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...
STEERING BY STARS + EMPIRE VAGABOND + SINCERELY GRIZZLY LIVE @ THE JADE MONKEY / Friday September 18th 2009
Me and sleep just don't get along. Why? oh I wish I knew! We used to be as thick as thieves me and sleep, me and my femme fatale, we used to finish each other's sentences. Separated at birth? pfft.. hardly! We were one and the same for all eternity maaan, like two sides to a coin, like a symphony intertwined she soothed my savage spirit. Like one flick of a switch is all it took and the whole world didn't matter, not when I had sleep by my side. *Sigh*. Then one day she up and left me. We couldn't find the time she said, we'd grown apart, I simply "didn't need her no more", not in this new life I since found myself in. Oh but I DO sleep, I need you now more than ever! Oh how we argued. We said mean hurtful things we could never take back. We threw furniture. She broke my cuckoo clock, my centre, my circadian rhythm. I was shattered. Like sand slipping through an hourglass she was lost forever. And ever since then I've been trying to win her back.. eight hours is all I wanted I swear to make things right. I looked everywhere for her: under sofa cushions, in the dishwasher, behind the fridge, frantically searching every inch and iota from cupboard to crawl space. All I found were summer flings, fleeting at best. They were nothing compared to her.. THEY MEANT NOTHING! They were mere shadows unsubstantiated, dreams unsolicited. Dreams plagued by the undead, the inebriated, mad blood drinking fools forever howling at the moon, misshapen freaks who chase me STILL down dimly lit streets and dead end alleyways calling my name.. YOU FIENDS!! Did I deserve this? shit.. maybe I did? maybe I love this waking nightmare just as much!? but I'm still lost here without her. I don't want to make a choice, I don't want to argue, I want them BOTH in my life! My night and my day. My sleep. My one and the same. We can work it out! But alas we've yet to reconcile. We just can't seem to work it out. My mind forever turning, churning, both ends of that proverbial candlestick burning. Yearning for a single solution to an equation that can never be fully resolved, yearning for such sweet slumber found in this eye of the storm.
Yup I sacrificed one for another I know that now. It's keeping me awake. It's driving me insane believing I can't have both. Or maybe I can!? For all this insomnia I welcome without question I occassionally like to dream of a place, or a "sanctuary" if you will, where both can still achieve harmony. A sanctuary quite like the Jade Monkey. Here where there's no fashion fuckwits to haunt me, no hooting baboons to hound me, only peace and meditation (no shit.. they've even held a wedding in here!). Hosted by Zac and Naomi, it's just like a proverbial "mom & pop store". With just a few mad brews, some fairy lights, a beer garden, couches, candlelit seating and a stage well suited for a Friday night's ecclectic installment in post, indie and math rock? duuude it's all I ever need! Sure it may just be an illusion, I may not find my "sleep" here at all, I may miss her still, but at least for a moment I can rest with my eyes open and dream she's still within reach!
SINCERELY GRIZZLY (***) myspace :: Our opening act tonight presents us with no less the conundrum. Not in quite the same "head exploding string of expletives" way that I go through each week reconciling this hilariously fucked up blog with a functioning circadian rhythm (duuude I swear there's not nearly enough caffeine on a Monday to bulldoze my way through THAT level of writer's block) but more so in that pleasant "palate cleanser" sense that brings nothing but glassy eyed grins. In fact witnessing them here tonight at the Jade Monkey is quite like asking yourself: what is the sound of one hand clapping? where does a rainbow end? why does a duck's quack never echo? how is it anatomically possible for Lady GaGa to ever reproduce? is she male or female? is she both, a "shemale"? and if so is she.. I mean "shit" an illegitimate love spawn between Michael Jackson and Madonna (and if so? which one of them is the "father"!? duuude!) or rather like asking yourself with THIS band: how is it possible that they can perform as BOTH a clownshit dysfunctional live act with little or no understanding in how to play their musical instruments properly whilst simultaneously exhibiting all the potential to be a "fiendishly clever" math rock ensemble. No shit! It's a conundrum alright, no less perplexing than say.. what came first the chicken or the egg? but no less fascinating in its indepth exploration. That's Sincerely Grizzly. Or as they rather succinctly sum it up in one of their song lyrics: that's the "beauty in the discord" that makes them tick. On the one hand they're a slapstick comedy act. In the way that their lead vocalist and guitarist Joshua Calligeros stammers about like an adolescent accident, fumbling up all the complex chord changes, well meaning yet blissfully clueless. In their curious choice of electronic drumkit that Rowan Mount insists on using just like a NORMAL drumkit, despite the fact most of his triggered 8bit sounds appear to be a few shades shy of crisp: are they 22kHz? 11kHz? or did he simply rip them off a polyphonic ringtone!? who the fuck knows!? How they barely keep cohesion throughout the entire set.. so much so I occassionally wonder if they're all playing different songs. It keeps me endlessly entertained. And yet underneath all of that hilarious dysfunction there's this other side to them, the TRUE artistic genius behind Sincerely Grizzly. They're not just another cookie cutter fashion band, their influences go deeper, much more ecclectic and creative. When you picture Sincerely Grizzly: you picture a mix between I Heart Hiroshima, Not From There, Jesus & Mary Chain, Pavement, maybe even a little bit of early Joy Division. You hear it in their angular juxtaposition between post punk, post rock, math, shoegazer and slacker fuzz. You see it in the meditative exchanges as Josh loops one chord progression through an effects pedal, swaps instruments to add another layer then swaps back to the original to keep on playing. It's in Griff Farley's "rubberband" loose groove to the complex time signatures and Rowan's dizzying percussion that's needlessly over intricate yet utterly fascinating to watch. They're an ambitious lot, they're clearly way out of their depth but you got to give them credit for NOT taking the easy way out. Think of them as a work in progress, see their noise for the signal, focus on the potential amongst the pratfall, and you'll see it. Or better yet? simply wait for their upcoming EP which Joshua tells me they'll be "recording" using nothing but youtubes I've captured at all their live shows. Yup, sounds hilariously dysfunctional I know.. but for the simple fact they're still willing to try it regardless is WHY they're so fiendishly clever!
