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...
DIE! DIE! DIE! + LIKE LEAVES + FRIENDS LIVE @ THE ED CASTLE / Thursday April 22nd 2010
FUUUCK.. tonight's SO not a good night for me to be at The Ed Castle. I'm dragging my feet, I'm thinking this shit over, and I'm coming up with so many reasons not to go. For one I've hardly slept all week, we're talking four or five hours tops. Yeah I know I always say that, like it's beyond a cliche now: I mean since when do I EVER sleep? since when is THAT a reason!? I live for this shit, it's fucking hysterical maaan! but even so I really couldn't be fucked; especially not on a night like this. I mean who ever goes out on a Thursday!? It's a weeknight, in Adelaide, in April ferfucksake, and I'm completely fucking fried! Seriously, I feel like I'm a flickering fluorescent light with moths circling, bleached of all colour. I look like death warmed up, I haven't had a shave since Friday, my face is all twitchy, eyes bloodshot, head swimming and I still haven't published that blog I was meant to be writing from last Saturday!? "Why Thursday night damnit, WHY NOW!?". No shit this blog feels like an exorcism sometimes: I fill my mind full of all these words and images, looking for chances connections, sentence structures, vaguely coherent narrative trajectories, then it gets all "lost in translation" and the only way to release it is to smash my head repetitively into a keyboard screaming "C'MON YOU FUCKING ARSEHOLE, WRITE DAAAMN YOU WRITE!!"!? Yup and if the end result wasn't so satisfying, and there weren't so many of you nitwits reading this shit each week (hi everyone!) I would've given up years ago too! So yeaaah I'd much rather stay home, blow bubbles out of my arse, watch How I Met Your Mother on TV and not give a shit either way. And the only reason I'm going against all that is for Die! Die! Die!? (I know I'm totally insane riiight!?). Yup they're from New Zealand, they're all kinds of awesomely fucked up, I haven't seen them live in almost five years.. FIVE YEARS!! And they just so happen to be playing here at The Ed Castle tonight!? "FUUUCK OFF!!". And so through gritted teeth, cursing and swearing, I tie my shoelaces, get my shit together and stumble out that front door again for another "whizzbang" episode of Spoz's Rant. Excited yet? oh you damn well should be! THIS NIGHT'S GONNA BE HIIILARIOUS!!
FRIENDS (***1/2) myspace :: Yup the way I see it, I'm gonna need to treat this whole night like a "hit and run" exercise: get in, get what I need then get the fuck outta there; otherwise I'm gonna be waaay more screwed by Friday. Which by Ed Castle standards means I should get here at 10PM at the earliest (giving me half an hour to space out before the show), leave at 1AM at the very latest and then I'll be home just in time to finish that pending episode from last Saturday night!? "YEAAAS!!!". Or at least that's what I originally thought when I fell arse backwards through the front door at 10:15 (ooops almost dozed off just then) only to discover that our opening act Friends were already two or three songs into their set. "Waiiit, you mean to tell me they're running bands early here? at The Ed Castle!? DUUUDE, NO WAY!!" and that's not the only thing that's a little irregular either. It appears they're also missing guitarist Josh Phillips. Now it's anyone's guess where he's gone (as quite frankly I never bothered to ask and all my lacklustre "internet research" ain't coming up with shit either). So in lieu of any actual answers here? I can offer you the following theories: (a) it was a "hair related" emergency (as he couldn't find the three cans of hairspray his hairdo requires before achieving "lift off" tonight), (b) somebody accidently set fire to it instead, (c) he woke up somewhere in Sydney this morning without a single clue how he got there (weirder still? that shit totally happened to him before in 2007, true story!), (d) he was never a member of this band to begin with and I've simply been imagining it all this time, or (e) "fuck I dunno? alien abduction!?". Still as much as I'm willing to entertain options (a) and (b) and maybe even (e), it surprisingly makes very little impact to their sound tonight. Weird I know! So much so that I half wonder WHY they ever put up with that shrieking shitweasel in the first place (oh don't look at me like that! OF COURSE I'M KIDDING!!). Still Ben Quici on lead and Liam Kenny on bass DO manage an exceptional job in covering for him regardless (mostly by screaming a hell of a lot louder). They tear through every one of their seven songs with ferocious intensity; pausing between to cough nervously to the sounds of Ben's crackling guitar lead, figure out what the fuck to play next, and wonder why none of them have anything to say to the audience: only for someone in the crowd to helpfully respond with "well, THIS is getting awkward!" (AAAHAHAHAhAhAhahA gold!). The mix is loud, ear rapingly loud, but blissfully so. Guitars and vocals are rendered like raw nerves routed through a distortion pedal, the bass like a motorcycle engine through a megaphone, while the drums stab throughout with ribcage puncturing intensity. Or in other words: pretty much like every other gig you've seen them play, minus that floppy haired bastard thrashing and flailing to the left of stage (no seriously, where the fuck did that freak go!?). Yup that's Friends. They're a mad blast of noise punk energy that does wonders for your sinuses and bowels, and as much as I'm waaay too scatter brained to truly appreciate this shit tonight? I still couldn't ask for a better way to kickstart my Thursday night!
