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...
WOLF & CUB + THE SCARE + LIKE LEAVES "SCIENCE AND SORCERY" LAUNCH @ FOWLERS LIVE / Friday June 12th 2009
For many years I lived according to what I liked to call the "Etch-A-Sketch Theory". You start with a thick flat grey screen with a red plastic frame and two white knobs to draw with. This is your brain: an etch-a-sketch. Your weekdays are spent filling that blank etch-a-sketch with a series of mad scribbles, thoughts, conversations, sensory imput: an increasingly intricate latticework of words, images, the occassional dick and balls and a giant amthropomorphic chicken giving you the finger; yeah I got no clue where half of that shit comes from either but you get the picture. Eventually by week's end it's all filled up, you're pretty much fucked for new ideas, and so your only option is to give the etch-a-sketch a good shake and start all over again. This is what you spend your weekends doing: hence "Etch-A-Sketch Theory". It's why I dose up on caffeine during the week thinking I'm a genius, only to drink myself retarded on the weekends acting up like an imbecile; weirder still it's worked brilliantly. As a creative method it's damn near foolproof. It's just like wake and sleep. Go without sleep and eventually you'll go fucking insane. Go without my etch-a-sketch and I end up the same way "sketchy" as fuck. It's an equilibrium, it's a balanced equation, it's simple as fuck to operate; or at least it WAS until I started writing THIS blog on a regular basis. Now the week and weekends are blurring into one, there's no off switch and my brain's running 24/7 coming up with new shit. Which as awesome as that sounds (and believe me I'm enjoying the avalanche of creativity) also means I haven't been able to empty out anything, the equation's becoming increasingly complex, there's an anomaly building, and eventually I'm gonna fucking explode if I don't address it. Now any NORMAL person would simply take the weekend off when faced with an increasingly dire brain malfunction and reboot in a loony bin somewhere, but we all know I'm not that person. I like to take that shit out into the open and see what happens!
So here we are at Fowlers Live on a Friday night, and duuude I'm fried. Or to be more precise I'm beer battered, flattened, kicked to the curb, crumbed in cigarette butts, broken glass, shattered teeth, "marinated" in the sun until I'm crawling in a symphony orchestra of ants and then deep fried (I hear Rip It Up are doing a "I Heart Schnitzels" special on it in next week!). It's been one of THOSE weeks: I haven't slept a wink in days, I've been plagued with writers block from Monday to Friday, I swear my etch-a-sketch is well and truly busted; and yet in some weird way it's rather liberating too. I mean who the hell even knows what an etch-a-sketch IS anyways? Half the time I get them mixed up with magna doodles and I don't even know what the fuck THEY are either (you boil them in water for 2 minutes right?). It's irrelevant, it's redundant, it's time I come up with something new. So instead of being an on/off switch I'm gonna be a continuous stream of consciousness. It'll be just like I'm living in a waking dream, sleepwalking in a trance, or a nonstop twitter feed. Let it all flow through me and as long as I don't leave too large a puddle on the floor nobody would be ANY the wiser! YEAAAS!! I'll simply recharge on the go! I don't care if I skipped dinner (short of a wolfed meat pie burning the roof of my mouth) just to get here by 7:40PM to catch the first band at a fucking all-ages show (damn you Fowlers Live and your early nights!). I don't care if I'm circling the drain hard and fast with no sleep, going batshit insane and upto my elbows in ankle biters. It's all good duuude! Once that music starts, I'll just plug straight into that stream and it'll be nothing but me and my R.E.M. cycle tripping balls in front of the stage!
