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 IMPOSSIBLE QUICHE + GHOSTWALK + BILLY BOB'S BBQ JAM BAND "BILLY BOB'S BBQ JAM" @ THE GRACE EMILY / Monday October 12th 2009
I tell you what but it's a hard life being the "Spoz" sometimes. I mean the pressure; it's freaking intense! All these ridiculously high expectations I'm living upto every damn week for you people, all the insane legends you've built up around me; it's truly mind boggling shit! Oh I bet you've heard AAAALL the stories haven't you!? (in fact I might be responsible for spreading most of them in the first place!). How I never need sleep or sunlight or vitamin C. How I'm impervious to conventional or even unconventional weaponry (if ever you try killing me with a spork, a stuffed mongoose or a trampoline? I swear.. totally not gonna happen!). How I can appear in five places at once and teleport instantaneously on a whim? How I can keep on drinking (and underwater at that) and still be left standing at the end of the night (and well into the next day) with a resounding thumbs up and a shit eating grin!? SHIT DAMN DUUUDE!! And would you believe I even have five regenerative livers and three functioning kidneys? of course you do! Or how in my "original state" I'm actually ten foot tall, covered in orange fur, speak fluent Navajo and can belch fire upto three kilometres!? I KNOW, I'M REALLY THAT KICKARSE! I mean seriously, just YOU try being me and I swear it'd totally melt your fucking face off. Sometimes it's even too much for ME! Sometimes it takes upto three blasts of the defibrilator to get me up in the morning. I mean sure the perks make it all worthwhile. Everytime I enter a live venue now half the people scatter like rats at the sight of me (hmmm I wonder why!?), while the other half come running at me like flesh eating zombies screaming for a photo. Dudes are totally shouting me beers and giving me free CDs all the time (of course I never listen to them but hey!). I'm getting into all (or at least some) of the gigs for free. And the women!? oh let me tell you about the women.. yeah, just as soon as they stop screaming and hitting me in the face! (again I wonder why!?). Yup it's a life hard being the "Spoz" sometimes. And if you think living it is bad enough? just you try WRITING about it!
Which is why I'm here at The Grace Emily tonight (and on a Monday night no less) for some much needed "therapy". Why? because it's where I always go to when life in the Adelaide scene gets to be just a little too crazy to cope. Like when my shit hot September gets shat all over by an abominable October (and then some!). Or when I find myself trapped at The Ed Castle (aka: "the event horizon", aka: "the red arsehole", aka: "OH FUCK NOT YOU AGAIN!?") for four consecutive nights in a row until I swear my fucking head explodes. Or when being the "Spoz", for all the awesomeness it apparently entails, is the last thing I ever want to be. Oh yes The Grace Emily, or as I like to call it: "The Gremily" is THE number one place to be, to cure all of my worldly woes!
And tonight they're playing host to an Adelaide institution of sorts (emphasis on the "mental": which let's face it is what I sorely need after all I've been through) with yet another weekly installment of Billy Bob's BBQ Jam. Almost every Monday without fail they throw this shit together at The Grace Emily (in fact I'm half surprised I'd never heard of it before). In essence, think of it as an "open mic night" or maybe even a secret handshake amongst Adelaide musicians. There's no set lineup, no defining style, no rules to abide by when it comes to the size or scope of your setlist (although they generally do like to keep things short). There's simply a live stage, a mixer, a clipboard and a pen. Simply front up on the night with whatever you've got: whether it be a solo acoustic, a ramshackle blues duo, a four piece band, full symphony orchestra, sock puppet theatre, or whatever-the-fuck (with a floor to ceiling rack of synths and a fuckoff flamethrower) and sign your name down. Get in quick and ambush the grinning gimp with the cowboy hat (aka: Billy Bob) if you want to play early, go under an hilarious pseudonym if that's your thing, treat is as a rehearsal, a loose jam, or a soap box: it's seriously the maddest shit ever on a Monday night!
As such, and in keeping with the "anything goes" aesthetic of the occassion: this won't be your customary live review tonight. There won't be fuckoff paragraph after paragraph exploding on a page for you to pick apart with rubber gloves and a shovel in search of the truth (or in other words something you can take wildly out of context for your myspace quote.. YES!!). I won't be going into detail on every single live act either. Fuckit I'll even leave a whole lot of them out. It IS a Monday afterall, there's simply no need! I'm simply soaking up the mad vibes just like everyone else, and I'm sure as shit not alone in my asylum, as by no small coincidence this is also The Grace Emily's busiest night, I shit you not! Yup, even on a week when it's freezing cold, the winds are howling, and the rain's pissing horizontal it's still packed to the ceiling with like minded fools brimming with bug-eyed grins. And after you've seen what I saw tonight, you may begin to understand why!
