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...
YOUNG RIVER & THE VULTURES OF VIRTUE + THE THIEVES LIVE @ THE JADE MONKEY / Friday November 6th 2009
*Sigh* so here I am sitting in front of my laptop screen on yet another Monday afternoon: keyboard itchy trigger, thoughts seeking clarity, ipod blasting whatever-the-fuck, teeny tiny desk fan buzzing to hold back the unseasonable assault (November heatwave!? DAMN YOU!!), second guessing whether I need that first coffee or not, constantly distracted by my facebook and twitter feeds, wondering just how in the HELL I'm gonna make it through yet another "wacky installment" of Spoz's Rant without my whole head exploding? FUCK YEAAAH!! Oh it's a recurring theme alright. We all know it is. We've all seen it play out on this page countless times before. I mean shit.. skip ahead if need be, because we all know it's a broken record! Why? because each week it's the same thing maaan! The same creative conundrum, the same struggling to make words meet: thousands upon thousands of them just to form a single episode. And each week it only gets more insane. Writer's block and insomnia are my constant companions. I curse and swear through every last sentence. It's a ludicrous ordeal. Then at long last, sometime around Wednesday (morning or evening depending on how dysfunctional it is), I finally let one loose on the world and it's like the best shit ever!? OH YOU KNOW IT IS!! It's the awesomest feeling, it really is! I'm as happy as can be! And all for what!? To detail yet another one of my hysterical Friday night misadventures in the Adelaide scene? One that reads almost identical to the same Friday night misadventure that came before it? And the one before that too!? And I've been doing this shit nonstop for how long now? for half a decade or more!? And weirder still more of you mad fools come back each week to read about it? Hundreds, maybe even thousands more!? So much so it's become an Adelaide institution well beyond the definitions of "mental". And I'm damn near infamous for it, and I'm the talk of legend in this pissant town, and I'm still not making a cent off it!? FUCK DAMN!! WHAT AM I STILL DOING HERE DUDE!? No really I know I keep saying this: but how has this NOT killed me yet!?
I mean obviously I'm doing it for all the music. I've always here for the music, for the "mad fucking buzz" of it. Even when it's not about all that and it's about me getting hilariously shitfaced drunk with all my fuckup friends at the end of an episode (the photos of which most of you will likely scroll past all my other junk for, just so you can update your facebook with them.. GUH!!) it's STILL about the music. I mean shit.. what better reason could I have for going out on a Friday night? But what if I've been at it for five years or more!? What if I've been "enjoying" the same night at the same venues in a perpetual loop to the point I can predict almost every aspect of it down to the finest detail? Like the Jade Monkey for instance!? I mean sure I love the Jade Monkey, but what if it's been the same Jade Monkey for the past seven years? The same red and yellow glow of the stage? the same faerie lights? the same reading lamps? the same serene print of that geisha up on the wall? the same face mask over the entrance to the toilets? the same gig flyers all over the mixing booth back podium? the same bar display with the spastic knick-knacks (one radioactive cat inside and a miniature buddhist temple on top) right down to the same "psychic bartender" Zac serving me up the same stubbie of Coopers Pale Ale!? FUUUCK!! I mean sure I DO love coming back for more, but how can I continue to torture myself stupid coming up with new shit to write about it if I'm living the SAME night every damn week for years on end!?
HOW!? Aaaah who the fuck knows!? I mean it couldn't possibly have ANYTHING to do with hysterical nitwits like Jess Porter here: sabotaging my train of thought at the very last minute by throwing his goofyarse grin in front of my photo frame can it!? DAAAMN YOU!! Or shit maybe it does? For if there's one thing I can always count on in this retarding Adelaide scene to save my blog from repeating itself over and over to the point of stupidity it's got to be exciteable idiots like these making a mess of things riiight? all these countless creative fools and colourful kamikaze fuckups I collect along the way!? You bet it does! I may come for the music but I STAY for the "characters". Without all them I swear I would've given up years ago. Without all them I'd have NOTHING left to write about! So here's to all you laughable freaks and geeks who continue to inspire me. Here's to all you "monkey wrenches" and "butterfly effects" unleashing untold chaos into my night, unbalancing my equation, and continuing to "ruin my life" every damn week of my life. For good, bad, ugly, or utterly incomprehensible YOU are what makes this blog possible! YEAAAS!! And tonight here at the Jade Monkey (and likely elsewhere when I'm considerably more drunk) I'll be celebrating all of you the only way I know how. Yup, I know it doesn't always look like it but I swear I'm laughing WITH YOU and not at you. No shit, Adelaide music scene: this one's for you!
