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...
SINCERELY GRIZZLY + 20TH CENTURY GRADUATES + THE KEEPSAKES LIVE @ JADE MONKEY / Saturday May 8th 2009
I can never get a good night's rest on a Sunday, not in the last six months at least. There's just too much of it waiting for me at the other end. Like circling footprints, competing consciousnesses, demon possessions, outstretched claws dragging me under; all screaming for me to let them free. I invite them in laughing every week. They haunt me in my dreams; endless interpretations. Memory cards sorted, emptied, tagged, adjusted and uploaded in an uphill battle. Thousands upon thousands distilled into hundreds, reduced even further: a sequence chronologic, perhaps even logical, but mostly nonsensical to a mind that's long since forgotten. It's a mad rush to get it all out. I'm sifting through a litter of these non sequiturs even now, sensory input and observation teetering on the brink of overload and I'm trying to make sense of it all. There's a good story in here somewhere, a narrative I swear, if only I can put the pieces together. I like a good challenge, I really do. I can't sleep till they're put to bed. What you see as two cracked eggs as they splatter and sizzle on a frying pan: to me are two hemispheres of a brain. They're both one and the same scrambled in perfect synchronicity. Add salt, pepper, tabasco and sweet chilli to taste. Cook it up all laced with caffeine and adrenaline, eyelids set wide to toothpicks, pupils racing. Spin those dials, tune those frequencies, a deafening din, a 21 keyboard salute till the wee hours of the morning; and all before the next wave comes crashing? It's a race against time, it really is! My weekly routine set on edge as my insanity unravels. Every now and then I see the bigger picture, I wake up to it all freaking: "did I really do all THIS!?" and then I go back to sleep; sweet relief and a well earned rest. I want to take on the entire world, I want to take on the impossible, I short circuit and crash to a blue screen laughing. I need a place like the Jade Monkey, I need it now more than ever. I'm an aslyum seeker this Friday night, yearning to balance that singular equation.
I'm finding more and more it's about information control. We're on the event horizon to a singularity event I swear. Soon it'll all collapse inwards like a blackhole and swallow us whole. There's so much sensory imput to sort through daily from all sides: data streams, news feeds and incoming requests all screaming for my attention; and me with only one voice in which to respond. I'm just too curious to say "no". I want to take them all on kamikaze style: guns blazing. I must exercise a "need to know basis", anything more and I'll simply be overwhelmed by force. They're out there still, banging on my doors and windows, day and night till my head caves in. Must resist the temptation to wikipedia the world for answers. It's good to have a little mystery in our lives, ignorance can be bliss. How the fuck did I write over nine thousand words last week!? Is this my post graduate thesis? Or are they simply the mad scribbles I've left on my prison cell walls!?
So it makes sense that I'm here now. I'd just crawled out of one hell of a CD launch last week. It was awesome: ridiculously overblown beyond all measure, and in every single way that it'll simply be forgotten the minute the next one hits. It's like this every week now, fifty two frames animating to epilespy. It's a pissing contest and all I have is a cocktail umbrella, and now all my notes are smudged. For the sake of my sanity, faced by a million options: I pick the smallest, most intimate surrounds tonight. I shut out all the klaxons, the sirens, the flashing strobes, I wear these submarine tones of the Jade Monkey like an oversized pair of sound cancellation headphones. We're back in the womb again waiting till the little light turns green. I'm balancing that equation every time. In the end I hope to look back on all this shit and I swear I'll see a symphony.
So as you're racing off to catch whatever-the-fuck at The Ed Castle, Enigma or Rocket Bar on a Friday night, or for all the other options and more screaming for my attention that I could've easily chosen, ones that could've easily beat this one in a bar fight; I'll be hiding here for a "quiet one" instead. Here for no other reason (short of two supports) than for THIS name haphazardly marked in masking tape on a suitcase: "Sincerely Grizzly". I laughed when I saw it here, even more so when I saw the facebook invite that brought it to my attention days before: "because she'll only turn Sincerely Grizzly once". I SO should pick shit on a whim more often, it's awesome fun!
THE KEEPSAKES (****) myspace :: Which brings us to our opening act. A month ago I saw them pack Supermild to capacity on a Thursday night; and that's putting it mildly. They filled that basement till everyone was headbutting the walls, ceiling and punching holes through the sidewalk above. That deafening throng all around me, predominantly females, groupies, clawing madly at the band from the frontlines, enthralled by a screaming hysteria known simply as "The Wignall Factor": in both brothers Anthony and Jon. They pick the weirdest bands I swear. Fuck, maybe it's the geek glasses? but no, there's more to them than that. They have that rarity in songcraft. That weirdly infectious, disarmingly upbeat indie "power pop" sensibility that draws people in from far and wide. No shit, Anthony may very well be Adelaide's answer to James Mercer from The Shins. And with his brother Jon pulling shapes on bass, and their band in turn, they conjure that infectious American midwest flavour: a little Wilco, Death Cab For Cutie, maybe even some Weezer; it's brilliant stuff. But tonight's set isn't so obvious. Dare I say it they've gone for the subtle approach. Gone are the screaming hoards save for a faithful scattering. Gone too is half the band and their broadstroke appeal save for Anthony and Clemi on guitars and vocals, semi-acoustic style. Still, it's just this kind of "comedown" I was looking for after last Saturday night. A simple two piece performance, they take turns on leads, there's some nice watercolour details here you wouldn't otherwise notice with a full band. Most memorable of which was this solo that Clemi slipped into midway through their set. This lilting, alt country crooner like Cat Power and Mazzy Star joining forces to sooth the world's ills. For a moment there, it was like nothing else was in this room but her voice and all of us floating disembodied with serene smiles. You would've heard it on Poly & The Static's "Paper Lanterns" EP and that third song "Willow". You would've heard it on the first song "Hikikomori" off Zeta's second EP "The Takeback". If ever you haven't, then surely that's a crime that sorely needs addressing. That alone would've been enough, but when they invited the rest of the band back on for that finale (complete with the trumpet revelry) it nailed it in one. No matter how insane the world is out there, it's never so much that The Keepsakes can't find a novel solution to it.