EMPIRE VAGABOND (***1/2) myspace :: Our second act present no less the riddle to unravel but I'm starting to appreciate the challenge (in the Jade Monkey especially it's rather like meditating.. aaaah!). For their appearance tonight is quite deceptive, it definitely had me scratching my head for a good ten to fifteen trying to figure it all out. Y'see from the first few notes I had them all "figured out" but I was wrong. I had them pegged as a dirty 'ol pub rocking band. You know the type, back in the day they used to be dime a dozen around here: Neanderthal, knuckle dragging, bedraggled, garage rock inebriated and howling at the moon. Prone to playing hilarious shit dives like The Crown & Anchor, The Exeter, Enigma Bar, The Metro or any other hilarious fire code violations found way out in the suburban sticks on a weeknight (Jetty Bar anyone?). Or in other words they're what I like to call a "falafel band", not for any obvious Middle Eastern influences but simply because they're best appreciated and understood at the end of the night whilst roaringly shitfaced drunk (and otherwise utterly impossible to describe). But then they change it up on me. There's more to them than that. There's something else bubbling under the surface that adds weight to their sound, gives it a little something extra than just "cheap wine and a three day growth" if only I could put my finger on it. Look past how they shamble about a stage, their unshaven low brows, their chugging blues riffs, their gunning solos, their slow gutter dwelling jams (and what you swear is a Frankenstein collision between Australian Crawl, Dire Straits, Black Sabbath, Audioslave and the progmetal extremes of Tool) and you'll see it too. It's bit of a headfuck of decipher it, it's subtle, but its definitely there. It's the raw sound of "indie", not in its current corruption of the term: where its all head gouging strobe light electro and spastic handclaps but way back to where it all started as a welcome "anti-fashion" detour from post punk and new wave more than twenty years ago. "Independant of the major labels" as it were: the precursors to grunge. You start to pick up more of it throughout their set. It's the sound of R.E.M. and The Pixies from way back, or if we're being really obscure Wall Of Voodoo (especially in the megaphone flourishes used quite fiendishly in a song they called "Be My Monkey Tonight".. their definite highlight). Think Hunters & Collectors before they made it big, maybe even Children Collide if it were done as a swinging "lounge act". Only none of it is polished, it's all rough hewn and hairy, dirty bricks and mortar, filtered through layers of grime, grit and distortion. It still doesn't hide the fact that they're essentially a falafel band, but they're ever so arty at it that it actually elevates it. It reveals itself not through three minute "radio friendly" bursts but slowly through creative neanderings that extend out to the horizon. You could drop smilies, smoke trees and be lost in the subtle degrees for days! Yup, anywhere else I wouldn't see this for what it really is but here at the Jade Monkey? dude I'm tripping on all the mad frequencies!
