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...
BOOSTER + GÜNTER & THE SAFEWORD + BEFORE THE AFTERMATH "CRACKTOPIA" LAUNCH PARTY @ ENIGMA BAR / Friday May 7th 2010
When I'm not slumming it here at Spoz HQ (aka: "Hotel Trash") and occupying myself with such lofty concerns as: (a) writing blogs, (b) cursing and swearing over "writing" said blogs, (c) dicking about on facebook, (d) illegally downloading shit as "research", (e) consuming vast quantities of Mi-Goreng, and (f) forgetting to sleep.. I tend to consider my chosen home to be fairly nomadic. Which kinda makes sense when you're covering the Adelaide music scene. Because I don't know if you've noticed but hipsters, fashionistas and "obsessive creatives" alike aren't exactly known for adopting any ONE "love" longer than a soap opera marriage. Every few months, often without warning, they'll simply change their shit up and shift locations. From nu-metal, electroclash, garage rock, post punk, psychedelic, shoegaze, math rock, indie disco, freak folk to preppy pop. From The Austral, Crown & Anchor, Rocket Bar, The Ed Castle to The Metro. And you get so used to following them all around from year to year, band to band, meme to meme, camera in hand taking the absolute piss out of them, that you almost become blissfully unaware of it; only to take that fatewell wrong turn one night, like maybe tonight, and end up at Enigma Bar instead.. YEEEOUCH!! And to think it's been almost a year since I've been here. And to think on the odd occassion it's even considered a "shit hot" indie venue playing host to everything from Bit By Bats, The Dukes Of Windsor, Young & Restless, The Mess Hall and I Heart Hiroshima!? I know it's hard to imagine isn't it? Because as we all know Enigma Bar is NOT an indie venue, it's NOT a fashionista shitdive, it's more like Jabba The Hutt's bounty hunter compound in Return Of The Jedi. Or a freaky alternative reality 2010 where Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Nirvana, and that whole Seattle scene never happened; where Axl Rose didn't take a full fifteen years to release another album; where gender ambiguous skeezebags rocking out double fret guitars, excessive hairspray, fluoro spandex and bands like Poison, Warrant and Mötley Crüe are STILL worshipped to this day; where metal reigns supreme! So what the fuck am I doing here!? well shit dude, why the fuck else? LAUNCH PARTY BAAABY!!
CORTEZ (***1/2) myspace :: Yup tonight Booster are celebrating the launch of their brand new EP "Cracktopia". And if you just got hit by a mad dose of "deja vu" in reading that, don't worry it's perfectly understandable, you're not going completely insane (I know, it's what I tell myself all the time.. and do I ever believe me!? NOOOO!!) as it's actually the second time they've launched it. The first time was back in April at The Metro, ie: that night where I went to that wedding, got retardingly drunk, covered two gigs at two different venues, got even more retardingly drunk, then set fire to a whole lot of shit at Supermild (and then I wrote a blog about it!? hiiilarious!). But since it was an "all-ages event" and on an Easter Saturday no less (waiiit do I hear crickets chirping?) almost nobody stuck around to see them save for a six pack of screaming drunks out front (or yeaaah maybe that was just me). So tonight they're launching it a SECOND time in the hopes everyone will finally get the hint and make it a "night to remember". And even if that totally backfires on them? Enigma Bar (being the cunning bastards that they are) are perfectly happy to "hedge their bets" either way, as they're ALSO hosting another show in the room next door featuring Element AU, Drop Zone, End Vision and Not For The Innocent: which I'm assuming are either ankle biter emo, screamo or pissy pop punk and thus they'll have the joint packed to the ceiling in next to no time (as clearly I haven't bothered to research what any of their shit ACTUALLY sounds like.. yay for internet journalism!). And as for what ANY OF THIS has got to do with our opening act Cortez? pfft absolutely nothing duuude! as obviously next to everyone here has forgotten they were even playing tonight. OOOOH FUCK YEAH!! Yup turns out they were originally scheduled to play at 9PM sharp, only nobody had arrived yet. So they figured "fuck it" and simply dragged out their soundcheck a little longer (like say fifteen minutes longer). Only to realise when people DID eventually arrive, in a slow but steady trickle, they simply went into hiding in the back corners of the room. Only to shrug that off again, figuring they'd treat their entire setlist like it was a glorified jam session instead. Hmmm. Still as embarassingly low key as it may've been (duuude you could totally hear a pin drop, it was awesome!), and