ST JEROME'S LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2010
LIVE @ CITY WEST + FOWLER'S LIVE / Friday February 5th 2010
Aaaah St Jerome you and your wacky laneway get together
are MY kind of music festival. Why? because you're the ultimate boutique event for obsessive music nerds, geeks and fanatics alike, that's why! You're the BEST! No.. no.. don't sell yourself short, I freaking LOVE you maaan! You're that extra special kind of magic we all wish we could be a part of, no shit! One that caters to only but THE most sophisticated among us
. Nothing but the most uber elite, infinitely erudite, overly well educated, scenester dweeb extraordinaire that lives and breathes this shit like oxygen! Yup, we're talking that extra special breed of well informed fan (read: pretentious arsehole
) who loves nothing better than to publish music blog after music blog extolling every reason unfathomable for why they're so much MORE "in the loop" than you are.. FUCK YES!! You know the type: mouth breathing stick insects
, melanin and vitamin deficient, hosting mp3 streams, writing endless sanctimonious garbage over just how skull fuckingly awesome Animal Collective is, or why Grizzly Bear's "Yellow House" is SO MUCH superior to their utterly unpronouncable "Veckatimest" (I mean c'mon!? with an album title like that it's OBVIOUS they're trying too hard!). They're the ones that made Justice and all that chintzy French techno huge in 2006, overhyped the Klaxons beyond the point of ridiculous in 2007 and unleashed bands like Vampire Weekend upon you in 2008. They're the driving force of cutting edge "journalism" in the 21st century (in every sense that they're clearly an abomination to the term
), they're shiny happy fanatical fuckwits JUST LIKE ME! YEAAAS!! You can see them all out there can't you? all those "early adopters" with their moon tans, scurrying about like cockroaches, fleeing that "unforgiving" sun, that "scorching" 27 degree heat, camera phones in hand.. pfft! Don't you wish you could smash them all with your fists and put an end to this madness once and for all!? "BWAAAHAhAHAhAHaHA!! HAVE AT THEE YOU ELITIST FUCKS!!".
Which is why we can be ever so thankful that Triple J have made this shit infinitely popular with music fans who through no fault of their own AREN'T bloggers (ie: if at first you don't succeed? simply thrash it AGAIN AND AGAIN until everyone's foaming like Pavlov's Dog at even the slightest whiff of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes!
), the same rapturous masses who sold out THIS event in record numbers thanks to one of the performing artists: Mumford & Sons, and their whimsical ditty "Little Lion Man
", winning this year's Hottest 100
(go figure!?). Yup thanks to them this Laneway Festival won't just be the domain of all these scattering elitists you see before you: huddled in their conspiratorial cliques, burning into your soul with their beady-eyed stares and oblique fashion statements (ie: the same you see scurrying like rats from The Exeter, Supermild, Rocket Bar, The Ed Castle, The Metro and back again anytime someone "sneezes") but a veritable love-in/free-for-all royale: bringing together every ecclectic music fan under the sun in their finer appreciation of all things festive and awesome that hasn't otherwise been fucked up by bogans
. Yup it's our teeny tiny oasis maaan.. and we're gonna milk it for all it's worth!
Naturally I just HAD to be part of this event for all the above reasons, but there was still the ugly matter of securing myself a ticket. Now obviously most people would've simply done the bleedingly obvious here, bought themselves a ticket months ago
and been done with it (or better yet left it all until the very last minute, only to realise it was utterly sold out, only to badger everyone on their facebook list for spares.. HA!) but clearly I'm a neither/nor category here. Being "a pretentious arsehole who loves to write his own music blog" obviously meant I was going to do my utmost to scam myself in for free. Now some of you more observant folk might have picked up on the "clues" left in my inbox image from last week
as to how I went about it, but in actual fact the plan was in motion MONTHS before that. As silly as it sounds? someone was actually insane enough to invite me (I KNOW!?). Even more utterly improbable!? that "someone" was none other than Spin Magazine in America
. Yup long story short, I really am THAT ridiculously badass!
Better yet.. not only were they misguided enough to offer me a free ticket on the grounds that I publish up a whimsical blog on it (hi Spin! regretting your insane decision yet?
) but they also threw in a free photo pass too. And yes I know what you're thinking, this shit's gotta be fake right? Like I totally googled up an image, photoshopped the fuck out of it, printed it on adhesive and whacked "Spin photo pass" on it with texta didn't I!? (cause it sure as shit looks like it
). But I assure you this right here maaan is nothing but 100% bona fide legit. Yes my name is really McLovin, I'm 25 years of age, and I'm an organ donar from Hawaii.
The great thing about photo passes of course, is that they give you premium access to the "press pit": that wondrous no-man's land populated by bouncers and sycophants alike that stands between YOU the snuffling peons mashed up against the cheese-graters, and THEM the shiny A-list artists on stage that you'd totally crap a lung (or two) to fornicate with
. Sure it's hardly "First Class" status (that's given to all the schlubs with AAA passes, sipping their expensive champagne and snorting lines of ants out back). No, think of it more as "Business Class". You get a customary three song limit (sometimes longer), you get to shoot the fuck out of the artists, all the while laughing it up retarded at everyone else's expense (ie: it's hardly a taxing task), and then you're out again before the crowd tears you limb from limb. Oh yeah.. I could totally get used to THIS!
