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...
LIKE LEAVES + SINCERELY GRIZZLY + STEERING BY STARS LIVE @ ARCADE LANE + THE JADE MONKEY / Saturday February 20th 2010
Friday night, 24 hours ago, the entire east end of Adelaide exploded in riotous colour. From The Fringe opening night street parade: fuck full of fire breathing extroverts, extraterrestrials, arty avant garde intellectuals and fornicating, frolicking theatre freaks; to the follow up free concert in the east parklands, both Rundle and Rymill: Art vs Science, The Killgirls, The Killaqueenz and The Canvas Kites (not to mention all the African choirs and incandescent astronauts in pink tutus jumping out of trees) there's simply no escaping the blast radius, 80,000 or more are caught in the shockwave. It's an orgastic feast, a skull fucking symphony, a shitcrazy tsunami in sensory overload devouring everything and everyone in sight both living and undead like a locust swarm unrelenting. Watch them spill out into side streets, limbs sprawling, crawling, clawing, gnawing, howling, hooting, shrieking, screaming, laughing, dancing, fucking, projectile vomiting every which way in both drinking holes well established, archaic, and "pop-up" ephemeral under temporary liquor licenses till well after dawn.. FUUUCK, WHAT A NIGHT!! I mean sure I wasn't THERE at the time, but I can imagine it all the same.. FUCK DAMN! Instead I was stuck here at home, tapping away furiously at my laptop, wits to wick's end, endeavouring to "speed dial" LAST Saturday's blog into submission, until 7:30AM when I finally published it. *Phew* Fast forward to my Saturday night and I'm all drawn and quartered, five hours sleep, waiting at a bus stop, 8:30PM, crimson sunset to the west of me, CBD to the east of me, 37 degrees, humid as hell, horizon spinning with a shit eating grin. I slam down a can of coke to compensate, don headphones, ipod classic 160GB, hit play on LCD Soundsystem's "Sound Of Silver", fall arse backwards into a passing bus with a sigh of relief and consider just how stupifyingly drunk I'll want to get tonight. Trivial details I know, but it's best to get all the "back story" first before we proceed any further.. like HERE to Arcade Lane in the here and now. "Wait, what.. WHERE!?": read on duuudes, this'll all make sense soon enough!
9:03PM - Yup, for those of you NOT in the know Arcade Lane is one of those shiny new "pop-up" venues that have sprouted about in this city just in time for The Fringe. Created by the infamous Ross Stanley: bar designer and operator of such hairy haunts as Electric Light Hotel, Producers Bar and The Ed Castle (and also known by his shitcrazy afro), it's situated in a seedyarse alley, north side of Grenfell Street between Regent and Adelaide Arcade. Or if that's a little too confusing (I mean really!?) simply search out all those girls in burlesque looking altogether awkward, stifling a yawn somewhere in that general vicinity and you can't miss it. It runs from February 18th till March 14th, opens till 3AM, it's free entry, and don't let these fartarse photos fool you: it's truly the maddest, hippest, happening joint in the east end right now.. unless you happen to be laughing it up retarded at the Garden Of Unearthly Delights, in which case it easily comes a close second.
In essence it's little more than a laneway (obviously) with its own licensed bar and live stage: the former serving up bottles of beers and glasses of wine and spirits at "cheerfully inflated" Fringe prices (ie: $7 for a stubbie of Coopers Ale, more for "imported" Becks, Heineken or whatever-the-fuck) while the latter provides a marquee setup rather reminiscent to Laneway Festival, only on a slightly smaller scale. Capacity's anywhere between 200-300, there's a smattering of makeshift milk crate "stools" scattered about with wacky denim cushions, what appears to be a sausage sizzle BBQ (or similar), and a DJ booth: where DJ Azz (Lady Strangelove) is cooking up his usual "stoner stir-fry". There's also two other ticketed venues branching off (both former Regent Cinema theatres in various states of "disrepair"), with all three spaces combining to provide "over 120 sessions of comedy, Burlesque, Physical Theatre, Cabaret, Dance, DJs, Theatre, Live Video Mixing, Bands, Short Film & Spoken word from around the world". All in all duuude what's not to love!?
