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...
THE AMCATS + ISLE OF VISION + TWO SUNS "7" SINGLE LAUNCH PARTY" @ THE ED CASTLE / Friday October 2nd 2009
Everyone has a home: a place to rest their head, hang their hat, bury their cat and scatter their toenail clippings (although preferably not all at the same time). And it doesn't matter if it's a filing cabinet, coffin, cardboard box, crawlspace, quarter acre, basement, warehouse, bunker, compound, lunatic asylum, laboratory, pornography dungeon, mass burial site or if it's the ultimate galactic superweapon cunningly disguised as a planetary orbiting "moon", as long as it's STILL a home to call your own there's nothing else like it. Home is home.. it's like the best shit ever! And for those of you who've always wondered where mine is, this is it right here: situated on 233 Currie Street and the corner of Gray, between Hindley and Waymouth in the west end of Adelaide. And I swear duuude? it's like the maddest hippest joint in town! Drop by for a visit ANYTIME, doors are open at all hours (or simply throw a brick through a window if it's not) bring your friends, your family, your pets, hire some circus clowns, help yourself to the bar fridge, piss up the walls and ceiling (or better yet bring a sledgehammer for some much needed "interior decorating") maybe even start a small furniture fire in the middle of the floor. Whatever takes your fancy!? I swear it's that kinda place to party! Of course with all that being said I still can't claim to possess any legitimate residency here as I've never actually signed a lease. Ooops! Just as my "flatmates" still haven't gotten used to the sight of me stumbling about in my socks and boxers (or less) scratching my nuts, screaming obscenities in search of my daily "shit, shower and shave". Sometimes they even chase me with shovels (it's done wonders for the lunchtime crowds let me tell you!). But I swear we're like family around here, we're as thick as thieves, we're fated to be, THIS is the only home for me! Or at least until they start asking me for rent.. in which case I'll simply move onto the next target. But until then duuude? you won't EVER see me leave! Why? because no matter how hard I try I can never seem to escape here. The Ed Castle. It's like a fucking event horizon I swear!
KIRK SPECIAL (***1/2) myspace :: Yup, this is the third night in a row I've been at The Ed Castle. And by "third night in a row" I totally mean every other night from Sunday to Thursday that I haven't been here, catching up with all that other hysterical shit "I love to avoid" (like work, sleep, vitamins A through to E, functioning relationships with all of society in general) totally doesn't count because THAT'S how retardingly awesome it is to be at The Ed Castle again.. FUCK I LOVE THIS PLACE!! I mean why else would I be here? to drive myself completely clownshit insane attempting to write up YET another one of these dysfunctional episodes!? pfft of course not! But even if I was, I'd be in fine company with our opening act. This is Kirk Special. I swear I've never seen him before in my life (or have I?), and yet somehow he already knows who I AM (he even introduces me to the crowd to much lack of cheering) and not for any bleedingly obvious reasons (like say the fact that I like to drink a lot? sheeiiit!), but because we both clearly escaped from the same mental asylum yeaaars ago.. only I've long since blacked out all memory of him (apparently we organised the most awesome puppet shows) but obviously I digress. Borderline insane or not: Kirk Special is the epitome of the "one man band", he's just the man to get the party started! With nothing but a guitar, a combination snare and kick drum and the butt of his instrument to smash the occassional cymbal with: he belts out the whiskey spitting blues in that blitheringly ramshackle, infectiously casual manner, most often reserved for street buskers, raging alcoholics, hellfire preachers or those of us most prone to urinating in a public square at 3PM on a Sunday (who me!? I swear I never!). Still for what he obviously lacks in surgical precision or personal hygeine he more than makes up for with vitriolic skill and dry conversational wit (even if you can't understand half a word he sings). Yup every song here is a Kentucky fried masterpiece. One howling blues ditty after another rich in Southern USA city namedroppings, whimsical anecdotal referencing and greasy slide guitar licks rendered grittier than a deep grill that hasn't seen a decent clean in years; like he's cooking up a hairyarse hog braised in moonshine and gasoline with every bung note. YES! In closest comparisons I'd equate him to a generous measure of The Black Keys, a smidgen of The White Stripes (but only at their most primordial) and most especially the rarefied "boob scotch" of one Bob Log III. It's the kind of cactus revelry that makes you want to drink, fight, fuck, shoot, get the fuck away from civilised society completely (before they arrest you for it), then live out a log cabin somewhere cooking up a whole host of C4 incendiary devices to fuck up a federal government or two. Oh yes, it makes you want to fly that freak flag high, wipe your arse clean with it, burn it, then declare your own sovereign state with a middle finger flipped to the man. And as much as it makes me infinitely more retarded listening to it.. I'm all the wiser in my gut to be in its auspicious presence!
