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...
LOST VALENTINOS + THE SWISS LIVE @ JIVE / Thursday August 27th 2009
I never know quite how to feel on a Thursday night. It's neither here or there. It's not the midweek, but it's never been the weekend either. I don't care how much you hype it up, blow it up forty feet onto a billboard or shoot it into space with a riotous fanfare, it's just not the same maaan! Sure it might be close, I mean real close, so close you can tweak those proverbial nipples for hours on end, but it just doesn't "scream" the same eye gouging excitement, shrill sirens, flashing lights, hilarious nudity, or apocalyptic explosions quite like a Saturday night. It doesn't have that same smoking impact crater quite like a Friday night either when you can fuck the world off with a shit eating grin and a middle finger flagpole. It's never the end of the world and it's never been the start of anything either. There's simply no payoff at all. There's a whole other weekday ahead of you to set things straight, you've still got work to do. You hold back that raging urge to destroy for another twenty four hours, you bide your time, you wait and you wait. Which then leaves you with this: yet another Thursday night, floating in the ether, forever sitting on that proverbial fence, in a constant state of flux, unsure how to act. Still it's not all bad. The great thing about a Thursday night is that there's really NO consequence to it either. It's the classic sitcom scenario. You can do whatever you want. It's the ultimate freebie. No matter what happens in this episode, by the time the next one rolls by, chances are it will simply be forgotten. It's NOT the weekend, there's NO character arc, there's nothing to live upto, no defining moments to hold onto. You simply turn up on a whim, expect absolutely nothing, and get almost anything in return!
So here I am walking into Jive on a Thursday night expecting nothing but the exact same hilarious shit I always expect here on a Thursday night: right down to the size, location and luminosity of the light fixtures, the wording of the novelty signs behind the bar, the stains on the couches, the scuff marks on the dancefloor, the dents and dings on the foosball table (the size of the beer puddle forming on it), the sweet shrill screams of the emergency exit sirens that will be sure to ring off at least ONCE during the night, and the always "cheerful" demeanor of the barstaff and security whenever that happens (Groundhog Day anyone!?) only to be hit in the face with THIS insanity instead. WHOAAA.. WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED HERE!? I mean you're seeing the same thing TOO right? I'm not just hallucinating this shit am I? Did they just.. noooo they couldn't have!?
Yup it appears short of a few sticks of C4 and a fire hose, they've finally given Jive a much needed facelift after six long years. Gone is the cheesy sesame street yellow interior with the spastic silver stars (which I'm guessing has probably been here since the "Laughing Gas" administration almost a decade ago) and in its place, at least on the right side facing the stage so far (as it may still be a "work in progress"), is a riotous explosion of life, colour and character, as presented by none other than the infamous Chris Edser: most reknown for his design work for The Beards amongst other trippyarse shit. I'm also told it's quite recent too: as he only JUST knocked this shit together in the past week or so (so ridiculously recent in fact that I'd dare not lean on the walls tonight just in case the paint's still wet). Still I think we can all agree it's really done wonders for the joint!
You also can't help but notice the Adelaide "in-jokes" that have been snuck into this mural either. Such as the all pervasive "Polites" signs stuck atop most the buildings (a notorious hallmark of one Constantine George Polites who would use this omnipresent logo to signifty the numerous properties he owned throughout this city) to Westpac House, formerly known as the Santos Building, formerly known as the State Bank Building (formerly known as an even more embarassing hallmark of the ever shifting fortunes of our city ever since the State Government plunged it into billions of dollars of debt back in the early nineties) to the "Emergency Exit Only" sign that chances are all the drunks will still ignore in Jive, only to open it every five minutes, only to trigger all the exit sirens in turn (aaaah and that never gets old does it!?). And if you continued staring at all this shit, tripping balls on acid, who knows what ELSE you could find: Santa Claus? Leprecauns? the triple headed face of Lucifer? The Beaumont Children!? The possibilities are endless! Just as I'm sure to spend the NEXT six years appreciating all the finer details. Hmmm.
Obviously this isn't the only reason to be here (and an accidental one at that). Although it'd be freaking hilarious if it was and I simply went home afterwards (as let's face it.. it IS a Thursday night, who's seriously gonna give a crap either way!?) as there just so happens to be some live bands worth seeing too. Why? well why the fuck ELSE would you be reading this blog!? that's why!
