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...
FOREST OF GNOMES (***) myspace :: Which by no segue whatsoever brings us to our opening act. As clearly this is the best possible reason we could ever think of choosing The Crown & Anchor tonight "HA HA HA of course it is you fucking idiots!", so much so I'll totally let YOU decide with the rest of this review whether I'm being laughably sarcastic or not (or in other words.. good luck with that!). Still while we're on a ridiculous tangent here? how skull fuckingly dope is that band name!? NO SHIT!! Although in saying that it's anyone's guess where they got it from: whether they were originaly inspired by Wolfmother's "Tales From The Forest Of Gnomes" or by Pink Floyd's "The Gnome" (although here's hoping it was more the latter than anything to do with the former) either way duuude, how can you possibly go wrong!? Well judging by the mad sounds they're cooking up tonight, I dare say they can't. Yup in many ways Forest Of Gnomes are a winning combination in the simplest "simian" of terms. Featuring Leigh Vergou on lead vocals and guitar (guitarist for Fraud Millionaires and formerly SuperBee), Adam Blessing on bass (formerly from Poetikool Justice) and Danny Leo on drums (from who the fuck knows where but I'm assuming scurvy, buried treasure and Johnny Depp's career suicide in a 3rd sequel is somehow involved) they combine to form a power trio that brings new meaning to bludgeoning simplicity. Think Helmet, think Mark Of Cain, Motörhead, or Maynard James Keenan being beaten to death by no nonsense Neanderthals and the rougher rock edges of Grinspoon. Or as their Triple J Unearthed listing would have you believe: Queens Of The Stone Age, Fu Manchu, Every Time I Die and a little bit of Led Zeppelin (go figure?). Either way it's easy to appreciate this on a purely primal "quest for fire" level. Every song kills in the crudest of terms: like the musical equivalent of a roasted pig on a spit being hacked to bits with medieval battle implements and your ears are the expectant dinner plate. Leigh spends the majority of the set lurking about in the shadows, hiding behind a face full of hair (and by "shadows" I pretty much mean everywhere save for the drumkit as The Crown & Anchor's stage lighting is pretty much balls tonight), Adam on bass provides most of the stage presence in pulling mad shapes front and centre, while Danny does everything short of "walk the plank" on the drums (he's a pirate dontcha know?). I mean granted there's nothing particularly original, a-grade articulate or even fiendishingly accurate going on here (short of the occassional "stop/stop on a dime" dynamic they've got coordinated to break things up), "rough hewn" would probably be the best description for it. But there's something about those paint-by-number chainsaw riffs, knuckle dragging bass rhythms and hack job percussion that makes you wanna drain a keg, devour a BBQ'd carcass (hooves and all) and fuck up coastal village Valhalla style like nothing else; duuude it's a brutal rock & classic that never goes out of style! They don't overstay their welcome. They thrash through their set in the space of thirty minutes. They disappear off the stage with little or no fanfare save for a riotous chorus of drunks toasting their livers in honour. Yup that's the Forest Of Gnomes. Sometimes you don't need six billion effects pedals, two drummers, a keyboard, a xylophone and a horn section to make a statement; sometimes you can just turn the volume up on everything and rock the fuck out, and it still kills!