as much as the band may've joked about it in between the first three songs, they still had a lot to offer. The first was a brand new instrumental they'd cooked up, codenamed "A": which quite like the "untitled" instrumental they cooked up late last year hinted at a possible new direction. One that's far removed from their relatively radio friendly "verse/chorus" beginnings back in 2008 (think Helmet meets Mark Of Cain meets Shihad with a lyrical hook) and veering more towards the brutal bass heavy "minimalism" of say My Disco. It's a bold move, maybe a little lost on THIS audience tonight (who probably just want to sink piss and rock out) but I'll be curious to see where they go with it: and coupled with some of their straight up crowd pleasers in the mix such as "The Welder" and "Push Pull"? it does give their sound some added depth and variety they may've lacked before. Still the overall response to it was a little muted (to put it mildly) and by the time they finished? yeaaah you could tell they were just relieved to get the fuck out of there. But such is the "suicide mission" of being the first one up in a four band lineup (and believe me I've seen my fair share of "silent but deadlies" before.. yeeeouch!). Cortez. They may've been a "proverbial tree falling in the woods and hitting a family of mimes on the way down" but with the mad shit they've got cooking here of late? oooh trust me they're a band well worth revisiting!
BEFORE THE AFTERMATH (****) myspace :: Our second act however have a far easier time of it. As by now a small, but vocal minority of shrieking bogans have descended to the front of stage to cheer them on, beer in hand, spilling the rest on the floor. Except clearly calling them "bogans" isn't entirely accurate, for as well all know the vast majority of them (Southern Cross tattoos, gold chains, stooping brows, spousal abuse, rat tails and all) have simply moved on to embrace Dizzee Rascal, Aussie hiphop, Art Vs Science, The Bloody Beetroots and Tame Impala (and weirder still if Triple J's Hottest 100 this year is any indication.. Mumford & Sons? DUUUDE, WHAT THE FUCK!?) so instead we'll simply embrace these simple creatures as one of our own, fuck it.. the more the merrier riiight? For the sound of Before The Aftermath isn't one of the unwashed Triple J majority, not anymore, but one of a bygone some may say more simpler and "innocent" time, one that's almost been forgotten by the public at large (and I dare say to their detriment!). Yup, back to the late 70's and early 80's when Aussie pub rock reigned supreme in "beer barns" throughout this wide brown steaming turd.. I mean land. Back when Mad Max wasn't just a cheesy fashion statement, or a Duran Duran filmclip, or an ironic backdrop to a gay nightclub, but a way of life! Oh yes, it's nothing less than music to drink copious quantities of beer and punch airbourne screaming fists to, music that mythologises binge drinking, backyard cricket, BBQ's and endless roadtrips across a scorched earth in search of a wave to surf or a pig to shoot like nothing short of a Viking epic, like Beowulf in a brown Datsun! Yup, you can truly pick up on all the greats here in what they're playing tonight from classic Soundgarden, AC/DC, Iron Maiden to Black Sabbath and beyond: not as nostalgia, not as a slapstick comedy routine, but as the real no nonsense deal! Guitar riffs wraught meaty as all fuck, like singing pick axes hacking into a freshly cooked carcass; vocals equal parts fiercely monosyllabic as they are downright operatic; with a rhythm section raging throughout like a monolithic metronome urging us on to fuck, fight and show no fear.. like our very survival actually depends on it. Oh yes, tonight they're on fucking fire maaan! The live mix is absolutely spot on, that sound engineer is showing no mercy in blasting our innards for all they're worth, rumbling it like a thunderstorm in miniature, as lightning crashes around our ears. Both Luke Ryan on lead vocal: like a ludicrous Solo softdrink commercial from the 80's "low on the fizz so you can slam it down fast", and Nathan Dalton on bass: with his luxuriously feathered mane billowing around him, scream bloody murder into every song. While Adam Hollinshead on guitar shouts out the next one on the list like he's announcing a fresh order behind the counter at a butcher shop (I mean shit, who needs a setlist when you've got your very own drill sergeant). Yup it's unadulterated carnage from beginning to end. You don't just listen to it happening in front of you, you react to it on a gut level in every chugging Neanderthal riff and slamming beat. Before The Aftermath. The bogans may've claimed all this shit way back in its heyday, they may've ruined it for everyone, but here tonight damnit.. we're stealing it back!