LIKE LEAVES (****) myspace :: Which is possibly the best mindset to be in to appreciate our opening act Like Leaves. Like many of the best psychedelic acts, they blur the edges in which you define reality: between wake and sleep, between normal and the paranormal, between this world and the next; between sanity, insanity and you tripping balls on nearly enough acid, LSD, ketamine, peyote and mushrooms to gain a deeper understanding of children's television like Ren & Stimpy, SpongeBob SquarePants and whoever-the-fuck came up with hallucinogenic shit like BoohBah (seriously you DON'T ever want to click that link if your toasted). Yup, this band all the above and then some but in the most blissfully tranquil of ways. They're like a gateway drug into the infinite, all swirling about in a giant coconut shell with a wooden spoon and a medical disclaimer; and yet even when they're at their most volatile it's still a mellow groove. I like to think of them as my spirit guides in that regard: manifest in coyote, buffalo, eagle and gopher form; they'll show me the way through that harsh desert of reality and into the shimmering oasis beyond where the translucent pink and purple elephants dance. Sure I may be utterly exhausted, depleted, dribbling, starving and stark raving mad (gee can you half tell!?); but Like Leaves STILL feed my fractured soul like no other. You can hear it in their set tonight, from Juliet's subtle string sibilance and Ryan's drum fills ushering in the entrée "Dancing On Glass", to Patrick's hypnotic basslines looping in "Fruit", to the haunting harmonies between Daniel and Juliet in "Falling" to the frenetic feeding frenzy found in "Complex Denial" and "Swordfight"; it's like a smorsgasboard of sound, it truly is! Or if you're too lazy to flick through all of those youtube links that I collected earlier: think of them as My Disco meets Jefferson Airplane, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Queens Of The Stone Age. I don't think I've ever seen them play a dud gig all year and this set tonight is no exception. Especially in the mix that's given Patrick's bass a distinctly distorted chunk, more pronounced than usual, like a giant pig on a spit that makes my ears salivate like crazy. I know, I should totally get that looked at, I don't think that's quite normal but in the case of this band, it's a perfectly exceptable side effect. Like Leaves. They had free demos on offer tonight, word is they're working on an full album (which may be unleashed anywhere onwards from August or September this year) and if it's anything like the feeding frenzy we've got going on tonight? duuude I can't wait to dig into it!
THE SCARE (****) myspace :: With Like Leaves firing up my appetite like a blast furnace: I made a mad dash to the candy machine and dosed up on a whole pile of processed rubbish (Toobs and bag of M&Ms anyone?) mere moments before my ravenous stomach could fly out of my throat and join the band as a fifth member (aka: that squirty pink thing you'd likely see in subsequent shows playing the "bagpipes"). Oh and I also picked up their demo and maybe even a second one (after I accidently attempted to eat the first). Awesome! With that out of the way I returned front of stage fully satiated, further medicated (by a beer or two), perhaps a little bit drowsy, only to be assaulted by THIS our second act. The Scare. Originally hailing from the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, now based between London, Sydney and whichever hell dimension Chris Cunningham calls his own: they're rather like what you'd get if you stuffed both Iggy Pop and Nick Cave (in their itchy trigger prime) into the whiplash frame of Howlin' Pelle Almqvist from The Hives and then got him to front The Vines, or rather like those rage-virus zombies out of 28 Days Later only they're dressed like wild west undertakers with a few extras chainsaws and a slamming junkyard drumbeat to boot; either way they woke ME the fuck up out've my blissful slumber rather like a smoke alarm and a lit cigarette held inches from my pillow as a prank. In any other venue at any other time there would have been a bloodbath. There would've been tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, a swarm of riot police wielding shields and batons, curdled screams and internals splattering, followed the federal government declaring it as a quarantine zone and filling it with concrete, followed by me returning weeks later with a sledgehammer only to find half of my ribcage still embedded in the ceiling. Tonight with this all-ages crowd in however, it's more of a poker faced flinch-off. Every five minutes or so their front man Kiss Reid, after whipping himself into a killing frenzy, would leap off stage, run into the thick of it, get right up in people's faces screaming and flailing, kidnap the occassional six year old for a piggyback ride, then stumble back on stage with his tail between his legs increasingly frustrated at the blank stares he's receiving; only to repeat the whole process ever more belligerent five minutes later. The crowd barely flinched an inch in return, maybe a few laughed and at one point Kiss Reid quipped that even Hobart gave them a better reception (ouch!). Which isn't surprising considering we're in Fowlers Live, it's 9PM on a Friday night, in the dead of winter, they're the support act to Wolf & Cub, half the crowd's blazed and half the crowd's drinking lemonade. Still you can't fault them for trying and at least for me (and a small scattering of people around me trying to start a mosh out front) it was a mad buzz all the same. The Scare. They were a total headfuck to watch, they made me want to break shit, and if only this was shit hosted in Jive on a Saturday night, we'd already be long dead. Fuuuck, could you imagine that shit if they did!? Next time, let's see if we can make that happen and hope it'll end up as breaking news on CNN. I'll bring the molotov cocktails, you bring the rest, we'll have ourselves a party!
