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...
ROGER THAT + COLONEL KERNEL + THE WARSAW FLOWERS "PLUS ONE" @ THE ED CASTLE / Saturday August 22nd 2009
They say in space no one can hear you scream.. sure they can still SEE you scream and it looks just like Arnold Schwarzenegger from Total Recall, bug eyed, depressuring and totally losing his shit out in the Martian desert (and I swear even twenty years later that crap is STILL giving me nightmares) but they can't HEAR you scream. I believe that is an important distinction to make. It's the same with this blog. It's a bitch to operate in space, and not through any lack of trying either. I believe the specific term for it is "Adelaide in winter". I shit you not it's been a CBD sized solid block of ice this year, sealed in concrete, reinforced with upto six inches of steel, spraypainted spastic fluorescent colours (for that all important "indie electro" feel), lit up with blacklights, and wrapped in that batshit insane bulletproof plastic they sell compact discs in that you get from JB's (y'know the shit that takes a fucking axe to bust open? fuck I love that shit!). And here I've been picking at it with a fucking toothpick like Scrat the sabre toothed squirrel out of those Ice Age movies for the past three months looking for a morsel to feed on!? FUUUCK!! Oh sure they throw me the occassional chunk of raw meat to chew on, there's been some fantastic album launches for sure, and that dope shit last night? maaan that was extreme! but otherwise it's been nothing but an endless pillmuncher pacman fashion parade between Rocket Bar and The Ed Castle: sparsely populated by grimacing popsicles, all frozen in place like mannequins and me trying to get a conversation out of them? It's been blood out of a fucking stone! And here I've been waiting forever and an age for that proverbial geiger counter in the desert to give me the all clear with a resounding *PING* so I can go back to living the high life again? Exactly how long IS the half-life of a Selenium SE-82 isotope? one hundred and thirty quintillion years!? yeaaah.. it's been just like that! Winter's been a bitch, let me tell you! I don't exaggerate for a moment.. OOOH FUCK NO!! And after all this time? after all the hell I've been through!? I'm SO glad it'll soon be over!
The fact is the Adelaide scene thrives on "chaos", it's what we live for! We can plan a night all we want: live bands, banging DJs, make it a regular Saturday night fixture whatever-the-fuck (hey I know! let's organise another indie/dance/electo night!? surely there ain't nearly enough of those!). We could do our utmost to fill that dancefloor and sellout that show week after week (and granted it's been nothing but a winning formula.. no shit!). But if it's the same indie "buzz" bands every week, the same indie/electro DJ dancefloors every night (and it's everywhere you go) and we're simply passing the time playing "tetris" with the crowds frozen into place until closing time!? Sheeiiit.. no wonder we're going fucking crazy! Yeah maybe I just need to get the fuck out of the west end (tell me about it!) but this winter it's been just like Groundhog Day living the same scene over and over. Something's missing. Winter's been messing with us something fierce. We've been kept in a zoo, in a monkey enclosure, that cage is getting smaller and we just wanna bust loose duuudes! We wanna fly free and swing through the trees!! And maybe at long last this weekend we'll get our chance! Last night was a sign.. the ice is breaking! Sure we might be here at The Ed Castle again (just as surely as we'll end up at Supermild afterwards) but something's different here tonight. There's that sweet smell of something burning on that horizon: is it Spring? is it a brain tumour!? is it something "wafting" out of Roger That's tourvan!? either way we know what it means! OH YES! Fire up the chainsaws mad children of the night.. IT'S TIME WE FEAST ONCE MORE!!