RINCON (**1/2) myspace :: Which speaking of simple brings us to our second act. Except they're clearly anything but that, to the bleedingly obvious ludicrous extremes of "power wank" prog metal, umbrella optional, hold the gag reflex.. I think you can see where I'm going with this, and as such I have a bit of a confession to make: this review is going to be hideously biased, "HA HA HA DUUUDE WILL IT EVER!!". No seriously, I can't hope to hide my prejudice here no matter how hard I try, this SO isn't my thing (so feel free to add an extra point to their rating if you feel "hard done by"). In fact I'd much rather be anywhere else BUT HERE drinking myself to a giddy stupidity to forget I was even in attendance tonight; but if you're totally into the likes of Cog, Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect, Birds Of Tokyo, Dead Letter Circus and a billion and one OTHER cookie cutter bands from Melbourne who worship both at the altar of Maynard James Keenan and James Hetfield? (no.. no.. that's totally not me stifling a yawn there, I swear!) then you'll totally LOVE this shit like a mental illness. Yup Rincon from Melbourne truly are all THAT and then some, as much as they're likely none of the above and I clearly don't know what the FUCK I'm talking about; and it wouldn't be the first time either. So in effort to paint a more accurate picture here, I've brought in one Joe Blogs: infamous binge drinker extraordinaire and prog metal "afficionado" to offer us HIS 2 cents. According to him Rincon could best be described as an energetic mix between Disturbed, Sevendust (especially in the guitar riffs) and Karnivool; or maybe a loose combination between Sunk Loto and "Adrenaline" era Deftones; either way most of this doesn't really matter much of anything because Rincon (or at least like they're performing here tonight) are all about rocking the retarding extremes of "shock and awe". Yup not only have they brought in a proverbial doof doof rave worth of epilectic strobe lights, splitters, blinkers, gels and faders to adorn both front of stage (and even more ridiculously the back of the room too) as well as fog out the entire length and breadth of the band room in a near impenetrable cloud of smoke; but they've also brought in all the overblown rock persona to match. From lead singer Jeremy Bire sparring on his mic like an exploding ball of muscle, like a fist punching hobbit, like a chihuahua cross between Jet Li and Jean Claude Van Damme. To the sword fighting trio of Chris Hitch, Pete Bire and Mark Herring thrashing out their bass and guitar with such pained expressions you swear they were ripping wax strips repetitively off their wedding tackle (yeaaah helps not to think about that too much). To Dave Wilson on drums, bare chested with a baseball cap, like he's bench pressing the shit out of his kit rather than playing it. Awesome huh? TOTALLY!! It's like they're every energy drink cliche rolled into one, veins popping, TO THE MAX and I think I just threw up a little. Still for what they do, they do exceptionally well, they're winning this crowd over in spades (guess it takes all types huh?), in fact they're nothing short of a tour de force in farcical excess.. and clearly in NOT worshipping the ground they walk on? yeaaah I don't know what the fuck I'm missing out on. No shit, Rincon what a band! As much as I suspect too large a dose of this might make you go blind, or worse still adopt an Aussie flag like a cape (with accompanying Southern Cross tattoos), snort copious amounts of speed, punch lightbulbs and wrap a supercharged Holden Commodore around a stobie poll (well it IS the dream afterall!) the minute they get themselves Triple J high rotation? ooooh trust me dude, THEY WILL GO FAR!
QUIET CHILD (****) myspace :: Which brings us to the real reason why I'm here tonight, or at least short of the $5 pints of dark ale found at the bar (aaah I know, I call this hitting "rock bottom" tonight but I've truly had the time of my life just now erasing that last band from memory.. weeee!) and that would be for our headlining act Quiet Child. Yup it's been little over a year since I've seen them live (ie: not since their album launch party for Evening Bell back in June 2009) and believe me that's been a "little over a year" faaar too long wondering just why food doesn't taste nearly as good anymore? or why the colours of the rainbow don't seem so bright? or why damnit.. life just hasn't been worth living!? FUCK DAMN I MISS THIS BAND!! For as much as they've been lumped in with the wanky extremes of prog metal, as much they been booked to play with every dickhead and their dog worshipping at that altar of "you know who".. the same man I'm damn near sick to death of mentioning anytime I review their support acts (so much so I can't even play freaking Ænima anymore it just brings up too many painful memories) I mean fuck DAMN duuude.. as much as they're arguably a "prog metal" band THEMSELVES and every second song is longer than 10 minutes!? (aaaah and it's so awesome fading them all out on youtube too!) THEY ARE THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE!! There are so many reasons immeasurable for this of course, reasons above and beyond to praise them as one of the "shining lights" of the Adelaide scene, but the main drawcard here is undoubtfully Peter Spiker their lead singer. Yeaaah I know he doesn't look like much, even less so if you're ever downwind of him (mmmm Cheetos!): like's he's one scruffy looking Microsoft