Still what I find most "entertaining" about this venue so far, is since it IS so newly established (Thursday night being opening night and all) nobody has quite figured out what the prevailing mood is meant to be. Better yet being a Fringe venue (especially one populated by a culture clash of burlesque, buskers, carnival performers, musicians, scensters and art snobs alike.. YEAAAS!!) has only made the situation a whole lot worse, and by "a whole lot worse" I clearly mean much more hilarious to ME. Everyone here is clearly expecting a "Moulin Rouge". They're expecting a riotous explosion of ribald exhibitionism and giddy abandon, a massive song and dance number, free flowing absinthe, and any minute now it's just gonna go NUTS. Yup, aaany minute now. Which is why everyone's off in the corners, coughing nervously and eyeing each other suspiciously until someone "draws the short straw". FUCK YEAAAH!! Or in other words? yeaaah I'm probably better off coming back later when everyone's a WHOLE LOT DRUNKER. Speaking of which Thunderclaw are setting up just now to help facilitate that, No Through Road and Like Leaves are set to play afterwards.. who knows? give it time, and Arcade Lane might just be THE shitcrazy shindig to hit!
9:26PM - In the meantime however I obviously had other plans. And by "other plans" I mean YET ANOTHER launch party to attend, one that I couldn't possibly afford to miss. One that just so happened to be happening "next door" at the Jade Monkey too (I KNOW! of all my "dumb luck"!?). Of course this wasn't my only plan (I was also considering Oh Mercy and The Salvadors at The Ed Castle) but let's face it: if ever YOU had an off chance in catching Steering By Stars, Like Leaves AND a Sincerely Grizzly launch party IN THE SAME NIGHT!? duuude.. where else WOULD you be!?
STEERING BY STARS (***1/2) myspace :: So here we are for our opening act. Awesome! Now I'll save you the usual ridiculously long write up here (at least in theory), as obviously I'd already covered them two weeks ago and most of what I wrote back then still stands (ie: as much of it made any sense). However there ARE a few "teeny tiny differences" here to distinguish this set tonight for good or bad. For one, as brilliant as their live sound is (and hell you can't go wrong with stealing uber producer / sound engineer Matt Hills for your mix.. FUCK YEAAAH!!) they simply can't compete with our riotous crowd in attendance, most of whom are here just to see the headliners Sincerely Grizzly, and are happily chatting up a storm about: (a) that wacky youtube "everyone's talking about", (b) whatever's happening with their uni courses this year, (c) "The Biggest Loser" or "So You Think You Can Dance" blah di blah blah, or (d) just how rubbishingly shitfaced they're all gonna get tonight (read: LOTS). This is only exacerbated further by all the whisper quiet "interludes" that Steering By Stars have chosen to sprinkle into their set tonight (you fiiiends!) which robbed of much of their contemplative bliss "thanks" to the crowd (ie: nothing quite beats Rory O'Connor going apeshit with a xylophone), simply leaves you with the sorry sight of four band members shuffling about on a stage, scratching their heads, wondering what to do next. Hmmm. Now obviously this isn't the first time it's ever happened with a support act, I distinctly recall Matthew Barlow from Thunderclaw getting absolutely buried here when he faced off against The Thieves and their fanbase a few months ago, but it's a bit of a bastard all the same. I mean c'mon, it's Steering By Stars ferfucksake.. DO ALL MY GLOWING REVIEWS COUNT FOR NOTHING WITH YOU NITWITS!? GUH!! (aaaahahahaha.. yeah I know, I couldn't keep a straight face writing that either!). However with that being said, there was STILL a lot to like about this set. Their live mix for one, when you could actually hear it, had a distinctive subsonic kick to it that only added extra gravity and malevolence to everything they played. Their signature songs "Closer", "Ether" and "Dissonance" proved as volatile, compelling, and arresting as always (if only by the simple fact they're that much louder). But the real highlight tonight, was this skull fuckingly sublime NEW song they cooked up. I don't know what it was called exactly (maybe "Sil" if I've read their setlist correctly) but it was truly something else. Featuring guitarist Rory O'Connor and vocalist Lachlan Wilson singing up a "ghostly choir" in excess delay pedals (ie: both as whimsically incomprehensible as each other) they filled the air with an otherworldly presence sounding not too disimilar to the operatic feel of Unkle's "Never, Never, Land", Sigur Rós' "Ágætis Byrjun", or DJ Shadow's "Midnight In A Perfect World" . And for that one brief moment, almost everyone stopped talking, fell into the haunting beauty of it all, and well and truly lost their shit. Yup that was Steering By Stars. For that ONE song alone they were well worth the trip, and next time I swear.. I'm totally bringing me a spare pair of pants. Encore! ENCORE!!