WOLF & CUB (****1/2) myspace :: Where a headlining act sits stylistically or philosophically in a music scene at any given time can often be judged by their choice in supports. Sure it's not always the case with the larger international touring acts where they'll pretty much throw in any 'ol local support act into the mix knowing full well no one gives a shit (as Wolf & Cub discovered for themselves when they supported The Presets on their latest tour) but it's definitely the case with an album or EP launch. As such it could be argued that we've been presented with two sides to Wolf & Cub tonight. The first isn't all that surprising. Like Leaves in the opener obviously represents "original recipe" Wolf & Cub: that psychedelic, hypnotic, throbbing jam guarenteed to dutch out any combivan in a five mile radius (or The Ed Castle beergarden on a Friday night), and empty out boxes of pizza shapes in record time. The second however is a curious choice. The Scare: a feral as fuck party band looking to destroy wouldn't have fit "original recipe" Wolf & Cub two years ago. But something's definitely shifted in this band between "Vessels" their first album, to the launch of their second album "Science And Sorcery" tonight. Many of those same stoners from The Ed Castle beergarden, the minute they heard that Chris Colonna from the Bumblebeez was producing them, likely would've cited everything from The Music's "Strength In Numbers" to The Presets "Apocalypso" in mocking tones, figured this is where they were heading, and immediately disowned them as nothing but "shitty electro" sellouts. And yet somewhere between the extremes of Like Leaves and The Scare tonight, is probably the most telling representation of where Wolf & Cub are REALLY heading. It ain't electro, metro, indie dance music or drum & bass; it's something else altogether. Listen to the new album and you'll probably pick up on it too. Skip past all the psychedelic shit, that much is already familiar. Skip past all the verses and choruses they're rocking now, that much is already well documented. It's the third element that's truly telling: an element of dare I say "spastic jungle fun" creeping into the mix. This "fuck-what-anyone-thinks" subtropical jam. It hits you in the first song: "Seven Sevens" with a mad buzz that bounces about like a labradoodle on surfboard, ears flapping side to side on a warm summer's day until it's practically beating you about the skull with it by the midway point of their second song "What Are They Running" as the entire composition dissolves into this jubilent free-for-all drumming circle complete with retarded shrieking, then it returns again with those loony goth organs you hear being thrown about the studio near the end of fifth song "Spiders Web"; it's sprinkled all throughout the album. Dare I say it but Wolf & Cub actually appear to be having fun with this shit for a change? Whodathunkit!?
