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...
ALPEN + LYLA + THE KEEPSAKES "EP LAUNCH PARTY" @ THE ED CASTLE / Friday December 4th 2009
Aaaah I love summer, I really do! I wish we could live this shit all year round. OOOOH FUCK YEAH!! And NO it's not because of the weather. Far from it! I mean no shit: thanks to two hundred years of the Industrial Revolution fucking about with the thermostat!? we dare not step into the daylight now without sporting sunscreen SPF "gazillion plus", welding goggles and a fucking spacesuit lest we spontaneously explode. It's fucking retarded! Even vampires are laughing at us now: what with their douchebag "sparkle tans" and their assinine androgyny that all the girls swoon over (damn you Stephanie Meyer you literary hack!). And no it's not for the broadcast "silly season", the festive season, or for the endless avalanche of outdoor festivals bordering on the dysfunctional to look forward to either (because yes it IS actually possible to have far too much of a good thing.. YOU FUCKS!). No it's summer for the serene "slacker lifestyle" that I truly love the most. That seasonal excuse to do shit-fuck-all but space out for weeks on end!? aaaah that's what I fucking live for! THAT'S WHAT I CALL A SUMMER VACATION!! And although it's just a promise at this point: here in December, here eleven months in (and up shit creek) on our very own Apocalypse Now? like we're on a mad mission to kill Colonel Kurtz, Colonel Sanders, Sisyphus, the Sasquatch, Snuffleupagus or whatever-the-fuck we like to call our "career aspirations"!? THAT'S what tantalises me the most! That light at the end of the tunnel, that rich reward, that "rest and relaxation" that almost makes this definition of insanity seem worthwhile? YEAAAS!! It's so damn close we can taste it now can't we!? We're already long gone, out of our minds, on autopilot and whistling a world away; nobody gives a shit! Look around you: nobody has the sense, the strength, or even the compulsion to contribute to this bloated corpse we call 2009 no more! OOOOH FUCK NO!! Just a few more sleeps and we'll simply let inertia take care of the rest! So long suckers.. HEEERE COMES THE SUN!!
And yet here I am at The Ed Castle (of the FUUUTURE!!) STILL writing a fucking blog about it!? I know! believe me I was tempted; tempted to ditch this whole thing in favour of joining the rest of you rats fleeing this sinking ship for destinations unknown (aaaah and the fun we would've had not telling YOU about it either!). I mean what the fuck ever happens in the month of December!? NOTHING THAT'S WHAT!! Or at least it wouldn't have with the possible exception of THIS CD launch tonight for a band I'd hardly even heard of before supported by two other bands or at least the one that I don't nearly get to see enough of.. that yup, I couldn't possibly afford to miss. Why!? because the Adelaide scene rarely gives me a moment's rest that's why! YOOOU BASTARDS!!