Yup, having a photo pass is EVERY REASON WHY all of YOUR shots at festivals will invariably suck
and why all of OUR shots will be nothing short of badass.. and NO it's got absolutely nothing to do with all the ridiculous "equipment" we're rocking either. I mean sure you could be armed to the teeth with the kind of fuckoff military hardware that wouldn't look out of place in a James Cameron movie
(and granted many of my fellow photogs are) but it really makes little difference. You don't need a 12" dildonic zoom, a $10,000 camera body and a 30 megapixel sensor that could pick off individual craters on the moon (hell I'm just using a pissy little "point and shoot" here
and duuude I'm doing just fine!). No, the real difference here is the luxury of proximity and the crowd that's no longer standing in your way. No longer are they your sworn enemy: a screaming tornado of meat and fur, arms flailing, punching fists
into your viewfinder and throwing camera phones in the air
.. quite the contrary! Here smashed up against the cheese graters behind me they're more like our "adorable pets": here to provide us with an endless source of amusement!
Awwww I know! they're just SO cute aren't they? Thrashing away helplessly, arms flailing like hysterical muppets, beaming smiles, so eager to please. Sure they're all bloodthirsty freaks, sure they could skeletonise a cattle carcass in seconds
, but they're so much fun when they're at your mercy.. they truly are! Occassionally I'd fire off a shot in their direction just to watch them all scream (oh they totally couldn't get enough of that shit either!), I'd feed them Skittles as they begged and pleaded for more.. I know, I know! the sign totally says "don't feed the animals" but just look at them all, I just couldn't help myself! Awwww I wish I could take them ALL home with me maaan, just so they could stand outside my fence all day and night hooting like hilarious howler monkeys, oh it'd be the BEST! Am I all drunk and hideously corrupt with power!? YOU BET I AM!
But alas, all whimsical distractions aside there's still work to be done here. And by "work to be done" I clearly mean taking the absolute piss out of live acts who deserve a whole lot better than to be ridiculed by the likes of me (hi Jupiter Lead, gotten over that shit kicking review I wrote back in August
yet!?). Arriving as I did a little past three o'clock in the afternoon I've already missed out on the opening act and Triple J Unearthed winners The Salvadors
(no really.. you can totally thank me later!) only to realise I've still arrived waaay short of the main stage opening. Bugger! And so through gritted teeth I throw myself into Fowler's Live instead: a side-stage that doesn't know the meaning of "press pit" (why, the nerve of them!) to see what I could dig up.
Like THIS sign for instance. Now I know it's been a long while since I've been here last (ie: not since Wolf & Cub's album launch back in June
), and I'm more than familiar with them playing host to more than their fair share of retarding all-ages emo, screamo, lameo thrashcore metal gigs, I know what mosh pits, crowd surfing, stage diving and circle pits look like.. but I gotta ask you: WHAT THE FUCK IS "HEAD WALKING"!? I mean seriously, did I miss a memo here? When the hell did THIS happen all of a sudden!? Oh and before you demonstrate in none too subtle terms just how "over the hill" I am for not knowing what this is? I looked it up in urban dictionary just now
and wow, no really WOW!! I mean REALLY? something as lame as that could actually be banned!? Where's the spirit of adventure Fowler's Live? I ask you.. WHERE IS THE FUN!?
And now at long last we've reached my first live review for 2010.. YES! breathe it in peeps, we're witness to a "moment in history" here (but perhaps only because it'll soon be followed by my untimely death by all too grisly means.. and gee I wonder why?). Oh and before you ask: YES I will be writing these reviews leaner and meaner this year (and scoring them harder accordingly). Why? because yup, I'm a pretentious arsehole, I'm jaded as all fuck, I've seen way too much of this live scene for one lifetime
, and damnit I ain't gonna take any of your shit no more! YOU HEAR ME ADELAIDE.. I'M OUT FOR BLOOD DAMNIT!! WAAAUHAHaHAhAHA!! Which by no small misfortune brings us to Black Gold. Aaaah and what can we say about these poor fools? Well for one they're one of Laneway Festival's "best kept secrets" right up there with Hockey
and The Very Best
(or in other words nobody has a clue who the fuck they are). They're a four piece from Brooklyn, New York. They're ridiculously happy to be here, so much so they even coughed up the ultimate clunker in between song banter: "Adelaide you're our favourite city so far!" (cue: eyeroll). Oh and they're so damn ridiculously earnest and heartfelt with their uplifting piano ballads and sweeping cheese pop arrangements that I may just crap out a spleen. Awesome! In closest approximation think of them as a "Diet Coke" rendition of The Temper Trap
, with liberal sprinkles of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer", Bruce Springsteen, The Killers, Hard-Fi and dare I mention Angels And Airwaves thrown in for good measure (egads!). They're easy on the ears (almost painfully so), they have plenty of hooks and sing along choruses, they're ripe for commercial airplay, I'm doing my utmost not to piss myself laughing over all the "emo vibes" they're putting out (did I mention EVERY song has a handclap chorus!?) but if ever there's a saving grace to all this shit? they DO pack one hell of a mean rhythm section.. and yes that totally counts for something! Black Gold. If ever you're looking for a 21st Century update on The Rembrants
to soundtrack your next cornball sitcom about singles looking for love in the "mean streets" (and cafes!) of New York City.. THIS is the band for you!
Next off, I hit the main "Uni Stage" for my first tour in the press pit (JOY!!) which short of a brief "bottleneck" experienced in leaving Fowler's Live (what, we get no V.I.P. exit!? GUH!!) is practically a piss in the breeze compared to what the rest of the crowd must be dealing with out front (oh and how I don't miss that hilarity either!
). It's here that I spot all the usual suspects, the same smelly ragtag of photogs I spot at next to every other show in Adelaide apparently worth "extensive press coverage" (ie: dB, Rip It Up, Fasterlouder, The Dwarf, The Advertiser (!?) oh and that other guy who's always here at Laneway working for that website I can never remember the name of.. yeaaah you know, THAT guy!
