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...
PRINCESS ONE POINT FIVE + CHEER ADVISORY COUNCIL + WE GROW UP "WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU" TOUR @ THE ED CASTLE / Friday August 20th 2010
Tonight: Struggletown blown arse sideways to hell. Population: just about anyone crazy enough to leave house without scuba gear and a last will & testament to face it. Oh maaan was it fucked up out there! And yeah I know it'd usually be no brainer for me to go out regardless. And I mean that quite literally too. This blog's more a "Pavlovian response" to me than anything that obeys logic or reason or higher brain function, no matter what the conditions or circumstance: "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor rage virus zombie apocalypse.." I'm like the freaking postal service here! HA HA HA duuude I'm totally suicidally fucking retarded for this shit! but yeaaah even I had my doubts here tonight. I mean there I was around 6:16 in the city, I was on my way to the Chinese supermarket in Central Markets to stock up on mi goreng: box of 40 for $10.50 (because it's all I eat apparently?) in the pouring rain, balancing an umbrella on my shoulder that's being blown inside out by the blasting wind, so I'm trying to fix THAT to no avail (five times it does it to me). iPod's pumping DJ Krush in accompaniment only it keeps pausing on me so I'm pulling it out of my jacket pocket with one hand to press play again (I think the headphone jack's a bit wonky? bought it back in 2007!?) whilst simultaneously responding to a friend of mine with my other hand who keeps text messaging me (something about some Molly Ringwald film whatever-the-fuck) or I'm posting something stupid on twitter. Only my converse clad feet have absolutely no traction in the wet, on the smooth pavement that I'm sliding on, and so I slip and slam hard horizontal just short of sending everything flying.. FUCK!! And all I could think of besides "shit I hope no one saw that", was "woweee I'm SO totally gonna be doing this stupid blog again tonight aren't I!? YOUUU BETCHA!!". And I have no idea WHY either.. even less so when I hail a bus BACK into the city at 10:03, bunch of drunk teens board with me, only one of them's missing half a finger and now he's bleeding everywhere (and he's laughing about it!?) so the bus driver has to call him an ambulance and remind me again WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE!? And yet if I didn't do any of this shit? if I stayed home and watched The Da Vinci Code on TV instead? (pfft!) then you so wouldn't get to read about ALL THIS. Awesome huh? TOTALLY!! I can't wait for this fucking winter to end either!
WE GROW UP (***) myspace :: Which brings us to The Ed Castle for our opening act, only to realise what we're being presented with here is only half of what was "advertised". Ooops. To explain? yeaaah let's rewind back to last Saturday night August the 14th. For those of you who didn't get to read about it (as obviously I couldn't be arsed writing about it) I blew the night's "running commentary" in favour of catching "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" at Norwood Cinema (which was a freaking genius move for all the reasons that lining up 20 minutes for a fucking ticket wasn't), hitting The Exeter afterwards to catch a live set by The Bastard Sons Of Ruination, only to get skull rapingly retarded drunk at The Crown & Anchor, The Exeter (again), The Ed Castle and then all too predictably Supermild in closing (and possibly fifty or so other club hoppings in between that my hangover long since obliterated from memory.. damn you Simone!) a more than "productive" Saturday night's misadventure if ever I planned one EXCEPT I probably should have been reviewing THIS band instead. Yup turns out they were launching their shiny new double single "Goodness Gracious!" / "The Flowers" at The Grace Emily supported by the always awesome British Robots. A show that by all accounts (or perhaps just according to their guitarist Walter Marsh) was "THE BEST DAMN SHOW WE'VE EVER PLAYED!!" (not actual quote but the general gist of it). A statement made all the more ironic when they decided to break up the band just this week, or maybe they didn't break it up at all, maybe it's just a publicity stunt, maybe it's just a "trial separation", maybe it's all Underdale Facepalm's fault for making fun of their music video back in June (pfft.. it's not like I haven't broken up bands for less myself!) or maybe they're just fucking with me (which is more than likely). Either way what we're left with here TONIGHT without their lead singer Jonathan Mortimer and whoever the fuck is currently playing drums for them (anyone?) could very well be considered their defacto wake or a funeral (as much as they're simply laying low until they finish studio recordings for their upcoming third album "Kids In Love".. go figure?). Which considering it's been almost two years (of me totally not ignoring their facebook requests) since I last saw them play live back in October 2008? makes THIS review all the more hilariously redundant to write. Yup this is We Grow Up (or their approximate career post script