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...
ANGIE HART + THE SEA THIEVES + KITTYHAWK "EAT MY SHADOW LAUNCH" @ THE JADE MONKEY / Friday November 20th 2009
Aaaah life what a wondrous thing to behold! This world, this "reality", this shining existence! So unrelenting, so all encompassing, snarling, damn near psychotic in its splendour; and yet at the same time a curious shade of aquamarine and pale turquoise (huh what!?). Yup isn't it the duck's nuts? I mean doesn't it just make your lungs freaking explode breathing it in every day!? OH YOU KNOW IT DOES!! And yet the more we learn about it, and the more we experience it: the more we come to realise just how much of it is nothing but pure garbage. Sad but true! Take the entire freaking universe for example: turns out all but 5% of it is composed of nothing but "dark matter" and "dark energy", and what the hell IS all that junk!? NOBODY KNOWS!! Or what about life on this planet: where for all but a fraction of its 3.5 billion year history it's been nothing but fuck full of single celled organisms. Awesome huh!? And then along comes humanity: the shining "pinnacle" of evolution, intelligence and adaptability. And after ten thousand years of civilisation, society and scientific accomplishment we finally come up with the internet: the very culmination of all our art, culture and accumilated wisdom, and yet almost 95% of it is nothing but spam!? Yup the odds are truly overwhelming. Every waking moment we're beaten black and blue to an assinine avalanche of it. The very worst of existence screamed from every vantage point: a nonstop feeding frenzy of natural disasters, wars, murder, rape, religion and political scandals bombarding us 24 hours a day in our dedicated newsfeeds. Only to be interrupted by countless crass advertising slogans, obesity epidemics, self serving economics and an endless fashion parade of Top 40 abuse and box office abominations laying eggs in our skulls!? There's almost no escaping it! I mean sometimes you wonder if there's any hope left if everything's clearly THIS mind boggingly fucked. And yet somewhere out there it STILL exists. All that head explodingly beautiful shit that makes life worth living? It may be a rarity, but it's out there! simply bring a shovel duuude and start digging!
Yup I won't go into all the specifics over why I'm desperately "digging through the dirt" just now: suffice to stay it starts with Britney Spears blasting out of JB's this afternoon, follows it up with a dodgy dose of "doof doof" in Rundle Mall, ends with me questioning the dubious merits of KFC's "popcorn chicken" (as surely it's neither popcorn OR chicken) and results in me fleeing to the Jade Monkey tonight like my very life depends on it. Here hunting down this "live music scene" like I swear it's an endangered species all a sudden. Here in this teeny tiny venue, this colonial relic with the creaking floorboards and the crumbling brick walls, stuffed away in a back alley off of Rundle Mall and around the corner from a costume shop on Grenfell, advertised only through street press, community radio, word of mouth and the internet. I mean it sounds SO familiar to us, it sounds so routine, but its hardly mainstream now is it!? Oooh no it's far from mainstream: and that's why we're here maaan! This is our exception to the "majority rule", our sanctuary, our mad monastery, our reinforced bunker, like a teeny tiny pilot light held aloft against the overwhelming forces of daftness: and it's here that I swear the best shit is often found. Will I find it again tonight? who the fuck knows! but compared to a lot of what's "out there" it's a risk I'm always willing to take!
