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...
TWO SUNS + RIDE INTO THE SUN + THE ASTEROID BELT LIVE @ THE METRO / Saturday May 15th 2010
Maaan sometimes I wonder why I do this shit every week. I mean sure, sometimes it's piss easy: I just do what I did the week before and let my innate aptitude for gibberish fill in the blanks (I've got a bachelor's degree in bullshit dontcha know!). Sometimes it's not quite so simple. Mondays evenings especially are the worst: staring at that blank laptop screen, blinking cursor, beating my skull concave into the keyboard screaming obscenities until the words come out, questioning my motives. Sometimes I like to think it's my excuse to go out drinking, like this is all a "joke". And more often than not it IS duuude, it's freaking hilarious! But as we approach winter and all the pubs and clubs empty out to the cold, I question my motives once more. I don't just go out to get drunk, pfft.. that's ridiculous! I could just as easily get drunk at home (and it'd certainly be a whole lot cheaper) but what'd be the point? I do it for the people maaan! And not just for ANY people here. It's not for the status updates that ubiquitously inhabit my facebook feed, twitter, SMS and email in lieu of "human contact". Or for the littany of poker faced drones that I duck and weave through day by day with my earphones on like a fuck off game of Operation trying my best to avoid eye contact. For five days in dull drudgery we're not "people" at all, we're a white noise mechanisation in making ends meet. But for two days we're vibrant and colourful again, we're individuals creative, chaotic and collaborative: THESE are the people I do this shit for, this is the lifestyle I live for (with this blog as my "lazy" excuse) in the hopes that no amount of nanny state legislation or economic rationalisation will ever extinguish it. But sometimes it's easier said than done (I mean shit duuude do you realise how fucking cold it is out there!? BRRRR!!). Last night was a total "write-off", tonight I'm almost tempted to do the same and let it all slide till spring. FUCK 'EM I SAY!! But something still draws me to document it all regardless. That mad buzz, that ripe potential to catch humanity at its most inspired? Oh there IS life out there, there always is, I know there is! And here tonight at The Metro, like a moth to the flame is where I hope to find it!
THE ASTEROID BELT (****) myspace :: And as for why I'm at The Metro? Hmmm well surprisingly I've actually put a lot of thought into this shit. I mean for one I was almost considering The Fearless Vampire Killers, Jay Walker & The Pedestrians and Gravity Calls tonight; except it was at The Ed Castle. Which isn't the diss you might THINK it is (despite all the jokes I've been cracking of late, there IS a damn good reason why I keep going there.. even if I can't remember it right now) it's just that I'd already written a perfectly good review on Jay Walker & The Pedestrians there two weeks ago and really, why go ruining that so soon with another one? Just as I was also considering Red Apparition, The Authentic Replicas and The Venice Whalers at Jade Monkey; only I couldn't be arsed reviewing two new bands this week. So obviously I'm picking The Metro out of sheer laziness.. but also because they have three psychedelic acts on tonight. And not just ANY psychedelic acts. OH NO!! We're talking "Death Valley" style psychedelia laced with stoner rock and the blues (I mean you've heard that latest Unkle album right? duuude it's like I can't get enough of that shit!). And when you throw in Coopers Dark Ale on tap and "free" choc chip cookies in the pokies lounge? yup it's pretty much a done deal I'd be here on a cold "winter's" night like this. Which brings us to our opening act, The Asteroid Belt. Admittedly I'd already seen them once before (a year ago at The Crown & Anchor to be precise). And as much as they were "good" back then, tonight they're truly diabolical. Arriving early I witness them dragging in what looks like an entire stadium's worth of shit onto that teeny tiny stage all wired through a ProTools recording rig. They're rocking some fuck off vintage gear, right down to the Hammond their keyboardist Jon McNichol's using. They look the part, well worn, like they've been at it for decades like grizzled war veterans, or maybe some random bikie gang simply beat the REAL band with lead pipes and replaced them.. either way these are some serious prison grade psychos you don't want to fuck with. Predominantly instrumental they tear into their setlist tonight like they're declaring war on all disbelievers, only to convert pretty much the entire audience in the first five minutes (they certaintly won me over!). In influences think Ministry, Motörhead, Nick Oliveri's Mondo Generator, Josh Homme's The Desert Sessions and Black Sabbath all rendered in rusty chainsaws, drillbits, motorbikes, and sledgehammers. Their live mix is what really sells it. I mean sure it's The Metro, and the PA isn't exactly the most "subtle" at the best of times (it's rather like The Exeter's in that respect) but the house mixer has made that weakness into a weapon, and it's the awesomest thing ever hearing it kicking into the red, all gasoline and grit, so much so you're actually grinning from ear to ear as it rips you apart. There's maybe two songs where guitarist Nigel Ryan provides vocals; or more accurately passes his entire respiratory tract through a cheese grater. While the rest of the band alternate between cascading guitar shred, hypnotic dirges, and slow meditative freak flag noodlings: all with a whiplash sense of control; all of it building in apocalyptic gunning intensity for an exploding finish. Yup there's truly no middle ground with this band tonight, there's no need for argument, in fact Nigel sums it up quite nicely when he notes halfway through their set: "we didn't know someone here was celebrating their 40th, you didn't know we were playing, it was meant to be" and I think we're very much inclined to agree. The Asteroid Belt. Like a molotov cocktail let loose in your mind, torching your innards until there's nothing left but a red mist and a raised fist: SHIT DAMN what a way to warm up your night aye!?