THE WARSAW FLOWERS (***1/2) myspace :: From first impressions our opening act may appear to be just another indie "buzz" band: just another dime a dozen, disposable dancepunk, flavour of the week, whatever-the-fuck, stifle a yawn, fire up the blowtorch, hilarious waste of space (whoaaa wait, did someone say.. The Touch!?). Obviously this is all by devilish design. Those wacky masterminds behind "Plus One" are waaay smarter than they look, and they're obviously easing us in gradually with this shit. Do not be fooled by their screaming female fanbase out front, their infinitely accessible guitar hooks, or the disturbingly "clean cut" image of brothers James and Angus Stewart on lead vocals and bass respectively (and if you look real carefully you can almost see the little "joins" where they were cut out of their respective plastic moulds.. YEAAAS!!) it's all a mad deception you see, nothing but a clever ploy to bring in all the "fashion crowds" and then ever so subtly fuck with their heads. Make no mistake, these fiends are far from throwaway! The first clue is in their guitarist Alister Douglas, who you may recognise from the 20th Century Graduates: the happiest damn band in Adelaide. The second is their drummer Jeremy "The Labradoodle" Lake, who you may ALSO recognise from the 20th Century Graduates and from other such glorious odes to the ridiculously overjoyed as The Keepsakes and Oh My Guard! (who are likely all the happier NOW ever since they ousted 'ol misery guts Matt Hayward). The third is their distinctively "sadsack" sound they've achieved despite all the above influences. A sound they've polished up for a few years now, that's given them quite the reputation for being the most MISERABLE band in Adelaide (or quite possibly the second compared to Aviator Lane) so much so that you suspect both Alister and Jeremy are in on this band for the "therapy time" (no really, take one look at this live video and I'll think you'll understand why: YES her name is Larissa, and no she's NOT of this world!). The Warsaw Flowers. In essence they're a one way trip to a toe tag and a stainless steel filing cabinet right up there with such perky pill poppings as Ambien, Xanax or Valium (or that wacky drug Lunesta that can make you drive a car off a cliff in your sleep) only with a funky little dance beat you can boogie on down to! Yup just like that obnoxious little song about Joy Division by The Wombats (that I can't believe I'm using as a reference just now) we're very much celebrating the irony here! (especially that last song that practically inspired a fullblown sing-a-long tonight). They're melancholy suicide pop made mainstream. They're a teen drama's hissyfit character arc manifest in an epic four minute montage. They're every one of your friends jumping off a bridge and you following them. It's insane I know, but it's really quite liberating all the same! If you can imagine everything from the post-punk urgency of Hard-Fi, The Editors and The Mystery Jets mixed in with the maudlin catharsis of The Smiths, Okkerville River and The Gaslight Anthem (especially in the way that James Stewart sings) then that's them in a nutshell, caught in your windpipe, moments before you hit the floor with a resounding thud and a glassy eyed grin. Yup and in quite the "unassuming way" they truly affected us all. Just as infectious as the swine flu pandemic.. only twice as lethal!
COLONEL KERNEL (****1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our second act tonight, just as deadly (or arguably even more so) as The Warsaw Flowers that preceded them. Only in that wacky Mexican "Day Of The Dead" kind of way that makes you want to dress up in a shitcrazy mariachi outfit, wear an oversized glowing green monkey skull, dance about on ten foot tall stilts and drink tequila till the sun comes up (because clearly that's not a cliché around there.. that happens ALL the time!). In fact if ever we were to fly this band "south of the border" to perform this shit for real at one of those seedy "strip joints" in the desert where everyone gets eaten alive by vampires (and one of them looks just like Salma Hayek), or for that matter any down and dirty night in New Orleans just prior to it getting wiped out by a category five shitstorm voodoo party meltdown? I'd like to think it'd be a pretty damn good way to go! Get me blind drunk, tear me limb from limb, let the buzzards pick my carcass clean, then wait five minutes for me to "respawn" in the next scene like nothing ever happened!? Such is the mad appeal of Colonel Kernel.. they could totally soundtrack that shit! In essence think of them as a shitcrazy jam band: part spaghetti western, bossa nova, jazz and funk metal served up as a fullblown facemelt. Think of them as the weirder moments of Faith No More's "King For A Day... Fool For A Lifetime" mashed up together with all the expressive extremes of TV On The Radio, Carlos Santana, Pink Floyd, The Propellerheads, Danny Elfman, The Dust Brothers and the soundtrack to a hyperactive Loonie Toons cartoon. *PHEW* I fucking know! They don't so much as perform songs as reinterpret them continuously in a psychedelic freeform odyssey: touching on recogniseable motifs that you may have heard from previous sets, only to dip straight back into the deep end again. It's awesome stuff! You can pick up the occassional riff progression here, a saxaphone flourish there but the rest is pure "stream of consciousness" in the best way possible: a blissfully incomprehensible, exaggerated explosion of colour, or rather like a Robert Rodriguez film done in caricature. And as for tonight's set? I may be batshit insane for saying this (I mean wow.. can you half tell already!?) but there's definitely an element of slapstick comedy in here. It's usually quite subtle, but in these notoriously dark surrounds (and with my imagination running wild as a result) it only but magnifies, especially everytime their keyboardist Kevin van der Zwaag lets loose with his mad science shriekings. They're just like Wile E. Coyote Vs Road-Runner crossfaded with Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas". They're ushering in the last rites to winter here with a full firing squad armed with saxaphones, guitar, bass, keys and drums. They're everything that The Ed Castle's been asking for after all this time. Short of a few body bags, a fresh coat of paint and some air freshener they really brought this place back to life again!
