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...
ROBOTOSAURUS + HOSPITAL THE MUSICAL + THIS CITY SUNRISE LIVE @ ENIGMA BAR / Friday July 10th 2009
As you may know, digital cameras have a very short life expectancy here on Spoz's Rant. In the past three to four years alone I've gone through five of them. This here is the fourth: the Canon IXUS 950 IS, also known as the PowerShot SD850 IS, or "Gizmo II" (if, like me, you're prone to naming shit). As its namesake suggests it's the second unit I've had of its kind. The first, "Gizmo", imploded after two short months thanks to what could only be called a "freak jägerbomb incident" (only replace the redbull with beer and the jäger with.. well you get the picture). Not only was it the dumbest stunt I'd ever achieved with a digital camera, it was also the most expensive beer I'd ever drunk at $500 a pop; but I digress. Before it too was destroyed Gizmo II had a "long" and illustrious career in the Adelaide music scene. From November the 3rd 2007 to October the 17th 2008, it reigned supreme: not just for its 8 megapixel sensor, its ISO 80-1600 light sensitivity, its dynamic image stabilisation or its 4X optical zoom but for the speed, accuracy and vicious efficiency at which it nailed its targets; for all intents it was truly death incarnate. As for why I'm mentioning all this shit now? glad you didn't ask! Many of you may remember the circumstance in which it met its untimely demise: Saturday October the 18th 2008 at The Crown & Anchor, when it was crushed into a cube in a Robotosaurus moshpit (many of you may also remember that night with a small measure of relief). What many of you may not realise however, is since then, thanks to a freak combination of mad science, satanism, serial soap opera contrivance (and whatever laughable excuse for a plotline powers the second Transformers movie), it has been brought back from the dead. For the past six months it's been sitting on a shelf, seething, scheming, waiting for that fateful night when it could return. And tonight at long last it'll get its chance.. OH YES PITIFUL MORTALS, FOR TONIGHT IT SHALL SEEK ITS SWEET REVENGE!! WOOOHEHeHAhaHAhAHAHA!!
I mean don't get me wrong I personally have long since put this "Robotosaurus" incident behind me as little more than a slapstick comedy routine. In fact for the past eight months me and their lead singer Izzy have been laughing it up silly over a few too many brews at Supermild like it was nothing.. *pfft* shit happens right? me armed with a digital camera is just like a fraternity house stocked with an aquarium full of goldfish: just add alcohol and watch the hiiilarity unfold! But we all know what digital cameras are like, they're much less forgiving: cold, calculating, a few circuits short of self awareness, nuclear annihilation and world domination; look into that lens and you'll see true terror. These machines will stop at nothing and I mean NOTHING (not even death) to get their own back if ever they've been slighted. So OBVIOUSLY I just had to bring it along with me tonight didn't I? how could I possibly refuse a rematch: Robotosaurus!? FUCK YEAAAH!! Of course it's not the ONLY reason why I'm at Enigma Bar, of all places, for the first time in over six months (ever get the feeling you're getting far too much folk, semi-acoustic and sadsack shoegazer shit in your diet of late? I SURE AS SHIT HAVEN'T!!) but still it's a damn good reason all the same!
So it won't matter to me that I'm at the one and only live venue in all of Adelaide that serves up everything else on tap OTHER than Coopers Pale Ale. In an alternative reality where the whole Seattle scene never happened, like I'm stuck in Waynes World where the late 80's refuses to die in wailing falsetto, feather mullets, denim, hair metal, spandex, cock rock, skate punk and wrist slashing emo. It won't matter to me that I'm here extra early on a Friday night for a dreaded all ages show, for four bands showcasing a subgenre of music I know next to nothing about (fuck I dunno.. is it post hardcore, thrash, grind, screamo, metalcore or the ninth circle of hell!?). I won't even matter to me that the camera I'm using to take all these live photos tonight, Gizmo II, is ever so slightly shoddy on the focus: when I could just so easily use my current camera instead (I mean how ELSE did I get that first photo? leprecauns!?). None of this shit matters. Into the eye of the storm I will go, into the cold and the driving rain, to the very cusp of the apocalypse itself because I know this will be one fuck of a survivor's tale: it will be nothing short of kill or be killed, fiery retribution and blood on the walls! FUUUCK! who could ask for more from a Friday night?