RIDE INTO THE SUN (****1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our second act, Ride Into The Sun. Yup this is the fourth time I've seen them in just two months (third time on record) to which Jessica Honeychurch their keyboardist couldn't help but acknowledge with "alarm" when she saw me: "oh crap, don't tell me we're the new Mona Lisa Overdrive!?". Not because both her and guitarist Luke Mayes used to be IN Mona Lisa Overdrive (aka: everything awesome you used to "love" about The Velvet Underground, only rehashed by 60's obsessed fashionistas) but more because they rapidly earned a reputation in this blog and in the Adelaide scene at large for being the most notorious "serial offenders" to a live stage in 2008 (duuude no shit they were like bad pennies, you just couldn't get rid them!). So just to "reassure" her that they totally WEREN'T Mona Lisa Overdrive, not even in the slightest, I helpfully suggested: "oh don't worry that's Sincerely Grizzly this year, except oh wait? they actually improve with age! AAAAHAhAhAhAhAHaHA!!". Yup as much as I was simply dishing up an a-grade burn on bands past (I know, I'm such an hilarious bastard aren't I?) despite only being on the scene for a relatively short space of time, Ride Into The Sun have indeed "improved with age", and quite quickly in fact, and if tonight's set is any indication? just like Friends before them they may very well be another contender for one of best new bands in the Adelaide scene in 2010. NO SHIT!! And the first thing that's really making a difference tonight is in the live mix. It's something that's somewhat eluded them in the past (don't mention Arcade Lane.. DON'T MENTION ARCADE LANE!!). And as much as it may be rough as all guts tonight thanks to The Metro's trashy as fuck PA? it also gives their presence a weighty and welcome "crunch" to it, especially in James Thomas' murderous throwdown on drums (just like watching a butcher hack up a cattle carcass I swear!) and also in accentuating what the rest of the band are playing too. So with that shit no longer a distraction, and not a single malfunctioning microphone in sight (no really, DON'T MENTION ARCADE LANE!!) Ride Into The Sun can finally focus on what they do best, and that's cooking up mad tunes to put you in a swimming trance. Beginning with the hypnotic pulse progression of "Run For The Hills" each song has its own unique take on a sun scorched Death Valley feel, so much so you can practically taste the peyote twisting your head severe. From Anthony Candlish's coyote yelpings in "Stand Alone", to Jess's mesmerising rattlesnake tambourine in "Realise", to the shimmering heatstroke of their Mazzy Star cover "Wasted" (always a highlight) there's a cohesive cinematic feel here, an overall vision that pulls everything together: but one where no two songs feel quite the same in expressing it. Each band member carries their own in the mix. From Anthony on vocals and guitar drawing everything out in a languid haze. To Luke's antagonist guitar stabs and feedback fills raising the tension in contrast. To Jess on keys swaying about like a spirit medium caught in a constant life and death struggle between both extremes. To Adam Vanderwerf on bass, the proverbial "white hat", with his mild mannered rhythms treading the straight and narrow. To James on drums the quintessential "black hat", stabbing that mechanical metronome again and again without a hint of remorse. This is a band rich in character: in both the sounds they weave and in the authentic stage presence they project. This is a band finally living up to all that promise.. and about fucking time too! Ride Into The Sun? Yup I swear that rumoured album of theirs couldn't come soon enough!