TWO SUNS (****) myspace :: Two members of our second act: Mathias Northway on guitar and Davison Jones on bass used to haunt The Ed Castle quite like I do now (or let's face it for pretty much a year before that too). And no that's NO exaggeration. Every night, without fail back in 2008, you'd see them hovering around in the beer garden or floating about by the DJ decks in the main bar with their fuckup friends from Lady Strangelove, laughing themselves retarded in a perpetual haze of smoke. And they weren't just the furniture around here either, they were practically the hallucinogenic fungus growing on it too, THAT'S how ever present they were! In fact Davison on bass (aka: "Smoking Man Dave") even has the dubious honour of being the first person "caught in the act with his girlfriend" here at The Ed Castle (and likely not the last) moments after it reopened: only to leap frog the fence with his trousers around his ankles, fuckup his escape route and ultimately break his leg (what a freaking legend!). No shit he limped about on crutches for months after that. And as much as I've probably told you that story before? I swear I never get tired of retelling it.. YEAAAS!! Of course they're not nearly around as often as they used to. Ever since The Ed Castle became such a wildly popular hotspot with the indie/electro fashion scensters for shit like Transmission Live, WOW! and Plus One they've fled to "higher ground". It's almost like "I can't remember" the last time I've seen them here (wait is that meant to be ironic?) but tonight at long last they're back with avengeance! You may remember them as two members of From The Dead Sea (along with Ben Smith on drums). However since then they've renamed themselves (as they've experienced a few "issues" with the similarily named The Dead Sea: a progressive "wall of sound" act based in Sydney and Berlin) and have thus chosen to call themselves Two Suns instead. Which obviously is in homage to the Pink Floyd song "Two Suns In The Sunset" off The Final Cut album and NOT for the second Bat For Lashes album (y'know just so you know). Still as confusing as all that sounds, I swear it's made absolutely no difference to their sound. In essense think of them as a smooth blend between psychedelic progression, howling blues and postrock poeticism. Equal measures latter day Pink Floyd mixed with the polaric extremes of Mogwai and Tool. All of it is instrumental, endlessly contemplative, meditative, not a single word spoken, nor does there ever need to be as it easily speaks for itself. For in their endlessly intricate yet easy going compositions lies a wealth of colour to be explored. Most of it is curiously in a distinctly autumn shade (but that may just be the stage lighting I've always seen them play under) either way through Mathias' chromatic guitar, Davison's progressive bass noodlings and Ben's flailing (and frequently wildly expressive) drumming they take you on an extended journey. One that seems to float effortlessly downstream from frosted mountain top to oceanside sunset quite like a Viking Funeral only to be torched aflame in the closing credits. It's one that's easy to get lost in, somewhat trickier putting into words but well worth experiencing first hand. And overall short of the occassional "electro flanging" misstep from Dave on his bass (which kind of threw me out a bit) there's not a single note out of place here. They're a complete picture painted from canvas to corners, and yet they're also one that invites you in quite like a conversation. You don't need to speak it, simply transmit and receive it telepathically. And for a moment there stretching out into the infinite? that's just what we did: as me, the crowd, and Two Suns communicated as one. Trippy? oooh shit dude, you don't even know the half of it!
12:11AM - In between the first and second lot of bands, I took a "quick intermission" to take a whizz in the koi pond out back, load up on bottles from the bar fridge, ducking the occassional thrown one by bartender Antonia who's obviously still pissed after that whole "washing machine incident" earlier this week (ie: when I dropped my trousers and sat on it in the dark, mistaking it for a.. yeah you're better off not knowing) only to retire to a quiet corner of the band room to sift through hundreds of photos I'd just taken of Two Suns that'd otherwise sucked. FUCK YEAH!! Now normally none of this trivial shit would ever be worth mentioning, except that I was soon interrupted by Hania here (aka: one of Two Sun's exciteable entourage) who's apparently hellbent (read: hilariously drunk) in making a "starring appearance" in this episode tonight. Hmmm..