GÜNTER & THE SAFEWORD (****1/2) myspace :: Just a quick aside before I "review" our next band, but how fucking awesome is the stage lighting at Enigma Bar!? No really, I'm not even being sarcastic here! SERIOUSLY!! I mean suuure it's far from perfect, there's the occassional "dead patch" to deal with, there's always those glowing green exit signs floating in the background that threaten to fuck up next to every one of your shots (which obviously I've long since edited out in Photoshop.. TAKE THAT FIRE CODE HEALTH AND SAFETY!!) and don't even get me started over how much of a bitch it is to get that drummer in focus when they're stuck under that purple light waaay off in the distance.. FUUUCK!! But compared to what I usually get in any other given live venue that isn't Jive, Queens Theatre, or The Governor Hindmarsh, duuude it's an absolute dream run! I mean no shit is it just me or do live venues simply get worse and worse with this shit the more fuck off fashionably "indie" they become? I mean, take a look at all these shots I got recently at The Grace Emily (or even The Sandbar) and compare them to what I usually get at The Ed Castle or Rocket Bar. Am I right, I'm right aren't I? FUCKING HELL!! I mean seriously, it drives me fucking insane sometimes! But I dare say when you get it as good as THIS (and at Enigma Bar of all places) it makes all the difference in the world! And with both THAT and the live mix going full tilt, I swear Günter & The Safeword have never been better (I know! you were wondering when I was going to mention them, huh?). Yup granted it's only their sixth show tonight, and when I saw them last at The Crown & Anchor it was only their second (which probably explains a lot) but they've definitely come a long way in a very short time. Initially you could describe them with lazy comparisons to scene legends Tony Font Show, and understandably so: as they feature both Lee Cowan on vocals and Matt's brother Dave O'Callaghan on keys and guitar. Just as they both share some base similarities in sound: which could be loosely described as every one of Mike Patton's mental dsyfunctions routed through about a billion effects pedals, a megaphone and a shitcrazy disco metal groove (I know, what's not to love huh!?). But what really sets Günter & The Safeword apart here is in the sheer brutality to which they approach it. I mean suuure we may still jokingly refer to them as "Tony Font Show: The Sequel", or "The Great Keyboard Hunt For The Elusive 'Ü'" but they're definitely going toe to toe with them now; they're proving their own worth. Right from the opener, they kick in with an eerily authentic cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax" (only at twice the volume) only to tear into each and every one of their setlist like a blowtorch to an open wound. Lee takes the helm: throwing himself about like a ragdoll to a Rottweiler, equal measures mock homophobe and pseudo American accent, with a voice like a dragstrip announcer. Dave tag-teams constantly between keys and guitar, partly because he's rudely effective at mastering both simultaneously and also because you suspect he's mocking you. Whilst the rubber man antics of Adam Leigh Springbett on bass and the fuming passive aggression of Adam Shulz on drums whip everything together, and the crowd massing around me, into a dodgem car demolition derby. All in all they're equal measures explosive, psychotic, darkly cinematic, itchy trigger and antagonist; and duuude it fucking goes off! And as much most of their selist may be utterly unknown right now? being as they are utterly rife with instant classics like "Marlboro Man", "Sexual Man", "Ask The Girls" to the classic sing-a-long "Alcohol Is Not A Drunk, It's a Drink" they won't be that way for too long. Just as I suspect in all the shit kicking arsehole persona that they project, they'll quickly build a reputation for being THE ultimate "party band" in Adelaide to start a prison riot to. OOOOH SHIT YEAH!! Günter & The Safeword. As much as they may like to promote themselves as "rape rock", and in all the worst ways (and if you think that's bad you should see the posters!) when it's enmasse and everyone's in on it like this? duuude it's nothing but the best fun you can possibly have with your pants on!