LIKE LEAVES (***) myspace :: Despite being "screamed at" for a good fifteen minutes by Friends in their opening set (aaaah and I swear I never get tired of that shit either!) I still wasn't "all here" tonight. And so with their set all done and dusted, I slipped out into the beer garden (predictably packed with at least twice as many people as found inside in the band room.. DAAAMN YOU!!) and did everything in my limited resource to rectify it: pacing back and forth, yammering hysterically, slapping myself about the face like a madman; obviously it made fuckall difference.. and so I downed two beers and a bag of M&Ms and went back to the band room hoping that would do the trick instead (hmmm and here's hoping!). And it appears I wasn't the only one feeling a little "out of sorts" either when I saw our second act. Yeeeouch! Now don't get me wrong, Like Leaves ARE a ridiculously awesome band. You should totally hear them play Mercy Sound, Dancing On Glass, or Bazooka on any OTHER night (no really check out those youtube links) and they'll totally make your mind twist on itself like a exciteable pretzel, you'll taste colours, you'll smell sounds, you'll totally trip pingpong balls of glee! DUUUDE, THEY'RE FUCKING GENIUS!! And even on a "bad night" here they'll still provide a shit load more range, depth and character than most bands could ever hope for on a "good night". But still, quite like Friends before them tonight, there's just that little something missing here. And as much as some of it may have been due to them being a little "rusty" from not playing live in two months (or at least as much as I'm aware of) most of it definitely boils down to the live mix. Or to put it delicately, being the ONE "subtly nuanced" psychedelic act sandwiched between two shitcrazy noise punk bands really can't be doing your sound any favours. OOOOH FUCK NO!! (either that or I've totally lost all my hearing here.. YEAAAS!!). Yup it was most noticeable with Dan Varricchio's guitar and Patrick Saracino's bass that seemed to lose all definition (which many may agree is half the enjoyment) in exchange for a shapeless dirge, but also in Ryan Manolakis' drumkit with his kick so ridiculously overdriven (especially in the last song) that it started to resemble a fat man rolling around in bubblewrap. Oddly enough it didn't seem to effect Juliet Hunter's violin all too much, but this may simply be due to her having it distorted rather heavily to begin with (to give it that truly haunting quality). Still as much as most of their set did rather resemble a symphony orchestra fed through a telephone receiver (or more accurately rather like The Flaming Lips attempting to cover Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon") there were still a few shining moments. Their opening number Tissues For The Convoluted for one sounded fucking badass tonight.. maybe because its more minimal "stabbing" arrangement benefited from such a dirty mix. Same too with Complex Denial that sounded that much more diabolical with its punk rock delivery dragged through the mud. But otherwise? trust me, they've definitely had better nights than this. Like maybe tomorrow night when they play the Jade Monkey with Ride Into The Sun and Lady Strangelove? duuude I don't doubt! (fuck.. maybe THIS was just the practice run too? yeaaah let's totally go with that!). Like Leaves. As much as this proves that they may in fact be mortal just like the rest of us. For the sake of the record here? yeaaah let's just pretend I was never here, and this never happened!