Yup, in all the years I've seen Wolf & Cub. From The Exeter, Jive, Rocket Bar, Adelaide Uni Bar to The Ed Castle, from the awesome shows to the shit ones, if there's one thing that unites them all it's in their introverted and antagonistic stage presence; they're damn near infamous for it! It's in the way that Joel hides behind his hair, a constant frown, gripping onto his microphone for dear life. It's in the way that Tom faces away from the audience and dry humps the bass amp for the ENTIRE set. It's in the seething hatred that could only burn from the beedy eyes of JC on the drums (so tiny, so freaking evil!). Or maybe it's just me and they'd never really forgiven me for when I trashed them for that Wolfmother show they supported back in 2007 (I distinctly recall Joel screaming abuse at me when they played that following show at Adelaide Uni Bar.. aaah good times!). But tonight, for the first time ever, they actually seem ridiculously happy to be here; so much so it's almost scary to watch. Joel was the biggest shock of all as he spent the entirety of the set flailing like an hysterical muppet, hands in the air, jumping on the drums, doing knee slides, wooping it up like all his birthdays came at once. Tom on bass was even more disturbing in the fact he actually rocked out a good portion of the set facing the audience (fuuuck I know!). Sure JC still looked like he wanted to murder someone, but I've figured after tonight that he probably always looks like that. Who knows why they were in such a good mood!? Maybe it's the cheerful influence of Marvin the "new guy" on the second drumkit (and the fact he can play a mean sax). Maybe they're relieved to have survived the dreaded "sophomore slump", the album's finally out and better yet people seem to like it. Or maybe it's because they're only two gigs in on their nationwide tour and everything's still fresh. Either way this weird buzz they had going tonight was damn near infectious. It didn't matter that their mix was shit: like it was this grinding, garbled mess of muddied distortion that made next to every song I heard unrecogniseable till they were halfway through playing them; they were thrashing a mad jam maaan and everyone was invited! You could see it in their second song "What Are They Running" when they tore into that drumming medly, cowbells aplenty (a song that finally made sense of why they actually HAVE two drummers on stage). In "Seven Sevens" to "This Mess" as Joel flew about the stage with a bug-eyed grin. In "Hearts" (my personal fave from the new album) which although suffering somewhat from the mix still nailed the "vibe". To an incredibly loose rendition of "A Thousand Cuts", "Steal Their Gold" and finally "Vessels" in the encore that closed the set to a cheering crowd begging for more. It was freaky, it truly was! This was Wolf & Cub claiming victory over all the odds stacked against them. This was them infinitely ecstatic to be one of the few bands in Adelaide EVER to make it past their second album (and better yet be thriving for it). Yes Adelaide it IS possible! this is your bright shining future ahead of you! If Wolf & Cub can get away with "murder" tonight.. so can we all!
11:38PM - By the time Wolf & Cub had walked off stage I clearly wasn't "all there". A large part of it was thanks to me tripping balls to their live set for the last hour and a half (and being in a blissful state of mind where a live mix not too dissimilar to the consistency of "peanut butter" had no bearing on my enjoyment of the show) the rest of was simply thanks to how sleep deprived I was. Neither awake or asleep, in that wacky twilight zone where hypnotic suggestion meets reality game show contestant.. aaaaah what could be better!? So much so I'd totally forgotten it was an all-ages show, only to find myself turfed outside moments later wondering just what the fuck I was gonna do for the next three and a half hours before I inevitably end up at Supermild; or at least I WAS wondering all that until I found myself at The Ed Castle anyways without a single clue how I got here (because clearly me writing that I simply "walked here" would've been way too logical).
12:09AM - And it's usually at this point of the night where reality rapidly becomes irrelevant and my blog slips into the surreal realm of "Spoz has absolutely no fucking memory what he actually did in all these photo and will thus rely on hilarious fiction" (ie: see every blog I've ever written) for how else could I possibly explain what happened next. For there I was waiting at the bar for a beer, when some random girl approaches me. "You're Spoz right?". Gurgling in the vague affirmative, she promptly slaps a blue wristband on my arm, says something about a free bar tab: "local beers, house wine, base spirits.. etc etc" and before I could figure out just who the HELL she was (or where the fuck I even knew her from.. anyone!?) she disappears without a trace again. Weeeird! Now don't get me wrong I AM aware that a lot of people read this blog, I've got a hidden web counter that keeps tabs on all the numbers, I'm like a local celebrity or some shit.. it's freaking awesome! but it still doesn't make incidents like these any LESS fucking bizarre *cough* no wait, why the fuck am I even questioning this anymore!? I GOTS FREE BEER, BITCH! WOOO!!