) all armed to the teeth with their respective bazookas and sniper rifles. I pull out my teeny tiny point and shoot, we all piss ourselves laughing over what will surely be an ongoing joke (I know.. right!?) only to be distracted by the band when they finally make their appearance on stage. And by "distracted" I clearly mean.. yeaaah you get the idea! Yup this is Dappled Cities from Sydney and NO this isn't the first time they've pulled a prank this assinine either. Last time they toured Jive back in September
, they plunged the entire venue into darkness and fronted up on stage covered head to toe in shitcrazy faerie lights.. whilst today they've decided to go the 1950's b-grade sci-fi route with the one piece gold suits that leave VERY LITTLE to the imagination (the idea of which they likely stole from here
.. YEEEOUCH!!). And as much as I applaud them for such a bold "fashion statement"? (aaahahahaha you guys!), it does make shooting them (especially in THIS mid afternoon sun) a rather "excruciating experience"; one that actually makes my face twitch in uncontrollable spasms just from all the glare they're reflecting into my retinas. But hey, such are the risks you take with a day shoot. The band trade quips between songs about how much sweat is pooling in "unmentionable places" and I do my best to think about anything that doesn't make my head explode attempting to review their "sound" (ooops I knew I was meant to take notes!). Still from what little I can remember: Dappled Cities were a little bit psychedelic indie pop, a little bit art rock, whimsically rife with soaring falsetto and in their own unassuming way fuck full of disarming charm. Think of them as just like the Split Endz mixed with The Flaming Lips (minus most of their exploding fanfare) and you wouldn't be far off the mark.
Next it's back to Fowler's Live again, for a band that's been receiving considerable "word of mouth" hype from all the usual suspects (with more of it relayed to me by members of the audience upon my late arrival) claiming that they were THE "shit hot band" to see today. Hmmm. Of course with me whizzing back and forth here like a fucking tourist, a lot of it might have been lost on me (ie: like most music festivals, I'm clearly just "channel surfing" until the headliners hit). Still if it helps, I simply couldn't get that ONE song of theirs "Down To The Cemetery
" out of my head for all the RIGHT reasons for the past six months (which as far as Triple J high rotation goes makes for a rare quality indeed
) and as such I was curious as all hell to catch them here today; and no they sure as shit didn't disappoint. Kid Sam are a two piece band from Melbourne. What makes them worth your while however, is not only are they one of the FEW two piece bands around who aren't ripping off garage rock (thank fuck!) they're also one of few bands overall who don't rip much of anything ELSE off either (short of an obvious post rock influence) in effort to define their own "unique" sound. A few have compared them to both Radiohead or Pivot
, but for me personally it's all about the intricate detail found in Kishore Ryan's junkyard percussion, how it effortlessly compliments the haunting melodies of Kieran Ryan on guitar and vocals, and how it's ever so easy to get lost in it all like a hypnogogic trance (or rather like the filmscore to a trippy art-house movie that's yet to be scripted). Altogether angular, turbulent and tumultuous: it rides heavy on the kick to provide the "bass", fills the high end with a dizzying array of fills from spidery to clanging and industrial, and then brings it all home in the midrange with haunting riffs and esoteric lyrics. There's never a dull moment, it's all brain food and ear candy through and through, and as much as I didn't get the "full effect" today in my all too brief sampling? something tells me if I managed to catch a complete show: all these whisperings surrounding them would be more than justified.
Up next on the main stage? oh yeah I was really looking forward to these guys. Y'see.. over the years I've found myself increasingly drawn to what I like to call "the perfect 3AM record". Granted it may just be an occupational hazard of my "rock & roll lifestyle" of late. One that makes such whimsical terms as "nocturnal", "moon tan" and "retardingly vampiric" seem woefully lacking in punchline (and especially in vitamin D) but it's a magnetic appeal for me all the same.. simply put I can't get enough of this shit. Albums like Interpol's "Turn On The Bright Lights"
, Bat For Lashes' "Fur And Gold"
and Leader Cheetah's "The Sunspot Letters"
(to name but a few) only but resonate more richly with expression in the obsidian hours, they speak to me when all else in the world is quiet and still. And it was in such a magical way that I discovered THIS band late one night. I slipped those headphones on, I fired up that ipod, and they simply won me over in one listen. The ideal soundtrack to three o'clock in the morning
. Which is why it's altogether odd to find them here now, flapping about in broad daylight, like fish out of water gasping, on the Uni Stage in front of a few thousand people at Laneway. No shit! Just by the look of their porcelain complexions alone I could have sworn they'd simply burst into flames at the first glimmer of a UV beam (yeeeouch!), or maybe they'd simply sparkle like Edward "Douchebag" Cullen out of that wacky Twilight movie
(tee hee!). Either way the minute I found myself front and centre in that press pit again? all this didn't matter in the slightest maaan.. I was back in the bliss again! Yup as much as they'd arguably be more ideally suited to an after midnight slot at Rocket Bar (because let's face it, it sure as shit would be DARK enough!
), and I can't speak for the rest of you poor sods stuffed in the corners, trying to get a look in from a million miles away: the sound of them performing live, right here where I was standing, was truly something else! The biggest thing I noticed overall was the power of that bass, the growling subs (almost ridiculously so: positioned mere inches from my face) and how combined with the drenching reverb of their instrumentation, it almost made me feel like I was back in the womb again: only with a few thousand more people to accompany me (yeaaah just try not to ponder over that one for too long!). Equal measures sparse and lush in arrangement, their sound translated beautifully to the live arena (or at least from where I was standing). With hauntingly intimate vocals traded back and forth between Oliver Sim on bass and Romy Madley Croft on guitar, with Jamie Smith tapping out the minimal beats live on his drum pad it was an all enveloping experience, I was lost in an other world, and for those three songs out front (if not more in the crowd) it was 3AM in my head again and everyone was invited! Yup that was The XX: a definite highlight of my day so far, even if I'm admittedly being a teeny bit biased in saying it.