MARLA SINGER (***) myspace :: You may recognise our opening act by their lead singer Phil Meakin: the howling bloodclot with the blond dreds formerly the drummer for Tony Font Show. You may also remember them from two other "live reviews" I wrote back in September and March last year (if in hindsight they could actually be classed as such). The rest however is more or less unintelligible, especially for one as blissfully oblivious to this shit as I am. Marla Singer. A quick search on their unearthed site reveals that they're inspired by such luminaries as "Everytime I Die", "Cancer Bats" and "Maylene & The Sons Of Disaster" which I think we can all can agree (ie: those of us without an overabundance of facial piercings or full body tattoos) doesn't say squat about this band. As such, and as much as I can gather, they're either thrash metal or metalcore with a sprinkling of skate grind. Their live set consists of a series of three to five minute volatile outbursts in nonstop screaming, shredding, blood curdling and disembowelment cranked to eleven intersperced with brief interludes of awkward silence as they attempt to remember how to tune their instruments. And it's fascinating shit to watch as they all take turns running about the stage in a mad panic but there really isn't a lot of structure to it; especially not from first impressions. There's no identifiable verses or choruses, just double kicks, drilling riffs and LOTS of retarded screaming. Still, there ARE ways to decipher this seemingly impenetrable murk for further appreciation. The first is to get hilariously drunk and throw yourself around a room until your neck snaps limp and your head goes missing (which considering I'm stone sober right now may explain the slightly ambiguous score I gave them). The second is to treat them rather like a magic eye 3D puzzle. Simply twist your depth perception into knots and let all your inner ear equilibrium go limp and it's amazing what you'll hear! Everything from Ministry, Soundgarden, System Of A Down, At The Drive-In and what I could've sworn was a pig being thrown into a woodchipper hooked up to a megaphone. Fuck, maybe if you play this backwards you might even hear Christmas carols!? Unfortunately however, there are no dolphins fucking sailboats; unless of course you take a lot of acid (which I highly recommend you DON'T DO unless you want to see a pantheon of pagan deities pissing into your eye sockets). Yup, that's Marla Singer. They're just like being repetitively punched in the face, whilst overdosing on fifty redbulls at once with both nipples clamped to a charged car battery.. but no less enjoyable!
THIS CITY SUNRISE (****) myspace :: When I first saw our second act and the hirsute sight of their lead singer Alex wailing on the mic I couldn't help but think Tiny Tim. Or more accurately Tiny Tim getting all his teeth punched out by an amateur dentist in a back alley of Calcutta, using nothing but a pair of pliers and no anaesthetic. I'm also couldn't help but think what would happen if we could reenact the classic 1974 version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" only with one of the main characters replaced by Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin (and when Leatherface hacks him to bits and he hits all the high notes? aaah it's like a sweet symphony to my ears!). Yeah I know, clearly this shit ain't recommended for my mental health (wait.. you mean it hadn't already been legally declared dead to begin with!?), but you gotta hand it to them they DO let your imagination run riot all the same. This City Sunrise, quite like Marla Singer before them, are a befuddling mix of cheese grating ear bleed and explosive gastroenteritis (equal parts thrash and shred) but that's only their endoskeletion. On top of that they add so much more meat, blubber and an ocean of noise to make them float; and it's in this endless layering and intricate interchanges that I appreciate them the most. From the harmonised screaming between Alex on guitar and Sam on bass. To the wall of guitar fuzz and feedback that builds around you. To the peaks and troughs of Sam and Reuben's rhythmical attack as they beat it all into shape. Or in other words just like a pod of whales being thrown into an exceptionally LARGE woodchipper hooked up to a megaphone. It's confusing I know. They're equally as widescreen, psychedelic, extraterrestrial, almost operatic in their approach as they are gritty, gutteral and visceral. And once again I'm at a total loss to give you any specific examples as to what they actually sound like: only to say they're reminiscent of a whole spate of hair metal concept albums from the late 70's to early 80's that I couldn't hope to name even if I tried. Or fuckit maybe they sound like Muse, Mudvayne and The Mars Volta all rolled into one. Or maybe they sound like a bag of cats fighting in an Afghan sandstorm. Or maybe they sound like none of the above. All I do know for certain is that I dig this shit something fierce. This City Sunrise, as murderous as they are meditative: with both headphone blasting this shit loud as fuck on your ipod? you could totally make a bonsai out of a butcher's shop in next to no time!