KITTYHAWK (***1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our opening act (and I must admit a newfound appreciation for their "unassuming talents" as live musicians) after the somewhat comical journey it took for me to get here (ie: on top of all the other blithering nonsense I've already listed above). You see for all of half an hour before they arrived on stage tonight I was on a bus blissing out to Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions' "Through The Devil Softly" on my ipod. Not a terribly difficult task mind you, for if ever you've heard of Mazzy Star you'd know exactly what I'm on about here: it's a brilliant album, I'd totally recommend it, and it would've been just about the perfect lead in for this gig at the Jade Monkey tonight (so much so it wouldn't even warrant mentioning now) if it weren't for the increasingly loud teenage couple arguing behind me. One which rapidly caught the attention of the entire bus (doing their best not to burst out laughing mind you) thanks to the girl and the littany of graphic abuse she was screaming at her boyfriend. "No really I swear everytime I go down on you I get hairs stuck in my teeth, HAIRS IN MY FUCKING TEETH!! and I'm always picking them out, EVERY FUCKING TIME!! I'm sick of it! I'm fucking sick to death of it!! shave your fucking cock! NO REALLY.. SHAVE YOUR FUCKING COCK!!". And YES it went on like this for almost all the time I was on the bus. Damn. And as for what any of this shit has got to with our opening act? Everything duuude, it's all about the location! And here hidden far FAAAR away from the outside world and all of its idiotic distractions could have been no better a place for them. Kittyhawk. Yup this is obviously not the first time I've seen them live (the last was a somewhat "ambiguous" set back in June in support of Bing Goes To Monaco) but it's definitely the first time I've come to truly appreciate where they're coming from. Here amongst the faerie lights, the reading lamps and the light creaking of the floorboards it all starts to make sense. Essentially a singer songwriter duo comprised of Caitlin Duff and Dave Williams (who you may also recognise from Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!) their strengths lie in the subtleties, the sparse arrangements and the fragile flickering spaces in between. It's a languid groove, intersperced with rollicking bobbleheaded guitar, tag-teaming vocals and the occassional bittersweet harmony. Dave's vocals channel that of a world weary drunk (distracting maybe but otherwise quite effective). Whilst Caitlin's is that of a cage bird itching to fly free (in both shrinkingly shy stage presence and childlike chirping register). In overall feel it reminds me of everything from Grizzly Bear, Antony And The Johnsons and Atlas Sound, only paired back to its bare essentials. Think blissfully obscure freak folk and indie pop rich in character and quirk and that'd be your snowglobe in one. It's especially effective tonight too, as the crowd has all but hushed to a whisper in their diminutive presence. They're more confident here, more at ease, altogether chatty in the interludes, they truly have the crowd in the palm of their hands. A few covers of Fire! Santa Rosa Fire! sneak themselves into the mix: one of "Animal Spirit Guide" and another yet to be recorded for their upcoming album, and it couldn't be more suiting an entrée to all that would follow. Kittyhawk. Subtle yes, even awkward on the odd occassion, but in the right surrounds like tonight they fill a room with little more but the most soothing of melancholy.
THE SEA THIEVES (****) myspace :: Which brings us to our second act, even more subtle in nature than the first: in that they make even the slightest squeak, wheeze and earthly crackle of their instruments a signature sound to their soothing "sea shanty" repertoire. And even with a proverbial kitchen sink of utensils at their disposal, they still manage to pair it back to the most minimal of arrangements. From their singing saw, toy piano, ukulele and copperphone (to give the vocals that distinctive telephone feel), to the unconventional way in which they approach their acoustic with everything from lightly fingertapped percussion to the whisper quiet circular motion of outstretched palm to strings: it's all about the spaces in between, it's you meditating upon them to find that wealth of character within, so much so it's almost like the air itself becoming its own instrument (like we're witnesssing a seance of long lost spirits performing a duet with the living). Which I think we can all agree makes them just about perfect for the antique surrounds of the Jade Monkey. Even more so when you consider they "coincidentally" recorded their first album here, the aptly entitled "Hiding In The Shade": which makes no shame in letting all manner of "accidental" sounds colour the experience (so much so they even named a song after one of them: "Helicopter In The Afternoon"). And made no less ironic in the fact that both of their founding members Naomi Thompson and Zac "Psychic Bartender" Coligan just so happen to be the same two people responsible for running this joint in the first place (heh, imagine that!?). Yup in every sense of the word you'd think this set would be nothing short of a slam dunk tonight, but it's not without its hurdles. First of which is the notable absence of Naomi (although understandably so since she's rather ridiculously pregnant at the moment.. yeeeouch!) which is more than made up for by the inclusion of both Jed Palmer (from Hope Diamond, Girls & Adam and Bergerac) and Zoey (who joins them on the