THE SWISS (****) myspace :: For the longest time I assumed our opening act to be nothing more than a goofy "side project" of Morals Of A Minor. Not only because they feature two "former members": lead singer Surahn "Sid" Sidhu (on bass) and drummer Tony Mitolo (also serving as a touring sticks wizard for Pnau), but also because I always assumed they formed this shit AFTER Morals Of A Minor with keyboardist Luke Godson, and that the Adelaide scene has remained all but oblivious to them since 2006 (as it turns out however they've been a raging success in one form or another since waaay back in 2002.. whoaaa!!). So while Morals Of A Minor immediately won a string of accolades through extensive Triple J airplay within a few short months of forming (including a 5/5 review from Richard Kingsmill for "Running Late"). The Swiss appeared more than happy to keep a "low profile" playing shows to the "chosen few" at places like The Crown & Sceptre. Even when Morals Of A Minor released their skull fuckingly insane "Questions And Answers" album in May 2007 (no that's not sarcasm.. that's legitimate praise!) and sought their fortunes in the Melbourne scene (only to inevitably implode and disappear without a trace). The Swiss remained as blissfully "obscure" as always (ie: sneaking out the occassional vinyl release, getting remixed and rotated in the clubs by New York Nu-Disco luminary Brennan Green, playing Shores On A New Years Day) safe in the knowledge that their "time" would come. And it appears that they've finally had that last laugh, as they've just added to their long list of successes by signing on with Modular Records. Yup, in many ways they've been the "quiet achiever" of the Adelaide scene, and in seeing them perform tonight you can begin to understand why. The Swiss, far from being the skull raping "MSTRKFRT" to Morals Of A Minor's "Death From Above 1979" exude an easy going charm. They're a live disco act that appeals through raw authenticity. Predominantly instrumental they mix in everything from the electro tweakouts of Kraftwerk and 80's Italo Disco (or any given cop show soundtrack from the 70's) with the funkier extremes of The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Felix Da Housecat and Basement Jaxx. They're equal parts loose and whiplash precise in rhythm, running between the chicken dance of Sid on the bass: grinding out a loping groove (that borders on the infectious "acid house" feel of a Roland 303) to the driven intensity of Tony of drums (working the perfect balance between shaved gorilla and cyborg assassin). While Luke on keys provides the comic relief in between with a flourish of bouncey UFO synths, oddball squelching and vocoder to keep everything light. And it's this "lightness", this oddly innocent playfulness that draws you in the most. In fact in the relative ambiguity of this particular Thursday night, short of the fashion extremes that would otherwise plague an equivalent Friday or Saturday night it's especially disarming: drawing people in far and wide to the dancefloor tonight almost in spite of themselves. Yup, they're everything you could ever ask for from the cheesy extremes of disco, only without all the pretense. It may've taken them seven years to perfect, but if ever you hear them live you can't help but bust loose to it!
LOST VALENTINOS (****) myspace :: The last time I saw our headlining act it was two years ago at Fowlers Live just after they changed their name from "The Valentinos" (after threats of legal action from 1950's act "Bobby Wo'mack & The Valentinos") to their current incarnation. They were known for such ridiculously infectious songs as "Man With A Gun" (which I couldn't help but thrash in a retarding loop for its shitcrazy post punk fury) and a string of lesser known EPs ranging from the menacing grind of their self titled release from 2005 to the new romatic extremes of "Damn & Damn Again" from 2006. They were at Fowlers Live that particular night to launch a shiny new EP "Miles From Nowhere". They were supported by promising upcomers Teenagersintokyo. All signs pointed towards it being a brilliant show. Only that fuckall people turned up (an all-ages show in the dead of winter? pfft.. ALWAYS a winning combination!) and so they got the FUCK out of there as fast as they could. Awesome! For the next year or so we heard nothing from them and I pretty much assumed they'd broken up. But then to the surprise of almost everyone they unleashed "The Bismarck" in November 2008, revealed a new direction (oriented more towards tribal dance rock than dance punk), even more awesome singles like "Serio" soon followed and again I was thrashing their songs in a retarding loop wondering just when they'd tour again. Tonight at long last I had my chance. Sure it was an ambiguous Thursday night at the tail end of winter (and chances were no one would turn up), but