HOSPITAL THE MUSICAL (****1/2) myspace :: Still as wildly entertaining and eviscerating as our two opening acts have been (no shit, I'm still trying to relocate half of my spleen when it pissed out like a popped balloon halfway through the second act) it pales into comparison to our third act when they declared all-out war on the audience. There was really no mistaking it with this band, they truly had a weapon of mass destruction on their hands. His name was Drew. His designation: lead singer and demolitions expert. His range of attack: pretty much everywhere and anywhere. Your only option as a live photographer: RUN LIKE HELL. Yup, you couldn't miss this bearded goon even if you tried. The minute his band hit the stage, he flew straight off it and into the crowd screaming, punching, swinging, rolling about the floor, lunging at passers by and pulling backward somersaults off the foldbacks. Like a wrecking ball, like a Rottweiler let loose; nowhere was safe from his rampage. It was just like the Running of the Balls at Pamplona, Fight Club and Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" all rolled into one. And faced with either a fight or flight in response to this rising hysteria, most of the audience could only chose the latter and all but scattered in his wake. I swear it was the funniest shit I'd seen all year and the only reason I'm saying that now (instead of eating through a straw and blinking yes or no answers to the nursing staff) is because I too scrambling halfway up a fucking wall to save my camera from sprinkling like confetti dust before me. Hospital The Musical. Without a doubt the most psychotic band I've seen all year. I don't even know where to begin in describing their sound. Thrash, metal and hardcore barely covers it. Terms and practices since outlawed by the Geneva Convention wouldn't even come close. Facing off against such a primordial, unholy and diabolical rage as this, one could only hope to decipher momentary glimpses of it lest they'd go completely insane. Think guitars hacking like blunt axes into bones. Think drums and bass punching like jackhammers into skulls. Think of a grown man giving birth to an elephant through the eye of his pee pee in accompaniment. And the weirdest thing? as much as we may've been plunged deep into the blackening heart of hell, as much as we may have seen and heard things that no mortal soul should experience in five lifetime let alone one; the minute that wacky Stockholm Syndrome kicked in: duuude it's like we never wanted them to leave!
Still, if we all but ignored the trivial fact that we were fearing for our lives, Hospital The Musical were actually genuinely funny. Dave their prime antagonist for one was downright "hysterical" in his frequent outbursts between songs. He'd constantly tell us how shit it was to be a band from Wollongong, with nothing but Tumbleweed cover bands to look forward to. How this was the first time in ages that he's played with some half decent bands. How he needed the money so he could spend it all on McFlurries. Only to bitch that he's a "fat bastard" because of it and probably needs to get into shape. Only to take a swig of his beer (a West End Draught mind you) almost choking as he remarks "South Australia.. wow you certainly done yourself proud with this one!". And when someone asked him what he'd prefer he simply shot back with "Toohey's New.. it's like mother's milk!". Granted it wasn't much, he was hardly a standup comedian, but this wacky repartee did keep us endlessly amused throughout what would've otherwise been a "blank spot" in our memory accessible only through hypnotherapy. So that by the time they hit the finale, and in celebration dismantled their entire drumkit and reassembled it in the audience: we couldn't help but grin from ear to ear in spite of ourselves as they proceeded beat the living shit out of it mere inches from our face. Yup, that's Hospital The Musical. Just like a fullblown prison riot, only twice as fun!
10:29PM - Which brings us to that momentous occassion we've ALL been waiting for, or perhaps some of us have been waiting for, or perhaps only my camera's really been waiting for: when at long last it gets its payback, its fiery retribution, its sweet sweet revenge, when it finally faces off in a battle to the death with Robotosaurus, and give this band all that it truly deserves! OH YES, FOR TONIGHT IT WILL TRULY UNLEASH THE FURY!! WOOOHEHeHAhaHAhAHAHA!! or utterly failing that it'll simply take a few photos maybe a video and not get shattered into a million pieces. I mean shit, it's only a proverbial bar of soap with a 2.5" LCD screen and a retractable lens attached; what's it gonna do? make menacing shutter clicks!? "OOOOOH I'M FRIGHTENED!!". Yup I believe this goofy looking "tattoo" of Dave the guitarist that Izzy the vocalist has scribbled on his leg, pretty much says it all doesn't it? "Huh.. what the fuck you on about!?" my thoughts exactly!