20TH CENTURY GRADUATES (***1/2) myspace :: Our second act may be familiar to many of you despite this being one of only a handful of shows they've ever played. Firstly for their guitarist Alex who you may recognise from my many "Head Of Asparagus / Arrow With An Afro / let's give Alex Ciaravolo a nervous tick" pisstakes I made when he used to front Lumonics (aka: quite possibly one of the BEST bands in Adelaide you never heard back in 2008). Secondly for both Jeremy on leads and Jon on bass, which unless you're prone to enjoying a good deal of blunt head trauma (aaaah don't we all!?) you would've recognised from playing in The Keepsakes mere moments ago. Thirdly for their ridiculously cheerful sound, which shares so much in common with that band (down to their propensity for trumpet and fuzzy powerpop charm) that I'm seriously splitting hairs here in effort to differentiate between them. Fuck! Which is why I'm ever so relieved for the gift to photojournalism, that is the addition of their spastically overenthused "cheerleader", tambourine player and occassional backup singer Larissa. She's VITAL to this band in every single way that her actual contribution to their sound is arguably inconsequential. You can't miss her even if you tried. She's like a radiant beam of sunshine on a fancy free spring day, punching you in the face repetively over just how ridiculously bubbly and cute she is, then tickling your nose with a feather till you can't help but smile. Awwww.. I know! It's like both Patience Hodgeson from The Grates and Alysson Hannigan from How I Met Your Mother got together for a "pillow fight" and out she popped fully grown like a perky little pixie nine months later. I swear I don't know whether to hopelessly fall in love with her, or stick a loaded gun in my mouth and pull the trigger laughing hysterically until the "pain" stops but WOWEEE she's awesome! And with their lead singer Jeremy resembling very much like what Ben Kweller would look crossed with a labradoodle (wait.. aren't they the same thing?), and an ecclectic charm to their performance tonight that combines elements of Broken Social Scene, Belle & Sebastian, Stereolab and a bag full of puppies; they're quite possibly the cutest damn band you'll EVER see, before wanting to throw yourself in front of a speeding bus unable to cope with it all. Yup, that's the 20th Century Graduates. They're about as edgy as Elmo, but it's damn near impossible not to like them!
SINCERELY GRIZZLY (***) myspace :: Which makes the "math rock" sounds of our headlining act all the weirder, yet all the more welcoming in turn. Yeah I know I SO didn't expect it either! After The Keepsakes and the 20th Century Graduates you were probably half expecting "Sincerely Grizzly" to sing whimsical shit about newborn kittens, rainbows and "James the gentle brown bear" who wants nothing more than to sing like Julie Andrews from The Sound Of Music (like a Disney movie voiced by Zach Braff) all the while playing the glockenspiel; followed by me gouging out both my eyesockets in a river of blood screaming, reviewing what would surely go down in history as the deadliest "confectionery trifecta" ever unleashed in an episode of Spoz's Rant. But no Sincerely Grizzly are nothing like that, they share none of the "sunshine pop" sensibilities that our first two acts excelled in; and no shit I'm SO relieved! (I know I know.. but everyone has their limits!). Yup, despite this only being their second gig tonight and despite them sounding rough as all guts in every conceivable way: you just KNOW they'll make something awesome out of this given six months to a year. There's an unique creativity at play here that I've not seen since My Sister The Cop or Skeletons. They're arty and post punk, that much is certain but in a starkly unpredictable, angular and articulate way that few other newcomers would even dare approach without wimping out and making it all "dancey". No, think of Sincerely Grizzly as an infinitely more intriguing: just like Joy Division, The Cure or The Rapture taken way back to their percussively abrupt roots. Or somewhat like My Disco cross pollinated with Not From There and the Test Icicles. Willfully obscure I know but it grabs you all the same. For the most part they're instrumental, frequently full of sharp twists and turns, driven with an impossibly powder dry bass and occassionally rife with rambling non sequiturs and shouted slogans; but they're not at all shy about it. It's laughingly amateur yes, I still don't know WHY they're using an electronic drum kit (when for intents and purposes it sounds just like a normal kit.. only flatter) and it shows so many flaws when compared against our other two more accomplished acts, but damnit they're JUST the kind've insanity that I like to encourage!