squeeze box for a few songs in the middle). Secondly and of more pressing concern however is the irksome distraction provided by the crowd. Growing increasingly restless in giddy anticipation of our headliner, their background chatter threatens to all but overwhelm the subtle nuances on stage (or in other words a considerable part of their appeal as a band). Still as much as Zac makes joking reference to this, and even with a few of the finer details lost to the "white noise" around them, it doesn't overly overshadow the performance: The Sea Thieves still manage to present a masterful set. Featuring equal measure old and new (from their first and forthcoming albums) they're like a 1930's radio rendition of Beck's "Sea Change" mixed in with Tom Waits at his most reflective, Tex Don & Charlie, and a smidgen of The Dirty Three. Tonight as always they find their strength in the "sandy" register of Zac's singing voice, but also in how effortlessly it compliments the lower register provided by "newcomer" Jed, and the whimsical array of instrumentation they swap in between (the singing saw, Zac's copperphone and Zoey's somber squeeze box of particular highlight). There's a few blissfully obscure covers thrown in for good measure: one of Jackson Browne, another one I couldn't even begin to place, but it's their own unique take on it and the quirk of character they weaved in between that manages to wins everyone over in the end (white noise and all). The Sea Thieves. Granted it may not have been their smoothest "sailing conditions" tonight, but they still took us just where we wanted to go. And sometimes dude that's all we could ever ask for.
ANGIE HART (****1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our headlining act, Angie Hart, launching her second solo album "Eat My Shadow" and the main reason why many of us were here tonight. And yet like many of us who WEREN'T here tonight I'll readily admit (short of the bleedingly obvious of course) that I knew next to nothing about her: and by "bleedingly obvious" I'm clearly referring to her many years in the band Frente! (1991-1996), and in particular that ONE infamous and obnoxiously catchy single from 1992 that I dare not name but feel free to watch it on youtube regardless (and prepare to gouge both your eyes out screaming). Oh yes it's THAT Angie Hart, the one and only, how could we possibly forget her!? Still as much as I may've blundered into this gig tonight "blissfully unaware" of any and all her accomplishments since then (I know I SO gotta stop doing that!) thanks to that wondrous misinformation source that is her wikipedia page I can now offer the following tidbits. Since leaving Frente! in 1996, Angie Hart went on to perform as one half of the pop duo Splendid (1998-2004). As Splendid she made two "live appearances" on Buffy The Vampire Slayer: where she then went on to sing backup vocals in the musical episode "Once More With Feeling" in season six, co-wrote the song "Blue" with Joss Whedon for the episode "Conversations With Dead People" in season seven, and even made an acting appearance in Joss Whedon's subsequent (and shortlived) Firefly series as the character Lucy in the episode "Heart Of Gold". And yes for many of us (me included) this may be grounds for geeking the fuck out. WHOAAA SHIT!? (and to think I didn't even ask her about any of this when I spoke to her after the show!? DAMNIT!!). Since then she's embarked on a wildly successful solo career (amongst other things), releasing her first album "Grounded Bird" back in 2007 and now her second album "Eat My Shadow"; which is obviously why she's here tonight. Better yet absolutely NONE of this shit is "required reading" to appreciate any of her gig tonight as Angie Hart will pretty much win you over no matter what. Appearing as a simple two piece band with some other bespectacled gimp on accompanying acoustic guitar (I think his name was Greg!?). What you immediately notice is her singing voice (obviously) and yes it's all kinds of ridiculously cute. Followed by her lyrical content in turn (both whimsical and wistfully bittersweet) especially in all her new songs. But what really wins you over the most is her effortless stage presence: infinitely at ease with her surrounds, both charming and utterly disarming, I mean you couldn't possibly help but grin ear to ear to her unabashed goofiness no matter how hard you tried to ignore it. And as such she bridges that gap between audience and stage: from the occassional apologetic cough in one song, to her comical attempts to whistle a solo in another, to her witty between song banter. In many ways it makes for more of a two-way conversation than a sermon: and it's also what truly makes this set all the more memorable, ie: above all those awesome songs from both her solo albums (which of course I regrettably knew nothing about). Still she did "begrudging" perform the occassional Frente! cover (which she announces with a sly smirk of course) covering everything from "Labour Of Love", "Ordinary Angels" and their understated yet brilliant rendition of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" in the rapturously received encore (whilst ever so conveniently omitting that "other infamous song" that will forever remain nameless). Overall it was nothing short of a triumph, and in the most humble and unassuming of ways, and in the end none of us ever wanted her leave. Angie Hart. Whodathunkit? not only is it easy to forgive and forget all the untold carnage she may've unleashed in times gone by (and how!) but from all you'll remember from this sweet set tonight you can't help but want to come back for more!