retrospective) presented as a two piece semi acoustic act. And in spite of everything I might have suggested upto this point they actually have a lot to offer. NO REALLY!! Think of them as a mellower than mellow mix between Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel, The Shins, and The Kinks "Village Green Preservation Society"; think of them as twee-er than twee irish folk act minus the accents but rich full of harmony; think Darren (Fucking) Hanlon distilled into lemon tea or a medicated strepsil lozenge; or better yet think shit your nanna could totally bottle marmalade to. OH YES!! they're all this and more! As such Anthony Golding (aka: the serial killer with the bottle blond buzz cut) provides most of the vocals and the occassional mouth organ, while Walter Marsh provides the harmonies, the occassional lead and a "symphony orchestra" in raging self doubt (thanks to his whimsical array of increasingly awkward facials wishing he was anywhere but here). Their guitars interweave in the lightest of lightly dappled ways, their lyrics are joyously defeatist and pessimistic (and ever so softly spoken), they're the very epitome of meek and mild to the point they're practically wallpaper on a mad tab of acid (except for when they invite Carly Whittaker from Humble Bee for the finale at which point they're nothing but punk rock). Which considering the wild and woolly weather we've found ourselves in here? couldn't be more than welcoming and seasonal appropriate, as much as they're occassionally all but overshadowed by the blaring DJ mix outside. Yup that's We Grow Up. Is this their last show EVER or the first of many to come? who the fuck knows!? for as much as I obviously caught the WRONG SHOW HERE and I should've been there last week, aren't we ever so glad I documented this "gurgling death rattle" all the same?
Yup because in writing all that I've clearly left out the best bit and WHY this show would've been well worth the "five star review" if ever I was prone to rewarding bands for shit this hilariously non sequitur (who me!? NEVER!!) and that'd be thanks to Anthony Golding getting fired from his kitchen job (on top of everything else) this week due to some irreconcilable "kleptomania issues". And as for WHY this shit was at all relevant to their show tonight? yeaaah well, maybe it was because he figured he'd celebrate this fact by giving away a tonne of free prizes. The first to go was a bag of marshmallows, which is easily five kinds of head explodingly awesome on its own right (I mean shit duuude, who DOESN'T love marshmallows!? WOOOO!!). But even better for all of you "a-grade ethical weirdos" out there who totally get creeped out by the idea of eating anything with gelatin in it? (I mean pfft, what else are all those cows gonna use their hooves for? BREAKDANCING!?) he was also giving away free tins of Jasper fair trade "Rich Drinking Chocolate". And as luck would have it I totally scored one here.. YEAAAS!! Granted it passed its use by date waaay back on February 18th, but I tried it anyways (repetitively in fact) it totally hasn't killed me yet, and thus I can safely say in following that We Grow Up are the single most BRILLIANT band to ever grace the Adelaide scene and we'd all be poorer without them. In fact I might just boil me up another mug of them now!
CHEER ADVISORY COUNCIL (****) myspace :: Which by all accounts "crushingly anti climatic" bring us to our second act. Except clearly it isn't, far from it in fact (all opening act bribery aside.. mmmm chocolaty!), for if ever you are at all familiar with this blog and THIS band being featured countless times in the past then you'd know all to well just how much retarded fun I've had in ridiculing their lead singer Ben Revi for all he's worth (and that would be LOTS). And by "ridiculing" him I totally mean nothing but boundless praise for the technical, lyrical and artistic genius that IS Ben Revi. And yes that IS genuine praise and I'm not even kidding you (he's one of the greats maaan, even if he would kinda resemble Big Bird if you painted him head to toe in yellow.. WOOOO!!) as much as I've expressed it by otherwise stooping to such colourful insults as "newborn giraffe" to describe his statuesque stage presence, cracking lame jokes about the exploding afro that crowns his head like he's an oversized stick of asparagus brought to life by Jim Henson (aka: the gift that keeps on giving especially when it's backlit!), making light of his richly academic and educated (read: uber goober) "demeanor" and otherwise making his life a living hell in my utterly misguided quest to make his shit all kinds of internet "famous". But in doing so, for all the best intentions I swear, I've sometimes (read: all too often) let THIS whimsical "cartoon caricature" I've painted of him overshadow the rich musical tapestry he weaves, and all the more grievously? overshadow due credit that should be given to the band he weaves it with. For Cheer Advisory Council truly are an ensemble cast of articulate austerity. In combination they form a sound that is both awkwardly bittersweet and achingly melancholic. Think of them as the arctic emotional weight of The National, the