BILLY BOB'S BBQ JAM BAND (****1/2) myspace :: Our opening act is the only element that every installment of Billy Bob's BBQ Jam shares in common (short of a dole queue and a healthy disdain for the nine-to-five) as obviously they're the eponymous beast that spawned this mad jam in the first place: apparently quite by accident way back in the late nineties, to accompany the barstaff while they cleaned out the beer taps on a Monday; go figure? As such they act as both the designated "house band" to kick off proceedings and as "defacto MC" to announce the rest of the bands (I also suspect they're especially handy with a shovel and a shallow grave if ever things turn sour). Fronted by one Billy Bob Rankine (who's appeared in everything from Southpoor, The Satellites, Wintercherry and Proton Pill) think of them as a looser than loose blues band with a few elements of funk thrown in. In closest approximation they remind me of everything from B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Joe Satriani and Stevie Ray Vaughn for the blues, Les Claypool for the quirk and perhaps a sprinkle of latter day Red Hot Chili Peppers for the easy going funk (even if that last bit sounds like a raging insult). And obviously since they've been playing here every single Monday night for the past decade or so (or about five hundred times: give or take a few if you're keeping count) they're insanely fuckoff proficient at what they do; and yet they're also refreshingly low key in the way they express it. Lasting little over three songs, their set tonight works on the strengths of this easy going musicianship. Like everything's simply slapped together as if by "accident" and yet none of it ever seems out of place. With a funk driven rhythm section by both Jamie "Double J" Jones and Clancy Willoughby (on drums and bass respectively) and accentuated by Steve "Schooner" Salvi with his easy going guitar grooves, where it especially kills is in the gunning blues solos: as Billy Bob lets loose with the kind of hyperspeed ferocity on his axe that'd damn near give any Guitar Hero dweeb an epilectic panic attack if ever they tried to follow him. And even with only three songs to their repertoire tonight they're whipping the crowds into an absolute feeding frenzy. The room's packed right to the ceiling, they're dancing up a storm, there's even one grizzled old loon who's yammering along like a livestock auctioneer; he's that mad into this shit! Then before you know it they've simply flown off the stage again (whoaaa!). Yup, they're a total hit and run by every definition of the word, but I swear they're worth every second of it. Billy Bob's BBQ Jam Band: they're here every Monday, they ain't going anywhere, no shit.. check 'em out sometime!
GHOST WALK (****) myspace :: Our second act tonight you may recognise first and foremost as the acoustic singer/songwriter duo The Kemp Brothers (aka: formerly known as The Castonets, aka: formerly known as "no really? who the fuck invited THESE two idiots!?") and everything else from Blindside and Tendahook back in the late nineties (with Drew Kemp on lead vocals), to Booster and ABlackwell much more recently (with Sean Kemp on drums). And yes if it isn't already bleedingly obvious they ARE in fact brothers (even if they occassionally claim they simply got together after a few too many brews, BBQ ribs and a "shotgun wedding" in Las Vegas, which they totally swear they didn't consummate *cough*). Oh and as for why they're called "Ghost Walk" tonight, as much as I initially suspected it was merely an hilarious pisstake on their part inspired by a few too many bucket bongs (ie: very much in keeping with the loose spirit of the occassion tonight) they've totally gone all out and reinvented themselves as a fuckoff two piece blues band tonight. WHOAAA!! Better yet they totally didn't think to rehearse it. Weirder still despite all that it fucking kills. No shit I swear they're a freaking natural! I mean I've known these two nitwits for almost fifteen years now and I was totally looking forward to them fucking it up (in fact I often like to think of them as being just like Flight Of The Conchords, only five times as fuglyarse drunk) and yet here they are tearing it up like they were born this way!? SHIT DAMN!! Who knew that after playing music for decade and a half they'd finally stumble upon raw talent like this!? (yeah ok, maybe that makes perfect sense). In essence as a rough and tumble blues band, they're very much in the same vein as The Fumes. Shredding out loose as hell, dirty as fuck, southern fried rock & roll jams that mix equal measures The Black Keys with the dirtiest extremes of Queens Of The Stone Age. Lyrics are little more than shouted slogans, guitar riffs buzz like a chainsaw, beats slam like fists into raw meat, like lead pipes thwacking into rusted chassis. Then before we know what the fuck hit us, they're off into the night again. Ghost Walk: it may've only been a once off, but I swear it was still well worth repeating!