THE KEEPSAKES (****) myspace :: And so here I am falling face first through that front door to meet my increasingly retarding fate tonight. Like I'm a homing pigeon, a puppet, a pinball machine ricocheting off all the corners with swinging elbows and fists. I know I'm fucked, I'm finished, I'm totally deep fried, it's been one fuck of a week, a year's worth of accumulated errors in fact building well past the point of exhaustion. One that's wracked me with the WORST writer's block imagineable robbing me of all my sleep, most my sense of humour and what's left of my sanity, and now I'm coming back for more!? FUCK YEAAAH!! I'm nothing short of a war of attrition wearing a shit eating grin, here with my head swimming in this hot pink "band room" of The Ed Castle tonight (or as I like to call it "The Sphincter") cursing this stage lighting that only get worse and worse everytime I revisit it. "Guh! not this baby poo brown, red, black and blue colour scheme again.. WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE AGAIN!?". Oh that's right it's a CD launch! I know I have to KEEP reminding myself of this fact when I first arrive here: but once our opening act appears on stage, and in the most understated of ways puts my illbient mind at ease? I know I'd made the right decision. The Keepsakes. I've seen them maybe four times this year, and like many of their indie pop brethren (ie: The Honey Pies from last week) with their refreshing simplicity and songwriting charm? let's face it: that's four times not nearly get enough; especially in the Adelaide scene. Predominantly performed as a four piece in the past, ie: featuring everyone from Tom Capogreco (Oh My Guard!), Clemi Wetherall (Zeta), Alex Ciaravolo (Lumonics, 20th Century Graduates) and Timmy Friday (Tyger Tyger) as "guest appearances" (on every instrument imagineable) it appears they've gone the minimal approach this time. And although they may have lost some of their vibrancy (ie: without all the extra guitar, violin, keyboard, melodica, trumpet, tambourine or backup vocal to accompany them) they're still no less genius in their humble three piece appeal tonight. Which especially in MY hilarious state of dysfunction, only makes them all the more welcoming. As such they're songs that find their strength more in the slow build rather than the instantaneous hook. In Anthony Wignall's guitar (that alternates through dappled contemplation to exciteable jangling fuzz) and how it interweaves with Jon Wignall's swinging rhythms on bass and Jeremy Lake's measured martial stomp on drum. And in how Anthony's distinctive "happy go lucky" register on vocals (equal measure James Mercer of The Shins and Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie) gives this set a blissfully "non confrontational feel" and a "muted colour scheme" that equal parts meditative, bitter sweet melancholic and accepting of a world that's been both utterly bent and yet endlessly ripe with whimsy. Like a fitting epilogue to bury a year that's been, that also makes for the perfect understated entrée for the night that's yet to come? Yup that's The Keepsakes! They're just like a warm fart bubbling in a bathtub: only ten times more richly scented and soothing!
LYLA (****) myspace :: Yup thanks to the "cruisey" curative powers of our opening act and perhaps the two to three beers I threw into the mix to keep me "wide awake" (I know, I don't quite get the logic either.. but I swear it works!) I'm no longer crawling the walls all shitcrazy with sleep deprivation and screaming at inanimate objects. YEAAAS!! Which either means: (a) I'm right where I want to be for our second act, (b) I'm imagining all this shit whilst sleepwalking straight into a bus (score!) or better yet (c) my name is Heath Ledger and FUCK ME I'm already dead (hmmm.. too soon!?). Which for this and many OTHER reasons tonight is probably why I should have quit this shit weeks ago while I was still ahead. I mean c'mon? haven't I written enough gibberish in one year on the Adelaide scene as it is!? What the fuck am I still trying to prove!? IT'S SUMMER FERFUCKSAKE!! Every other music site is doing nothing but pissy retrospectives and top ten lists, so why am I still here? WHY!? because nobody else is shitcrazy enough to do this FOR ME and I fucking LIVE for this insanity, THAT'S WHY! And hell if I DIDN'T write this review you wouldn't know all manner of vitally useless new facts about our second act now would you!? OOOOH FUCK NO!! I mean sure we ALL know Lyla for their signature sound: equal measure The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Oasis and Supergrass (it's what they do best). Just like all we know them for their energetic live sets in delivering all of the above in a howling, hairy, honky-tonk explosion of riffing retro rock (and tonight's set was truly NO exception!). But what about all those teeny tiny details you might have otherwise missed? Like all those chance variables that made THIS set different from all the others!? Like how Matthew Minucci on leads and David Mazzarelli on drums were both sporting ridiculous new haircuts for example. Or how possibly for the first time ever in their performance history: keyboardist Stefan "Blobby" Krcmarov sung backup vocals in a song? (or shit maybe he does that all the time!?). Or how Sammy Bruno on bass, up until this very moment, loved nothing better than to dodge my camera everytime I tried to take photos of him JUST to fuck with my head (no really he made a game of it that crapweasel!), only this week I FINALLY caught him out on it!? OOOOH YES!! I mean sure they were trivial insights at best compared with everything else that was going on tonight but it still kept me amused (like when they made yet another "social pages" appearance at yet another boutique fashion launch this week: because they're nothing but mad whores for haute couture!? pfft.. BWAAAHAhAHaHAhA!!). Which isn't to say their set was any less "amusing" without all these little insights, far from it. For Lyla without a doubt have stumbled upon a winning formula. Arguably it's the same formula that every dickhead and their dog have flogged to death for almost half a century now but Lyla truly live every ounce of it like its genuine. And even though it wasn't their best set tonight in delivering it (that'd be one of their launch parties when we're buried alive by all their screaming fanbase), and that stage lighting was STILL pissing me off: they still won me over regardless with that mad buzz of theirs, just like they always do! Lyla. They're hardly unique, they're hardly the first to nail that groove: but when they're onto something THIS classic who cares maaan!? It's a classic for a reason: master it, make it your own, and it kills every damn time!