nostalgic yearning of Neil Young and the sweltering blues of Mazzy Star bringing all his lyrics to life. Think of them as the Greek "chorus" to Ben Revi's tragedy: especially in the way so many of their songs build theatrically with such well defined character arcs, conflicts, crescendos and soul crushing finales. Or better yet think of them as everything intelligent and heartfelt that Art Vs Science isn't, with the post graduate thesis to back it up. But it's in their all too frequent and all too dizzying instrument swapping, to match the emotional "maelstrom" they churn out on stage that makes them all the more compelling to watch; as much as they're getting that much more adept at orchestrating it live without making it look like a maddening clusterfuck (I like to think its true progress on their part). From the steady presence of Carly Whittaker vocals as counterbalance to Ben Revi on guitar and vocals. To Carly Norman on backup who swaps with Brenden Moyse on keys who swaps with Adam Osborn on drums; only for Neil Clark on drums to swap with Emily Heylen on bass, only to swap back with Adam on drums, so Adam can play violin, or guitar, or swap with Carly Norman to sing backups with Carly Whittaker!? FUUUCK!! I mean previously I hardly mentioned this shit in passing because (a) I could've sworn that they were simply showing off and (b) it's been an absolute headfuck to keep track of it (and the only reason I can do this now is because I've accumilated enough evidence to follow it through.. eeeee!). But even more befudding though? is how you can become so blissfully unaware of all this shit flitting to and fro because their music combined is so powerfully evocative. As thanks to months of toiling away in the studio for their upcoming album? every song here is fast becoming an anthem to love lost, squandered and otherwise fumblingly unrequited. And of course I could mention them all by name and elaborate further in detail, only I've long since lost their setlist from tonight (damnit!), and I've clearly rambled enough as it is (but if it helps I'm rather fond of "Switching Sides" and "Accommodating") suffice to say if you can't relate to the full weight of their wistfull sadness crashing down upon you by now? then you truly possess a heart of stone. Cheer Advisory Council. More than just a punchline, more than just a sum of its parts, more than just an epic emo overture in minor chords clubbing you to death with its heart wrenching woe, and how! (or me almost repeating the same review I wrote for their live show back in May as an apology.. ooops!) they're every reason tonight to embrace all the above as life lived to the full!
PRINCESS ONE POINT FIVE (****1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our headlining act from Melbourne: the one band above all others I braved this psychotic weather to see, despite the fact that short of some Triple J airplay that I frequently confused with Hawks Of Alba (as I like to think they share more than a few sonic similarities and definitely not in a bad way, as I'm sure I'll "elaborate" upon later) I never would have heard of them before if it weren't for one Ben Revi recommending them out of the blue a year or so back. A "recommendation" that doesn't seem all that "out of the blue" now, for as it turns out? he's totally playing bass for them tonight. "WHOAAA FUCK!!" Yeaaah I know! However this news wasn't all that shocking to ME as he told me about it on Thursday night. What IS shocking however: is with little over three days to learn all the songs and one rehearsal today you totally wouldn't guess that he was their last minute replacement for regular bass player Ben Grounds as he's doing an absolute bang up job of it. But less about him and more about Sarah-Jane Wentzki. She's the lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist for Princess One Point Five. And the main reason why I was so drawn to see them tonight (short of a name that had me damn near befuddled as to what that missing or extra "point five" was all about) was thanks to an inbox message she posted for everyone who clicked "attending" (or in my case the more ambiguous "maybe attending") to the accompanying facebook event. And it sounds entirely ridiculous I know, but what she wrote was ever so whimsical and colourfully wacky I couldn't help but want to "attend" just to find out what kind of sunshine happy vitamin pills she's been popping like tic tacs. Because I don't know about you but after the past few weeks of winter we've had? duuude I'd almost forgotten we even had a sun, or why it's been hating on us so much to make us feel this fucking foul. And it doesn't end there either. Mumbling and grumbling into the band room tonight I discover she's the attending doorbitch too. Although I'd hardly use the word "doorbitch" when she smiles ever so sweetly and draws a little star instead of a stamp on your wrist before sending you skipping merrily on your way almost in spite of yourself. I mean try as I might to be absolute arsehole here in writing this review in following? (I mean shit duuude would you expect any less from me!? WOOOOHAHAhAhAHaHA!!) there's just something ever so utterly disarming about