programmer circa 1978, or maybe he's Kevin Smith singing the blues, or maybe he's the Adelaide equivalent of Susan Boyle (hmmm too far?). What with his crazy "homeless man" beard and his whimsical array of gamer geek attire (I mean if it's not the "Tabula Rasa" t-shirt at the album launch, then it's gotta be the "Far Cry 2" t-shirt he's wearing tonight.. am I right? or am I riiight!?) the minute you hear that voice!? DUUUDE!! it's like you wish you brought diapers and two paddles of a defibrillator it's THAT fuck off ethereal! Equal measures Maynard James Keenan (and for once.. that's not an insult!), Chino Moreno, Matt Bellamy and Thom Yorke; and equal measures utterly indescribable like he possesses the golden honey dipped pipes of an angel? FUUUCK ME!! my eardrums could so totally make mad love to his larynx all night long, crap out a symphony orchestra of impossible offspring and I'm totally not embarassed to admit it! just as much as the rest of the band around him make this more than the sum of its parts, and better yet the "understated" sum of its parts. For they're a prog metal band WITHOUT all the wank, a rare quality let me tell you! (and all the more reason to celebrate them). As such tonight's set is pretty much more of the same we've come to expect from them, if perhaps a little "muted" in impact stuffed onto this teeny tiny stage at The Crown & Anchor (with crappy stage lighting to boot) but there are a few notable differences. First off its their new guitarist "Ash" who's joined them after founding guitarist Jason Mavrikis (aka: Emo J, Jason Scissorhands, Darth Astroboy) left in May. And short of the fact he kinda looks like Neil from The Young Ones and chances are Pete auditioned him over a game of World Of Warcraft (and I so totally would have more jokes too if I didn't use them all up on Pete.. ooops!) yeaaah it's pretty much more of the same; which with this band could only be a good thing. Then there's a whole host of new songs they're playing tonight (or at least they're new to me), all of them going towards a second album (to be released.. well, the sooner the better!) and what's most striking about them besides their chunkier more developed "texturing" in the guitars? is just how blissfully "succinct" they are. In fact one of them even ends at the three minutes mark.. THREE MINUTES!? (I know! and it's all the better for it). So as much as they might be the same band from before they might just be a teeny bit better too! Yup that's Quiet Child. If you've never seen them before, if you've never even HEARD of them before.. then surely duuude, your life's just not worth living!
1:11AM - With the show now over to much hooting and cheering (and maybe a little too soon) I was very much looking forward to wallowing here in the resplendant "squallor" that is The Crown & Anchor for the next few hours.. for pretty much all the awesome reasons listed in the above introduction (aaaah fuck I miss this human toilet I REALLY DO!!). I mean here we are in the dead of winter, it's been like this for weeks, like I swear it's gonna be this way forever, why should I give a fuck anymore? WHO'S UP FOR ANOTHER ROUND OF RAT POISON AT THE BAR!? YEEEHOOOO!! (they sell them by the shot glass dontcha know!). Except yeaaah I don't know if you've noticed, but this really isn't the SAME Crown & Anchor we used to know and love. From all the cheesy Jim Beam advertising plastered above the stage, to all the entrances and exits they've blocked off around us so we feel like we're being herded like cattle, to all those paranoid security signs they've posted outside: warning people to find a seat even if they DON'T have a beer in hand or the bouncers will totally hound you for it (no really what the fuck is up with that? CAN'T WE EVEN STOP TO CHAT ANYMORE!? SHEEESH!!). I mean hell maybe it's just me, maybe I'm simply overreacting (c'mon it's The Cranka ferfucksake!) maybe it's just that sinking feeling that comes with winter and hitting "rock bottom" and it's dragging everything down? or maybe it's just those residents next door (duuude tell me about it) but the sooner we get out of this concentration camp the better!
1:19AM - And so it's off to The Exeter instead: which proved to be about as hilariously awesome as I hoped it would be (and that would be lots) and for all the reasons I couldn't be arsed documenting here. Although I will note in passing that I DID happen to bump into Dan Crannitch from Leader Cheetah. And why is this worth noting? (if at all!?). Well as much as he IS a bartender here, and he's always here and pfft.. seriously who gives a flying fuck!? Tonight I figured I might actually ask the "bleedingly obvious question" here, the same any music journalist would ask, ie: "what the FUCK is up with that second Leader Cheetah album!?" and here's what he told me. Apparently YES it is in the pipeline and they're recording in October. Originally they planned on recording it overseas but after much deliberation they've decided upon a Sydney producer: who's worked with everyone from Dappled Cities, The Presets and Silverchair (apparently it was the range in his CV that attracted them the most). They're hoping to release the first single in December, follow that up with the full album sometime early 2011, and according to Dan there's a lot more "hooks" to the new material, even more so than the first album. Awesome huh? TOTALLY!! it's like I'm a legitimate news source all a sudden. Or in other words? duuude I SO gotta get more drunk!