BOOSTER (****) myspace :: Which brings us to our headlining act for their night of nights. And quite like the last time they attempted this shit back in April, they're half worried they might be playing to a near empty room (short of you know, the mixer and me with a camera openly mocking them.. WOOOO!!). I mean don't get me wrong here, as much as it hasn't been the BIGGEST turnout so far, especially not by Jive's insane standards, and Cortez might have drawn the short straw to start with; by any other measure (ie: see my joking references to "Adelaide rent-a-crowds", or all those episodes involving either touring band The Mourning Sons, Peabody, or The Amcats"dying a little inside" at The Ed Castle) it's practically been a riot! In fact during Günter & The Safeword I could've sworn there were at least fifty people in here, including a six pack going beserk out front doing midair collisions and flying off the foldbacks. But of course the minute that band finished and walked off stage, most of those same fifty people went along with them. Ooops! But eventually some if not most of them returned, and what a sight it was too! For Booster (quite like Before The Aftermath before them) truly are an anachronism, they're a prize fighting team from a bygone era of rock. YES, ROCK! Now I know most of you midgets THINK you know "rock" from all your Jupiter Lead, City Riots, Skye Harbour, pissy haircut whatever-the-fuck, but we merely look at you and laugh.. LAUGH WE SAY!! For this right here is what rock TRULY IS, this is how it's really done, I mean just LOOK at them maaan! Yeaaah they're an ugly bunch aren't they? (they kinda smell too!) but that's what rock & roll fucking looks like! They're also incredibly old (or at least that's what they keep telling us) and not just because Craig Lewis on guitar is a grandfather (citation needed), or for the fact I've been pissing on with some of these flabbyarse bastards for fifteen years now (duuude!), but more for the fact they've been a live band since 2004 "WHOAAA FUCK!! that's even older than Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire!". Yup they're true veterans of the Adelaide scene, simply because they get the job done time and time again, they rock the fuck out like they're the Eagles Of Death Metal, and tonight is no exception! But of course what IS of exception tonight is the brand new lineup. Yup instead of just the three of them up there, for the first time ever there's now five. As Sean Kemp on drums, Craig Lewis on guitar and Josh Biggs on bass (he's the "new guy" who joined in 2005) have now added Drew Kemp on second guitar (who you may recognise from The Kemp Brothers) and some guy called "Matt" on keyboards (who they only just met this week and thought it'd be funny if he played). And as much as it makes surprisingly little difference to their overall sound short of the occassional honky tonk flourish here and there, the very fact that this is the first lineup change they've made in FIVE YEARS makes for one helluva boost to their stage presence. Opening with "C158" it's pretty much the same unadulterated carnage we've come to expect, only all the more loose, louder and faster.. and with five band members now, all the more dizzying to watch. Sean continually cracks jokes throughout, letting loose with expletive laden tirades "we're Booster and we're fucking old!", and otherwise laughs it up like an hilarious drunk on his birthday. While the rest of the band play along like they're casually entertaining the entire crowd from their living room. They tear into all three songs off their EP "Grow", "You" and "Birthday" like a hit and run. They end with a riotous rendition of "Red Painted Woman". The mix is brutal as fuck, I'm practically getting my insides microwaved by the blasting sound of Sean's drumkit. The small but devoted fanbase are going absolutely apeshit to it. And after thirty or so minutes of blowing our brains out to this shit? yup they simply walk off stage "mission accomplished".. AWESOME!! I mean suuure it's not the biggest launch party I've ever seen, but the mad buzz is all the same. And when it's this fuck off loud going off in our faces? that's all you ever need! Booster. They've been here since rock left the building for a pack of cigarettes back in 2004, they'll still be here when it comes back.. and until it gets its shit together again? they'll be showing us just how it's done!