Me? pure freaking evil!? I don't know how you would ever get that impression! Oh you mean from the diabolical facial expressions I'm pulling just now, pissing myself laughing!? yeah well you got me there. Hi Hania, welcome to the blog! (please don't kill me.. it was YOUR idea remember!!).
ISLE OF VISION (****1/2) myspace :: And speaking of people who are possibly dreading making an appearance in this blog, here's our third act. Yup as much as they may never have featured on this website before (in fact quite like a few other bands of their "rarefied ilk" they've been damn near notorious for it: isn't that right Buster Fidez!?) they're still no strangers to me tonight. And not just from the awesome word of mouth buzz that they've been receiving over the years (most notably thanks to their number one fans from Trixie Plain who can't stop spanking off about them). But more so for their lead singer: one Trent Worley, and one notable incident where we crossed paths at a gig by The Mess Hall in August last year (ie: here he is making a complete dick of himself in the crowd out front.. FUCK YEAH!!). Or more accurately at the fucked up "after party" at Producers Bar where he bribed me a frosty pint on the grounds that I NEVER REVIEW his band. Hmmm. Which as it turns out was more a than easy arrangement to comply with (and not just because I'm one lazyarse live music journalist: isn't that right The Vampire Project!?), for as soon as it was agreed upon they all but disappeared from the live scene altogether (thus awarding themselves with the hilarious nickname "Idle Of Vision" in their absense). Oh and as for why I'm finally reviewing them tonight for their "triumphant comeback" when clearly this goes against our original contract? Yeah well I have two words for you: "beer" and "bribe", and after twelve months and countless other beers thrown over that proverbial bridge (or is that passing under it!?), I pretty much figure all bets are off. Still as it turns out they have very little to worry about, because this set tonight absolutely killed! Isle Of Vision. In essense they're a stoner rock band mixed with equal measures of slacker grunge and lo-fi punk. Or in other words throw in everything from Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Spiderbait, Nirvana, Mudhoney and Green Jellÿ; then take it right back to the oldskool stoner extremes in bands like T-Rex and Daddy Cool and simply crank up the noise on full. Or in other words they're every drunken shouting match you've ever heard spewed forth about someone's ex-girlfriend, ex-wife, boss, co-workers, in-laws, parents, next door neighbours, flatmates from hell, corrupt politicians or society in general only hundred times better in that they feature guitars, bass and drum driven to extreme. Yup, they're an ANGRY band through and through but there's also a sly catharsis here, often verging on taking the absolute piss out of themselves, which I appreciate the most. From the deranged excess of Trent Worley's vocals borrowing much of their vitriol from Craig Nicholls from The Vines, Nick Oliveri from Mondo Generator and a healthy snot nosed dose of The Ramones. To the fuzzing guitars lurching about like a junkyard dog attack in one extreme (that Nick Cave's The Birthday Party would be proud of) to an extended blues jam reminiscent of Neil Young in the other. To the rhythm section from both Matt Tropeano on bass and Tom Pennington on drums rendered looser than loose with an antagonist sting in its step. THIS is music to drink yourself psychotic to, and the crowd around me tonight are doing their utmost to live upto that by tearing the whole fucking place apart. It's a howling, shrieking, trainwreck as equally as it's artfully rendered. And yet as much as it may kill me retarded to be amongst it (with the alcohol poisoning alone) for a mad buzz like this? duuude I swear I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but here!