STEERING BY STARS (****1/2) myspace :: And now for the REAL reason why I'm here at the Jade Monkey tonight. For no other live venue in Adelaide: with its intimate surrounds, its poster art, vintage brick finish, wooden floorboards, faerie lights (and their ever infamous "psychic bartender" to boot) really captures the spirit of our face melting headlining act quite like THIS one. For ever since their triumphant debut at Producers Bar back in December they've left me hanging for another set quite like it. For no live set since then has equalled that initial shock and awe; there's truly been no equal. For their sound is far from conventional, at least not by any contemporary measure you could care to weight them up against (and especially not ones found locally). Calling them "postrock" or "shoegaze" is putting it mildly. Imagining them as an orchestral mashup between Sigur Rós, The Doves and the Blade Runner soundtrack is selling them short. Even my attempts to pick the brain of their lead "singer" Lachlan Wilson for wide variety of influences and hunting down everything he mentioned from M83, Explosions In The Sky, Deerhunter, The Horrors to the Fuck Buttons barely scrapes the surface. No you just need to catch them on the right occassion, at the right venue (with the right mood lighting). Or simply wait until the sum of their parts (nothing short of a shoegaze supergroup featuring members from Love Stereo, Lumonics and Horse & Cart) at long last combines to create a greater whole. Either way I swear I got that same buzz tonight. Steering By Stars. Quite like the name suggests they take you on a journey. To where exactly it's hard to say. Through that proverbial looking glass, through the closing chapters of "2001: A Space Odyssey", or maybe even through to the very depths of the Underworld itself with Orpheus and his lyre (which makes for quite the colourful metaphor in concert with whatever gibberish I was rambling about in my opening paragraph). Either way there's a haunting poetry here made no less ironic by the fact you can never understand a single verse Lachlan is "singing" (or more accurately channeling like a seance). It's a poetry and a symphony that finds its real strength not through individual songs (although there's more of those now), but more so in the movements in between, in how they all flow into each other. And its here that's I've always encountered a bit of a "stumbling block" with Steering By Stars in the past. In previous sets they've been defined by their wildly unpredictable ups and downs. From the loudest crescendo to the softest murmur, they've all been awesome mind you, but it's been a mad jumble to figure out where the fuck it's all going. But now they're starting to define that bigger picture and they're all the better for it: producing that well defined beginning, middle and an end; that "character arc" that carries you from start to finish. From the propulsive opening chapters expressed through Rory's shrill guitar, Adrian's droning bass, Tom's exploding drums and Lachlan's muffled screams. To the gentle midsection defined with little more than a tickling of the ivories. To the poignant finale that combines both extremes ever so artfully. It's really quite moving. Still it's not all somber reflection with this band. As a surprise finale they made a point to subvert that "sadsack" shoegaze reputation, broke character and cooked up a hilarious rendition of Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!'s "War Coward" (in quite possibly the first instance I've seen of one Adelaide band covering another in a long time) distinguished not only by how accurately Rory apes Dave Williams' signature headbanging manoeuvre on guitar but also by the completely ridiculous "jazz interlude" they threw like a curveball into in the middle of it (and oooh yes I got a video of it!). Granted it was a complete and utter shambles (obviously they didn't really rehearse it) but it was an absolutely brilliant way to end a truly mesmerising live set. Encore! ENCORE!!
1:14AM - And so quite like it was advertised I found my peace and meditation at the Jade Monkey. Even without my sleep I was whole again, I didn't miss her here, I simply stopped looking. Through the awesome lobotomising power of post, indie and math rock dutching up this venue something fierce in layer upon layer of guitars and contemplative noodling my mind was rendered void, all earthly concerns now irrelevant. 'Twas a beautiful thing! Sure it may look empty here now, but moments before maaan this room was filled with mad travellers just like me! Lo those twinkling lights, so serene, such sublime phantasmagorical abuse of the English language in describing it! breath it all in AAAAAAAAHHH!! Do not be at all concerned by the sputtering sound of Lachlan's white sedan backfiring as me, Joshua and Rory push started it all the way down Twin Street. Do not be at all alarmed by the sight of a blitheringly drunk Joshua leaping onto the roof of that same car, spread eagled and screaming as it raced off into the night (only to jam his fingers in the sunroof). THIS is it right here! And then stupidly enough I left it and I kept on drinking.
2:12AM - Yup clearly my Friday night is never complete without a drunken and debaucherous downward spiral into hell (that rapidly undoes any of the "clarity" I achieved in the first half) why? because it's fucking hilarious that's why! Which is more than I could say for The Ed Castle tonight when they conveniently upped chairs, flicked the house lights, killed the DJ and threw everyone outside the minute I arrived. Hmmm.. it's like they were trying to tell me something here?
2:22AM - And yet clearly I didn't pick up the subtle undercurrent because instead of simply "calling it a night" like I should of, I followed through on my bleedingly obvious trajectory and stumbled off to Supermild instead.. YEAAAS!! Which granted would've been a brilliant plan if ever I had one (fuck I love this joint) if only I didn't arrive here on the ONE Friday night that it well and truly blew both testicles of a goat. And we're not just talking a DJ mix that's a little bit "goofy" like that one numbnuts who insists on smashing cheese whizz hits from the nineties (who IS that guy!?) or a bar that's simply run out of long necks. We're talking a Supermild experience where Biff Tannen steals your Delorean from the future and fucks up your 1985. I swear it was the first night in memory that I practically recognised NO ONE in here. And dude I don't know if you've noticed but I'm ALWAYS fucking here! It was beyond a joke, the barstaff, the doorbitch, they totally said the same thing: someone had fucked up the spacetime continuum maaan and there was gonne be hell to pay!