ROGER THAT (*****) myspace :: Yup, there's something quite familiar about the vibe in this room. I don't know if you can pick it up through your web browser and all (I know! why not delete all of your registry files, reboot your computer and see if THAT works wonders for you!? or *cough* perhaps not!) but quite like Rocket Bar the night before, this has been nothing short of an "exorcism" for The Ed Castle tonight. Beginning with our opening act: we've worked through all that pent up emotion, all that teeth grinding stress, all those smashing square synths and tetris bashing beats and we've let it all out like a whoopee cushion (wait, did I just compare The Warsaw Flowers to the sound of someone farting!? awesome!). Then with our second act came a "detox" of a different kind: like a mad hit of Mexican, a rich Louisiana gumbo, and a raging hot chili cookoff all rolled into the one explosive kebab (or in other words: one lit match and watch it all go up in flames!). And now that we've been freed from of all our earthly concerns, most of our internal organs and perhaps a few floorboards beneath our feet? (yeeeouch!) breathe them in deep fellow space travellers! let them roll around in your lungs, choke and sputter for a good five minutes, breathe out and then pass it around *wheeeeze* THE ED CASTLE IS BAAACK BABY!! Roger That. The first time they toured back here in November, Adelaide had been all but levelled by a fullblown zombie apocalypse. Granted it's hardly the first time it's happened (pfft.. tell me about it!) but it definitely came as quite a shock to our Gold Coast natives. So obviously, they did what any other self respecting rock band would do: they looted the pub from floor rugs to roof fixtures and they got the fuck out of there (and I believe this review sums it up quite nicely too!). Still for some entirely batshit insane reason they decided to return once more tonight, and WOWEEE WERE WE SO GLAD TO SEE THEM! In effort to explain WHY, simply watch the following: this classic performance from Woodstock (circa 1969), this classic scene from "Easyrider", this educational film on hotdogs and the awesomeness that is SpongeBob SquarePants. No really.. take all the time as you need (and as many trips to the servo as you require). Now watch this final scene out of the first Terminator movie whilst simultaneously listening to THIS by MSTRKRFT with the volume blasted at full. I believe I've just made my point abundantly clear (and people wonder why I've been so tense for the past few months? sheeiiit!). Yup, Roger That are THAT antidote to all that has ailed us this winter. They're a floppy eared hound with a serene smile silencing the shrill barking chihuahua that had become our Adelaide scene. They're the sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Stillwater from "Almost Famous", Wolf & Cub's "Vessels" meets Kings Of Leon's "Aha Shake Heartbreak" all rolled into the one monumental monster spliff and blazed in full. They're the sight of Ozzy Osbourne's shit eating grin bobbing along to Black Sabbath's "Paranoid". No shit duuude.. they're more than we could've ever imagined for our Saturday night!! Within moments every one of us has forgetten where we are, who we are, what planet we're originally from, which direction is up or down (and most of the laws of physics for that matter) and we're simply floating as one! From a solid block of ice we sublime to a gas, to a swirling mix of green vapours and we trip the fuck out. It's hard to mistake it. You see it in everyone around you: in the smiling faces, red eyes, unfocused, swaying in the breeze, laughing like mad children. You doubt me still? Watch that live video, both those songs, absorb that like a sponge. Then go to your freezer, pull out that tub of ice cream and a big fat spoon, fire up the cartoons and just have at it. You won't get an ice cream headache maaan.. you won't even have a "head" left to worry about! Roger That!? FUUUCK!! where have you dudes been all winter!?
