what else to write in this space. Sometimes it's fun not knowing!
Still after my many months of studying the inner workings of this place (and ever so conveniently drinking myself to oblivion so I can never remember most of what those "inner workings" actually are) I think we can all agree that Supermild has a ridiculously awesome and ecclectic late night clientele. No shit, they're the best! They're just what you'd be looking for in a quality lounge bar around the world; or quite possibly just from the overractive imagination of David Lynch after he's huffed too much of the wacky fungus found growing for six to eight weeks in the back of his refrigerator (fuck.. how else did he come up with Lost Highway!?). The cocktail sipping jet set, the punk rocking avant garde, the glacial uber chic, the blitheringly artistic, the tweed geeks finishing their post doctorates. Musicians, actors, architects, artists, designers, dancers, photographers, writers, the chronically unemployable and the professionally vague? they're all here in abundance..
(of course it's got absolutely nothing to do with THESE hideous freaks here; I'm just saying!)
Yup, whether you're a 007 Bond arch villian, a sharp shooter assassin, a foxy femme fatale or a chain smoking mad scientist building an alternative energy source using nothing but spare lawnmower parts, a bag of dessicated frogs legs and a particle accelerator? duuude chances are you'll fit right in! And as much as a mad hit of vitamin D would surely kill them all, and as much as I keep forgetting all of their freaking names only to find most of them on my Facebook list? no shit, these genetic defects are just MY kind of scene! Weird I know! I'm actually wholeheartingly praising a scene for once! You're just waiting for me to come up with the punchline now aren't ya!?
4:25AM - But nope there's no punchline here. Take Beth for example, lurking about the shadows, leering at the camera, fifty flavours of batshit insane, in the rain with her exploding orange and headscarf on. Like ANY minute now she's gonna pull a machete and go all "Edward Scissorhands" on me. Isn't she the best!? Doesn't she make your eyes piss rivers of blood all giddy with glee!?
4:40AM - And then a full fifteen minutes after all the screaming in my head stopped (wow.. and it was all in Chinese too!? awesome!!) I'd found myself outside again. Another successful night at Supermild by all accounts. Excluding all those bodies I had to burn out back afterwards (really, why would I ever need an orange jacket!?) not at all coincidental to the fact that I always choose this exact time to leave on a Saturday night just so I can catch the last late night bus flying past down Currie Street in about ten minutes time. And all that so I can save a good $20 to blow NEXT week on getting "hilariously drunk" (give or take a few trivial distractions like all the live bands I may accidently review in between). And as much as you may not have paid attention to any of that shit just now, at least acknowledge how ridiculously awesome and incidental this photo is! No shit, how awesome and shiny does a city look at night after a little bit of rain? I'm feeling all kinds of Taxi Driver right about now. Let's shave my hair into a mohawk and go on a random killing spree!
I think I've figured out half the problem here. It's obviously got nothing to do with the alarming amounts of alcohol I drink every week that's besides the point; drinking makes exceptionally mundane shit look fucking awesome, I'd be totally lost without it! (and also perhaps a little thinner). No, this is one of those "in between" weeks. You know the ones. I've had a whole string of them recently. In between all the CD launches, the interstate tours and the hyperbole there's always THIS: the Adelaide music scene in all its minutae and me smashing my head into a laptop keyboard screaming obscenities attempting to wring some kind've poetic license out've it (when we all know it's essentially about nothing). I'm living the Seinfeld sitcom dream I truly am! I say why fight it? why not embrace it!? this is life maaan and it makes absolutely NO fucking sense!