11:08PM - With Steering By Stars done for another night (and with another twenty or so minutes yet to kill before Sincerely Grizzly hit the stage) I figured I'd drop in "next door" to see if I could catch a live set from No Through Road.. except it appears I've arrived a little too early instead (like half an hour too early), and stumbled into something straight out of a Brazilian Rio de Janeiro Carnival complete with shitcrazy bongos and dancing girls. And by "dancing girls"? oh we're talking the whole nine yards here: a riotous explosion of feathers, silver tassles, glittering sequins, near nude, jiggling about all exciteably with beaming grins; while the crowd looks on, stifles a collective yawn and thinks "hmmm.. so another drink at the bar then?" (aaaah I know, you gotta love it huh!?). Now as much as I would've loved to get a photo of that, I couldn't help but hesitate in THIS instance, wondering momentarily if such a situation would operate under similar circumstances to say Crazy Horse on Hindley Street (ie: security would surely break my kneecaps). So instead, here's a photo of one of the many wacky mannequins scattered about Arcade Lane. Hmmm yup, I guess everyone here still isn't drunk enough huh? Fuck it.. I'll come back later.
11:24PM - Speaking of such, I promptly return to Jade Monkey in effort to hunt down my fifth beer, only to bump into THIS soon after: random jackarse in a beer suit. Now I know what you're all thinking: you see shit like this every day right? And as much as I'd hardly consider myself an exception (I mean hell, you've seen the fuck up friends I've been known to associate with riiight?) it DID trip me out considerably in this instance.. simply for a random brainfart I had little under an hour ago.. and I swear this actually happened too! I was taking a piss here at The Jade Monkey (after either the third or fourth beer), and I figure to myself: "aaaahahahaha.. wouldn't it be hilarious if someone just turned up in a BEAR SUIT to Sincerely Grizzly's launch party tonight and ran amok!? DUUUDE THAT'D BE FUCKED UP!!". And then I return an hour later to see this? oh yeaaah, I completely lost my fucking mind! I mean no shit, whatever hallucinogenic rubbish I can imagine actually comes true now!? Yup I don't know about you duuude.. but I'm frightened!
