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...
PHILADELPHIA GRAND JURY + THE JOHN STEEL SINGERS + THE SALVADORS "WE DON'T WANT TO PARTY (PARTY)" TOUR @ JIVE / Friday April 23rd 2010
So here I am standing outside of Jive on a Friday night. Philadelphia Grand Jury, The John Steel Singers and The Salvadors are all set to play (I mean pfft.. obviously, it says so in the title!) but what you may not know is that this show's already been "sold out" since Tuesday. Duuude! Now obviously I don't have a ticket, I never bought a ticket, never intended on buying a ticket, don't even know how much said ticket may cost, and yet I'm still gonna be waltzing in regardless without a single care in the world. Awesome huh!? YOU BETCHA!! And the only reason why, is not because I possess any kind of fuck off insane Jedi mind powers here (I mean pfft.. of course I DO but that's besides the point!) but more because I'm just some "serial pisswad", just like you, who knows a shitload of "music industry" contacts (and believe me we all know at least one). You see, as much as I can gather.. short of a few accoutants, lawyers and celebrity douchebags no one in the music industry ever makes ANY money. Ask anyone, we're all dirt poor and living on the dole (or worse still we're in the hospitality industry.. yeeeouch!). But what it IS good for, is for scamming free shit. And the more contacts you know, the more free shit you can accumilate, like say free entry to gigs? OOOOH SHIT YEAH!! Now starting a blog is one way to achieve all that, but yeaaah trust me that's waaay more work than it's worth. So instead simply frequent all the usual scenster shit dives like say.. The Exeter, The Metro or The Ed Castle. Fake an "opinion" on say Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine or whatever-the-fuck else they crap on about. And not only will you get facebook requests from all sorts of freaks you don't even remember meeting? but best of all most of these freaks will be in the music industry. Which yup, now means for any given gig in Adelaide, supported by an Adelaide band, you've immediately scored yourself a free ticket you didn't even know you had. Simply hit them up for a "door spot" prior to a show and trust me they'll be just as desperate for ANYONE to turn up to it as you are to scam yourself in for free. Awesome huh!? I know.. sometimes I'm SO freaking genius at this shit I even surprise myself!
THE SALVADORS (***1/2) myspace :: Aaaah and this truly IS living the life now isn't it? "YEAAAS!! I'M SUCH A FUCKING FREELOADER!! WOOOO!!" Now obviously I won't bore you with exact details over HOW I managed to get into Jive tonight, especially considering it's been sold out since Tuesday and as we all know scamming into shit like THAT is a task and a half for even the most "seasoned" professional (suffice to say that YES I have been here since soundcheck tonight and yes Matt Hills is a freaking legend!) instead I'll simply distract your attention with our opening act: The Salvadors. Yup, you may recognise them for that one song "Atacama Disco" that's been rotated so faaar beyond the point of ridiculous on Triple J of late it almost puts the overblown efforts of Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire!'s "War Coward" to shame back in 2008 (and that's saying something!) but what you may not remember them for, is when they used to be called "Bakewell Street". But of course being the raging "mental illness" that I am here, I totally remembered them for that shit, saw two of their shows in fact, and short of them sounding like a cheesy "cardigan clad" rendition of John Butler Trio, Kings Of Leon and The Strokes all rolled into one I dare say they didn't half suck. Worse still? fast forwarding two years to the present tense, with a new name, a new drummer "Eugene", an extra keyboardist "Cat" and I dare say they suck even less! I KNOW!! it's weird how some bands actually improve with age (instead of say, The Touch?) which obviously is a real pity for me, because clearly I was hoping they'd totally blow a horse tonight, in the most hilarious and embarassing way possible, and I'd get the chance to rubbish them in this blog (I mean shit, were you expecting anything less from me!? FUCK NOOO!!). But as it turns out? there is actually a lot to like about The Salvadors. Weird but true! In sound they most remind me of Vampire Weekend, but in a surprisingly GOOD WAY (unlike say.. the billion and one OTHER bands who've also been ripping off Vampire Weekend of late). They're ridiculously clean cut, preppy, almost verging on embarassingly "Sunday school" in gleeful innocence; but there's also these these other quirky influences bubbling under the surface: from The Kooks, The Shins, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkle and possibly even The Patridge Family (wait.. did I even say that out loud!? AAAHAHAhAhAhHahAhA!!) that makes them so much more than just bland wallpaper to snooze off to, or something your mum would totally love, but something you could almost use to soundtrack a romantic "comedy" starring Zooey Deschanel. Every song bursts forth like a golden ray of sunshine, like a field of daisies in full bloom, like a 90's sitcom theme gone hideously viral (or like one of those technicolour tableaus used to sell cell phone plans or Carefree tampons). They've got all those enthusiastic gang harmonies going, people are literally arm in arm square dancing to it in the crowd (I shit you not!) and when you see their lead singer Tom Opie fumble about with his acoustic guitar like it's an oversized bar of soap, all hunched over with a goofyarse grin, like he's sixteen going on sixty four? Try as you might, you just can't help but bounce along to it like all your birthdays have come at once. Yup that's The Salvadors. They may be the Adelaide scene equivalent of Fred Basset and about as edgy as Paul McCartney, but with songs as nearly infectious as this? I ask you duuude, what's not to love!?