ALPEN (****) myspace :: Which brings us to our headlining act: that one band I admittedly knew next to nothing about? despite the fact that it's their CD launch tonight!? OOOOH FUCK YEAH!! Yup obviously this isn't the first time I've stumbled into this shit "blissfully clueless" and no it won't be the last time either because it's just too much damn fun! No really, it's how I like to discover ALL new bands, especially all those Triple J high rotations: just so I can FUCK with their avalanche of associated hype and hysteria that always comes with them (and yet record labels STILL send me all those press releases thinking THAT will make a difference!? YOOOU EEEIDIOTS!!). Yup you see I like to pick my gigs based purely on "personal taste". Why!? fuck 'em that's why! And tonight I simply picked THIS gig on the basis of the two supports: Lyla and The Keepsakes, assuming the headliner wouldn't totally blow a goat (or a horse) and in the end I'd be pleasantly surprised. EVERYONE WINS!! It's a brilliant plan if ever I had one, and more often than not it works brilliantly (save for the one glaring exception of course.. hmmm). And so I didn't research Alpen one bit in advance tonight and simply hoped for the best. Genius!! But this isn't to say I DIDN'T have preconceived ideas. Far from it. Being the Adelaide scene and all (operating on two degrees of separation no less) I already knew the drummer Tony Marshall as the guitarist from The Honey Pies last week. And as such I immediately assumed I'd either be dealing with indie pop, folk, shoegaze or acoustic. They'd either be inspired by The Shins, Fleet Foxes or Pavement. And there'd either be a chick on bass, a dude on trumpet or two drummers. Why? because it's the Adelaide scene that's why! And so when I finally DID see them tonight, I must say I was even MORE surprised by Alpen as they proved to be pretty much none of the above! Yup in a nutshell they're 70's stoner rock. Only they're 70's stoner rock as interpretted by a bunch of clean cut college dweebs (think Vampire Weekend) who by all appearances haven't even smoked a cigarette (let alone taken a "mystery trip to Vegas") and yet somehow STILL make this shit work!? Weird but true! In influences think everything from Kyuss, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple with a little bit of sixties Pink Floyd thrown in for good measure. Think fuzzy riffs devolving into extended space jams, lots of noodling instrumental detours, all manner of esoteric weirdness and the occassional exploding outburst in between and that'd be your monkey. Where they nail it especially is in their lead Chris Bateman who somehow apes all of Josh Homme's singing (and some of the towering presence) without any of the associated "drunken swagger". And their drummer Tony Marshall who proves to be quite the multi-instrumentalist by somehow managing to both drum, play guitar and SING at the same time without causing himself an aneurysm (although if that photo's any evidence it's not through any lack of trying!). But of course the other two band members: Lachlan Tanner on guitar and Andrew Marshall on bass are certainly no slouches in serving up the psychedelic stir fry in between. Of particular highlight in their set (short of all those EP tracks I knew nothing about) is a bizarre cover of Iggy & The Stooges "I Want To Be Your Dog" which as awesome as it sounds (and it was!) is truly blown away by an even MORE fuckoff bizarre finale: where they unleash a fullblown Mexican spaghetti-western jam with added trombones and double drumming that damn near tears the roof off (what and did I predict that!? oh of course I didn't!) and yes I swear I'm more confused NOW than I ever was before; but damnit I think I like it! Yup that's Alpen: they may look like a mad hit of peyote served up between two slices of white bread.. but trust me they're NO less lethal!