2:29AM - Many many beers later I originally intended on hitting The Ed Castle, and not just because I'm always freaking there (although yeaaah it mostly is that, as I do tend to operate on drunken "autopilot" past 2AM) but more because the Strangelove DJs were playing tonight, and thus I could mooch a shitload of free piss; and really do you need more reason than that!? FUCK NO!! Except by the time I got there everyone had since left. Hmmm. So instead I found myself stumbling blindly towards Supermild. Obviously it was waaay too early for it and there was a ridiculously long lineup to match (and yeaaah they always claim they're at "capacity".. pfft!) but to hell with that. I simply went straight up to the entrance, pulled a "Jedi Mind Trick" on the bouncer and without a word spoken I was ushered through.. SHIT YEAAAH!! HOW MUCH A DOUCHE AM I!?
3:10AM - Although it's anyone's guess WHY there's a ridiculously long lineup outside short of I dunno.. them pulling the oldest trick in the book? (isn't that right Rocket Bar!? YOU FIENDS!!) for as much as the dancefloor's verily packed to the ceiling and the bar's overflowing with drunks (and yay.. Ruby Chew is back!) walking out into the beer garden just now it's practically deserted: clearly unrelated to the fact that it's been raining for the past hour or so. Still, quite "picturesque" isn't it?
3:13AM - Still as much as it was idiotic of me to be sitting out here in the freezing cold, in the rain, with all the sad sack tragic smokers shivvering their arses off around me.. especially when I don't even smoke myself!? Before common sense could get the better of me and I stumbled back inside I'm stopped dead in my tracks by Ben Brew here "AWWWW CRAP NOT AGAIN!?". Yup you may remember him from about a billion and one other retardedarse appearances he's made in this blog (especially recently) for reasons that are utterly beyond me. Because usually when I post fucked up photos like these? the people in question totally get the "hint", never ask me to take photos of them ever again, it saves me having to write up yet another lamearse caption making fun of them, EVERYONE WINS!! (isn't that right Anika? Olivia? Lucinda? too many other names to mention.. WOOOHAHAHAHaHAhAHAhA!!). But clearly Ben Brew isn't one of these people, clearly he's never gotten the "hint" (GUH DAMNIT! why couldn't it be his cute Alice sister instead!?) but hell when he's pulling dumbarse shit like THIS how could I possibly refuse? dude's a freaking natural!
I know.. aren't you SO glad you tuned for this shit this week!?
3:32AM - Still in his own weird way he might actually have a point. As much as this IS a dead night, in the dead heart of winter, for all the glaring evidence I have provided (and then some!) and my first instinct would be to say "fuck it all!" and drink myself into a coma, there's actually a lot of sublime and surreal beauty to be found amongst the ruin. Like take Julia "Chinchilla" Morris here for example. I mean it's anyone's guess WHAT that fur coat is actually made out of, whether it's an animal species indigenous, imported or damn near extraterrestrial (or an actual bona-fide Sasquatch carcass for that matter) but isn't she ridiculously awesome "modelling" it all the same!?
3:57AM - Or what about these two by the bar doing shot after shot of rocket fuel whatever-the-fuck (but I'm pretty sure it had ginger ale in it) Charlotte and Lucy? They're both sisters, the one on the right you might recognise as the former doorbitch for Supermild and wait.. seriously why am I even writing this shit!? (HA HA HA I know! and peeps still wonder why I go here all the time!?).
5:07AM - And then there's these wacky "green frogs" handed to me by Ruby Chew minutes after closing (awww you rock!) because clearly nothing's better here at the end of the night than a gelatinous coming together of food acids, additives and colourings indeterminate in the vague shape of an amphibian (they totally taste like lime too!). And I'm not even kidding either! I don't care if Griffy Griff was banging spastic drum & bass on the DJ decks mere moments ago to the piss hilarity of everyone present making total dicks of themselves on the dancefloor (HA HA HA duuude did we ever.. it was the stupidest thing ever!) right here is totally the highlight of my Friday night!
Yup tonight we've truly hit rock bottom, we've been wallowing in the very bleakest blackest oceanic trench of it (bug eyed luminescent freaks and everything!) and lemme tell you duuude it's the best possible place to be! WHY? because from here on in it only goes in one clear direction and that's straight up. So let's take this moment and let it all soak in: all that stillness, all that whistling on emptiness, all that sweet sweetarse melancholy and monochromatic madness. Breathe it all in and meditate maaan! It only happens but once a year and every year it drives us completely fucking insane but there's a sublime "beauty" in it too. It's all about appreciating the contrasts, that calm before the storm, those darkest days before dawn. Because when that spring explodes around us in all its retarded-arse fury? and believe me it will.. just give it a few more weeks! we're gonna look back on this moment and we're gonna know: this was the one moment where it all made sense.