THE JOHN STEEL SINGERS (****) myspace :: As much as I can gather our second act tonight have been around for freaking ages, eons, yonks, years even. Apparently they're from Brisbane. They've toured Adelaide constantly in the past. And every time they HAVE toured, they've won scores of new fans, endless accolades, expletive laden superlatives and a cacophony of critical acclaim; and in doing so rightfully earned a reputation for themselves as being one of those "shit hot live acts" that you must go see at least once otherwise you seriously haven't lived.. "NO REALLY DUUUDE, JUST GO SEE THEM, THEY'RE FUCKING NUTS!!". And of course I only know all this, not from first hand experience, but because people keep telling me this everytime I MISS a show.. "DAAAMN YOU!!". And the reasons WHY I keep missing them? Well.. firstly I've always assumed by name alone that they were some kinda lamearse barefoot "blues & roots" act in a similar vein to Xavier Rudd, Ash Grunwald or The John Butler Trio (or in other words, cue the sound of me loudly stifling a yawn). Secondly I've almost never known they were actually playing a gig till well after the fact. Ooops! And thirdly? yeaaah let's face it I'd never thought to scam my name on the door until just now.. why? BECAUSE I'M A FUCKING FREELOADER, THAT'S WHY! WAHOOOO!! And now that I'm finally here to witness this insanity first hand? I dare say I'm wondering just what the FUCK everyone's on about.. or at least I am initially. You see far be it for them to come in with a "bang" like most bands, the first few songs start off real slow; almost annoyingly so. They're unassuming, a little bit nerdy and all kinds of introverted; especially their lead singer Trimmington Morrissey who's looking all kinds of lost squinting into the microphone as the stage lights go fuck off beserk around him (yup apparently we've got Ricky Kradolfer from The City Riots to "thank" for those.. yooou shit weasel!). But give it time and they'll build momentum, energy and shitcrazy euphoria with each and every song; until they're practically exploding all around you.. AND THAT'S WHEN IT ROCKS LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER!! Or to explain in words that make slightly more sense? Think of them as an American indie, slightly "hillbilly" vibe. Think Pavement meets Broken Social Scene meets Modest Mouse and The Polyphonic Spree (with maybe a little bit of Blur's "Parklife" album) and you wouldn't be far off the mark. What especially kills is the trumpets (most riotiously so when they kick in during the second half like a spastic New Orleans marching band gone horribly right) and the loose, punctuated "swing" the rhythm section makes in pushing this shit ever louder and louder until it's practically bouncing off the walls. Everything's mixed together like a seamless jam, songs frequently bleed into one another, just as all the band members will frequently flail around unpredictably from one end of the stage to the other, ganging up in pairs to shout into microphones. And yes it IS an hilarious shambles, a giddy car crash and a spastic demolition derby.. and yet you can't help but be inextricably drawn!? Yup that's The John Steel Singers! They don't make much sense to begin with, and they make even less sense in describing it, but by the end of it? trust me duuude, IT'S A MAD FUCKING RIDE!!