1:55AM - Yes there's a very good reason for why I'm still here at the Jade Monkey for a full hour or more after the bands have finished tonight. I forgot what that "good reason" IS exactly, but it may've involved either: (a) me and a few other accomplices drinking ourselves so whimsically retarded in the last hour or so "celebrating" that we've conveniently rendered ourselves "non compus mentis" in a court of law, to a prank we "allegedly" pulled in a nearby Toys R Us store that may've involved us ripped the heads off all the Barbie and Bratz dolls, ripping the heads off all the Star Wars action figures and swapping them around for cheap laughs or (b) me uncovering a coincidence so utterly improbable and insane that it makes my head explode just thinking about it now: one that clearly merits NO mentioning in this blog now as there's a damn good chance that none of you went to the same highschool as I did (and I bet you're still dying to know huh!?).
2:04AM - And now in no relation to anything you've just read, I find myself in a serious need for a drink like never before (or possibly like any OTHER Friday night) and in the last possible place in all the East End you'd ever want to achieve this lofty aim without accidently requiring the services of a wheel barrow, a shovel and a priest. Even more so after you've learnt that the one idiot who's been living next door to this place for the past few years, who's been solely responsible for filing all those noise complaints in effort to shut this place down, who may've also been a former headmaster at a highschool, that same highschool you may have attended for five years, is also related to one or maybe even TWO members of *cough* and clearly I've said too much already..
2:11AM - This is Sallycat, she's all kinds of ridiculously awesome! Every other Friday she hosts "Kitten plays DJ" where she spins everything from Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ladyhawke, Peaches, The Cure, B-52s, Depeche Mode (and more) to the projected backing of wacky oldskool cult movies such as the 60's Russ Meyer classic "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" which is screening on stage right now. What's this got to do with anything? nothing at all! come say hi sometime!
2:51AM - No shit! not since DJ Kraig Black fled this festering hell hole many moons ago (for Transmission no less) has The Crown & Anchor dancefloor had this much of a lunatic party buzz, or maybe I'm just hilariously drunk, fuckit.. either way, all that's missing here is a few lava lights, some swinging 60's chicks dancing in cages with white go-go boots, and perhaps Andy Warhol in the corner passing out tabs of acid and duuude this shit will be huge! Or scratching that a few more drunks like these collapsed on the floor in front of me would easily come a close second.
3:13AM - And now for no reason whatsoever I find myself here at Elysium, or maybe Cuckoo, or is this the Lotus Lounge!? because clearly that sign's gotta be wrong because *pfft* I never go here!
3:31AM - I remember chance few details of what the fuck I ever actually did in here, no small thanks to the longneck beers that The Apothecary now serves behind the bar, or is this Mojo West or the Kava Hut? yeah I've got no fucking clue either. Still, just like every other Friday night: it somehow ends up with me bumping into Stefan here, who (through no fault of his own) has made the hideous mistake of walking into Sugar again, or is it Fumo Blu (shit.. what!?) only to bump into ME again, hilariously drunk and armed with a camera. No shit.. if you see THIS gargling nitwit coming at you, babbling nonsensically with a beer in his hand: you better start running, you better throw furniture in his way, do what it takes, get out as fast as you can, and NEVER LOOK BACK!!
I swear I wasn't gonna make fun of this guy for the third week in a row, and yet here I am at it again!? (I know!). Still, Stefan is never one to embarass himself in public without at least dragging in some choice reinforcements to share the stupidity with: such as Galina "Smoking Femme Fatale" Petkova here, and Sia "Sharp Shooter" Duff below. No shit.. aren't they awesome? don't you wish you could sneak them into every one of YOUR fucked up drunken photos too!? YEAAAS!!
Yup thanks to them, this scruffy looking nerfherder/gypsy/pirate/whatever-the-fuck looks infinitely more "007 fashionably badass" and less like "everyone's favourite hysterical euro-trash" from the band I've never reviewed by the name of Lyla. They're also available for weddings, funerals, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, baby showers, mob hits and political assassinations; and before you ask: no that cigarette isn't lit, and no we're NOT in Supermild. In fact I'm pretty sure I actually collapsed dead outside of The Crown & Anchor and never made myself down here and somebody ELSE took this photo. As for who's writing this blog now after what must be at least the sixtieth time I've "faked my own death"? the reanimate corpse of Lester Bangs? Hunter S Thompson? Hank Moody? Gregory House!? all four of them in my head fighting for dominance? who the FUCK knows!?
Many hours from now they'll shuffle me off into my steel coffin at last, floating off down Hindley Street, carcass torched, embers scattering into the four winds like a Viking funeral. I'll wake the next day wondering just what the fuck hit me. None of this makes sense, the pieces don't fit like they should but I play this game every week a willing participant. A million thoughts and images that I have not even the faintest recollection of (save for all the evidence scattered before me like crunchy autumn leaves) spills out before me. I shuffle the pieces and attempt to make sense of it all. All in effort to balance an insane equation. All so I can sleep at night. Aaaah peace at last!