2:24AM - It took almost an hour to find my way out of that band room again, only to discover that the candy machine in the hallway had been all but gutted in the mad (but exceptionally slow moving) feeding frenzy that followed and hurled into the koi pond out back. And so I followed that trail of chocolate wrappers and chip packets into the beer garden only to discover that The Ed Castle had indeed changed in my "absense". It was a glorious thing! Gone were the stiff procession of coin operated models wheeled about in that "foul winter of my discontent" and in it's place a mad riot of Spring colour (was it a fancy dress party? who the fuck knows!? I completely forgot to photograph it!). Yup, this wasn't just "chaos" in effect now. OOOH FUCK NO!! This was the free will to accept that any and all things were indeed possible and often at all the same time!
Take this exceptionally proud individual for example: is she Antonia our bartender? Lady Sovereign?Nikki Webster? is she pregnant!? or is she simply fostering an exceptionally large poo baby and any minute now it could "burst forth" and kill us all!? I mean pfft.. what do YOU think?
Sure it was probably just a few burritos, a can of baked beans, some pork spare ribs and a family bucket of KFC rumbling in there and yet somehow I couldn't help but wonder: could I be responsible for all this!? NOOO I COULDN'T BE!? I mean we never, I mean I'm pretty sure we never, I mean fuck.. what the hell am I even talking about? It's an emaculate conception, it's the second coming! it's gotta be.. it's a sign!! ALL PRAISE OUR ALMIGHTY NEW POO BABY MESSIAH!!
It was at this point that I was interrupted by "Miranda" here *cough* oops I mean Eleanor, oops I mean.. fuckit, let's just call her "Melirendor" and be done with it: who reminded me in no uncertain terms that this "poo baby" was indeed hers. "Fuck.. what!?". Yeah I know, I totally couldn't explain it either (no really.. did I just crack that Miranda joke out loud? or was that just in my head!?) and yet somehow in this crazy new world that we've found ourselves in? it STILL made perfect sense! I mean why not Melirendor maaan!? Just look at her.. that's raging sexual potency right there!
3:01AM - I was astounded, I truly was, in every conceivable way that my facial expression here totally doesn't register it (believe me in my line of work? you learn to compartmentalise a lot!). I just had to spread the news on this imminent "poo baby" that'd surely save humanity, and her proud "father" Melirendor that'd somehow conceived it. OH YES! minds were well and truly blown!
Apparently some more "explosively" than others..
Daniella however took the news like she knew it all along: aaaah such serenity, such inner peace, surely she's a true believer!? (and if you listen real close you can TOTALLY hear the ocean too!).
3:07AM - It was somewhere around this moment, or perhaps a few moments after that (I forget exactly when) that both Dan Briffa and Jimmy Young from Roger That made their auspicious appearance. Apparently all I'd witnessed so far was just the "tip of the iceberg" and the things THEY saw? the things they knew!? I mean seriously.. freaky head imploding shit! They spoke of rain falling upwards, mice giving birth to whales, cats and dogs changing all the colours of the rainbow, clouds of bees forming letters of the alphabet, and a full listing of ingredients as found in a single serving bag of Cheese Twisties (there's actual trace amounts of petrified dodo droppings in that shit!? fuuuck.. who knew!?). Obviously I believed everything they had to tell me. I mean how could you not!? that dude on the right totally looks like Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who hung out with The Beatles back in the 60's (or maybe it's Charles Manson? ) fuck it.. either way? GENIUS!
3:13AM - Meanwhile, elsewhere in The Ed Castle beergarden, many others from far and wide came forward to give their respect to Antonia's "poo baby": such as Nick Bastiras here (formerly from Tyger Tyger) who still believed quite foolishly that he was somehow responsible for it. I know, I know! We've ALL had the same belief at some point or another.. but its Melirendor's I swear!
3:18AM - Still we couldn't help but find ourselves gravitating towards this growing mass of hers with a mixture of spellbound awe and wonder. How it pulsated with such ripe potential: "lo how glorious is the femine form, so fertile, so resplendently rotund, so infinitely golden!" *cough* or at least that's what we DID until her "water broke". At which point, in quite the way you'd expect the entire male gender to react when faced with such an awesome responsibility.. WE RAN LIKE HELL!!
