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...
THE BRITISH ROBOTS + CHEER ADVISORY COUNCIL + SINCERELY GRIZZLY
LIVE @ THE GRACE EMILY / Saturday May 1st 2010
As a great many of you may know all too well, I like to go off the deep end a LOT in service to this blog. I like to think its part of its appeal for both YOU the audience as it is for me running it: "come for the Adelaide live scene, stay to watch me totally lose my shit? hiiilarious!". And so to the very brink and beyond I go to document it all. I like to call it an "extreme sport for the mind", I like to think of it as my life's work (or at least until I can think of something better) overclocking my CPU to wits' end, running for weeks with little or no sleep obsessing over the finer details, seeing how far I can push it, constantly running that fine line between functioning and full blown insanity. Often it's a good kind of insanity, even the best kind (shit why else would I do it?) but it doesn't remove the fact that it's STILL insanity. If ever there was a movie made of it? it'd be equal parts: Groundhog Day, Taxi Driver and Fight Club (with maybe a few sprinkles of TV shows like Doctor Who and Dexter.. hmmm does anyone else detect a theme developing here!?) and yes it'd be a cautionary tale. For the real breaking point, when all else is said and done, is the madenning repetition of it. I mean that's the very definition isn't it? doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? especially in search of a narrative where clearly none exists!? And so in my continuing search for something "novel" I'm covering a show at The Grace Emily for the first time since March. YEAAAS!! Of course it's not the only reason, as The Grace Emily (or as I like to call it "The Gremily") is a welcome asylum of sorts. The Jade Monkey is one, The Exeter is another, The Metro maybe (dare I add Supermild!?) one of the few places in Adelaide that caters to freaks like me, like we're family, and not just to the bottom line. One of those rare places where I can actually feel human again, and less like Jack Nicholson out of The Shining. I know, I know.. I've mentioned this all before (again with the repetition huh!?) but it's places like these that I truly value the most in re-establishing all that fleeting sanity I've so willingly lost to the cause. Did I mention they have a spaceship parked on the roof? I mean seriously dude what's not to love!?
And no I'm not kidding about that spaceship either (go look if you don't believe me!) it's all just part of The Gremily's endlessly eclectic charm (I mean seriously it's like I'm continually wondering out loud WHY I'm not here more often!? FUUUCK!!). And it's not just because they have live bands on every night of the week save for their Tuesday night "pub cinema" (aaaah I know right? again what's not to love!?) or for the fact that their "Billy Bob BBQ Jam" on Mondays frequently packs this place to capacity; not with pretentious hipsters or fashionistas.. but like minded music fans celebrating all things spontaneous and creative. Or for their spastic knick-knacks behind the bar, or for the art gallery that they occassionally host upstairs, or for their welcome respite from all those retarded DJs so you're free to lose yourself in all sorts of nonsensical conversation. Nope it's more than that maaan! After stepping inside, after stepping upto to the bar to order a beer NOT because you need to drink yourself blind (yeaaah not like that ever happens) but because it somehow "tastes better", and after stepping through to the back it's the band room that REALLY does it for me. Firstly for the fact it's luxuriously carpeted and ever so inviting (like the awesomest lounge room you SO wish was your own) and secondly for the ridiculously shit hot stage lighting. I mean just LOOK at that stage awash in soothing hues of red yellow and blue: doesn't that just make you weep tears of PURE JOY!? Aaaah yes, I swear it's like Xmas everytime I'm in here!!