1:27AM - With Booster's set all done and dusted tonight, and after much riotous cheering from the crowd, I was pretty much all set to leave. Now don't get me wrong here, this had nothing to do with me being at Enigma Bar per se. I mean pfft.. what do you think this is ROCKET BAR all a sudden!? AAAAHAhAHAhAhAHaHA!! Nope it's more for the fact that short of all the drunks I came here with (who were also planning on leaving) yeaaah this wasn't really my scene. And by "scene" I pretty much mean waaay back in '92 when there was that whole "choosing sides" thing between Guns 'N Roses and Nirvana? yeaaah I pretty much picked Nirvana (no really, there was a whole televised debate and everything!). And so I fired off some quick location shots like this one, made haste for the exit only to be stopped by security. "Wait.. what!?". Yup turns out he had issues with me taking photos. And by photos he didn't mean all the live stuff, oh no! he actually meant the location shots. "WAIT.. WHAT!?". Yup weirder still he then proceeds to call the manager Dougie so I could get "official clearance" to use any of them. And what makes this really hilarious? is not necessarily because this is the first time security has EVER pulled this prank on me (they actually tried it once before at HQ back in 2006) but more because I've known Dougie ever since I used to DJ here back in 2005 (weird but true) and after ten minutes of waiting for him to finally arrive, he takes one look at my camera, goes "pfft.. whatever!" and then I'm on my way again. Go figure?
2:14AM - At this point I'd usually hit The Ed Castle and drink myself blind, not necessarily because it's the best place to go, but simply because the beers are cheaper than Worldsend (which is arguably much closer) and I couldn't be arsed walking all the way to The Exeter. Small problem however, The Ed Castle was hosting one of their wacky "doof doof nights", the same they've been hosting on alternate Fridays ever since the new owners from Sugar took over in November. And so to cut a long story short.. the idea of me walking all the way to The Exeter suddenly became much more appealing. Oh and as for what any of this shit has got to do with this hilarious garbage pile outside of Hepatitis Js on Pultney? yeaaah who the fuck knows, but it sure looks pretty don't it!?
Of course it's at this moment that I coincidentally bump into three members of Ride Into The Sun. Turns out they just played a show at Crown & Anchor, supporting Tracer and Rushcutter: it was at least at five kinds of head explodingly awesome (especially considering everyone pretty much came to see them tonight only to ditch the rest of the bands soon after.. YEAAAS!!) and the only reason why I'm telling you any of this now, is simply because some random girl who's in the same design class as the lead singer Anthony Candlish thought it'd be hilarious to hijack this photo (yup, that's her in the background balancing a drink on her head. Isn't she awesome? you betcha!).
Of course what makes this even funnier, is that in all this time I've been taking these photos without a flash. And the reason I'm doing this of course, is so I can capture the natural light around me (and the resulting ambience therein) only it takes maybe a few dud shots in rapid succession until you get the desired result. Only to her this roughly translates as: "so what, YOU GONNA TAKE THAT FUCKING PHOTO ALREADY OR WHAT!?". Aaaah I know, I never get tired of that shit either. In fact you should see the times when I prank them with a video instead. hiiilarious!