MATTHEW BARLOW (*1/2) myspace :: Yup we're definitely not shy of "colourful characters" here tonight. OOOH FUCK NO!! they've come in droves, they've made the Jade Monkey THE place to be, so much so they're practically bursting like worms through the walls and ceiling giddy with glee, and I'm not even being sarcastic!? No shit! In as much as they might be a few shades short of capacity this early on a Friday night? trust me, for the numbers present, they're truly making themselves heard. Which would be a dream come true for just about any opening act you could imagine: unless you happen to be the last minute replacement for Steering By Stars (and a sadsack solo-acoustic one at that), and everyone's here to see anyone but you, and worse still they're all but burying you alive by proceeding to talk louder than you FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION OF YOUR LIVE SET!? Yup such is the unenviable "welcome" given to Matthew Barlow tonight. You may remember him as the mild mannered bass player from Thunderclaw. You may remember him as the no nonsense guitarist from Bronze Chariot. Or you may simply remember him for that brilliant performance he gave at The Metro back in September (aka: act five for the "Nobody Wants To Play With Me" solo showcase). Either way, try as he might (even with the mixer going all out) he simply can't get a word in edgewise to a nonstop conversational chatter, from a crowd that's all but blissfully oblivious to his presence. I know, it's a fucked up situation: made even more so by the fact I'm writing a fucked up review about it (so much so I feel the need to apologise for everyone present for even witnessing this shit in the first place). Still for those fleeting few moments where you COULD hear his set, he still had a little something to offer. In essence think of it as equal measures Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Nick Cave and Johnny Cash wraught slow as a funeral procession and hopelessly wracked with survivor's guilt. Think alt country mixed with cemetery blues. Think everything rendered gallows grim, drenched dour with melancholy, and filtered through a humourless stage presence as black as coal. As such, and in keeping with this dark foreboding, he performs two equally oppressive covers: "Trouble Weighs A Ton" by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and "Words From The Executioner To Alexander Pierce" by The Drones. And yes it's the most harrowing thing you've ever heard, yes it's made even more when you can hardly make a word of it, and then he leaves the stage to the rapturous applause of all but five people!? YEAAAS! BEST OPENING ACT EVER!! I know it's a bitch of a thing. He SO got the short end of the stick. But if there's any consolation prize? for music that dwells in THIS much despair!? an "experience" like this could only make it stronger. Matthew Barlow. He may have literally fallen on deaf ears tonight but the very fact he STILL fought on till the end: makes him nothing short of a freaking legend. Strange but true!
10:22PM - And for those of you wondering WHY it's so fuckoff obnoxious in here tonight? the answer come's bleedingly apparent the minute our second act arrives: they're all here to support them and ONLY THEM and they're sure as shit not shy in expressing it. Within seconds the Jade Monkey packs to the ceiling with their volatile presence. Shrieking psychopaths and sinewy shit weasels from regions unknown (but likely the feral extremes of the northern suburbs) who voice their undying love the only way they know how: through grievous bodily harm. Yup, we're talking a fucking "circle pit" in the Jade Monkey. Not since God God Damnit Damnit and The Barons Of Tang joined forces back in March (or worse still Robotosaurus last year at The Crown & Anchor) have we seen this much needless (and wildly unpredictable) carnage. We're talking broken bones and spitting teeth. We're talking repetitive head injuries and people getting stomped on. We talking anyone and everyone FROM ALL ANGLES around you taking running jumps to slam violently into each other, swinging fists and feet connecting with eyesockets, kamikazes flying head first into foldback speakers and YOU scrambling like fuck to get out of the way. WHOAAA SHIT!! Yup this is truly no place for a gig photographer (or anyone else with half a functioning brain for that matter) still as they say the show must go on! So to hell with life expectancy, heeere goes nothing!