SINCERELY GRIZZLY (***) myspace :: Which in a roundabout way brings us here to Sincerely Grizzly (and as it turns out? that hilarious jackass in the bear suit totally turns up on their CD cover too.. go figure!?). Yup, when I think of this band, two things immediately spring to mind. Firstly the inescapable urge to yell out: "OI, PLAY SOMETHING FROM YELLOW HOUSE YA DICKHEADS!!" at the worst possible moment; but yeaaah that might just be the beers talking (and if you truly need me to explain this joke? then clearly you haven't been reading nearly enough mp3 blogs). Secondly I can't help but review them as two SEPARATE bands instead of the one: as there's the concept of "Sincerely Grizzly" as I imagine them (in all their awesomatude), and then there's the reality of "Sincerely Grizzly" as they exist on a live stage. For in reality Sincerely Grizzly are a classic "newborn giraffe": they're as goofy, clunky and disjointed as they come. From Joshua Calligeros' gangly presence as lead singer and guitarist: with that slightly adolescence crackle to his voice and the way his guitar parts abruptly trip over themselves instead of providing a cohesive bridge (especially in their song "Words"). To Griffin Farley on bass: perpetually caught wide eyed like a "deer in the headlights", strumming his instrument midway between self assured and shitscared. To Rowan Mount on drums: inexplicably using an electronic drumkit with NONE OF THE ADVANTAGES IT BRINGS but instead like a "normal kit" only flatter (although he does swap to one for that one song tonight). And if all this sounds like I'm being a complete fucking arsehole? (and I won't lie.. I've been giving this band hell all along) it's only because as a "concept" they're so ridiculously awesome. You can see hints of it in everything they do itching to assert itself. From all the ridiculously complex and convoluted math rock arrangements and changovers they do, to their wilfully obtuse lyrics. You know they exist sonically somewhere between art and post rock with a teensy bit of indie accessibility (think: I Heart Hiroshima, Not From There, Jesus & Mary Chain, Pavement with maybe a little Joy Division) but you can never quite place where. Every song comes up with yet another surprise, yet another brilliant twist that never fails to inspire you. I mean hell, they could just slum it like any 'ol SHIT INDIE DISCO band and not give a fuck, but they don't.. NO SHIT! They're not making it any easier on themselves, they're ambitious as fuck.. and for that I can't help but praise them. And yet even so, when I combine these two bands in my head they still don't quite make "ends meet". Hmmm. It's urked me about them for the past nine months, but it appears (if tonight's set is any indication) that they may finally be starting to bridge that divide. Firstly they brought in Matt Hills (the genius who produced their EP) to do their live mix. He's made the guitar sound a lot chunkier tonight (sometimes distractingly so.. but otherwise welcoming), he's thrown in little reverb here and there, a keyboard sequence in one song, and just to really put the "icing on the cake" he even brings in Anthony Wignall from The Keepsakes to join him in the sound booth as they BOTH sing backup vocals on the last song (weird but true!). Secondly there's that "performing bear" pulling his wacky routine out front (only to bum rush the stage in the finale) and that dude ROCKS! But as always the strength lie in the songs.. and two in particular (both available on the EP too) I truly believe showcase all the potential they have in moving forward. "There's Beauty (In The Discord)": for not only summing up their mission statement in their infectious lyrical hook, but also for featuring a brilliantly schitzophrenic time change that jumps from rapid fire shred to slo-mo Franz Ferdinand crunch. And then there's their often used closing number "Two-Face" (again with a title rife with irony): as Josh plays one guitar, loops it indefinitely, only to pick up a second guitar to accompany it live? genius, pure freaking genius! Yup Sincerely Grizzly are still a bit of a mixed bag, still a bit of work in progress, and they've still got a long way to go.. but damnit ONE DAY, mark my words, they'll be nothing short of head explodingly supreme!
12:12AM - Of course no review of Sincerely Grizzly's launch party would ever be complete without giving due credit to THIS guy. I mean sure he's just another jackass in an animal outfit (and trust me they're dime a dozen around here), but when you factor in the fact it's anywhere between 30 and 37 degrees (and probably a lot worse inside Jade Monkey) and so fuck off humid you don't necessarily "walk" but "wade" through the swamp that's hanging thick around you? NO SHIT! this guy deserves a fucking ticker tape parade and his face on the five dollar bill. YEAAAS, LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE BEAR!! (just you know.. don't stand down wind from him or anything *PHEEEUW!!*)
12:24AM - And of course no mention of THAT guy would ever be complete without a bunch of us hilarious fuckwits taking a photo with him too; or more accurately a dozen or so photos besides this one, which I haven't published here (as quite frankly you're much better off not seeing them).
12:32AM - It eventually occurs to me that I might want to catch Like Leaves at Arcade Lane, and that I might want to be in a hurry to do so. And so sculling my sixth beer I make plans for a hasty exit.. only to be stopped dead in my tracks by someone who came up with an even BETTER plan of us sculling all these "skittle bombs" instead: a plan which yup, I OBVIOUSLY couldn't refuse..