THE AMCATS (****1/2) myspace :: Which makes for quite the comical contrast between Isle of Vision and our headlining act: who despite being no less rough around the edges in their gunning riffs and pounding beats (and gathering an equally psychotic crowd in kind) they take to THEIR howling extremities not with pent up anger or a ripening thirst for revenge but rather with a goofy grin reminiscent of a whimsical Warner Brothers cartoon or a feel good episode of Happy Days. Yeah I know, it's weird to think that a "blues band" could be THIS downright cheerful in they way they perform, I mean it's a gross contradiction in terms ferfucksake!? And yet past all those jokes I've cracked at their expense over the years comparing them to.. well, "you know who" (I mean c'mon!?), it's THIS upbeat quality to their live show that stays with you the most. You could say its their most endearing and infectious quality. It's like watching kittens paw over a ball of wool, or those indie dweebs Michael Cera and Ellen Page performing that cute-as-a-button duo in the closing credits of Juno (awww!). And no matter how hard you try to resist that shit, punching yourself in the head over and over screaming for the madness to stop, it's what will invariably win you over in the end. The Amcats. Tonight they're tickling this "reign of terror" to new heights by releasing yet another shiny new seven inch vinyl "Had Enough (I Want More)" to compliment the one they've released already back in April "Jang Jang Robot". Weirder still they're giving it away for free tonight. And as much as some small part of me STILL suspects they're doing this because they're pure fucking evil, and they're getting their "perverted kicks" out of watching us go to increasingly assinine extremes to chase up a functioning turntable that can actually play this hysterical junk? it's a fleeting thought at best. NOOO they'd never do that to us, they're The Amcats! They're everything that's awesome in this world! (and they even offer a complimentary MP3 download to go with every vinyl? awww chucks you guys, you're the greatest!). As such looking past all the lazy comparisons I could otherwise make between "you know what", The Black Keys or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (which granted they DO share a lot in common with) it's this weird "childlike joy" in which they tear into their instruments that's the most striking. It's a telepathic exchange between Shane McIntyre on guitar and Renee Andrighetto on drums. From Shane's incomprehensible yammering (midway between a hillbilly livestock auctioneer and a yapping chihuahua hooked up to a megaphone) to his frenetic guitar playing (like a gasoline guzzling chainsaw crossbred with a motorbike let loose on a Louisiana swamp). To Renee's myriad of quizzical looks (ranging from serene to sly to "wait did someone just fart!?") searching out the subtle cues, never missing a beat, as she shifts gears on drums. It's damn near hypnotising to watch as this interplay darts back and forth. Often they wont even face the audience, lost in their own private language of ebb and flow. But the results truly speak for themselves. This howling, shrieking, shredding, machine gun of a primordial blues explosion: belting out one solid gold jam after the other, two to three minutes at a time, that makes you wanna tear fucking loose up the walls. Sure it's not quite the blues as we know it, but it's still just as effective in helping you rid all your worry and woe like the best of them. For as long as The Amcats exist: the world ain't nearly as bad as you think and at least three times as shiny!
2:11AM - Which is just the kind of "feel good" message that bears reminding yourself when facing off against a crowd anywhere near as hilariously psychotic as this one in The Ed Castle tonight. I swear these photos don't nearly do it justice. The minute Renee tore into those drums and Shane shredded into his guitar in kind they simply went beserk out there. They couldn't get enough of this shit! Bouncing off the walls and ceiling, like they were the proverbial pinball machine and I was the "ball" stuck in the middle. And to think the only reason I came downstairs in the first place is so I could find some replacement batteries for my TV remote? sheeiiit! I mean you'd think having all these live bands in your "living room" every night would be the best shit ever (and more often than not it IS) but sometimes I seriously wonder why I even moved here in the first place!? Oh wait it's for all the "free beer" right!? AAAHAHAhAHAhA forget I even said anything.. this shit rules!!
Yup, with the possible exception of this freak.. SECURITY!?
2:27AM - And so here we are at the end of another night's successful installment of live entertainment and binge drinking, soaking up the simple serenity of Renee's black and maroon drumkit, like it doesn't have a care in the world, not at all bothered by the seething swarm behind me all shrieking: "PLAY ANOTHER ONE YOU FUCKING ARSEHOLES!!". Yup as much as it's all about the awesome music, and that music setting up shop night after night in your living room, and a whole host of people you don't even know (and a few other people you wish you didn't) stealing all of your cheese slices, rearranging your precious magazines and leaving footprints on the ceiling: it's really about moments like these. Meditating on the simple majesty that a drumkit can bring to a room, whilst Alex Ciaravolo, house mixer for The Ed Castle, beats you over the head with the blunt end of a shovel and screams at you to leave. Aaaah breathe it in peeps, THIS is the life!
2:39AM - And so here I am mere moments after that (ie: soon after I saw Alex loading both barrels of that shotgun) as I fled to the front bar with all my "fuckup friends" (or at least those few I could ring around at short notice) drinking myself to a cheerful oblivion the only way I know how: by documenting it in everyone ELSE around me and posting it online for the whole world to see.
Take Mathias here for instance. Would you believe he once got into a "punch up" with Nic Cester from Jet!? (or in other words he's like a national hero around here?). Yeah I didn't believe him either the first time he told me, but then he showed me one of the "teeth" he kept as a momento, or yeah.. maybe he didn't? Is it possible I simply made this whole story up just now? Maaaybe!