THE THIEVES (***1/2) myspace :: And THIS is the fuck up band that's inspiring all this chaos!? Yup I'd never even heard of them either but they sure as shit know how to make a first impression (with accompanying impact craters to boot too!). In a singular statement they're obviously "punk". Only they're far removed from any of that pissy straight edge "emo" and "screamo" crap you'd hear from their kiddy contemporaries like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance or 30 Seconds To Mars. Or the cheesy "skate and ska punk" of the late nineties to early eighties (although you may hear a few passing similarities to Green Day or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones if you squint), or even the oldskool punk of the Sex Pistols or Iggy Pop from the late seventies to mid sixties (although they definitely share in that same raw energy). No they derive their particular brand of ultraviolence from a source that's far more primordial and downright tribal. And don't the crowd go fucking crazy to it!? OH YOU BET THEY DO!! We're talking the deepest darkest recesses of convict and colonial history come roaring back to life. We're talking every kind of Irish, Welsh and Scottish folk revelry rolled into one and lit like a fuse. We're talking the kind of firebrand shit with a rousing fiddle they used to stir hoards of axe wielding beserkers into war with against the English, the Normans and the Romans. I mean fuck.. they even cooked up a spirited rendition of that age old sea shanty "Bound For South Australia" circa 1888 (only rife with a shitload more expletives) THAT'S how fucking oldskool they are! Yup, in every conceivable way that take us back to our barbarian roots, waaay back to when we were still blood drinking pagans living life to the fullest, before civilised society and "common decency" eventually took hold sometime in the mid 19th century (damn you Queen Victoria!) and made domesticated sheep of us all. Every song is devoted to the very basics, or to quote them "music to fight, fuck and drink to". What little lyrics you can make out are frequently shouted by everyone in gang vocal, like a drunken dickhead sing-a-long, and aspire to nothing short of willing self destruction: "if the cigarettes don't kill you then maybe I will" or a rousing chorus of "drink up yer' poison boys" chanted over and over till you can't help but want to murder everyone in the room. Every member of the band tears into their instrument like their lives depend on it. Every song sounds like it's the last one they'll ever play before charging off to embrace certain death in battle. It's a howling bloodthirsty brawl and yet at the same time you can't help but appreciate the black humour too. They're the sound of every soccer riot, bar brawl and molotov cocktail smashing into a cop car's window moments before everyone tips it all over, beats it concave with crowbars, and storms the steps of parliament: and yet can't help but think they're pissing themselves laughing too. And it's this which I appreciate the most even when I'm getting my head kicked in. They're that element of danger that knows too well not to take itself too seriously. And when you frequent an indie scene of late that's more and more preoccupied with knitting quilts, hosting picnics and sipping small cups of tea (although there's nothing necessarily wrong with that) they're just the antidote you need. I mean don't you just want to break shit sometimes!? I know I do! And The Thieves, in all their shambolic shit kicking fury may be just the mad excuse we're looking for!