I didn't care. If the shit I heard so far was ANYTHING to go by what could possibly go wrong!? Hmmm good question! To begin with it was nothing but gold. People actually turned up for a change (which is always a plus), the live mix was absolutely spot on, and from the first few songs "Fine Mess", "Midnights", "Serio" and "The Bismarck" they had hammering the most infectious body popping groove you could possibly ever imagine. Simply picture all the best bits of New Order's "Blue Monday" crossfaded with The Animal Collective's "Summertime Clothes" and you wouldn't be far off. No shit, it was everything you could ever ask for: equal measures electronic, tribal, hypnotic and ecclectic it was impossible NOT to pull mad shapes to it. But then somewhere in the middle (either before or after sixth song "Rain") it hit a weird patch. From the twin percussive extremes of both guitarist Jono Mar and drummer Simon Parker (formerly from Damn Arms) they'd slipped into a lysergic interlude equal parts peyote and acid. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, it still had its "moments", just that nobody knew what to do with it (despite their lead singer Nik Yiannikas doing his utmost to "sell" it) and it kind of knocked their momentum out of whack a little. And so just like before, they rushed through their closing number "Nightmoves" (arguably leaving us on a high note) and then they got the FUCK out of there as fast as they could. The crowd screamed for an encore for well over five minutes, it never happened, and that was the end of their show. Weird! Maybe it was just their hit and run sense of humour. Maybe it was just the wrong night for them. Maybe it's just their way of keeping us all in hilarious suspense for when they finally "finish the job" when they next tour here.. WHO THE FUCK KNOWS!? It started awesome, it just ended "weird". Hmmm. Guess that's the price you pay for a Thursday night headliner: you never know quite what to expect!
The weirdness didn't end there either. Scattered throughout the venue tonight, seemingly at random, were these "coins" that Lost Valentinos had minted especially for the occassion (ie: to promote their upcoming album release "Cities Of Gold" on September the 9th). In essence they were just like the proverbial "gold tickets" to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Only instead of potentially dying in a hideous (yet equally hiiilarious!) industrial accident: you enter in the four digit code as listed on the coin onto their website, and then you go into the running for a trip to South America to experience "A life-changing 6 Day Trek with a Peruvian guide along the trail of the Ancient Incan Civilization". Featuring such mind boggling wonders as Machu Picchu, the "pictoresque" Yuncachimpa and the ever "treacherous" Warminwanusca valued at over $6200 (but only if you passed their wacky online treasure hunt first). FUUUCK.. I KNOW! Not only is this the singularly most clownshit insane thing I've ever heard an Australian band attempt in promoting their upcoming release (so much so it actually beats the "kidnapping prank" that The Killgirls pulled earlier this year.. and that's saying something!) but it's also potentially the most ridiculously awesome too! (it totally makes my brain explode just thinking about it.. WHO EVEN COMES UP WITH THIS SHIT!?). Oh and before you ask: YES I've already entered this code. I mean is there ANY way in hell I could ever pass up something as stupifyingly nonsensical as this!? HELL NO!!
Of course once the gig was over and everyone else had stopped screaming for an encore there was little else to do but twiddle my thumbs for the next fifteen minutes till my next bus arrived so then I could go home again. Awesome! Sure I could have gone to Supermild, sure I could have kept drinking well into Friday morning, but it's a Thursday night what would even be the point in that!? Oh and while we're totally off the subject: for those of you who are curious, I also asked Nik from Lost Valentinos about the whole "encore" thing tonight, or more accurately why they didn't play "Man With A Gun" (because clearly I've got a mental disorder for that shit) only for him to tell me that two members of the band tonight didn't know how to play it. So yeah *cough* there you go!
Yup, I never know quite how to feel on a Thursday night. It's neither here or there. There's no story arc, character development nor timely conclusion. It simply is what it is: a whole lot of middle with no apparent beginning or end. Just another Thursday night waiting for a Friday to show it where to go. Was this a good one or was it a bad one? or maybe it was a little bit of both!? or maybe I simply chasing my own tail attempting to make sense of the ambiguity of it all!? Fuck it.. either way, it me got out of the house to see some shit and sometimes that's all that counts.