DIE! DIE! DIE! (****) myspace :: Which then brings us to our headlining act, and the main reason why everything's so hilariously out of whack (not least of which the house and foldbacks speakers practically going off like a smoke machine the minute they arrived on stage.. if not before). For Die! Die! Die! from Dunedin New Zealand, quite like the name suggests are truly death incarnate, they're clearly to blame for ALL OF THIS SHIT TONIGHT (yes, including Like Leaves "making like a tree" moments earlier and the mysterious disappearance of Josh Phillips) FOR THEY ARE VERILY THE BEAST ITSELF!! As such their sound is somewhat tricky to pinpoint (quite like The Devil wouldn't you say?) as I'm aware of so few other bands who resemble them in kind. Maybe you could equate them to Test Icicles from the UK, Bachelor Of Arts from Melbourne and My Sister The Cop from Adelaide (aaaah no shit am I the only one who misses those murderous freaks!?). Or you could consider them anything from post hardcore, abrasive noise punk, adrenaline batshit insanity to lo-fidelity carnage.. or all the above set to the sound of Chinese firecrackers going off inches from your eardrums. WAHOOOO!! But a far better description would be to simply think of them as OBSCENELY FUCK OFF LOUD.. although you may need a chalk board and some hand signals to get the point across if ever you've heard them first hand. To accentuate this fact beyond the point of retardingly lethal tonight, they've brought in their own dedicated sound guy (as Alex Ciaravolo the house mixer has likely either run off screaming at this point or simply exploded like a lab rat stuffed in a microwave) and just to make it all the more ominous (especially those mad fools insane enough to photograph it) they've also killed the lights too.. OOOOH FUCK YEAH!! And so for the next forty minutes or so, standing here in the dark, ever so slightly freaking the fuck out, we're treated to the ultimate in skull raping audial abuse. Starting most songs with drummer Michael Prain tapping in the metronome beat, seemingly for forever, both Andrew Wilson on guitar and Lachlan Anderson on bass then join him to unleash a shrieking cascade of hyperspeed ultraviolence. It's a gnashing, trashing, ear bleeding dissonance cranked well past the red. It's a shrill corrosive sand blasting dirge levelling everything in sight. It's visceral as fuck, it takes no prisoners, it shows no mercy, it almost defies description, most of the lyrics are damn near unintelligible.. and the only way you can possibly respond to it? is to simply let it wash over you like an atomic bomb blast, arms and legs flailing, until your shadow gets blasted into the walls and ceilings. YEAAAS!! The good news however, is it doesn't take all that long till the endorphins kick in, and then you simply can't get enough of it. I mean seriously, it doesn't matter if it feels like all your internal organs are boiling in their own juices, or if your left arm is going all tingly and numb, or if you're seeing luminous spots blink in and out of existence in front of your eyes like it's the closing scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey you'll still be grinning ear to ear to the ludicrous extremes of it. To add icing on the cake, both Andrew and Lachlan (both taking turns on vocals) will frequently charge halfway into the audience screaming point blank into people's faces. They'll roll about on the floor, thrash, flail, climb shit, and leap out at you unexpectantly. So by the end of it, there's simply nowhere left to hide. Die! Die! Die! Like being blasted from all angles until you think you're going to fucking die? oh yeaaah, THIS IS LIVING!
With their set finished at last and most of the crowd dispersing either on foot out the door or in an aerosol spray throuh the air vents I found myself staring at this drumkit for no other reason than it's less likely to violate Photobucket's terms and conditions than the sight of all the dead bodies that were actually littering the floor around me. Yup my ears may be ringing (and will probably continue to do so in 24 hours to three weeks time) and my head may be all weirdly warm and fuzzy, and most of my intestinal tract might have gone missing, but thanks to Die! Die! Die! I'm wide awake and itching to destroy.. YEAAAS!! Who's up for drinking themselves blind!? WOOOO!!
And so I step out into the beer garden, beer in hand with aims to do just that. Surprisingly it's still packed full of people on a Thursday night, although not all THAT surprising when I consider most of them are recent arrivals from a head explodingly awesome show at Jive featuring Philadelphia Grand Jury (which I'll be sure to catch on Friday) including one exceptionally drunk Tom Krieg from The Battery Kids yammering hysterical about some such whatever-the-fuck and an inpromptu party he was throwing back at his joint with one of the support bands The John Steel Singers (go figure?). I briefly entertained the notion of joining in, because shit duuude? who even cares WHEN these retarded blogs get written.. just as long as there's something new to read each week, aye? aaaye!? only to realise that this might LITERALLY bury me dead. Yup, it's only a Thursday, there's still a whole weekend yet to come, and try as I might to defy it all? tonight is SO not the night!