2:16AM - But alas we eventually had to part ways, completely unrelated to that same girl from before chasing me down Rundle Street with an uprooted trash can screaming obscenities (aaah I know, I truly DO bring out the best in people don't I?) but more because they'd already ran out of viable options in the east end and were planning on hitting Supermild instead. I told them about my plan to hit The Exeter next, they told me they'd just been and "it was shit", but I ignored all that and headed there anyways. And before you ask.. yes that IS a whopper splattered all over the pavement, and no I didn't eat it, but I WAS tempted to smear it on the windows of Hepatitis J's and run. And as for whether I DID do that? or simply threw it into traffic? YOU WILL NEVER KNOW!!
2:35AM - I drop into The Crown & Anchor next, bump into a few people I knew, thought "awesome I can get myself a beer.. YAY BEER!". I get that beer, only to soon realise said people were already planning on leaving. Hmmm yup I swear this beer couldn't drink itself fast enough.
2:40AM - And so as a last ditched attempt, I figured fuck it I'd drop into Rhino Room. Sound's completely random I know, except I heard Ben Revi was DJ'ing here tonight (and hey look is that Box Elder and The Scarlet Ives on that sign as well!? SHIT YEAAAH!!). Only I turned up mere moments before they called last drinks, realised I hardly knew anyone here, and left soon after.
3:35AM - And so, after effectively wasting the last two hours of my night wandering about in circles (see I told you I was a fucking nomad!) I walked all the way BACK to the west end and hit Supermild. At which point I ordered up a long neck, found myself a seat in the beer garden and chose not to move for the next hour or so. The moral of this story? yes I'm a complete fucking idiot.. completely unrelated to THIS long neck that shattered on the floor soon after. YEAAAS!!
3:50AM - And speaking of such.. here's Anthony, the same Anthony I bumped into almost two hours prior at Hepatitis J's: only HE'S spent those two hours getting happily drunk at Supermild instead of whatever the fuck I was doing. Yup I know he doesn't look it but this man is a genius!
4:10AM - Obviously looking to follow by example (because hell.. anyone who resembles the twisted love child between Jesus H Christ and Elvis Presley croaking it on a peanut butter bacon fried sandwich has gotta be running with a full deck) I vowed to drink as much as I could, as fast as I could, until I reached his "lofty level of intelligence" (or at least a few blood alcohol points shy of my liver exploding). And if this photo HERE is any indication? yup I believe I have suceeded.
4:23AM - After downing my first long neck (or was it second?) I promptly rushed to the bar in effort to order up a second (or was it third?) only to bump into these two doe eyed deer instead. The one on the left is Georgia, the one on the right.. aaaah who the fuck cares (she does have a shit awesome duffle coat though). Or in other words? yeaaah I've really got no fucking clue WHY I took this photo, and yet here I am almost a week later providing a caption for it? Awesome huh!?
4:33AM - Obviously I'm beyond skull fuckingly "retarded" at this point, and the only reason I know this for sure (as obviously I have little or no memory of what I actually did.. THANK YOU COOPERS SPARKLING ALE!!) is because I took a photo of this DJ who seems infinitely proud of his sweat stains (and hey if you were this guy.. wouldn't YOU?) which in following would obviously signify that I spent the next half an hour or so making a complete dick of myself here on the dancefloor until closing, at which point I eventually realised that despite all evidence to the contrary I actually DON'T live here, I caught a taxi and I went "home".. yup wherever the fuck that may be!
In closing I'm reminded of this odd epiphany I had a few years ago where I suddenly realised in all my years of university, I never once went on a university sponsored pubcrawl. Hmmm. Of course I might add that I DID go to "art school" and in all likelyhood everyone of my fuck up friends were waaay too stoned or otherwise absent for a good portion of the year to even organise one (aaah fuck I loved those freaks!) but it still bothered me, for all of three seconds.. until it suddenly occurred to me that almost every single night I've ever gone out IS a pubcrawl. YEAAAS!! I mean there's a pub for seeing bands, there's a pub for drinking, there's a pub for making a dick of yourself on the dancefloor and then there's a pub when you should've gone home an hour ago: it's like the perfect system, every night's a "different" adventure! Yup as long as there's beers to drink and drunks to drink them with? it doesn't matter where you are duuude.. you're already home!