PHILADELPHIA GRAND JURY (*****) myspace :: Which brings us to our headlining act who clearly need no introduction, because clearly they're the reason Jive has sold out to capacity tonight. Just like they're the same reason next to every other show in Adelaide has ALSO sold out to capacity anytime they've played here. Lest we forget that show they played at The Ed Castle back in October last year, where the barstaff literally had to get a crowbar and a step ladder out (and maybe a few sticks of dynamite) just to pry us loose from the ceiling tiles (also known as one of those rare occassions at The Ed Castle where the standing population in the band room actually outnumbers the lineup to the women's toilet). Yup, EVERYONE knows who Philadelphia Grand Jury are by now. They're either the ultimate "party band" to drink yourself so far down the "evolutionary scale" that you wake up behind the glass in a pet store. Or they very much remind you of what hell would sound like if Ween supplied the soundtrack. Either way you'd be hard pressed to forget them in a hurry (that song "Going To The Casino (Tommorow Night)" STILL gives me nightmares!) but what you may not know is who their drummer is. Their drummer is new. Their drummer is ALWAYS new. In fact Philadelphia Grand Jury are verging on Spinal Tap in how often they replace them. First it was Dan W Sweat from Art Vs Science. Then it was Ivan Charles Lisyak from The Paper Scissors. Then it was Dan W Sweat again (as apparently he had a mad case of the shingles and couldn't make it that one time) and tonight it's someone called "Calvin".. yes, Calvin! Calvin is a 56 year old African American dude from Michigan, he now lives in Sydney, he also has three kids. Oh and he also used to session drum for Earth Wind & Fire and for some bebop legend by the name of Sonny Stitt (yeaaah fuck I dunno? Google that shit!?) and apparently he's now in the band on a "permanent basis" (yeaaah I bet they tell that to ALL the drummers!). Which is just as well because I swear this cat steals the show. All bug eyed and grinning with his Obama t-shirt? rocking the shit out of that drumkit? adopting a victory stance at the end of every song? duuude he owns that stage I'm not even kidding! they even got him to sign the papers and everything! and from now on Jive will be called "Calvin's Technicolour Soul Train Boogaloo"; they'll play nothing but disco, funk and soul classics from the 60's and 70's; and damnit I'M EXCITED!! But obviously he's not the only thing this band's got going for them. OOOOH FUCK NO!! For if ever you've seen a live show of theirs you'll know just what we're in for, and it starts with a massacre and it ends with Jive's bar staff and security burying us all in a shallow grave out back. YEAAAS!! But still, since I'm actually meant to be reviewing this show I'll give you some specifics of what actually went down. Firstly all three band members were introduced onto stage one by one like it was an award medal ceremony at the Olympics (yup that's always a bad sign). Then there's the setlist: "Ready To Roll", "Growing Up Alone", "I'm Going To Kill You" , "The New Neil Young", "Going To The Casino (Tomorrow Night)" and "When Your Boyfriend Comes Back To Town" (give or take a few others). And yes I realise that isn't a complete list, but that's only because I was attempting to "write it all down" whilst next to every one of us were being thrown around the room, head first (just like it's anyone's guess how I got all that photographic or video evidence on my black box recorder either.. but aren't we so glad that I did!?). Again they had those wacky between songs voiceovers that you may've heard at previous shows (pre-recorded by Berkfinger I believe?) and yes they're customised for every show. And yes I remember absolutely fuckall else: short of it being loud, sweaty, drunk, hilariously retarded and all too brief (hmmm maybe some of us should be buying a pregnancy kit?) but fuck damn was it a mad buzz all the same! Yup that's Philadelphia Grand Jury. Just like sticking your head in a blender only three hundred people are invited? Yup bring a crash helmet and a snorkel duuude, and dive right in!
In saying all that however (and let's face it most of it was complete and utter gibberish) not only have I left out half of their setlist here, but I've also left out the best bit. OOOOH FUCK YEAH!! Yup it's the same song they've always ended their set with, the same song they've been promoting as a single on this tour, it always ends in disaster (and in the best way possible) and tonight is truly no exception in its retarded reign of terror. They like to call it "I Don't Want To Party (Party)". But to anyone who's ever seen Philadelphia Grand Jury before, a better title would be "I Can't Believe They Haven't Been Barred For This Shit" (especially considering this is the third time I've seen it here at Jive.. and they barely even bat an eyelid? duuude!). Granted it starts off pretty tame: three minutes or so of whatever-the-fuck (ie: just like it is on the record). But what truly makes it memorable is the three minutes they add AFTER that. When the whole thing goes completely pear shaped, all sped up to ludicrous speed. MC Bad Genius tears his shirt off, takes his belt off and then starts whipping his bass guitar like a deranged lumberjack; only to dive into the audience, only to be crowd surfed right back on stage again. Only for five or six audience members to return the favour by invading the stage: screaming into microphones and flapping their arms about like mad children, only for a visibly pissed off bouncer to clear them all off stage again, only to by replaced by wave after wave of subsequent stage invaders, only for everyone to forget just what the fuck it is they're playing. And all the while Calvin just keeps on drumming like nothing's out of the ordinary? Awesome huh!? NO SHIT DUUUDE!! I swear it's like a gift that keeps on giving!