her, so goofy cute and full of beans, you can't help but fall hopelessly in love with it.. and all this before she even plays their first song!? Yup Sarah-Jane Wentzki is verily the beast incarnate, she's Satan herself in a polka dot dress and it extends to her music too. For when she's joined on stage by Ben Revi on bass and Richard Andrew on drums: Princess One Point Five (here to launch their fourth album "What Doesn't Kill You") are like the ultimate dinner party, all the sparkling wit without the pretense, and everyone's invited. Or in other words, think Regina Spector, Feist or Frente! with rose coloured glasses on, paired back to the very basics. Or maybe they're the female equivalent of Ben Fold's Five. Or maybe they're none of the above in a feathery light 90's guitar influence (kinda like Hawks Of Alba only more cruisy) but they're definitely in that general ballpark (for one they even sneak in a quick cover of Bat For Lashes in the soundcheck.. go figure?). Songs start simple and summery, sunlit dappled in the softest of pitter patter accompaniment. Sarah-Jane's voice soothes like a lullaby, like birdsong, lilting ever so sweetly as much as her lyrics might veer towards the sly and snarkingly suggestive. Sometimes they'll simply stay like this, lulling you into a blissful slumber eyes open (but mind long gone swimming) while others will build layer upon layer in keys or guitar, bass and drums to form a cacophony of head bopping shoegazer shred. But what really ties it all together is in how it feels like a witty conversation. Not just in all the between song banter where Sarah-Jane never misses a beat, and will happily answer back if you throw a one liner or a chance heckle her way, but also in how she uses it to segue from one song to the next with a sly grin. Granted four albums in you think they'd nothing but consummate at this, very much at ease in their surrounds but even so they still make YOU feel at home as much as they are.. which only makes them all the more awesome in owning a live stage. Yup that's the endless charm of Princess One Point Five. Just like the indie equivalent of Julie Andrews(!?) only infinitely less lame and without all the eye gouging and screaming? sounds impossible I know but that's totally them winning you over in spades!
1:34AM - Yup next to everywhere else in this city might have been blastingly Antarctic (especially if you were mad enough to do it sober) but right here in The Ed Castle band room? duuude we're like moths to the proverbial flame, we're basking in the warm glowing glow that is Princess One Point Five, beaming bug eyed and grinning and laughing it up retarded.. WOOOO!! Which possibly begins to explain why I was compelled to take THIS cheesy photo of Carly Whittaker "fanging out" on a bass guitar to celebrate that fact (awww I know!), as much as it doesn't explain much of anything and may actually be causing irrepairable damage to our eyesockets what with all the excess pink exploding from every pixel (yeah probably should've put a warning up hey?). But still, doesn't it make you at least 5% more head explodingly chipper for being part of it just now? No shit! throw in a wacky LOLcat slogan and I may have to kill myself here I'm THAT fucking happy!
2:02AM - And continuing in this mad celebratory spirit tonight? in spite of everything that winter has thrown at us (and then some)!? ie: before next to every one of us invariably gets picked off by wolves (or worse still by a saucer-eyed Anthony Golding on the left there.. eeeek!) someone suggested I take THIS "family photo" of everyone remaining who played tonight, everyone who didn't but were otherwise involved in spirit, and anyone else who might have poked their heads in at the very last minute just for the sheer fuck of it (although clearly that doesn't apply to the grinning loon on the right there). Which I agree would normally be the lamest idea in the history of lame, but since the bar closed up well over half an hour ago? I was more than "happy" to oblige.
2:07AM - Now obviously there was no point in sticking around at The Ed Castle for a moment longer. Not when there was shit fuckall to drink (not even the DJ rider) and I only had two beers at that and apparently they had to close the bar down early because all their cash registers crashed and they had to count everything by hand!? (oh and if that wasn't nearly awesome enough did I also mention I missed out on an epic show by The British Robots at The Metro tonight, where they apparently broke up soon after?) "DAMN YOU WINTER!! WHY MUST YOU HATE ON US!!". But even so it was just too toasty warm and cheerful in here, and far too early for me to hit Supermild, that I couldn't help but bask in it for a while. Even after everyone else had already fled screaming when all the lights were flicked on and off (like rats scurrying off a sinking ship I swear!) because clearly nothing's more ridiculously awesome for advertising just how "ragingly nonstop" Adelade's nightlife is in August than the sight of an empty band room with all the chairs stacked up on tables. Isn't that right Eleanor? stumbling into shot with a goofy grin at the very last minute!? YOU BETCHA!!