2:08AM - With all the bands finished for the night and me obviously expecting one fuck of face melting "shindig" to celebrate this launch (I mean shit would we expect any less from The Ed Castle!?) this would usually be the moment for me to slip off "quietly" to the bar, drink myself blitheringly beyond the point of dimwitted and then dribble out into the beergarden where I'd proceed to flood this blog with hundreds and thousands of utterly unnecessary (and occassionally entirely inappropriate) photos of people looking all kinds of hilariously shitfaced. FUCK YEAAAH!! Except this time? yeaaah I couldn't be arsed, and I dare say I'm not the only one feeling this slackarse either. I mean don't get me wrong that "band room" was flooded mere moments ago, it was packed to the ceiling, it was a beautiful thing to behold! Only they simply vanished within seconds of that last song and left a veritable ghost town in their wake. Hmmm. Clearly it's a seasonable thing, clearly it's a December thing, it's everything I listed in the introduction thing; and it's got absolutely NOTHING to do with The Ed Castle changing ownership, firing all the barstaff and painting the band room hot pink. OOOOH FUCK NO!! It was a veritable love fest in here! Just like me standing here "reading" The Ed Castle of the FUUUTURE'S brand new venue promo cunningly designed as a newspaper ISN'T the most whizzbang exciting thing happening here tonight and I'm clearly just fucking with you. Oh I swear duuude we had the time of our lives!
3:17AM - Eventually it was just too much "excitement" for me to handle and I just had to leave (or in other words either just before or AFTER we finished all of the Strangelove DJs beer rider for another Friday night running.. SCORE!!). And just prior to stepping out that front door again (possibly for the last time this year?) I just so happened to notice the pokies room. Now obviously this is a pokies room I've never mentioned here before, as to be honest they were rather good at hiding this shit before (almost like they were embarassed by it) only NOW that the new owners have painted it the exact same shade of head exploding hot pink as the "band room" it's almost impossible to miss. Awesome! Now obviously we could ponder the significance of this mad colour scheme pairing for days. Maybe it's some kind of feng shui, tai chi, kung fu, magical mystical energy shit they're flowing with here. Maybe they're big fans of Scarface: "first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women!". Or maybe they're just plain fucking insane. Either way I couldn't be arsed. Seriously paint ALL the walls hot pink, paint the ceiling lime green, fill the joint with glass topped coffee tables and coconuts and play nothing but banging techno whilst living out all your Cuban druglord fantasies for all I care: I'm DONE with this shit tonight!
4:32AM - And so it was off to Supermild. A wacky misadventure in alcohol abuse that would've surely been all but "uneventful" tonight (read: laughably off the record) if it weren't for THIS squinting shitweasel: who either recognised me from this fucked up excuse for a blog, recognised me as "that idiot who likes to get drunk a lot", or simply likes to drink a lot himself only to rope in random strangers to take retarded photographs under the mistaken belief that this will make him an instant "celebrity" somehow. Hmmm. Now where would anyone get THAT idiotic idea from!?
Yup this year may be "dozing off" well before its due date, everyone might have "checked out" long ago, and I'm sure as shit tempted to join them (no really? where the fuck does everyone go in December!? TAKE ME WITH YOU!!), but there's still plenty yet to pick off its flyblown carcass. It's not over yet I swear! And as long as you don't mind the weird smell or the circling vultures overhead: for all the new discoveries you may stumble upon? it's still worth sticking around for.