ROBOTOSAURUS (***1/2) myspace :: Yup, clearly our headliner has one hell of a diabolical reputation to live up to. We've all heard the story: that this was THE band that destroyed Spoz's camera. A reputation not in the least bit trivialised by the simple fact that I've owned more than one camera, five of them to be exact, retired one and destroyed three of them in circumstances more or less unrelated to the bands that they may've been shooting. I mean we can hardly blame Bachelorette from New Zealand for causing me to accidently drown my third camera in a plastic cup of beer back on November the 2nd 2007, just as we can hardly point the finger at Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! for fucking up my second camera's ability to focus properly on August the 18th 2007 (when clearly a drunken game of "frisbee" at The Crown & Anchor in March the same year was the contributing factor) just as we can't hold Robotosaurus entirely responsible for the untimely demise of my fourth camera Gizmo II (despite how much it may thirst for revenge). Still with that being said if ever you DID want to give your camera a true "warrior's death" in battle: THIS would definitely be one the best bands to do it for you. For Robotosaurus like many of the bands before them tonight aren't exactly "shy" in expressing themselves. When one of my friends saw them for the first time at the Adelaide Big Day Out early this year he summed it up rather succinctly by describing them as being just like "World War III". Oh yes, they're the definitive "hardcore" band. If you could imagine Rage Against The Machine teaming up with Nine Inch Nails to cover Ministry's "Psalm 69" album you'd barely even cover it; there on a whole other level. They're a cow carcass shot repetitively with a machine gun. They're a kinetic kamikaze swing to a stab of adrenaline. They're all your innards microwaved to a fine mush moments before your head explodes. They're the end of civilisation, society and all of sentient life as we know it as our planet spirals into the sun. I mean shit dude, what MORE could you want from a Friday night short of toe tag and a stainless steel box to sleep in!? And yet for all the undeniable carnage they've unleashed on stage tonight, something's still "missing". The band's not quite "feeling it". Only a few songs in, barely fifteen minutes through a set they stop dead and simply walk off stage. To the howls of protest from everyone present screaming for more, their only excuse is: "we played like shit!". Arguably they're hardly THAT tonight but considering the last time I tried to review them: when it was nothing short of hell on earth, followed by Izzy being carried off to the hospital hours later bloodied and bandaged (after beating himself upside the head with a bottle of scotch on a mad tab of acid) THIS shit tonight is nothing but the tip of the iceberg. Yup, with bands like Robotosaurus it's all or nothing, it's kill or be killed and to their credit they couldn't possibly accept any less than bloodstains on the ceiling tonight!
11:06PM - Against all odds Gizmo II survived to die another day. Although truth be told I really didn't take any chances either, there was no way in hell I was gonna leave this boxing ring without all units accounted for. I brought in two cameras, I didn't drink a drop all night, I left the house wired on caffeine and adrenaline and I treated this shit like nothing short of a warzone. Crazier still? the bands were the least of my troubles. Robotosaurus were nothing but a pushover, Hospital The Musical I could see coming from a mile off, those other two opening acts!? *pfft* I practically laugh in their faces (actually no.. that'd be kinda weird). What REALLY kills you are the crowds, the same crowds that claimed Gizmo II back in October last year. From all angles they'll attack, with no rhyme or reason. They'll charge from end to the other, windmill fists flying, they'll achieve flight and they'll crack skulls. They'll jump you when you least expect it, you never see the rat bastards coming, and as much as it's next to impossible to get "revenge" on them when essentially they're an adversary without a face, the fact that I went into the deep end with these lunatics tonight and got out alive is victory enough. It's all the closure this camera needs; its work here is done.
11:13PM - And so here I stood lost in thought for what seemed like an eternity. Pondering the deeper mysteries of life, death, the universe, consumer electronics and the many whimsical ways in which I have violated their terms of warranty; and not just with the many cameras I've killed either. Take this guitar for instance: what life has it lived? has it been a fullfilling one? what stories does it have to tell? why is it a guitar and not bass? why a bass and not a banjo? what purpose does its singular existence (or anyone else's for that matter) serve outside of it's own perpetuation and perception? is free will a myth? is it all predetermined? what is the meaning of all this!? and then it suddenly hit me like an epiphany: clearly I'm way too fucking sober to be thinking any of this philosophical gibberish and the sooner I get outta here and get hilariously drunk the better.
11:29PM - Enigma Bar had all but shut down on a Friday night, I was practically the last one standing when I left (aaaah dontcha just love all-ages shows?). Stepping out into Hindley street however I soon discovered that it was like this everywhere. For all I knew, moments earlier there could've been blaring sirens, screaming, pandemonium, people donning gasmasks, a rolling fog and bodies dropping like flies (I gotta hand it to Adelaide City Council though, they did a wonderful job hosing out the "evidence"). Now all I had to accompany me was dead space, drizzling rain and deafening silence. I considered my options in what was surely a lost cause tonight: should I hit the west end? should I hit the east end? (nope, there's a good chance the looters have already made quick work of those two extremities) fuckit I'll head down south instead! As long as there's still beer and canned goods to be found? I'll simply bring a crowbar and have myself a little party!