And just to make tonight's "closing number" even more ludicrously over the top? they figured "fuck it all" and threw two more encores on top of it. SHIT YEAAAH!! The first is the relatively sedade "The Good News" (ie: the first single off their album) which they possibly just included to give the bouncer a break in clearing half the audience off stage again. While the second song whips everyone back into a retarding frenzy again, with an hilariously fucked up rendition of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" as performed by Berkfinger all but devoured by the bloodthirsty loons around him. Oh and as for why his microphone is all taped up to the lead like that? Turns out they learnt that shit THE HARD WAY when they tried this song last night, only to never see that microphone again. Yup as far as encores go, this was definitely one of the more stupid ones.. and all the better for it!
12:13AM - Of course the festivities didn't just end there. Even after they brought in all the tear gas, the water cannons, the tasers, the rubber bullets and the flame throwers (yup pretty much like any other night at Jive as far as I'm concerned!) we were still laughing ourselves retarded. For as it turns out, as well as being Philadelphia Grand Jury's "single tour", this is also their farewell party: as they're leaving this country next week to live in the UK for an "indefinite period of time". And being the shit hot journalist that I am (aaaah I know, I couldn't take that seriously either) I asked Berkfinger the reasoning behind the move. And according to the people he's been talking to: every few years or so Europe has an unusually "warm summer" where everyone just goes completely fucking beserk and it's nothing but nonstop partying. And he figured (for a change of pace) he might want to sample some of that. Of course I didn't have the heart to tell him that thanks to the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland (and all that low lying ash in the atmosphere reflecting the sunlight back into space) it'll likely be much colder this year.. but either way good on them! And if worse comes to worse and they mysteriously "disappear" somewhere over the South Pacific? check it out duuudes.. we're already lining up replacements! Scared? oh you should be! You should see the one we dug up to replace MC Bad Genius: dude can totally fart the alphabet and everything!
12:42AM - And so here we celebrated well into the night, or at least as long as Jive's barstaff would see fit before they all don gaskmasks and start "siphoning the gas in". Not least of which Calvin here: pulling the maddest shapes on the dancefloor, having the absolute time of his life, no shit! (just like Bill Cosby I swear!). And if you thought he was mad tripping it, be sure to swing by "Calvin's Technicolour Soul Train Boogaloo" next week when George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Afrika Bambaataa do a psychedelic freeform jam with those crazy cats from Lady Strangelove. It'll be so waaay out of this planet: there'll be LED lights flashing on the ceiling, everything be floating in zero G, every drink at the bar will come with its very own goon sack, and if you bring your own goldfish tank.. it's totally free entry! Oh yeaaah the Adelaide scene won't even know what hit it!
12:50AM - Moments later, stumbling about Hindley Street, dazed and confused (either before or after the barstaff kicked us all out) it suddenly occured to me amongst all the insanity tonight, that I never actually found time to source me some dinner (damn and I knew sneaking into Jive during soundcheck would totally come back to haunt me.. GUH!!). Now obviously anything even remotely resembling one of the five major food groups was totally out of the question this time of night. Because as we all know they simply stop serving that shit after nine (it's like a rule or something). So instead I slipped into the servo next door, high-fiving MC Bad Genius along the way (I forget why but it was pretty amusing all the same) and bought me these two meat pies: the ultimate source for all five of your MINOR food groups and at least twelve indeterminate species of hoofed mammal, as left to ferment luke warm on a heated shelf for two days or more.. SHIT YEAAAH!!
12:58AM - And now with my hunger somewhat "satiated" (aaaah miscellaneous snouts, anuses, offal and eyeballs.. how can you possibly go wrong!?), and with nothing else better to do short of getting rubbishingly shitfaced (I know I'm SO living the high life here aren't I?) I figured fuck it, I'd hit The Ed Castle. For the simple fact that it's ever so much closer than walking to The Exeter.
1:05AM - Still, before I could attend to the pressing need of losing my sobriety (damn thing's been plaguing me all night I swear!) I figured I should get me some "dessert" to go with those meat pies I just had. And so, with only $3.40 in loose change fed into the vending machine? here we are! Again none of the five major food groups are present, let alone any minor food groups, vitamins, minerals or base subatomic nutrients short of sugar and gelatin.. but shit duuude, isn't that what beer's for? hell all THIS is just "ballast" so I don't piss away in the next stiff breeze!