SINCERELY GRIZZLY (***1/2) myspace ::
Which brings us to the first band I'm here to see tonight. A band, which let's face it, I've already seen like a billion times BEFORE this year (or more accurately this would be my fifth) so it's not like they're short of asinine coverage in this blog. And yet even so, they're no less welcome for me tonight, because hey it IS The Gremily maaan.. and even the shittest bands in town sound all the more fuck off awesome for being here. Of course this isn't to say Sincerely Grizzly are "shit" per se, far from it, I'm just saying is all. Isn't that right Radio Spectacular? AAAAHAhAHAhAhA!! (oh don't look at me like that, OF COURSE I'M KIDDING!!). And all the more welcoming? is the teeny tiny additions and improvements to their live sound too. Firstly there's Rowan Mount's drumkit: yes it's an analog kit (YIPPEE!!), unfortunately it's not his though (they're just sharing it with the headliners) but the sound netherless that the mixer's cranking out of it? duuude it's nothing short of skull fuckingly dope! Everytime he pounds that kick the ground literally rumbles under my feet, the sublime crispness of the snares, the articulated hihats, the cymbals, floor toms, all those other miscellaneous jangly bits I've never bothered to remember the names of (because hey I was only ever in a goofy electronica act and I went to art school.. so what do I care!?) they're all singing in a sweet symphony of crunch maaan! Griff Farley's bass is mixed extra heavy, brutally chunky, but well defined, it's a beast of a thing. And then there's Josh Calligeros on lead who's just added this new pickup and a distortion thingy to his guitar (whatever the fuck they are), or as he describes it to the audience: "I just bought a bunch of new shit from working two jobs, I haven't had time to figure it all out yet.. yay to ineptitute!" but the effect is no less striking. There's a quiet confidence and cohesion here that wasn't so evident before. I mean Sincerely Grizzly have always made a "mathy" thing out of occassionally clunky time changes.. but it's all coming together so much better now. There's all these dappled layers, chromatic textures and added complexity working in sync here.. it's a beautiful thing! Then there's their setlist, which for the most part is familiar from their EP, or from previous live sets: "There's A Beauty (In The Discord)" and "Two-Face" most recogniseably acting as bookends, but what's most striking is this new song, played for the first time EVER tonight (so if you ask them they'll likely apologise for how "rough" that live video sounds) that according to the setlist written on Josh's arm is either abbreviated to "S & L" or "Words" but whatever-the-fuck it is? it's undoubtfully another step up in the evolution of their sound. I mean fuck, it may even be the best shit they've ever come up with! Equal measures volatile and artly punctuated yet smoothly nuanced in the shoegazer midsection? how it sweeps from one extreme to the next so seamlessly? oh yeaaah they're definitely onto something here. Yup as much as it may seem like cruel and unusual punishment to keep featuring them on this blog like this (I mean shit it's gotta be driving THEM nuts by now!) the very fact they keep honing their artistry each time, proves they're a band well worth investing in. Sincerely Grizzly. Newborn giraffes going all Karate Kid on yer arse? yup you better believe it! In fact fuck the "newborn giraffe" analogy altogether.. I know Josh DOES look all lanky and goofy up there, but with badass shit like this, and other recent shows I've seen this year? who knows what they could achieve!?
CHEER ADVISORY COUNCIL (****) myspace ::
And speaking of wacky analogies I should have retired a looong time ago, here comes our second act and their lead singer who practically inspired the very definition in the first place: the infamous Ben Revi. Oh yes! for many years now, he's provided many a punchline for this blog, he's been endless good value to me, I mean fuck duuude what would I ever do without him!? And in my defense it's not necessarily because I'm openly mocking him (yeaaah ok maybe just a little!) but more because it's actually my misguided way of celebrating his "character" for its rich contribution to the Adelaide music scene. I shit you not! As quite like many of his mad contemporaries: Matt Banham, Mike Radzevicius, Lee Cowan, Travis Williamson, Mario Spate, Sean Kemp, Dick Dale, Paul Nassari (to name but a few) they're a gift that just keeps on giving, they're a gift that just has to be shared with the greater public! I mean shit, who needs to import idiots like Billy Corgan, Noel Gallagher, Thom Yorke or Tim Rogers for inspiration you can come see Ben Revi up close, get photos with him, reach out and touch his radiant afro (it's ever so spongey!) I mean just LOOK AT HIM, what a freaking legend maaan! Now obviously he doesn't always share my "enthusiasm". In fact sometimes he's almost downright hostile when he sees me smiling and waving at one of his shows (AAAAHAhAHaHA I know, I'm such a bastard aren't I?). Tonight for instance, he introduced a song by pointing out "isn't it ironic that the ONE person standing in the crowd taking photos is more famous than the band on stage?" (and after all the time I've put into promoting you? *sniff* SAY IT AIN'T SO!?). And secondly when he engaged me in awkward banter before another song, only to segue with "and quite like this conversation, this next song is called 'A Catastrophe'". Hilarious I know (oh and he got me good in the last one) but come to think of it he does have a good point here. For far too long I've made Ben Revi the focus here (ridicule or otherwise) when the real focus for Cheer Advisory Council lies in the ensemble cast he surrounds himself with and what they achieve in their own unassuming way. Some are already well reknown in the Adelaide scene: Neil Clark from Taught By Animals, Adam Osborn from 200 Motels, Carly Whittaker from Humble Bee (the awesomest glock rocking band in the world.. bar none!) but the rest are no less distinguished in presence. In combination you could think of them as a tragic Greek chorus or the indie equivalent of a Motown soul ensemble (especially in their frequent gang harmonies). Or maybe you could think of them as a mix between Radiohead's "OK Computer", Neil Young's "Harvest Moon", The National and The Doves, but what resonates the most is the raw emotion they express: not with just one but many voices in unison. Those feelings of such bittersweet longing and heart aching regret that drag you under utterly and entirely. They're like the classic tearjerker midsection to any romantic comedy NOT starring Katherine Heigl or a littany of dick and fart gags (thank fuck!) but more like a rain spattered window in split screen montage, two protagonists both staring longingly out in the gloom yet cruelly separated by one stupid seemingly irreconcilable mistake looped ad infinitum. No better yet, think of them as Shakespearian level tragedy where everyone dies in the end. Oh these are more than just songs, they're canvas writ large and cinema wraught widescreen in human frailty. I mean it's so easy sometimes for me to be blinded by Ben Revi's illustrious mane in describing it, cracking endless jokes, how it blocks the stage light like a total eclipse and frizzes on the edges like a corona; just as I readily admit it's a defense mechanism lest the entirety of their artistic vision blind and overwhelm me with such sweet sorrow (especially that last song "Accommodating" tonight.. WHOAAA FUCK!!). But such is the genius of Cheer Advisory Council. The name's clearly ironic, they want you to weep, weep like a baby, but maybe in catharsis it's no less fitting. For without the misery, the cheer is never quite as bright.