- After soaking up more than my fill of The XX (easier said than done, since I kept wanting to stick around for "just one more song") I figured I'd hit Fowler's Live again to catch up on the remainder of The Middle East
. I'd seen them once before back in February last year, they were nothing short of skull fuckingly stupendous to the point that they practically left me speechless (but feel free to read the wacky review I wrote about them anyways
) and obviously I'd be barking mad to miss out on them again. Unfortunately everyone else had exactly the same idea, a massive lineup was forming outside clawing madly to get in, and nobody was getting ANYWHERE. Or at least that's what I originally assumed, until I noticed a full twenty minutes later, well after The Middle East had finished their set, that the lineup was STILL there. As it turns out all these people were actually waiting in line for their chance to see Whitley
instead. WHO!? yeah I've got no fucking clue either and I even hunted down his album "Go Forth, Find Mammoth
", listened to it in full and everything AND I STILL DON'T GET IT!! Apparently he's one of those overly earnest singer-songwriter, blues and roots, troubadour types that barefoot stoners dudes and dudettes simply can't get enough of (pfft!). Personally? yeaaah I was more than happy to skip it.
EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING
Instead I stuck about the main stage for THIS: a band of legend, a band of exploding myth and infamy, the one and only Eddy Current Suppression Ring.. WHOOOAAAAAA FUCK!! And of course I'm spewing forth all this gibberish just now.. not because it's necessarily MY personal belief per se, but because as far as MOST music press is concerned on this band (and let's face it, most of it invariably comes from their hometown of Melbourne
) they're nothing short of the second coming. The "second coming" of what exactly, yeah I wouldn't know.. but OOOH TRUST ME they're fucking huuuge all the same! I mean if you believe at least half of what they tell you: they're not just the "bees knees" maaan, they're the buzzing "bee testicles", "bee clitoris" and the perky "bee nipples" of all things explodingly exceptional! And it doesn't just stop there either! Walking into the press pit just now, I'm even told by one of my fellow photogs that not only are they fuck off amazing, they're also "one of the BEST live acts to photograph in the entire Australian scene". And yup, after having all this retarding smoke blown up my arse about this band over the years? "No shit.. THIS IS THE DEFINING MOMENT OF MY LIFE!!". Yeaaah I pretty much assumed they'd blow a horse and return for sloppy seconds. But as it turns out? some of that hype MIGHT actually be warranted. Eddy Current Suppression Ring: in a nutshell, are a lo-fi sixties, anti-fashion, garage band, as reinterpretted by the cast of Trainspotting. Everything about them, especially here on stage, is ridiculously high strung. From the itchy trigger sinew of their lead singer "Brendan Suppression": with his signature black gloves, coiled up into a tight little ball and screaming every which way. To the rest of his merry munted cohorts: who appear to be overdosing on every conflicting "upper" imagineable and LOVING every moment of it. I mean the barely contained energy within this band, all pent up and constipated, is so fucking thick in the air: not only could you cut it with a knife, but if you ate it in one sitting you'd likely suffer a coronary and die. Granted I've captured crazier bands live
, and their sound is far from gripping on a "sonic level". But as far as capturing more than your fare share of screw-faced retardation and shitcrazy energy flying about your head all at once.. they definitely have something going on here. The crowd for one is going fucking beserk to it AND THEN SOME. Security are in a mad panic to stem the flow of bogans who've suddenly burst forth as if from nowhere (and are doing their utmost to bump skulls with their newfound heroes) all in all it's a mad fucking buzz. I mean listening to any of this at home? yeah I can pretty much take it or leave it. But here live, loud and screaming point blank? there's just NO denying it!
- But of course, as luck would have it, mere moments after me and most of the photogs had left the press pit after our "three song limit" was up, Eddy Current Suppression Ring took their shit to whole other level. DAMN YOU!! And by "a whole other level", I mean quite literally: when their lead singer "Brendan Suppression" saw fit to jump the speaker stacks like a spring loaded spidermonkey, scale the railings above it and then proceed to perform the next few songs on the stairwell leading to fuck knows where. WHOAAA!! And short of that ONE guy with the purple hat still laughing it up in the press pit (aka: Rodney Magazinovic from Fasterlouder
) shit like THIS, shot from ridiculously far away, is probably the best anyone would've got of it. Unless of course you happened to be packing one of those 12" dildonic zooms mounted on a $10,000 camera body.. in which case you TOTALLY suck and I hate you (but feel free to send me the shot anyways!).
MUMFORD & SONS
And now for the moment that next to everyone has been waiting their ENTIRE lifetime for.. or at least since little over a week ago when their hillbilly ditty that could: "Little Lion Man
" won Triple J's Hottest 100
(ie: to the utter surprise of absolutely no one with an internet connection
) resulting in a mad avalanche of newly fanatical Triple J zombies "selling out" Adelaide's Laneway soon after. The same people who were likely looking forward to getting all "up close and personal" to a band they didn't even know existed before January 26th, let along knew they "liked", if it weren't for the awesome brainwashing power of high rotation airplay
on Triple J. The one, the only, Mumford & Sons.. OOOH FUCK YEAAAH!! Now I know what you're thinking (and quite possibly imagining it in the sarcastic overtones of one "Gregory House M.D.