And since I clearly WASN'T bored shitless by this point, nor was I picking on the first hapless victim who happened to cross my path in effort to amuse myself (yaaay!), I figured I might have some fun at Eleanor's expense with a game of "Nick Hadley". Made infamous by that video of caught of Nick Hadley back in December 2008 (as much as I pulled the same prank on Dick Dale back in April 2008 and since repeated with Joe Blogs a few weeks ago) the aim is as follows. Simply pretend you're taking a photo for them, only you're shooting a whole lot of video instead, whilst requesting increasingly asinine and idiotic poses under the false pretense that "the flash on your camera isn't working properly" until they totally wisen up to it, crack the shits, and then you run like hell before they beat you to within an inch of your life. Aaaah and I swear it never gets old either!
2:27AM - And after I regained consciousness? fuck it.. I went to Supermild.
3:21AM - For the next hour or so absolutely nothing happened in here. I mean it was dead, deader than dead, as much as it totally wasn't, it was freaking hilarious for everyone involved (aaaah you people crack me up!) and I was simply hiding in a corner deleting countless dud photos off my camera with my long neck bottle of beer because I really was THAT overcome by the head exploding excitement of it all.. or yeaaah perhaps I really couldn't give an arse either way. Eventually however, possibly compelled through sheer boredom alone (and an utter unwillingness to go home early) I figured I might want to take some random photos anyways, blissfully oblivious to the fact that at some later point I might have to provide some "witty commentary" for them all. Like this whizzbang shot of a disco ball for example. Huh? huh!? is that totally insane or WHAT!?
3:54AM - Or this wacky ashtray I found out in the beer garden, pretty much identical to any other ashtray you might happen to find EXCEPT FOR ONE TEENY TINY BUT "CRUCIAL" DIFFERENCE. And I bet you can't spot it either, as obviously there isn't one, I really WAS that freaking bored but how ridiculously awesome does it look when you shoot it up close with a macro zoom!? HELL YEAAAS!!
4:03AM - Or these well worn floor tiles, front of the bar. Made even more entertainingly so when that girl passing me right of frame, curiousity getting the better of her, asked me why I was taking a photo of it, and I told her, and we laughed and laughed.. HA HA HA DID WE EVER (or yeaaah maybe she just gave me a look like I was completely fucking insane). Either way? good times!
4:07AM - And then just when I thought Supermild was a total bust tonight (and how!), along comes the "gift that keeps on giving" in the form of Gus's head explodingly awesome pattern knit jumper. YEAAAS!! I mean no shit, this was SO totally the highlight of my entire night! Or at least close second to scoring that drinking chocolate. Or maybe third if we count Princess One Point Five pulling that cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Wild Thing" in response to the DJ's thrashing the Thievery Corporation so ridiculously loud by the front bar again you could hear it in the band room (ooops did I forget to mention that!? duuude you SO missed out!). But still we totally hit the jackpot HERE all the same. And would you believe I took at least 3-4 photos of this shit from all kinds of weird angles, pissing myself laughing like a mad man until Gus got completely weirded out by it all and left? of course you do! BECAUSE THIS IS THE BEST DAMN FRIDAY NIGHT I'VE HAD ALL YEAR!! (with the possible exception of that night back in March when I went completely insane with boredom at The Exeter). Hmmm so should I get another beer at the bar, no really, WHAT DO YOU THINK!?
4:11AM - Aaaah fuck this shit, I'm going home!
Yup, tonight was an ordeal. It was every instinct telling me to steer clear, to stay home, to do something more "sensible" with my time rather than face the elements. Like maybe catch up on some sleep, or read a book, or catch me some late night television. I mean I could've totally seen The Da Vinci Code again (it's totally crap.. but it's still something!), or a repeat of the IT Crowd, or a repeat of Heroes, or shit maybe I could've FINALLY installed that digital set top box I bought waaay back in February (still in its original packaging too!) and get a mad dose of "mind numbing" that doesn't totally blow the hind end of a horse!? (yeaaah I'm not convinced either!). Or better yet I could've watched a DVD, or something stupid I downloaded, or done some vacuuming HA HA HA VACUUMING!! WOOOO!! or alphabetised my sock draw!? or.. aaaah fuck it! I don't care how soul suckingly bleak this weather's getting (and how!) before it gets any better (please oh please let this spring come soon!) nothing still beats flipping it a giant "FUCK YOU!!" and simply facing it head on. For the rewards of such foolishness may be fleeting, but it still far outweighs the risk!