THE BRITISH ROBOTS (****) myspace ::
And speaking of such, here comes our headlining act who are SO bursting with unabashed glee here tonight it's almost eliciting an "allergic response" (especially after Cheer Advisory Council). I mean seriously, who outside of Larissa Perry from the 20th Century Graduates is THIS ridiculously happy to be on a live stage? and when there's five of them bouncing off the walls all at the same time!? DUUUDE, IT'S JUST TOO MUCH!! Still I may be the only one thinking this, as the band room is practically flooded with their fans who are absolutely loving the shit out of everything they do and as loudly as possible, and inititally I just can't quite understand why. I mean don't get me wrong, they're a brilliant band and all (I even said so in my first review) but it's not like they're hosting a launch party here, or a debut, or a farewell, there's nothing else "special" about this night that I can gather; so what gives!? And then I remember we're in The Gremily, the one place in Adelaide that's apparently immune to the "Adelaide rule". Yeaaah you know the one: the 10-20 largely ambivalent "rent-a-crowd" who usually turns up to every show, poker faced, stifling a yawn, silently wondering why they ever bothered leaving the beer garden in the first place? (hmmm and I wonder where THAT happens all too frequently!?). But maybe there's more to it than that. For The British Robots, as much as I've observed, aren't exactly the most "fashionable" of cats. They're hardly a buzz band, indie disco, freak folk, preppy pop, or any of that chillwave / dubstep crap all the cutting edge scenesters have been going beserk for. In fact after seeing them tonight, I dare say they're one of the dorkiest (yet weirdly talented for it) live bands I've ever witnessed outside of Architecture In Helsinki. And call me crazy, but maybe THAT'S part of their infinite appeal. I mean pretending to be all hipster and fashionable all the fucking time has gotta be a lot of hard work right? YOU BETCHA!! And there's gotta be something ever so appealing when you witness a band like this who're so utterly unencumbered by all that crap riiight!? DUUUDE NO SHIT, once you get over the eye gouging shock of it, they're practically a breathe of fresh air! Yup you can see it in their two co-vocalists Zoe Behan and Mark Curtis. Like Shelly Duvall teaming up with Neil from The Young Ones, like Dakota Fanning and Cousin Itt by way of Grug. The former with her disarming Irish lilt, the latter with his incomprehensible falsetto (testicles like tic-tacs I swear!). And then there's the "cheersquad" on guitar, bass and drums around them who are practically beaming to this shit. But more so it's in the upbeat style of music. I couldn't quite place it at first, I figured them for everything from The Kinks to Belle & Sebastian (in fact someone even suggested tonight that they sound like Alanis Morissette!?). But now after a little more "research" it's all too clear to me: they're channeling Fleetwood Mac. It's all there in the goofy innocence, the free flowing hippie sensibility, all mingling with the first teeny tiny stirrings of disco decadence (short of Stevie Nicks hoovering a fuckload of cocaine of course). But unlike Ladyhawke there's no precision electro here, there's no cold and calculating scenster synthesis at work. It's nothing less than THE warm, homespun, authentically knock kneed "original" before it went all revisionist and street smart. It's all sweet harmonies, melodies, breezy choruses and virtuouso guitar solos without a hint of irony. It's putting out a message that yes, it's perfectly safe to be that gangly adolescent again, that same one that went into hiding inside us all after five years of highschool made us all cynical and judgemental for fear of reprisal. No really! Right here in The Grace Emily tonight it's perfectly acceptable to simply "spaz on out" and be yourself again. Everyone's doing it around me, they're bordering on "Jesus freak" fanatical for it (seriously you should've heard them screaming for the encore too.. it was madness!). And try as you might to resist it, why bother maaan? nobody's gonna judge you here, simply dive right in and enjoy. Yup that's The British Robots, I get it now! They're giddy nostalgia just like it was originally intended: without a single corrective autotune, or ironic "hipster sensibility" to taint it. It might be dorky as all hell, but fuck damn it's infectious!