To commemorate this "auspicious occassion" (in every way none of us will likely remember it), Kream Kracker here (not his real name), the genius behind this master plan, figured we should get a photo of it. Now obviously I was already waaay ahead of him here (no really, to think I pull this shit every week AND I'M STILL NOT DEAD YET!?), only for him to suggest that I take this photo behind the bar.. DUUUDE!! Weirder still, Zac the psychic bartender? more than happy to oblige..
Sculling my skittle bomb I fully intended on resuming my "originally scheduled broadcast" as I made my way out of the bar, only to be stopped dead in my tracks AGAIN by Zac the psychic bartender: shouting me a free beer for "all the hard work I've done". DAMN YOU!! I mean as much as I appreciate the gesture, and Zac you're a freaking legend for it.. CAN'T I CATCH A FREAKING BREAK FOR ONCE!? GUH!! And so sculling that beer too *sigh* I finally blunder my way out that door, slam straight into a wall instead, find that exit at last, and get me the fuck out of there.
LIKE LEAVES (****) myspace :: Now obviously after all you've read just now, this WON'T be a proper Like Leaves live review, not by a long shot (especially not if you've been keeping counts of all the drinks I've had.. because I sure as shit haven't!). I mean don't get me wrong it was an awesome show, they're an awesome band, and I'm NOT just throwing a "four out of five" about like it's an arbitrary score or anything (no really, if ever you need more evidence? simply read the billion and one OTHER "glowing reviews" I've written about these dudes in the past two years). It's just that yeaaah I wasn't really "here" for it. It might have looked like I was here, but noooo.. I was very very far away, quite possibly in a magical land of make believe, while some OTHER "supernatural zombie force" was furiously working away at my puppet strings rather like a supermarket trolley with one busted wheel that always insists on turning left.. DUUUDE IT WAS FUCKING HILARIOUS!! I mean I swear I don't how I managed to pull ANY of this shit together. No really! How I managed to take any of these photos? how I managed to get enough of them in focus and pointing in the right direction to present in this vaguely "coherent" form? I mean WOW!! I'm really quite impressed with myself, that's NO mean feat! I dimly recall making an absolute twit of myself out front, flapping my arms erratically, sitting in between the foldbacks clucking like a chicken attempting to look all ninja and shit, so it's nice to know I actually got something out of it! (or in other words? be sure to check out that video I got and that'll likely be much closer to the truth). "DUUUDE!! hahahaha I was totally plastered wasn't I?". Still in my defense: when it gets THIS ridiculously hot and humid? and tonight it was fucking retarded.. BEER'S NEVER TASTED SO GOOD!! And if this review could state one thing and one thing alone? it's that BEER IS FREAKING AWESOME!! Wait.. where was I again? Oh yeah! clearly not at Like Leaves. *Ahem* And so at best, I can only present you with the following tidbits. According to their setlist I stole tonight, they opened with "Dancing On Glass" followed that up with "Tissues For The Convoluted", "Complex Denial", "Falling For A Fleeting Moment", a new (as yet unnamed) song featuring Patrick Saracino on vocals, "Mercy Sound" at which point I arrived (brilliant song, one of my many favourites) then "Fruit", "Swordfight" and finally "Bazooka": an epic closer that many eyewitnesses I dimly recalled talking to (was that you Matt Hills!?) claimed was nothing short of "mind blowing" (and quite rightly so thanks to Juliet Hunter's sublime vocals). What else? well from the look of the live video: the audience were swaying, dancing, soaking up the psychedelic bliss of it all; so that's probably a good thing. The sound was maybe a little bit off (the mix.. not the band), but the vibe was definitely there (I know this because I wrote it in my phone). And all things considered (of which I have very little to "consider") much fun and frivolity was had by all. YEAAAS, BEST GIG I NEVER ATTENDED.. WOOOOOO!! Like Leaves. This may not have been much of a live review, but they're one hell of a live band. Go see them sometime!