2:48AM - Still it's not like I was ever gonna let a teeny tiny thing like a gaping rift in the fabric of reality fuck up my plans for a Friday night: giant universe destroying black hole singularity!? pfft that's nothing duuude! So I simply retaliated by bringing in a whole bunch of my own regular "cast members" to even up the odds a little. Such as the always popular "ridiculously drunk Simone".
Sure she might shriek exciteably over "complex" theoretical concepts like room temperature tap water or gravity, dance like a downed Black Hawk helicopter and rapidly derail any episode of Spoz's Rant she's ever appeared in (I know.. don't you just LOVE that shit!?). And sure, despite the five beers I've downed before even stepping foot in here tonight I'm still way short of the same ballpark as the exploding firehazard in red with a straw she's been bucketing? she's still awesome to have around. No shit.. invite her to any happening shindig in town? instant hiiilarity!
Which is why I'm not at all disturbed (or reaching for a fire extinguisher) moments later when she rushes to the bar again to order another round (or perhaps twelve) and promptly explodes all over the dancefloor. Awesome! Would you believe I've survived well over three years of this shit and I'm still on my original kidneys? me neither.. as clearly someone else is writing this blog instead.
2:51AM - And speaking of reasons why I clearly should have gone home hours ago this is Matt Hein (aka: Sausage Fingers, aka: The Jolly Green Giant, aka: "OH FUCKING HELL WHO LET THIS HILARIOUS BEAST IN HERE AGAIN!?"). You may remember him from every other time I've ever been refused entry to (or thrown out of) a pub, club or venue simply because he was the one pisswreck standing next to me, or more accurately swaying like Frankenstein's monster making a sound not unlike Borat crossfaded with a flatulent camel (with a smell not unlike that of Amy Winehouse decomposing in a dumpster) which obviously leads every barstaff and bouncer to conclude that I actually know him somehow. Disturbingly enough? yes I DO know him (and weirder still I actually dragged him all the way from Rundle Mall). Once again it's anyone's guess how he managed to swindle his way past the bouncers standing guard outside but shit damn aren't we SO glad that he did (or at least we would just as soon as he puts his shirt back on.. YEEEOUCH!!).
3:07AM - Which obviously leads to THIS infamous nitwit making yet ANOTHER inexplicable appearance in this blog, in quite the same way that a moth is drawn to a flame, a fly is drawn to monkey flung faeces, or Joe Blogs is instantly drawn to any richter nine nightmare scenario that not only makes spontaneous combustion from excess alcohol poisoning a reality but a damn near dead certainty, or.. yeah I think we all know where this shit is heading. And if you answered with this entire city block (and a few neighbouring ones) being condemned as an environmental catastrophe, sealed in cement like Chernobyl and passed off as a cautionary warning "as foretold" in the prophecies of Nostradamus you wouldn't be far off (or better yet shift that decimal dot a few points to the right and hire Roland Emmerich to direct it and you'd be just about spot on here).
As such these following two photos (ie: the only two we figured were still safe to publish) clearly need no explanation to anyone prone to reading this shit a few too many times than is considered entirely safe for their mental health. Nor does it need explaining to the staff at Mickey D's when they found Matt stuffed headfirst into the dumpsters out back half an hour later with an "invoice" attached. As not only is it the one place in the west end where we dispose of all our bodies, it's also the primary source from which Mickey D's get most of their "farm fresh ingredients" (and people STILL wonder how they "make" their hash browns!? it's made out of people damnit!).
(hmmm y'know what? Amy Winehouse!? naaah he actually smells more like Gary Busey!)
3:52AM - Which is obviously why we claim that we were at Supermild for almost another hour instead laughing it up without a care in the world (bodies? pfft.. what bodies!? I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!? AAAHAHAhAhahAHA!!) as clearly the truth of what REALLY took place at Mickey D's this Friday night (or any other night involving a few too many and too little to show for it) is far too grisly to mention and doesn't bear repeating to anyone. As far as I'm concerned I wasn't here, I left hours ago, and this never really happened *burp* excuse me.
Why can't I find sleep? Why does she not answer my calls, my text, my voicemails, myspace, facebook, twitters or instant messages pleading for her to forgive me for all the ways in which I have somehow wronged her!? pfft.. no really I wonder that STILL sometimes when clearly the answer is slapping me in the face. I chose this instead, and each week I choose it again, it's the awesomest place to be! And I can run and hide all I want (and I admit sometimes I'm rather good at it) but there's truly no escaping it now. Not when I'm their zoo keeper. Not when I'm the only one standing in their way. And until I find some other gullible schmuck to take my place, to share the burden? there's never a moment's rest. If this scene doesn't sleep.. then neither will I!