TWO SUNS (****) myspace :: Which brings us to our headlining act, Two Suns. Yup you may recognise their name in passing from all the countless other appearances they've made in this blog this year. Only none of them were in writing, unless you count that "cameo appearance" they made in that Philadelphia Grand Jury episode from a few weeks ago.. so this is actually the first time I've ever reviewed them this year. Hmmm. Just as this IS the first time I've ever seen them outside of The Ed Castle (which is a novelty in of itself) just as this is also the first time I swear I've ever seen them without Davison "Smoking Man" Jones lighting up a stick of incense on his bass amp (WHOAAA FUCK.. SAY IT AINT SO!!). Still despite all these "wild differences", in every way that they're clearly not, if there's one thing that does unite all of their shows it's in their oddball propensity for playing in the dark. Now initially I thought it was just a mere coincidence from all the times they'd played at The Ed Castle, but I also discovered it here while they were setting up tonight. So thinking to hell with it, I went and tweaked with the stage lighting before the show to equate it to the same level as all the other bands (just as an "experiment" to see how they'd react to it). Only to watch their drummer Ben Smith squint uncomfortably at the "screaming glare" that now assaulted him at the back of the stage (no.. really!?). And so I dropped it to maybe a third that, only for Dave to kindly ask me to drop it further still until they were plunged into darkness again (sheeiiit!). And as much as this may seem a little odd (or downright annoying if you're a rock photographer) and we may attempt to explain this shit away with everything from "dilated pupils", vitamin D deficiency, to vampirism, what makes the MOST sense to me is that it merely puts the focus squarely on (and heightens) the listening experience. I mean shit, it's gotta be some kinda arty farty thing riiight? For Two Suns aren't exactly the kind of psychedelic act you simply thrash about to wildly under a kaleidoscope of mad shapes and colours laughing your arse off. No they're more the kind you meditative on like a mantra in search of "the deeper meaning of life" itself. The fact that there's three musicians on stage is utterly irrelevant to it (made more so by the fact they mostly form a circle away from the audience anyways) they're merely here to facilitate that journey away from our "worldly concerns" to where a corporeal form is no longer required. And as much all as this sounds like a whole load of pretensious wank? (and it quite possibly is!) I dare say I haven't seen a live show YET where they haven't achieved all that and more in head exploding awesomatude. Their setlist, as always, only consists of three songs in which to administer it. They each go for fifteen minutes or more. Starting with slow boiled progression, sweeping arrangement, and sounds bordering on the nonexistental they fill the air in whisper light drum fills, humming bass rhythms and dappled guitar feedback. Only to build upon that until it becomes this screaming, stabbing, whirlwind of fuck off aggression. In closest comparisons you could equate it to Pink Floyd's "Meddle" meets Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" with all the distortion turned up. But with it being so raw and primordial like this, you could just as easily imagine anything else swirling in that mix from Mogwai to Tool and it'd still fit. On two occassions however, Mathias Northway on guitar is nice enough to provide "lyrics" to anchor it, only you can't understand a single word of them (only you really don't need to in the way he's screaming it, it's just as explosive). Just as you also begin to suspect that they're just free jamming the whole thing in a haze of chemicals, only for them to turn THAT idea on its head near the end of their set, when all three of them simultaneously stop and start their song like they're flicking a light switch: proving that in actual fact every note and nuance here is pre planned to exacting precision.. and it's that alone that blows me away the most! Two Suns. Yup as much as they may be near incomprehensible to either language, logic or most of the visible electromagnetic spectrum.. for the very fact that I can STILL relate to it all? is why I keep coming back for more!
1:17AM - After basking in the warm glowing glow of our three live bands tonight (and excusing any bad puns that this may imply), and after drinking nearly enough dark ales to make me supernaturally impervious to the cold (as much as it also made me retardingly numb to most of my higher brain function) I figured now was as good a time as any to head out into the "great beyond" to see what other wacky night life this Saturday had to offer me. Not at all related to the fact I that I might've just eaten the last of the "free" choc chip cookies left in the pokies lounge.