1:27AM - With Like Leaves departing the stage to much riotous applause (all of which I don't recall.. but I swear it happened) Azz from Lady Strangelove took over on the DJ decks; and just like that (and not at ALL related to just how blitheringly retarded we were at the time) all the hilarious hijinks that Arcade Lane had promised us in all this time finally happened for real. The dancefloor exploded into life, everyone around me completely lost their collective shit, and the rest they say is history.. or at least the kind of "history" that people like me are prone to invent on the spot simply because they can't remember a fucking thing of what actually happened. Hmmm. Still by account of all these shitcrazy photos and the fact my clothes smell like I've just crawled arse backwards through the digestive tract of a rhino, means it must have been one HELL of a party!
2:43AM - Yup, I'm at an absolute loss to explain anything that happened in the past hour or so, or whether it was at ALL related to anything Mike Radzevicius from Aviator Lane might (or might not) have done (or whether it needed a comprehensive biohazard team to clean it all up afterwards *ahem*) only that we somehow ended up HERE. Of course I've got no idea where "here" is.. only that it was quite possibly "the most fuck off awesome suggestion" ANYONE has made all night.
Granted this wherever the-fuck-it-be may have lacked in some of the "basic necessities". There weren't any licensed bars, indoor plumbing, super intelligent laser lighting, smoke machines, midgets or go go dancers (damnit!) but it DID come with it's own "karaoke machine" in the form of a microphone stand and pisstwits "Kream Kracker and co." screaming like hysterical banshees.
And then every five minutes or so, we were also treated with an "interpretative dance number". For what it surely lacked in any direction or narrative? it still more than made up for in enthusiasm.
2:50AM - Before you ask, I seriously have no fucking clue WHAT this is..
Only that moments later I attempt to "take it home with me".. at which point Ross Stanley arrives, we "suddenly realise" just where we are; at which point we "realise the error of our ways" and in a calm and orderly fashion bid adieu with a polite wave.. only to flee the fuck out of there screaming.
2:57AM - Either way with our "miraculous escape" all but assured, standing as we were all of five metres from the entrance to Arcade Lane (geeenius!), we debated where next we should go. Many options were floated. The Garden of Unearthly Delights: already closed, The Exeter: ditto, The Crown & Anchor: yeaaah couldn't be arsed, The Ed Castle: way too fucking far, and Supermild: waaay too bleedingly obvious. Alas no consensus could be made. We stood there for what felt like an hour pondering our inebriate fate to and fro (all of which clearly having nothing to do with Tom Smeets from Steering By Stars wearing an upside down pair of glasses.. but what the hell? I felt like including it anyways). Eventually fed up with the obvious impasse, I took the initiate and stumbled off in a westerly direction citing the "bleedingly obvious". The rest of them (from what I'm told) eventually decided on hitting Flappy Craps for a McHappy fisting whatever-the-fuck.. and then maybe got pancakes. All things considered? I dare say I'm a little bit jealous.
4:35AM - As obviously I wound up here instead, a place that won't be named simply because it's "waaay too bleedingly obviously". Oh and would you also believe, after all I'd drunk tonight, I still hit the bar and ordered me up a long neck of Coopers Sparkling? OF COURSE YOU DO!! Just like I'm completely fucking insane, I possess six functioning livers and I'm not of this dimension.
Yup it's official, the lunatic fringe has well and truly been let loose from the asylum. And I'm not just talking about me and my fuckup friends anymore, ooooh fuck no.. it's much worse than that, there's no escaping THIS! It's The Adelaide Fringe. It's official, it's mainstream, there's a timetable to schedule it and a ticketing agency to sell it. And now every night: and not just on the weekends, in every pub, club and venue: from permanent to "pop-up", down every corner: from sunny street to side alley, circus freaks and theatre geeks, artists, musicians and standup comics of every psychotic persuasions and oddball orientation converge, conspire and devour this city whole; they reign supreme. And it's gonna be like this for a whole month, and it's gonna be like my idea of heaven and hell. But hey who needs sleep or sanity anyways? pfft.. FUCK IT ALL!! We're gonna take a trip down that rabbit hole maaan, and we're gonna see how far this shit REALLY goes!