YOUNG RIVER & THE VULTURES OF VIRTUE (****) myspace :: Which at long last (through no small risk to life, limb or antique architecture that's somehow STILL holding the roof up) brings us to our headlining act and the REAL reason why we've put ourselves through all this stupidity in the first place. Yup although they may be performing under a "slightly" different pseudonym tonight: a name that I think we can all agree is SO needlessly over elaborate it could easily put the ludicrous extremes of "Fire! Santa Rosa Fire!", "Tokyo City Sex Shooters", "Billy Bishop Goes To War" AND "Jay Walker And The Pedestrians" to shame (I mean shit they even surpass "Andrew Higgs & The Sandcastle Harum" for unnecessary abuses to the English language.. and that's saying something!) they're far from strangers to the Adelaide scene. Yup don't let their ridiculous name (or their lead singer Karl Roberts and his batshit ridiculous "Astroboy" haircut) distract you: they're none other than Soft White Machine brought back from the dead. OH YES! Ever since guitarist Andreas Murphy and bassist Jett Young parted ways back in September last year (and halfway through pre-production on their second album too.. yeeeouch!) the remaining members have always promised they'd return, but it was anyone's guess how they could ever make it happen. But at long last they have, and how! Joining Karl Roberts on lead vocals and Nick Russell on drums (and dusting off most of their recent back catalogue short of two new songs too) they've brought in Brett Carraill on bass, Mike Deslandes on guitar and Jess Porter on keys (from Quiet Child, Coerce and Double Handed respectively) and Benn Blake on trumpet (from who the fuck knows where!? but damn it if I can't imagine how they could ever exist without him) to form nothing short of an Adelaide supergroup. Retaining at least a residual of their original sound (ie: combine all the prog extremes of A Perfect Circle, Muse and Helmet with the post punk accessibility of Franz Ferdinand and that'd be your monkey) they've extended what was always a curious "spaghetti western" undercurrent and magnified it to truly epic proportions. In both size and scope they're all kinds of ridiculously overblown, and especially here on a live stage tonight. Lead by Karl Roberts (aping everyone from Paul Banks, Johnny Cash to Nick Cave in his distinctive baritone) and whipped into a feeding frenzy by Nick Russell on drums (obviously living it up behind a kit after well over a year's absence from it). They're a diabolical fury in wailing guitars, bass, keys (made to sound like guitars), horns and (occassionally even double) drumming: and nothing short of an explosive calvary charge in destroying all who dare oppose them. Which from first impressions alone could make them a little "overwhelming". With their live mix especially it's rather like experiencing multiple G forces, whilst being pummeled in the face repetitively by a tonne of bricks wrapped in reinforced concrete, while a stampede of wild elephants pummel what little remains: and yet after a while you really DO start to enjoy it. There's a deranged fanaticism here that truly sells it, a mad desperation in delivery: equal parts firebrand preacher and fifties crooner (especially in all the proverbial "murder ballads" they sprinkle into the midsection) that pull you like the event horizon to a blackhole. Like all the best bits of Faith No More's "Album Of The Year" crossed with Interpol's "Turn On The Bright Lights" as performed by Six (yes count them SIX) Horsemen Of The Apocalypse it's a deadly combination to be sure and it kills like few other live bands would even dare attempt. Young River And The Vultures Of Virtue. They might sport a ridiculous name with a sound almost as ludicrous to match. But once they hone that singular focus of theirs and perfect that fatality combo? there'll be nothing short of unbeatable in battle!
1:33AM - With all of Jade Monkey's live acts finished for the night, and me almost "finished" along with it (thanks in no small part to barely surviving the black and blue beating our second act dished out with a shovel.. aaaah don'tcha just love it!?) I found a quiet spot in the back of the bar with my beer and went through the mind numbing process of deleting at least four hundred dud shots of Young River & The Vultures Of Virtue (not to mention all those other grainy shots I got of The Thieves with the ISO smashed upto 800.. excuse the nerd speak). Now obviously I didn't have to do ANY of this shit now, I could've just as easily done it the minute I fell through my front door, laughably drunk many hours hence like I always do (because shit I'm nothing short of a professional!) but I had an alterior motive here. For Jade Monkey was packed full of people I knew, hilariously drunk people I knew, who chances are would love nothing better than to ambush me for retarded photo opportunities, photo opportunities I couldn't possibly refuse because let's face it they're freaking hilarious, only for me to pull my hair out screaming on a Tuesday night (yes it really takes THAT long to write a blog of late) attempting to come up with hilarious captions for them. Yes it's an occupational hazard of mine, and YES I'm doing my utmost to hide from them now BECAUSE of it. A task I all but succeeded in too, until an hour later I made the foolish mistake of stepping out into the beer garden only to bump into these three people who.. you guessed it: ambushed me for a retarded photo opportunity. Or more accurately the one in the middle definitely did ("Bianca" something? who the fuck knows!? she added me on Facebook! YEAAAS!!) while those other two unwitting fools: "Izzy Stabs" from Robotosaurus and Brent Carraill from Quiet Child simply got roped in at the last minute. And to think I wrote all of this ridiculous shit just now to explain all that? Awesome.. now where IS that exit sign!? AAAUAUAUGHHH!!