1:16AM - After spending a good ten minutes or so laughing my arse off in the beer garden without a single care in the world (wow, and it only took me two beers to achieve that!? AWESOME!!) it eventually occurs to me that there might be a band playing in the band room. Yeaaah I know, it's not often anyone gets that thought here, what with all that foliage and all the blinking lights, they clearly provide so much MORE entertainment. But eventually I managed to drag myself away, stepped inside, bluffed my way past the door charge (aaah now THAT'S a Jedi mind trick at work!) and saw what was up. Turns out The Giveaways and Isle Of Vision had already come and gone (along with most of the crowd) but what we're left with more than makes up for it. Obviously I'm not here to review their shit tonight, that would simply spoil the moment (and I would've said so in the title anyways). But if ever there was a more perfect "wind down" set after almost getting obliterated at Philadelphia Grand Jury, you'd be hard pressed to find it anywhere else but here bugging out to Two Suns. I found a spot lying on the floor, spread eagled in front of the foldback speakers, and simply let the psychedelic shitstorm wash over me.. aaaah such bliss! And just so all you nitwits can play at home too, I've even provided a live video. Awesome huh? YOU BETCHA!!
2:40AM - After Two Suns finished their set and thanked all the people who clearly were no longer there for turning up (aaaah fuck I love The Ed Castle!) I had a few beers with the band. It's at this point that their guitarist Mathias Northway asked me just exactly WHERE I've been for the last three months. "AAAAHAHAHAhAhAHaHAhAhA no shit, really!?". And as much as I would've loved to illustrate it with some kind of fuck off feature film as directed by either David Fincher, Danny Boyle or both (or better yet with puppets!) I just flat out told him everything you've likely read about here ever since I posted that Laneway blog back in February: all 22 episodes worth, condensed into five minutes of hysterical flailing.. and no, he didn't ask me any further questions after that.
3:05AM - With The Ed Castle closing up and me still not nearly drunk enough, I hit Supermild. Again I bluffed my way past the door charge, but perhaps only because everyone always assumes I live here (or what I like to call the "frequent flyer" method of achieving free entry). And short of Berkfinger drinking out back and later on Calvin laughing himself silly by the bar there was absolutely no one in here tonight. No shit duuude, deadest night I've seen in ages! (which perhaps could best be explained by that weird "burning smell" behind Jive just now and all those muffled screams as they disposed of their "garbage"). Originally I was just going to get a stubbie, down it in one and run out the door. But when I asked for one at the bar INSTEAD of my usual long neck, Ruby Chew gave me a sad face. Awwww! And so here I am for the next hour or so, drinking that long neck and staving off the stifling boredom by photographing these lights. DAMN YOU RUBY!!
4:33AM - And so over an hour later, I finally finish that long neck and I'm out the door. Now obviously I could've just drunk it a hell of a lot faster (believe me I've done worse in the past) but really what the fuck else am I gonna do: go to Enigma Bar? The Rosemont? go home and read!? AAAHAHAhAhAhA OF COURSE NOT!! Supermild may be kinda shit tonight.. but it's still Supermild!
4:45AM - And as luck would have it the minute I left Supermild? yup I bumped into a host of laughable nitwits who just decided to turn up. One of them, Griffy Griff suggested the insane idea of getting some of those luke warm pizza "slabs" from next door. Yeaaah you know the place, that foaming botulinum outbreak past Don Don Korean BBQ? the same one I occassionally get mixed up with Pizza Rev past Rocket Bar? (yeaaah let's face it.. it's not like it makes any difference past 4AM riiight?). And as much as I thought he was barking mad to suggest it, he just went right ahead and shouted everyone a round anyways. And not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (or quite literally "gift horse" sprinkled on a pizza slab in front of me) I gladly accepted. And I mean how could I not? all that reconstituted garbage made to look like cheap Italian cuisine!? DELICIOUS!!
4:46AM - And so I shared in this priceless moment of indigestion, bacterial fermentation, and what will likely amount to a thunderous bout of "colonic irrigation" the next day (not to mention all the rampant molestation that's going on in THESE two photos.. aaaah good times!) until I saw a spare taxi swing by, I chased it down screaming and flailing, and then I got the fuck out of there.
Yup, it's amazing what you can see in this city for shit fuck all.. short of the hundreds you'll blow on beer, taxi fair and food poisoning (duuude don't even get me started!). Which is awesome when you're a "zero budget" publication like Spoz's Rant. And it's even more awesome for YOU because you don't have to pay shit fuck all to read about it either. It's a beautiful system ain't it!? OF COURSE IT IS!! But hey you don't need a blog, you don't need a camera, you don't even need nothing at all; all you need is do is turn up each week. It's dirt cheap! Every venue has a vacancy they're itching to fill, every band dreams of an audience, and some of them (yes even the ones you haven't heard on Triple J) totally don't suck, there's a whole scene out there duuude! For as The Beatles once said: "the best things in life are free" and the rest is just crap that you buy.