") I'm totally having a go at them aren't I? LIKE I REALLY DON'T THINK THEY DESERVE THIS SHIT DO I!? Oh quite the contrary! As much as I still don't QUITE get all the head exploding hype that surrounds them, even AFTER listening to their album countless times over (aaaah y'know.. they're alright 'n all) a good friend of mine IS a geniune fan.. she loves this shit! Her name is Lejla Sarcevic
, she's all kinds of ridiculously awesome (and I'm not just saying that!), she lives and breathes all things alt country and acoustic, she knows above all else they're more than deserving of ALL the praise they get. And if every single ticket hadn't sold out and packed this place out to capacity with a hooting chorus of howler monkeys who totally wouldn't know any better (even if it was slapping them in the face), she totally would've been taking all of THESE photos in my place and having the time of her life.. THE TIME OF HER LIFE!! (and with a PROPER camera too!). Yup long story short, this article was originally planned with a two person crew. I was going to shoot video (all manner of hilarious junk backstage too), she was going to take photos, something "fell through" at the last minute, I'm the only one with a ticket, and right now I'm feeling all kinds of guilty that I'm standing here instead of her. *Sigh*. So in other words Lejla, if I was you? I'd TOTALLY skip to the next chapter because you REALLY don't want to be reading what comes next. Yup in short, this set was nothing short of AMAZING. No shit, it was INTENSE! And surprisingly it had little to do with the band either. Granted they gave it their all, they played the show of their lives, lined up four in a row front of stage, singing and shouting in gang vocal, throwing their instruments around like there was no tomorrow (and yes it was truly awe inspiring to watch) but the real magic here was undoubtfully the crowd. The crowd that quite simply lapped up every single iota of this performance like it was nothing short of a religious experience. You didn't need to see or hear their rapturous response around you to get it, you felt it crashing over you like waves, YOU FELT THE LOVE MAAAN! It was madness, absolute and utter pandemonium, everyone all singing and dancing in unison, and the minute "Little Lion Man
" hit? I dare not even say it, I dare not even think it, awww crap I should just stop talking it'll only make it worse! (I'm so sorry Lejla!). Yup as much as there'll likely be other shows to rival THIS one in the future (I mean there's GOTTA BE if I'm ever gonna make it up to her). Right here maaan? for the mad buzz alone!? oh yeaaah this was still pretty damn schweet!
- Wrapping up my whimsical "tour of duty" in the press pit, I punched through the roaring crowd assembled ahead of me, all singing and dancing to the hayseed sounds thrashed out on stage by Mumford & Sons (aaaah and a beautiful thing it was too!), stopping momentarily to soak up the wonder of it all (admittedly most of them far LESS horrifying to behold than the example given.. yeeeouch!) and made my way at last, swinging fists and all, to the foodstalls stuffed waaay out in the back. Now I know it SEEMS insensitive to duck out for dinner at a time like this (I mean it's Mumford & Sons ferfucksake!?) but damnit I'm freaking starving, I'd already TRIED this before during the tail end of Eddy Current Suppression Ring (only to face impossibly long queues) and fuck damn it.. the way I see it? with everyone ELSE distracted right now!? I might actually be in with a chance! YEAAAS!! SWEET NUTRITION HEEERE WE COME!!
- Now obviously I don't need to tell you just how bad "festival food" is. It's right up with "airline food" as one of the longest running comedy stables of abominable awfulness: there's just always waaay too many baked potato stands, the nastiest hotdog and hotchip stands (mmm.. powdery!), that one Indian stall that's forever breeding a petri dish full of foaming bacteria in their butter chicken, and another "foodstall" that for want of a better term we simply refer to as "the mystery dip" because it's anyone's guess which one of your vital signs will take the precipitous plunge first. And Laneway Festival this year is obviously no exception. There's just two foodstalls, count them.. TWO, covering a few thousand people. One of them is the omnipresent baked potato stand, the other I foolishly chose simply because they were offering "pizza slices" at $6 a "slab". Now I don't know about YOU, but short of share household the morning after a raging "Category Five": pizza isn't usually meant to be (a) served cold and clammy, (b) blackened on the edges, or (c) garnished with a taste not all too dissimilar to stale peanut butter. To their credit however it STILL beats the fungicidal trash they serve up at Pizza Rev on Hindley Street
late on a Saturday night. Or in other words if ever you face a similar situation in the future, I'd advise you to stick with the vending machine in Fowler's Live: Cheese Twisties, Cheetos and Toobs? nothing but gold!
Suitably "satiated" by all the psychotropic wonders that only all the five "minor" food groups can provide, I slip back into the press pit. The sun's setting behind me, deep blue skies, ambience humming blissfully in the mid 20's C, crowd swimming in superlative grins (back teeth quite possibly floating), all in all the perfect setting for a night of Sarah Blasko.. even if I'm of the sneaking suspicion that she's in actual fact a killer robot (and quite possibly of the 1950's Stepford persuasion
) and YES we're all going to die. To explain, we need only look back a few years, 2006 to be exact, when her previous album "What The Sea Wants The Sea Will Have
" was all the rage with the scensters and hipster fashionistas about town. Almost everywhere you looked, in all the indie clubs and late night haunts, there they'd be: all her faithful flock, dressed like dolls and doilies in their op-shop finest, oh so frilly and impossibly feminine, vintage dresses and pearls, like Picnic At Hanging Rock
, like something straight out of my worst nightmares outnumbering me ten to one. No shit, you remember those creepy twins in The Shining?