11:37PM - It took all of three songs from "Era Vulgaris" by Queens Of The Stone Age before I arrived at The Metro. I was all set to bust down a door with my crowbar and break my way in, only to realise the lights were still on and it was still open for business; but only barely. In the back room The Battery Kids were playing to all of four people, a flock of fangirls dancing up a storm to a cover of "Foxy Lady" by Jimi Hendrix. The rest of the venue was all but empty save for Ben the bass player from Antony Of The Future spinning some tracks, a few stragglers in the beergarden, and a scattering of barstaff stifling a yawn. I know, awesome huh!? and yet compared to what I'd seen elsewhere in this "winter wonderland" tonight? duuude we've pretty much hit the jackpot!
KYTES OF OMAR (****) myspace :: When the next band hit the stage, they found themselves performing to even less people than The Battery Kids before them: accompanied only by the light crackle of a loud speaker, a choir of "crickets" chirping in the corner and me doing my very best to get ridiculously drunk at the bar as quickly as inhumanly possible.. aaaah good times! (the crowd may've even hit negative figures if it was at all possible). In almost every way it was a total bust for the band, they couldn't even hear half of what they were playing through the foldbacks; but to me it was still one of the best gigs I'd heard them play all year. Kytes Of Omar. From beginning to end it was a solid set. Showcasing some of the old: "Sally", "She's Special", "Not My City" and some of the new: "Just So Sorrow", "Hide In The Trees", "Happy, Suicide". All of them rife with gunning riffs and rhythms, an extraterrestrial overload of reverb and the distinctive yammering of Anthony Candlish; thrashing about on the mic like a wet dog drying himself. Of exceptional note besides the always killer closing number "Soldier" (a final act of desperation that sounds all the better when its all too real) was a new song they tested out tonight, which with its frenetic guitar chords swinging back and forth very much reminded me of a dirtier, grungier version of Children Collide's "Marie Marie Pt 2"; and it killed in every conceivable way that the video I recorded, totally doesn't do it justice. By the end they couldn't get off stage fast enough, but if this was indeed the last show on Earth (and tonight certaintly seems to be heading that way) Kytes of Omar still delivered one helluva sendoff!
2:01AM - For the next hour or so we all huddled for warmth around the gas heaters in the beer garden, shivvering our arses off in the rain and wondering just where all of the scenster swarm had fucked off to tonight (Swine Flu outbreak? the Rapture!?) when we all knew the answer was staring us in the face. With The Metro spending all of the last three hours subtley dropping hints that it wanted to close for the night, we figured we'd cut our losses and continue the "party" elsewhere at The Ed Castle. If worst came to worst? we could at least drink all of Azz Strangelove's rider.
2:36AM - Back in the west end moments later, I soon found myself following a trail of bread crumbs down Currie Street. Subtle at first then bleedingly obvious as I tripped over an increasing array of loaves, rolls, buns and whatever-the-fuck scattered in a mad panic all over the pavement on my way to The Ed Castle; for what exact reason it was entirely unclear. By the time I arrived at my destination, everyone had already left, the bar was closing and I was on my way again.
4:12AM - And since I clearly hadn't got the hint that I should've gone home HOURS ago I ended up at Supermild just like I always do, where for the next hour or so before I finally left, absolutely NOTHING happened. Yup if I was proving a point in all this shit, I'd long forgotten what it was.
Yup, for all the five bands I'd seen tonight, for all the insanity, the chaos and the carnage, for all those bullets that I dodged whizzing past my ears, for the simple fact that I survived to the very end of this kamikaze adventure with my camera intact.. it still ended up being the quietest nights I'd had all year. I'm still here, but everyone else has long gone? awesome huh!? They say on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. Maybe I discovered there's a damn good reason for that. Maybe I should simply accept it. Maybe there's a time and place for everything. It's the dead of winter, it's raining, it's freezing cold; why the FUCK am I still out here!? why the fuck else!? Natural order be damned! There's still life to be lived and you stayed home? *pfft* just think of all that you missed by playing "dead". No shit dude, sucks to be you!