12:39AM - With all the live acts finished for the night and the last note of Angie Hart's second encore slipping into the infinite: save for a light conversational chatter, an ever present clinking of beer bottles by the bar and the punch drunk refrains of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah playing over the PA system (I swear I don't know why Zac keeps spinning it week after week), all was blissfully still in the Jade Monkey. Aaaah breathe it in people.. isn't it the best!? Yup like many nights before it this place had truly served its purpose well: as nothing short of a shining bastion against the inebriate hoards of hooting baboons and gargling gibbons flinging their faeces too and fro in the city streets beyond. I know! I almost never wanted to leave and yet with heavy heart (and a drinking habit to boot) I knew I had to face the inevitable *sigh*. And so after taking one last look around, I took in a deep breath, stepped out that door and slipped off into the night again.
12:49AM - Of course any and all "exposure" I may have had to the idiotic extremes of the outside world was all too brief: as moments later, flailing and screaming, I simply fled to The Exeter instead. Which was a brilliant scheme if ever I had one, only to soon realise that not only did I know next to nobody in here tonight, but the only person I DID know: Tony Marshall from The Honey Pies seemed all too preoccupied with talking about his "sweaty balls" (don't ask!). Or in other words.. yup, this is pretty much me LEAVING The Exeter mere moments after I arrived.
1:13AM - As so obviously the "smartest thing" to do after that was to flee, flailing and screaming, to the opposite end of town (yeah I know, I never quite understand the logic either). No mean feat mind you, as by a small twist of fate (and only twenty four hours prior to me making this idiotic decision) Adelaide had sweltered its way through the nastiest November day on record (a blistering 43C no less!? yeeeouch!) only to halve that temperature tonight for a more pleasant 23C (sigh of relief!) in exchange for multiplying the humidity by a murderous factor of about fifty thousand (loud expletive!). Or in other words I probably would've been much better off swimming here instead. Hmmm sweaty balls indeed. Of course I could also mention along the way that I was "heckled" by a passing car fuck full of hooting baboons who thought yelling out "hey you left your pimp stick at home!" was quite possibly the funniest shit ever, only to quickly realise it WASN'T directed at me but to Will Spartalis dressed in a green velvet jacket only a few steps ahead of me (currently or formerly the fifth member of Lady Strangelove depending on who you talk to) who then offered me a half full bag of Peanut M&M's as many thanks for that "awesome review" I gave his solo project Galaxy Cat the week before (wait you mean the trashy one I wrote!? awesome!) but yeah that's pretty much neither here or there. Where am I again!? oh yeah The Ed Castle!
2:02AM - And so here I am at The Ed Castle doing a whole lot of "nothing". Awesome isn't it!? Or more accurately it's a whole lot of something, it was freaking hilarious, you SO should've been here (because I swear you would've laughed yourself retarded), only I "accidently" forgot to take any photos of it and thus none of it ever actually "happened". Or more accurately we DID take photos, pissing ourselves laughing all the while, only I accidently "deleted them all" off my camera the following day (hmmm funny how that happens), only to leave you with THIS nondescript photo instead. Yup if ever there was a point to this story, clearly I've long since "forgotten" about it.