I swear, they were JUST LIKE THAT. Now admittedly SOME of this shit could easily be attributed to Patience Hodgson from The Grates
(we all know she was more than guilty of this vintage shit herself), but her fans were easy to pick out in a crowd: they were actually genuinely happy to see you, they were hilariously awesome! But when it came to Sarah Blasko fans? OH MAAAN!! I shit you not, it was nothing but cold dead distant stares and me peeing a little in fright before I ran screaming from the room. And now at long last I'm facing off with the original in battle? DUUUDE!! Yup that's Sarah Blasko alright, and in her unholy presence now: china white android in her jet black hair, polka dot dress, body popping her strangely angular dancemoves on stage? she's truly a stupendous sight to behold! One that's made all the more bizzare by her backing band decked out in matching tuxedo shirts, and made all the more mysterious by the songs she performs (most of them I'm told from her latest album "Day Follows Night
") all delivered with haunting majesty. Think equal measure magical, ethereal, dreamlike and hypnotic: like a doll house and a toy music box got together in both sound and scope, only blown up to widescreen proportions, and it's totally not of this world. Sarah's liltingly light canary voice, from fleeting to soaringly impassioned, is teamed beautifully by the stirring "boom boom boom" of her backing band, like a giant ever present heartbeat, or a pounding 1920's speak easy. It's a total headtrip, I don't know where the fuck I am or where I'm going, and if I wake up bound and gagged in a disused abattoir to the sound of her and her chainsaws buzzing? I'd dare say it'd be worth it. Sarah Blasko. She may be a homicidal mechanoid bent on world domination and destruction, but with sounds this sweet? at least we'd die happy!
As awesome as Sarah Blasko was in all her twinkle toe arrangements and "boom boom" 1920's regalia (no shit.. short of me fearing for my life? it was nothing but bliss!) something was still "missing" for me here. Something intangible. Something simian in my psyche that needed feeding like nobody's business (especially considering I hadn't been drinking all day). OH YES!! we're talking the unmistakable call of my Y chromosome pounding my skull retarded and screaming for blood
. A call that could only be answered in kind by our next band here at Fowler's Live. Yup they're the Black Lips: a "flower punk
" band from Atlanta Georgia, USA. And here, flailing about and thrashing wildly under seedy spotlights in a sweat drenched room, they're truly a sight for sore eyes (in sound? only all the more unsettling). If you could imagine a jarring, teeth rattling, punch drunk collision between tear-away bands like The Libertines and The Vines, all smashed together with a deja-vu headtrip of every fucked up anthem you've ever heard compiled into a Vietnam movie soundtrack with the instruments tuned to "blackboard fingernail" you wouldn't be far off. Or better yet think of the music video to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit
", only reimagined as a live performance at Altamont Speedway with a full Hell's Angels contingent back in '69
, followed by you diving into the deep end and hoping like hell you'd had your rabies shots and.. OOOH SHIT YEAH!! Either way, they're barely contained chaos both on and off the stage, and in the best and worst ways possible! The band showering bottled water every which way, only for their singer and bassist Jared Swilley to finally realise it's actually meant for "drinking", only to take a swig "down the wrong hosepipe" and upchuck it all over the stage. The crowd welcoming it all in kind, like a switched on blender without a lid on it: sprawling arms, legs and miscellaneous body parts spraying absolutely everywhere. Aaaah I ask you what more could you want!? Horribly messy, mischevious, murderous music with a pissload of swagger? One that seeks out by any means the rapidly diminishing length of your life expectancy? Yup no other band quite makes you feel "alive" like the Black Lips!
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN
Before I even begin to review this next band performing on the main stage, I believe an apology may be in order. You see I don't know the FIRST THING about Echo & The Bunnymen. Well ok perhaps I know a FEW things (shit, how can I not!?), but it hardly makes me an "authority" on the matter (and especially not someone who should EVER be writing a review about them
). For one I'm well aware of their legendary status as one of the UK's finest post punk acts: right up there with bands like Joy Division, New Order and Gang Of Four (and maybe a few others, if I could be arsed looking them up on wikipedia
). As a music fan, their name's obviously all too familiar to me, as ever since I tuned into Triple J in the early 90's I couldn't help but hear of them in terms of nothing but glowing praise. And although they never received all the hype, exposure and attention of New Order in the 80's, or even the hushed reverence of Joy Division in the 00's, they definitely got the critical acclaim. In short, no shit.. they're one of the greats. But of course like many of YOU dribbling nitwits out there, I only REALLY came to grips with just who the fuck Echo & The Bunnymen were thanks to the 2001 movie Donnie Darko (the original, not the "directors cut"), and a truly memorable opening sequence
featuring the haunting refrains of "Killing Moon
". A song that I just couldn't help but be moved by. But of course, besides ALL THAT, I've seriously got no fucken clue what I'm talking about here. Still there's nothing like getting a first impression from the "source" as it were: so how did they fare live? Well first off, I'm immediately struck by that golden voice. OH MAAAN THE VOICE!! Ian McCulloch, their lead singer, has STILL got the pipes of an angel. That smooth tenor, that twilight croon, that silky smooth register? that voice that could only come from smoking a carton of cigarettes a day!? (which only makes it more magical?). I'm mean no shit, he's even got a reputation for it!
For the entire show tonight: death stick propped up on the mic stand like a laser pointer, he's all but shrouded in it. Which coupled with their impenetrably dark lighting (I know.. it was hell trying to get photos of them!) gives them a certain air of "mystique". On the downside however they're not much for moving around, which in Ian's case means not at all (like he's a human tree trunk crossed with Harrison Ford out of Blade Runner). And as for their setlist? for someone as blissfully clueless as I, most of it sounded pretty much the same: ominous, slow and dark. There was little variety in either tempo, tone, or temperament. And even when they kicked into an inspired cover of Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side
" it still had that same languid late night feel. Hmmm. As you might have guessed this shit would have almost put me to sleep (and some in the crowd were even starting to drift off.. yeeeouch!) if it weren't for the fact that I was hanging to hear "Killing Moon". And when they finally whipped it out in the finale? suuure it was probably a little slower than I imagined it, but duuude? THAT alone was worth the "price" of admission! Echo & The Bunnymen. A lot of what they did tonight may have been lost on me (and for that I apologise) but in their own grizzled way? they still made their gravitas felt.