1:37AM - And so here I am "screaming out the front door" of the Jade Monkey: you know like I always do when I can't think up a clever segue that somehow links the first part of my blog with the second (or in other words that portion of every episode you've read where I get howlingly drunk and write reams of hilarious gibberish in my vain attempt to cover for it). Only to be stopped dead in my tracks by this: what appears to be a kid's tricycle, weather beaten and covered in rust, suspended over the doorway of the building next door. What's it got to do with anything? your guess is as good as mine! but I STILL took a photo of it now didn't I!? OH YOU BET I DID!!
1:45AM - From there it's obviously off to The Exeter: screaming, arms and legs flailing as fast as I could (or maybe I just walked here). Not only so I could get howlingly drunk in ways very much befitting this "esteemed" publication (or lack thereof) but also because I actually thought for a second this would be the best place to hide from any and all colourful characters that could ever contribute to it. I mean shit.. since when do I know anyone in here!? NEVER, THAT'S WHAT!!
1:48AM - Yeah I know, I've clearly brought all on myself. I'm the only one to blame for ANY of this shit. I've created a monster out of this "practical joke" I've played out on the Adelaide scene week after week. One that more and more of you mad fools surprisingly STILL want to be a part of despite all the ridiculous shit I put you through (I know huh!?). And to think there was once a time when I actually had to chase you all down to get these colourful antics on camera? And now word's gotten out you simply follow me everywhere I go!? No shit, we're dealing with a reverse paparazzi alright! They're everwhere I go: populating every live venue and late night haunt of late, they drive me insane, they're "the bane of my blogging existence". Isn't that right Mick Armstrong (formerly from Tyger Tyger) requesting all these retarded shots just now? OH YOU KNOW IT'S TRUE!!
I mean what compels all these freaks to jump in front of my crosshairs like lambs to the slaughter!? (all with the possible exception of Nick Bastiras in the spastic red frilly shirt who looks like he wants to kill Mick for putting him upto this) is it for the free publicity? the free Facebook photos? the fame and infamy afforded to you in the Adelaide scene at large for making yet another fucked up appearance in Spoz's Rant? (pfft don't make me laugh!) or maybe JUST MAYBE you all cease to exist outside of this blog and THIS is the only way you can "validate" your ongoing existence!? WHOAAA FUCK!! I don't know about you but I SO gotta get (much more) drunk!
2:48AM - Which is why I clearly went to the Bull And Bear: completely unrelated to the fact that it's as far as fuck away FROM The Exeter without otherwise landing me in the realms of the bleedingly obvious (like say Supermild) or for the fact they just so happen to be throwing yet another wild and wacky installment of Transmission. Where nothing of note could possibly ever happen to me. Just as we all know that's complete and utter rubbish and I'm simply gonna contradict myself the minute I stumble down those stairs anyways. Why!? because it's freaking hilarious that's why!
2:55AM - Speaking of such: this is the one and ONLY appearance that Simone will be making in this blog tonight. Aaaah I know, isn't she awesome!? YOU BET SHE IS!! You may remember her from.. yeah we've pretty much gone through all this shit like a thousand times before haven't we!? (dude tell me about it!). In fact it's been done to death SO MANY TIMES now, that on the way over here from The Exeter she actually interrupted two seemingly anonymous people taking photos of each other on Rundle Street, only for the first one to remark to the second: "awwww crap hasn't she already appeared in enough episodes of Spoz's Rant as it is!?". Yup, 100% true story I swear!