THE IMPOSSIBLE QUICHE (****) myspace :: For the next hour or so I simply ditched all the live acts altogether and ducked off into the beer garden. Yeah, why the hell not? The way I figure: it's a Monday, there are no rules, so who's gonna give a fuck either way!? which let's face it is very much keeping with the slacker spirit of Billy Bob's BBQ (aaaah I know, what's not to love!?). So while three or four live acts of varying configurations and confusing sub genres simply flew right on by me (including one particularly sadsack bastard with a shaved scalp, an acoustic and an ironing board propped laptop: jamming what I could've sworn was Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" reinterpretted as a Radiohead song) I entertained myself with all the hilarous freaks and geeks huddled out back. Yup Monday nights around here truly attract the best kind of "mixed nuts". We're talking Belgian backpackers, bearded hippies, band geeks, lazy-eyed freaks, unemployed actors and artists: a veritable rainbow of the intellectually ecclectic and existentially esoteric. And when that got to be too much? fuck it I simply whipped out my Playstation Portable and fired up a few rounds of Motorstorm Arctic Edge instead (awesome game, totally hunt that shit up!). And after what felt like forever and an age in blissful ignorance I stumbled back inside for our sixth act: The Impossible Quiche. Awesome! Although once again they might be nothing but an hilarious pseudonym: as you may otherwise recognise them as Jimmy & The Mirrors, or maybe even caught their latest EP launch at Jive over a week ago (they totally threw a mad panty raid and everything!) here in The Grace Emily they might as well be a totally different band in how much more "authentic" they sound. Yup anywhere else on any other night (and especially at Rocket Bar) I'd have them pegged as just another disposable "indie buzz band" (although one endowed with an awesomely dyslexic fashion sense) here however it's like they've found newfound legitimacy as musicians. Weird I know but such is the awesome power of The Gremily. In tonight's set you'll hear a lot less of their cheesy britpop buzz (ie: everything from The Last Shadow Puppets, The Kooks and The Wombats) and more of their ecclectic eighties influences. And not the usual suspects either. I'm hearing everything from the iconic Australian sounds of Mental As Anything, Skyhooks and Paul Kelly to Elvis Costello and Dire Straits. No shit! I mean sure it's daggy as all fuck in delivery, but you gotta hand it to them they still own it with pride. It's a loose performance, more a house party get together than a "shock and awe", and yet you appreciate the musicianship more. All the rollicking guitar riffs, the gang vocals, how it's all thrown together so effortlessly yet never misses a beat: all of this comes into focus more. The crowd keeps asking for more encores, the band "begrudgingly" obliges, they're having a ripe laugh with it, and then they're off again like a hit and run. Yup, such was The Impossible Quiche tonight: weird name I know but there's still no denying it, that was a mad jam if ever I heard one!
12:09AM - Before I could catch the seventh and final act, I'm once again distracted by the beer garden out back, although for a damn good reason this time: they've just fired up the barbecue FUCK YEAAAH!! Granted they don't always do this every Monday, but it's a welcome addition when they do. Just the very basics on offer: fried onion, sausage, a slice of bread and some sauce (tomato only.. although there might've been some BBQ or chilli if I looked). Gold coin donation if you please, simply help yourself to whatever you want. There's no chicken, chops, prawns, patties, superfluous salads, vegetarian or vegan options (or any of that other wacky low-carb macrobiotic crap) but hey it'd almost be against the spirit of the occassion to go to that much effort! Simply sink a few of whatever you fancy, have a right 'ol laugh, talk shit with all the hilarious freaks and then wonder to yourself just how every other live venue in Adelaide can get it SO damn wrong.
Yup, this was my Monday totally pissing petrol all over my Friday, dropping a lit match and watching it all go up in flames with a smile and a wave (and the less said about my dysfunctional Saturday the better!). And to think they throw this hilarious shindig every fucking week in Adelaide, even in the dead of winter, and it packs out to the ceiling!? How the fuck does this crapshack do it!? no wait.. don't tell me, I'm rather enjoying the mystery! Isn't that right golden statue of Buddha sinking in an incomprehensible cascade of candle wax!? oooh don't you just know it!
Sometimes it's all too easy being the "Spoz". Sometimes I simply turn up, it's all happening and everyone's invited (and yes even on a Monday!). Sometimes it all just comes together as if by "accident". Sometimes. Or maybe this is how it could be ALL THE TIME and everyone simply needs to catch up to this level of awesomeness. But don't worry, they're never in any rush around here, they've got all the time in the world. No shit, Adelaide venues take note: THIS is how it's done!