3:31AM - Suitably piss drunk after all the assinine antics we "didn't" get upto at The Ed Castle, and all those pints I clearly "didn't" steal from Lady Strangelove's beer rider (while they clearly "weren't" DJing here tonight) we figured we'd all head off to Supermild for pretty much more of the same. Why? because it's freaking hilarious that's why! And even more so when none of you schlubs get to see any of it. YEAAAS!! I know, it's almost a refreshing change of pace isn't it!? Spoz goes out drinking and doesn't feel the need to document it!? Duuude you can't even begin to imagine how much easier it is for me to write this when I'm not covering all that ridiculous rubbish for once!
Or these two pint glasses and one tumbler artfully propped up on top of this video arcade.
Or this teeny tiny lava lamp bubbling away behind the bar. Awww I know, isn't it pretty!?
Or this "head sized" hole in the back door leading to the beer garden? Woweee!! I mean haven't you always wondered HOW this hole got here in the first place!? because I sure as shit haven't!
4:33AM - Yup sometimes even a "live music" blog as damn near notorious as mine for flooding browser windows with page after page of blithering nonsense at the end of every episode (aka: your one stop destination for ALL your facebook photos.. WAHOOO!!), can still do its teeny tiny bit for "quality control". I mean isn't there enough hysterical garbage on the internet, in the world, in the entire freaking universe as it is without ME contributing yet more to it!? OH YOU KNOW THERE IS!! Which is exactly what I was thinking, with my head held up high, as I left Supermild tonight without a SINGLE drunken photo to show for it: only to bump into these three dribbling nitwits instead. OH CRAP!! Yup the one on the top left with the wingnut ears you may recognise as Trent Worley: lead singer from Isle Of Vision. The rest? aaah who the fuck cares! (would you believe that girl on the right totally reads my blog too? FUCK YEAAAH!!). Either way I obviously had to take photos of them, pissing myself retarded all the while, because yeah that's pretty much what I do. I'm not always proud of it, but let's face it would this blog be the same without it!? HELL NO!!
And you know what's even better!? that unassuming gimp on the left totally does film and television work too. Corporate projects, documentaries and the like!? true story! I've got his business card and everything (why? yeah I've got no freaking idea!). And as for what this has got to do with anything else? yeah pretty much nothing, but aren't you SO glad I told you about it anyways!? Yup I don't know about the rest of you, but in my head dude? I'm already long gone!
4:42AM - Still as much as I may be mashing my head into this keyboard right now attempting to come up with hilarious captions to write for all this junk, or better yet achieve unconsciousness so I could avoid this shit altogether (aaaah who are we kidding!? we all know I love it!) Trent did provide some amusement (especially for the bouncers outside of Supermild) when he attempted to climb the wall next door for reasons we could never quite explain. And as much as I should never encourage ANY of this (please no pause for irony) I obviously had to capture it on video so I could upload it to youtube. Why? because it's freaking youtube, what ELSE is it ever good for!?
Yup for the most part: life, the universe, everything as we know it is nothing but pure garbage. It's a science, it's a fact. It's all around us, every day, beating us black and blue and blitheringly nonsensical, until we almost believe it's the only option available. It's not. There's always other awesome shit out there. Even in the Adelaide scene it lives, breathes, squeaks and farts all the colours of the rainbow, it's a beautiful thing! (if perhaps a little stinky) only you've got to dig deep, real deep to find it. Sometimes it can take years. Sometimes it can be well hidden under thousand of other retarding options all screaming for your attention. Sometimes it's even written up as a laughable excuse for a live music blog and at best only 5% of it ever makes sense (yeah actually that pretty much happens all the time!). Either way the minute you DO find it: hoard that shit like crazy, for in a world THIS hilariously dysfunctional? you're gonna need all the help you can get!