3:27AM - Many MANY beers later (yes I realise it was only nine minutes.. but still), I felt the sudden need to unload. Originally I'd planning to just let fly into the koi pond (as I'm pretty sure the fish that used to live in there are long gone) but changed my mind at the last minute and headed into the toilets instead. At which point I was surprised to discover it covered floor to ceiling in a series of confusing red sigils. I of course was at a total loss to explain what any of this shit meant, and I was even more so when Dan translated them from sanskrit: revealing them to be a long lost "dope cookie recipe" originally omitted from the Bhagavad Gita. And so, after finishing my business (somewhere between "a few tabs of goat butter" and "well sifted flour") I zipped up, eyed that exit and got the fuck out of there! No really, some things are best left unknown..
3:29AM - Yup, like all the best social experiments throughout history, this one had clearly exceeded all expectations. In other words it was rapidly spiraling out of control. Any minute now we could have a fullblown Altamont Speedway on our hands (or worse still a Branch Davidian meets Heaven's Gate massacre). So we rounded up as many revellers as we could, we took a moment to soak it all in: all that wonder, that chaos, that carnage we had created, and we made our escape. I'm told moments later, a series of bright flashing lights descended over The Ed Castle, there was a tingling electrical sensation not unlike all of your hairs standing on end, and then that Persian throw rug in the band room simply "vanished". Yeah I know what you're all thinking (and there's no way I'm going to leap to any kind of conclusions here) but like seriously? wow.. no really, WOW!
3:44AM - On our way to Supermild I'm shocked to discover that the exact same supermarket trolley I had found LAST night (and pushed all the way to Hindley Street) had somehow "respawned" back to its original spot on the intersection of Currie and Gray streets. Weird. Obviously the whole significance of this was lost on me at the time (no shit.. we're in The Matrix aren't we?) and yet still I couldn't help but "repeat history" again, only to crash it into that exact same tollbar in that exact same carpark before Cargo Club. Hmmm.. fate? free will!? you decide!
3:47AM - On the left is Robin: who for the past few months I've known only as "Stemily". Not because that was HER nickname, but because it's the nickname of two friends of hers: Stephanie and Emily (aka: Tyger Tyger's notorious cheersquad from 2008) and I was always way too drunk to ever remember her real name everytime I bumped into her. Awesome huh!? And as for what any of this shit has got to do with her strangling Julia on the right with those freaky serial killer gloves? eh who the fuck knows!? I mean seriously.. when does this blog EVER make a lick of sense!?
3:58AM - Upon entering Supermild I'm shocked to discover that not only is Antonia here, but despite her "water breaking" at The Ed Castle almost an hour ago she still appears to be happily pregnant and not at all screaming, thrashing and flailing about for hard drugs (although even if she weren't in labour I'm pretty sure that's what she would be doing anyways). As it turns it, it's not a "poo baby" after all, but is in actual fact a rich source of "natural gas". Better yet she's just signed a lucrative deal with the Federal Government and will be spending the next few years taking trips to both China and India as a "live export". I know! Some people truly get all the luck huh?
It's moments like these that I'd usually like to offer a moment's pause: where we can all think long and hard over the consequences of our actions tonight. Except I won't because let's face it we haven't had nearly this much retarded carnage and chaos in fucking ages! Tonight and last night!? THIS is what the Adelaide music scene should be all about! Well OK, maybe the past few hours weren't the BEST example (and we may need at least a few pounds of C4 explosive and a fuckload of sawdust before we're done) but still.. aren't we heading in the right direction? I like to think so!
Yup, it's official. The monkeys have been let loose from their cages. They're roaming free through the city streets, flapping their furry arms and they're achieving flight. You can see them now: shrieking, howling, flinging their faeces with demented glee. Spring is just over that horizon, you can almost taste it. Already we're hearing the hayfever twenty one gun salute ushering in the symphony that's sure to follow, there isn't a dry eye left in the house! Welcome back everyone! it's been too long without you! and now that you're finally here? let's tear this fucking place apart!