And yes I know what you're thinking but I swear he doesn't have a "drinking problem". We actually like to refer to it as a "drinking solution". In fact it's one of the many reasons (or perhaps the only reason we could think of right now) for why he's SO awesome to have him around at all hours: as he always makes our retarding substance abuse look ever so whimsically "mild" by comparison.
2:42AM - Speaking of such, I was about to beat this shaved gimp to death with the blunt end of a shovel (wait.. where the fuck do all these garden implements come from all a sudden!?) until I realised it was just Brendan Shaw, "former" lead singer of Lady Strangelove. Apparently they used to play live gigs and everything! Of course I can't seem to recall when exactly this ever happened so I may just be making shit up again (short term memory loss? what short term fairy floss!?) but he assures me that YES they do have a shiny new recording, it's called "Chinese Democracy" and it'll be launched any day now, maybe even this year! Oh and as for the new haircut? yeah I wish I could explain it away as some "freak lawnmower accident" but he actually did this on purpose!
2:52AM - "Spoz.. there's something I've been meaning to ask you". "Yes Hania?". "Is it ever possible for you to take a NORMAL photo of yourself!?". "No.. why do you ask?". "Oh no reason..".
2:54AM - And speaking of "far from normal" there's always that one malformed freak who turns up at the end of the night and all it takes is one look at THEM to know that every one of you should have gone home hooours ago (I like to think that's usually me most nights.. YES!!). Which obviously doesn't apply here to Dan from Like Leaves, pfft.. why would you ever think that!? I'm just saying is all. No Alex, there's no need set those C4 charges, I think I'll be on my way now.
3:24AM - And so I pack up my things: my lava lamp, inflatable couch, pet mogwai, replica samurai sword, salad shooter, celebrity urine samples and box of novelty pez dispensers, finally track down my pants and give my tearfull farewell to my former flatmates. *Sniff* I'll miss you guys the most! Not at all bothered by the sound of the champagne corks popping in unison, all but drowned out by the fireworks display that followed. Hmmm. Obviously there was only one place to go now, the ONE place I always go when The Ed Castle throws me out (or more often weirds me out). Except quite like two weeks before it wasn't a "home" to me at all.. but merely a replica: four walls of a room and a beer garden out back filled with people I didn't even recognise and a kitsch 90's retro scene I had no place in being a part of. Yup, I wouldn't dare call it Supermild tonight. I think the word "Superbad" describes it better. Still it did provide me with some wonderful photographic opportunities. Like this genius "fist sized hole" found in the door leading to the beer garden.
Or this contemplative zen garden formed out of intermingled glass and ice that was possibly once a gin and tonic. Of particular note here is the feature wedge of lime. I swear everytime I see shit like this I ALWAYS see a wedge of lime. It's like a signature, it's never the same without it. Which obviously leads me to conclude that I should NEVER drink anything that has one as chances are most of it won't even make my face. Hmmm so maybe THIS is why they always provide a straw?
4:15AM - And as the barstaff sunk below the stack of glasses by the water fountain (hoping like hell nobody would find them for another "refill") and that one stubbie I was drinking flipped to the horizon. I bid adieu to "Superbad", climbed those stairs leading back to streetlevel and hailed a taxicab to take me home again. Or in other words I simply bricked a window at The Ed and waltzed right back in again when nobody was looking. Fuck yeah, you ain't getting rid of me that easily!
Yup, home is never set in stone. It's not a singular coordinate in space or time. It's constantly on the move, ever shifting, warping, distorting, imploding like the closing scenes of Poltergeist. It goes against our nomadic nature to ever accept the one because there's always been so many that we can flit between like frequencies on a dial. Tonight it's been The Ed Castle. Before that it's been everywhere from The Metro, Jade Monkey, Adelaide Uni Bar, The Crown & Anchor, Jive, Rocket Bar, HQ, Enigma, The Grace Emily, Fowlers, Queens Theatre, The Governor Hindmarsh, Supermild, Producers, Jetty Bar, Wayville or Rhino Room endlessly swapping ad infinitum. It's never been set in stone. "Home" is merely a concept: the crowds you keep, the misshapen freaks you call your own, your alibis in case of a crime. Find that shit out? and I swear you'll never be left without.