2:13AM - Yup with the show all but over, despite the audience begging and pleading nay screaming for The British Robots to play an encore, for a good five minutes or more (I know huh?) I just didn't want to leave. And hell, why would I? I had beer, I had people to drink beer with, I had a shrine to Bert Newton to offer the occassional human sacrifice to; I mean shit duuude what else would you ever need short of throwing up all over on a hooker and stealing a cop car!? But at the same time I was also entertaining the notion of possibly, maybe seeing The Salvadors headline at The Ed Castle. And so eventually, reluctantly, dragging my feet all the way (like they were lead weights I tells ya) I made my way out the door. And while I was standing out there debating whether I should go back in again (wait, did I mention they had beer!?) I thought fuck it, why NOT get photographic evidence of that so-called "spaceship on the roof" I was rambling on about before. Because yes it actually exists, no I wasn't just making it all up, and now I HAVE PROOF!!
Now I apologise if it's too sharp and well defined in that photo above, as clearly I'm not adhering to the conventions of UFO photography (for one I haven't drunk nearly enough moonshine). So if it helps I've provided a blurrier, less defined close up in following. Hmmm yup, to think it's been here for well over five years now and I've only JUST noticed? (and next to no one else believed me when I told them about it!?) I mean seriously does anyone ever look UP in the city!? sheeesh!
3:17AM - Eventually I did make it to The Ed Castle, only I'd obviously missed out on The Salvadors. Turns out there was even a lineup stretching all the way around the block for them: although some speculated this actually had nothing to do with them, but more to do with the fallout over that "Kate's Party" facebook prank earlier tonight (yup as it turns out? there was no party at all.. GENIUS HUH!?). Still by the time I got here it was still "going off" like a bad batch of oysters. No shit duuude, it was positively humming, buzzing, throbbing with hipsters, fashionistas and retarded jocks of all asinine persuasions, as well as a gaggle of blondes who actually had to ask me WHY I keep making fun of The Touch each week in this blog like THAT was still a mystery to anyone (hint: it's not really making fun of them IF THEY'RE SUPPLYING ALL THE MATERIAL). Which yup, is possibly why I'm taking THIS photo of all the paper towels in the toilet instead..
Only to be interrupted moments later by this twit pissing in the sink. SCORE!!
4:03AM - I forget how or when exactly I ended up in Supermild: only that I'm pretty sure I didn't fall down any of the stairs along the way. And the only reason I know THAT for sure, is because I'm pretty sure THESE unidentified concoctions were the cause of my "amnesia" instead. I had no idea what was in them (short of possibly cranberry juice and the stuff they use to fuel model aeroplanes) as obviously I didn't order them. One of the barstaff served them up for reasons utterly beyond me, I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and when nobody was looking (or when there were simply no takers left) I swiped one for myself.. OOOOH FUCK YEAH!!
4:09AM - And speaking of hilarious shit I have next to no recollection of, this is "Miss Clueless" for the simple fact that she happened to be standing next to me at the time (aaaah half her "luck" huh!?). Yup you may recognise her as one of the leads in "An Awkward Seduction": one of those wacky Fringe theatre productions I never got around to seeing this year, despite the fact it involved at least six girls in a whimsical burlesque strip tease.. and yes excuse me while I go smash my head into this wall a few times (I know it's always the stuff you MISS OUT ON you remember the most huh!? "GNAAARRGGHH FUCK!!"). Oh and as for WHY I'm photographing her legs here? well obviously there's a perfectly reasonable explanation (and if it helps she IS pointing at them) only I've long since forgotten it. Just like I thought it'd be perfectly reasonable to upload and publish this photo to a website that a thousand people might possibly read each week. Hi everyone!
And isn't she ever so thankful that I did?
Yup, I think it's safe to say that I'm completely fucking insane here. Not just for what I did for the next half hour or so, which I believe involved me making an hilarious twit of myself on the dancefloor, in front of a whole lot of people (who likely fled soon after) only to hit the bar to order up another long neck, only to return to the dancefloor again.. GENIUS!! But more because I do this shit EVERY FUCKING WEEKEND OF THE YEAR. And I'm not even shitting you! The only times I haven't done this in the past four years uninterrupted (including Xmas and New Years) the last time I actually took a "break" from all this!? was that one weekend back in February 2007 when I had the flu. But then again fuck it, maybe I've got this all wrong? If the definition of insanity IS doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results: what about if it's published in a blog? what about if more and more people visit it each week? what about if I enjoy it? does that make me more insane or less insane? And better yet, what does that make YOU for reading it!?