- With my attention span starting to waver (hmmm did Echo & The Bunnymen play at a few other songs AFTER "Killing Moon"? or didn't they? aaaah fuck it!) I briefly entertained the notion of hitting up Fowler's Live to catch the tail end of The Very Best
. In name alone they intrigued the fuck out of me, and it was more than enough to pull me inside to see what they were on about. Or at least it DID.. until I spotted THIS crowd, many of whom were still cluelessly scratching their heads, thought better of it and walked out again. But hey who knows, maybe they were THE "shit hot" band to see at Laneway! Why!? cause it says so in the title, THAT'S WHY!
FLORENCE & THE MACHINE
Still all ridiculous puns aside (I mean c'mon you seriously named your band that!? WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU IDIOTS THINKING!?
), when it comes to "the very best" in show tonight, THE one band that I swear, no shit, hands down, you should totally be kicking yourself retarded for missing out on at this year's Laneway Festival? (and no Lejla it's NOT Mumford & Sons.. you can totally relax!) there could be no argument with me.. Florence & The Machine. LIKE OH MY FREAKING *EXPLETIVE THAT HASN'T EVEN BEEN INVENTED YET* FUUUCK.. she totally blew my mind! And I'm not even kidding: I have no mind now, there's nothing left, I'm a whistling head with hair attached, stick your ear up against it.. I swear you can hear the ocean! From this moment onwards, Florence & The Machine will be deserving of the stratospherically fuck off status that ONLY a Chuck Norris can bring!
In fact I'm pretty sure Florence Welch herself IS Chuck Norris reincarnated as a woman. WHOOOAAAAAA SHIT!! I mean sure I sorta knew what I was in for here, I'd heard the album, the album's freaking amazing
(shits all over just hearing the singles on the radio might I add), but the minute she walks on stage? oh it's like a whole other level of face melt! Standing in the press pit, at point blank range.. I mean it's just too much to handle! The stage's already raised four feet off the ground, and with her towering over the edge in her shitcrazy platform heels, she's a freaking giant! a gazelle! And with her birdman outfit? IT'S ALL LEGS MAAAN!! No really, I've witnessed my fare share of "shock and awe" tactics
before, but THIS is like a blitzkrieg and I'm Belgium holding up a water pistol. I have no defenses. I have to slap myself silly just to focus on the task at hand (which largely involves me lifting my camera up SO ridiculously high I didn't just end up with a littany of lily stems and lace cameltoes in my lens) and I haven't even gotten to the music yet!? DUUUDE!! Florence & The Machine IS the reason why cyclones and hurricanes are given girls names. Florence & The Machine is Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth Of Venus"
on an explosive tab of acid as directed by Chris Cunningham
. Florence & The Machine is what would happen if Karen O from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs was trained as an opera singer, given access to a full symphony orchestra and shrunk to a blackhole singularity. You remember that wacky orgasm scene
out of "When Harry Met Sally"? Can you imagine multiplying it by an apocalyptic factor that'd potentially annihilate New Orleans? oh it's still not even close! In fact on second thoughts it might just be safer to listen to the album. Seriously, this whole performance was so damn epic in grandeur and explosive in emotional dynamism as to be downright extraterrestrial! I don't remember specific songs, I couldn't possibly, I don't even need to, their shadows are blasted up against the walls of City West Campus and I can simply just go back and relive it at any time.. although I may need to bring welding goggles first. Yup if you were there, if you saw it, you'd likely know exactly what I'm on about it. If your holding a pregnancy test right now: I hope and pray it's blue. What a show! I MEAN WHAT SHOW!! Gee I wonder if I can bum a cigarette off of Ian McCulloch? *pheeeuw!*
But wait.. that's not all! No really! As head explodingly extreme as Florence & The Machine may have been on the main stage (and THEN SOME!!) this shitcrazy shindig is faaar from over! I mean sure the vast majority of you people might already be limping off to the exits with a sheepish grins on your faces looking for an icepack. But as for the more "adventurous" souls among us? (read: downright kamikaze) there's still plenty more fun to be had at Fowler's Live. OOOOH SHIT YEAH!! Like take N.A.S.A. for instance. No longer just the "National Aeronautics and Space Administration
" devoted to exploring outer space (and covering up all manner of alien conspiracies and fake moon landings while they're at it), thanks to President Obama's extensive budget cutbacks (aaaah bless his cotton socks!) this newly reimagined "North America / South America
" collaboration is now devoted to exploring the funkier regions of INNER space (and especially those found inside wizard bongs). Or you know.. they're totally like Yoda, except they're NOT 2'9", green or borderline incomprehensible, and OH they're absolute Jedi Masters at concocting some truly slamming party jams. Or in other words? be sure to pick up their album "The Spirit Of Apollo
" and hold onto your toilet seat (cause duuude, you're in for one HELLUVA RIDE!!). In fact it's THIS upbeat quality that you can't help but notice when you first see them live. Try as you might, you just CAN'T stand still to this shit. In closest approximation I'd equate it to the same adrenaline kick you get from seeing, say.. Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx or The Freestylers live. It's that same hybrid sound. Everything from hiphop, breakbeat, bigbeat, rock to electro gets thrown into the mix. Most of it is pre-recorded and mashed up live between L.A. based producer Squeak E. Clean
and Brazilian DJ Zegon on the decks and laptop (ie: they throw snippet of everything from their own songs, to The Rolling Stones and Rage Against The Machine with accompanying techno beats) but they also throw in their fare share of other optional extras too. From Squeak E. Clean taking the reigns as MC, to guest Rastafarian rappers, to a whole menagerie of mascots (check out Mars Attack
vs The Creature From The Black Lagoon
? freaaaky!), till by the end it gets SO ridiculously busy in both lights and sound (did I mention the projection visuals!?), N.A.S.A. finally think "fuck it!" and invite the whole audience up there. Yup, it's the oldest trick in the book (I mean shit, Girl Talk pulled the exact same stunt LAST YEAR!