3:17AM - Which obviously brings me to this spastic overload in raging "awesomatude". Or every reason conceivable for why this entire "escape tactic" of mine has clearly been complete and utter crap, and conclusive proof for why I actually love nothing better than to take retarded photos just like these EVERY FREAKING TIME I go out on a Friday (or Saturday) night. Or in other words I'm clearly a whole lot more drunk now than I was all of twenty two minute ago. FUCK YEAAAH!! And would you also believe I have at least fifty different words for "laughable contradiction in terms" now thanks to writing this hysterical crap each week!? OH OF COURSE YOU DO! But in this particular case I like to call her "Lisa". Hi Lisa, aren't you so glad you tuned into the blog this week!?
Yup when she isn't a wildly successful exhibiting artist or responsible for running the head explodingly awesome "Paperhorse Studios" with all her arty farty friends just off of Rundle Mall (no really you should see the shit they show in there: it's like a party in your eye sockets and all your rods and cones are invited!) she also makes the occassional appearance in this blog for no other reason than we're always retardingly drunk at the time, and clearly every single one of these photos is entirely vital for every reason that they're obviously not. And no before you ask I have absolutely NO clue what she's doing in this photo either but aren't you glad I took it anyways!?
Of course it eventually dawns on her, after taking all these photos, that I may simply be taking the absolute piss out of her, ie: with aims to publish it on a website that maybe a thousand or so people read each week (pfft.. like when does that ever happen!?). And despite all evidence I'm giving to the contrary (ie: me laughing my arse off) she figures revenge is very much in order.
Although as many people have come to realise (to their own detriment), it's almost impossible to take photographic revenge on the one person responsible to posting all these ridiculous photos in the first place, especially if you're using THEIR camera to shoot them with. FUCK YEAAAH!! Still you gotta give Lisa bonus points for trying now don't you!? No really, check out all that artistry there: now that's what I call talent! (wait.. what's that? the last shred of my journalistic integrity pissing down the proverbial plughole!? wow, I'm actually half surprised I still had any of that shit left!).
Yup I may've come here for the music (or at least I think I did!?) but I swear I keep on drinking well beyond the point of blithering stupidity on a Friday night simply for hysterical nitwits just like these. And shit why wouldn't I duuude? Ain't this like the best shit ever!? OH OF COURSE IT IS! (wait.. why do I keep saying that!?). Just like you totally haven't deleted all your bookmarks pointing to this site, deleted me from your Facebook, your phone or thrown your computer out of a window screaming obscenities, until you jump out that same window with a cricket bat to finish the job, only to relocate to Switzerland, because I keep posting this crap. Why? because you know full well this blog would be nothing without it! Oh and while we're totally off the subject here: I'm told Lisa has an exhibition opening this Friday night, 6PM, at Ebenezer Place (just off Rundle Street) or maybe even NEXT to Ebenezer Place.. yeah I forget where exactly.. but they've totally got free Vodka and everything! YES! FREE VODKA!! See.. this shit's totally a gift that keeps on giving!
3:49AM - And so, suitably satisfied in accomplishing just about every dumb thing I set out to achieve at the Bull And Bear (huh what? yeaaah I forget.. did I mention I was drunk!?) I stumble off into the night again with aims to keep on drinking at Supermild, only to discover it was closed (DAMN YOU!!), only to stagger right back to the Bull And Bear, only to discover it too was closed, only to collapse in a dribbling mess at a bus stop nearby on Currie Street talking total gibberish (with exactly who I can't quite remember) only to catch a taxi home none the wiser than when I left it tonight but all the "richer" for experiencing it!? Oh yeah, it was everything I could ever ask for!
Which then leaves me sitting in front of my laptop screen on yet another Wednesday morning at an absolute loss to explain it. I mean what even happened here? WHO THE FUCK KNOWS!? I swear I set out with all the best intentions. I'd done this shit for how many years now!? too many to mention! And yet for all the plans I can cook up with almost dead certainty: the minute all these other lunatics get involved it always ends up as laughable stupidity!? Yup they're the insanity that keeps things interesting. They're the chaos and colour that keep it far from routine. Or in other words: for every one of these episodes that starts off coherent and ends as little more than gibberish? As much as you think it's all MY FAULT!? duuude, you've only got yourself to blame!