1:13AM - Of course that bar tab lasted all of one beer before it ran out, so then I had to find something else to amuse me. Which considering my state of mind right now (ie: somewhat akin to that of a goldfish crossed with whatever simple mechanism switches the little fridge light on) didn't leave me with all that much to play with beyond responding to simple sensory imput like: light, heat, smell and WHAT THE FUCK IS PLAYING IN THE BAND ROOM JUST NOW!? Sure it took me a full hour to investigate (and if it was anything other than a live band, had five tentacles, crapped out fire, and possibly originated from the Horsehead Nebula.. I was really better off not knowing) but I'm glad I did eventually, because I'd somehow found myself at yet ANOTHER album launch. This is Coerce. Remember that time when Robotosaurus fucked up one of my cameras and I based the entire freaking blog on it!? yeah *cough* they were one of the bands that played before them. No shit, they're awesome! Sure I didn't take any notes tonight, I'm not reviewing them and at best all I can remember from this shitstorm of a set is a LOT of screaming, shredding, flying drumsticks, me blacking out cold for a good ten minutes with my eyes open, waking up with half a beer spilt in my face and maybe taking some photos.. but I highly recommend you go see them. They're embarking on a nationwide tour in June to promote their debut album "Silver Tongued Life Licker", check their myspace for details, bring a crash helmet.. duuude you'll fucken love it!
2:51AM - This is Lee Cowan. Before he had a shitcrazy beard and was prone to propagating weird odours not to dissimilar to porcini mushrooms and sleeping in bus shelters, he used to be in a wildly popular Adelaide band called Tony Font Show. He's here right now for no other reason than to (a) remind everyone that despite all the other rumours you may've heard he hasn't quit acting for good to start a lucrative hiphop career, (b) he's formed a new band that'll be playing live gigs soon, (c) there may be a Tony Font Show reunion on the cards in the next few months too, (d) and no, wait.. he clearly said none of those things, he just popped by to "borrow" a few dollars for a box of wine, some loose cigarettes and then maybe take a nap in Light Square. Awesome, thanks for dropping by (and thanks for not pissing on my shoes!). Lee Cowan? no shit, what a legend!
4:34AM - And so here I am in Supermild, hours later, happily drinking at the bar with not a care in the world. Of course I could've mentioned walking here from The Ed Castle hours earlier, maybe mention those three douchebags on Hindley Street (just opposite The Worldsend) who yelled abuse at two friends I was walking here with: Sascha (former lead singer of Zeta) and maybe some other freak (Gus.. something!?), how they followed us all the way to Supermild, and that maybe a fist fight broke out, which I totally missed as I'd already walked down those stairs ahead of them oblivious to it all; only for one of them to be thrown down those same stairs moments later (not Sascha, the other one) by one of the bouncers in effort to break up the fight. There were black eyes, bruises, a WHOLE lotta blood. I didn't see any of it, didn't even know it happened. And now here I am, hours later, happily drinking at the bar like nothing happened. Awesome huh!? And yes, I like to think there's a moral to this story somewhere.. but I've long since forgotten it.
Yup, I'm beginning to suspect that I spent the last eight hours in a trance with my eyes open and maybe I dreamt all this. Sure it's a little disturbing to think I have comprehensive photographic evidence, reviewed three out of four bands, drank a whole lot of beer and somehow managed to hold conversations with all these people around me like nothing was out of the ordinary when clearly my brain was somewhere else entirely; but either way I feel refreshed all the same. Weird. Guess my "Etch-A-Sketch Theory" is still in effect afterall. Turns out all it needed was sleep.