) but no matter how many times I see it? I swear it never fails to amuse! N.A.S.A. They came from outer space, they played, they conquered, we rejoiced? Aaaah who says you need to go to OTHER planets to party, when you can simply bring it ALL to you!
- And now at long last it was over for another year.. WOW!! I know huh? Time sure flies when you're having "fun", and you're taking too many photos, and you're writing ridiculously longwinded blogs about it afterwards (shit damn.. I thought this was going to be my "lean and mean" episode too? WHAT THE FUCK MAAAN!?). And yup looking over it all now, I think it's safe to say.. BEST LANEWAY EVER!! And I'm not just saying that because I managed to scam myself in for free, with a complimentary "photo pass" to boot (yeah ok.. maybe a little!). I mean the calibre of the live acts.. some of them totally didn't SUCK for once! YEAAAS!! And although there was still YET ANOTHER one: Radioclit
set to perform in Fowler's Live any minute now? from the look of all the plastic refuse swirling about outside (just like that scene out of American Beauty.. only in reverse!
) and that battery sign flashing on my camera? duuude it was time to go!
- But of course this still wasn't the end of MY night. Not by a long shot! I mean for one there was still the matter of my alarming "sobriety" to attend to.. and fast! (no really.. would you believe I didn't drink the entire time I was here!? DUUUDE!!). And just as soon as I get to hang up my fucking phone, after being ambushed into an exceptionally long winded conversation with Sara, doing her very best to convince me to go to The Crown & Anchor (yeaaah y'know: that shitcrazy pink haired goth I always bump into at Shotz?
only now she's got shitcrazy fluoro yellow hair!? aaaah good times!) I'll be sure to attend to it! Hmmm yup I believe the sign here says it all!
- First stop in my mad mission to get retardingly drunk? Worldsend.. and a shortlived one at that, when I soon discovered they were charging $7 for a pint of pale ale!? YEEEOUCH!!
- Second stop: The Ed Castle. Free entry? Schweeeet!!
- Originally I was told there was going to be some kind of "Laneway After Party" here. I was even under the impression it might have been some kinda "official" fuckoff V.I.P. dealie. And as much as it ended up being NO different to pretty much every other Friday night installment of Transmission Live
, Saturday night installment of Plus One
, or whatever the fuck else they ever do around here with way too many retarding DJs (don't mention the Touch Party.. NEVER MENTION THE TOUCH PARTY!!
) despite the glaring lack of Laneway musicians and associate sycophants (read: I was SO planning on BEING one of those sycophants) yeaaah well.. I guess I can't complain!
- This is Travis Williamson. You may remember him as the drummer for The Scarlet Ives
, lead singer for Tyger Tyger
, and.. aaaah I mean seriously who the fuck cares!? The reason he looks happy as fuck here ISN'T because he's doing his very best "Ellen DeGeneres
" impersonation. But because, quite by accident, he's managed to stumble upon the most FUCK OFF BRILLIANT (and oddly legitimate) scam going at The Ed Castle right now. Or to spell it out in a way that we can all understand: "$100 OF FREE DRINKS DUUUDE!!" (yup, and didn't we just take advantage of this shit or WHAT!!). Now obviously I ain't gonna spill the beans for all YOU snuffling morons on just how you go about getting a "piece of this action" for yourself.. but if ever you need a clue? just be sure to read their newsletter. And if it's your birthday? dude I'm just saaaying!
- And as much as I'd love to say there's a story behind THIS photo? Yeaaah it's pretty much just me backing away slowly, not making eye contact.. and making a mad dash for the exit.
- Many hours later when I finally DID make my way out that exit ("retardingly drunk"? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!) I was hoping to continue drinking at Supermild (because let's face it I'm an old drunk that never learns "new tricks"
). Only I made the tactical blunder of bringing these two nitwits, Supermild countered by pretending to "closing up early", and that was the end of it.
- And this right here is the most hilariously awesome taxi ride home, EVER! I know you may doubt the validity of my bold claim here.. but trust me, you truly haven't LIVED until you've had a shitcrazy Japanese taxi driver who loves nothing better than to blast Mariah Carey's "The Emancipation Of Mimi"
stupidly loud on his stereo. Oh and yes, it helps if you're really drunk.
Yup, and so there we have it: St Jerome's Laneway Festival
in all it's stupifying grandeur, and also the first, and at this rate likely LAST "live blog" I'll ever be insane enough to write this year (or at least it would've been if it weren't for the fact I was already planning on seeing five more bands tomorrow night.. DAMNIT!!). What will 2010 bring me: more of the same? fame and fortune? liver cancer? (oh you're totally thinking "liver cancer" aren't you?) stay tuned and find out duuudes! Because something tell's me, either way? it's still gonna be one hell of a fucked up adventure!
Previously on Spoz's Rant: Mr Wednesday Back From The Dead In 2010!?