1:56AM - Leaving The Metro (not at all bothered that it took me almost an hour to achieve all that) I slipped my ipod earphones on, fired up Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" (Two Suns may have inspired it.. but really ANY excuse will do) and made the long trek to The Crown & Anchor. Now originally I'd planned on hitting The Ed Castle instead for the tail end of The Fearless Vampire Killers (and please don't remind me on what I missed) but since then I'd also been receiving a steady stream of exciteable (read: increasingly drunken) SMS's from Simone at The Crown & Anchor, wondering just where the fuck I'd been all night; so where the fuck ELSE would you think I'd go!? Oh and did I also mention I'd been drinking myself retarded on dark ales all night, and they just so happen to be pulling pints of them here for $5!? SHIT YEAAAH! BEST. DECISION. EVER!!
2:17AM - By complete "coincidence" when I arrived here (obviously) I also just so happened to bump into three of them nitwits from Ride Into The Sun (fuck damn it's almost like I can't get rid of them I swear!). Yup turns out they play a DJ set here every Saturday night now under the name "HOT! DAMN!", spinning everything from: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dead Weather and um.. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? or pretty much anything else in an "anti-hero western oeuvre" that ISN'T indie disco (yeaaah not that there's anything wrong with that). Granted there's only five people on the dancefloor going off to it, but that's at least five more than I usually see here on any given Friday or Saturday night.. so they must be doing something right.
2:17AM - Of course I didn't REALLY spend all this time here at the DJ booth (pfft.. what are you nuts!?) I actually spent most of it at the bar with Simone and her fuckup friends (hi Jade!) downing round after round of dark ales, dark ales with redbull (or at least I sure hope it was redbull), and too many shots to mention until the barstaff stopped SERVING us shots; but hey who needs to see photos of that!? when it's so much more amusing annoying Adam here instead. Yup that's "HOT! DAMN!" for you. I mean who knows? give them a few weeks and there might be six people on that dancefloor! Can you feel the excitement!? I know I sure as shit can't.. but it's gonna be huuuge!
3:16AM - At some point completely unrelated to the fact that we might've been forcibly removed by barstaff and security with burning torches and pitchforks, or perhaps just with an oversized novelty plunger over the exits (oh they love us there, they really do.. isn't that right Rehannan!? AAAAHAhAHAHaHA!!) I naturally suggested we could hit Supermild next (and yes I'm well aware I'm bordering on a undiagnosed mental illness for this shit by now). Weirdly enough everyone else agreed, or at least those of us who hadn't already been carted off to the emergency ward (aaah good times!) but predictably enough nobody thought to take a taxi so we simply walked there instead. Hmmm yup, if anyone asks.. this is actually how I get most of my "weekly exercise".
4:17AM - So here I am drinking myself blind with Simone at the end of the night: who despite the fact she might have downed nearly enough rocket fuel to put the combined efforts of Boris Yeltsin, Bernard Black and Ernest Hemingway to shame (so much so she could "drink" a vampire under the table) STILL manages to look disturbingly photogenic whilst doing it. Yeaaah I know, it's almost annoying how she can keep doing that isn't it? she's like a molotov cocktail, or a human hand grenade, or fuck maybe she's the devil!? (hmmm that may begin to explain a lot too) either way fuck damn she's fun to have around.. yup, just as long as you're not paying for her drinks!
Oh and she's even more fun when you keep taking photos until she completely skitzes out, grabs that long neck of sparkling ale you've been drinking and proceeds to beat you to death with it: or at least that's the only way I could possibly explain my hangover the next day.. GOOOOD TIMES!!
Yup winter's "icey grip" is closing in fast now. It's sending all of Adelaide's scensters scurrying. It's emptying out all of our hipster bars and clubs in record time to all but the most desperate and deranged (duuude you should've seen The Ed Castle last night.. it was a freaking ghost town!). NO SHIT!! it's gotta be the end of "life as we know it" until spring! And short of all the wacky festivals, touring shows, single, EP and album launch parties there's surely next to nothing to look forward to now but bleak misery and despair (FUUUCK we might as well board up all our doors and windows and brace for the snow!). But pfft.. to hell with that shit maaan! there's still life yet to be lived in these long lonely nights! For even in the darkest hours before dawn you'll be sure to find them out there STILL like little "signal fires" burning on the horizon beckoning you to your second home. And sure it may take considerable effort to crawl out of your home theatres and your gas heated cocoons braving the "weather" to get there (even more so if you're mad enough to write about it each week) but once you do? if it's as good as THIS shit tonight!? you won't ever want to leave!