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...
And the reason why I'm pondering all this "life and death" shit at The Grace Emily? well as much as this IS me continuing to brag about the fact I cannot be killed by conventional weapons (and I have years of binge drinking and gross negligence to thank for it!) it still doesn't make me feel any less susceptible to all the silly "existentialist crap" like increasing levels of scenester fatigue, writer's block and insomnia leading to a slightly "compromised" immune system; which thanks to almost everyone else around me being wiped out by colds and flus for the past month? has me fearing for my own "human frailty" all a sudden when I'm struck down by a teeny tiny case of the sniffles (no really it was awful maaan *cough* I almost had to blow my nose and everything!). And as always when I'm feeling this "hard done by"? yup I find myself drawn to the creature comforts of The Grace Emily to mad philosophise about this shit. And not just because it's always been my very own "convalescence home" for the musically deranged: thanks to its cozy interior, carpetted floors, friendly barstaff, seven-day-a-week live music; including the ever popular "Billy Bob's BBQ Jam" on a Monday night (with complimentary sausage sizzle no less!), or because there's a UFO on the roof or because Paul "Nazz" Nassari (lead singer of our headlining act) is celebrating his 41st birthday tonight and I might be inspired by such a freak event as this? (pfft.. nooo that's waaay off topic!). Nope it's for oh so much more, because check it out duuudes: their microphone stands on stage? totally come with their very own cup holders.. no really HOW RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME IS THAT!?
TUSCADERO (***1/2) myspace :: Yup it's fair to say (past their microphone stands that double as an "IV drip") The Grace Emily is that chance exception to the "rock & roll" rule. That inspiration for us all. That one place in all the Adelaide CBD that celebrates all those fantastic freaks of nature among us who've thrived well past their respective "use-by-dates" (like a giant jar of pickles that's been left in the back of the fridge throwing a party each night and everyone's invited!) and for clear evidence of that? (on all those nights that Tim Rogers from You Am I isn't playing a surprise solo set?) we need look no further than our opening act. Yup this is Tuscadero, and the first thing you might notice about them is that they're "old". I mean they're "really really old", sheeeiit they're old enough to be your crazy uncle! In fact by fleeting hipster standards they're practically mesolithic in the way they creak about a live stage blissfully unaware of any prevalent fashion meme or style trope (and to think none of them are even playing a microkorg, a melodica or swapping "crime converter" instruments every second song.. whodathunkit!?). And don't get me wrong, this isn't me mocking them in any way shape or form (no really.. why are you looking at me like that?) in fact it's one of the most awesome things about them: they're a breath of fresh air, they're like Louisiana blues musicians maaan! (except they're playing something more akin to country) I mean just LOOK at that bespectacled cat on the pedal steel guitar like one of those mad coots playing checkers in those "timey wimey" whiskey ads.. I mean doesn't that just BLOW YOUR MIND!? and better yet there's a seething crowd tonight totally mad keen for it dancing up a storm!? YOU BET YOUR EXPLODING LEFT NIPPLE THERE IS!! YEAAAAS!! But at first? yeaaah I readily admit I couldn't quite understand why. I mean I totally had them pegged as one of those weather-beaten bands you'd hear playing in an outback pub on a lazy Sunday afternoon, playing song after song about "life on the road", lessons hard one, all that Paul Kelly "blah-di-blah" AM easy listening whatever-the-fuck.. I mean they're good at what they do, but WHY is this crowd totally losing their shit to this!? But the more you hear of it, the more you start to appreciate the "finer qualities" that they have to offer. You first pick up on it in Dale Govett's vocals: all countrified but effortlessly smooth filtered, like a throat lozenge for the mind seeping into your synapses. Then there's the accompanying band nonchalantly cooking up that hillbilly groove around him. From Christos Dimitropolous on guitar, to Duane de Gruchy on bass and Jason Sifis on drums (both I vaguely recognise as former members of Swayback) to Peter Miller on the pedal steel: all those easy going harmonies between Dale and Duane? the fuzzed out rockier numbers? it's nothing but class. And then it all starts to make sense: it's all about the well weathered character, not the caricature! And as such? yeaaah it's probably better to think of them as a mix between the following: My Morning Jacket, Neil Young's Crazy Horse, 80's Bob Dylan and perhaps even You Am I in the "rockier moments". They're mad keen for handclaps in a way that totally doesn't make them look like hipster tragics (no mean feat). Pete totally rocks the shit out that pedal steel in ways you'd never think it would (let alone in me writing a review praising it). And in every way? the more shellshocked you feel, the more it works its magic like home made chicken soup!? Yup that's Tuscadero. They might take a while to grow on you, and admittedly they may not be for every crowd outside The Grace Emily.. but shit damn they're a smooth groove all the same!
VAN CLEEF (***1/2) myspace :: Which brings us to our second act who are as equally "distinguished" in nature as our opening act (which is clearly code for: they're so ridiculously "ancient" they've forgotten more about music DRUNK than you've ever learnt sober) but not nearly as stylistically well worn or "age appropriate" in execution as Tuscadero; and that's putting it mildly. In fact me calling their set: "maddeningly infantile filtered through a distortion pedal" would possibly be more apt a description: and I mean that both as a colourful insult and as a standing ovation of everything they unleashed on a live stage tonight.. duuude they were freaking hilarious! To begin with they introduced themselves on stage with a stupidly long soundcheck, at least forty five minutes by my reckoning (but hey I was still weirdly "sober" at the time so it probably felt like either triple or half that for anyone else). And it's anyone's guess WHY? as short of that mild mannered organ stack "Mikey" their keyboardist is rocking (which may or may not have been built from blueprints originally acquired from the BBC television department circa 1977) it's pretty much your stock standard five piece rock band. And then they went on to amuse us with the befuddling mystery of their two inchangeable bass players. For the first half of their set they have this screaming bug eyed freak (which accordingly to my indepth research either goes by the name "Sam" or if we're lead to believe their Triple J Unearthed site "P3nisfingers") only to swap out with some no-nonsense gimp by the name of Adam Lloyd (as much as he might also be called "P3nisfingers".. as to be fair I really didn't look closely enough to confirm). Awesome huh!? TOTALLY!! Still as much as they don't explain either of these occurances (or perhaps I simply wasn't paying attention at the time) it's all but impossible to ignore them when they unleash their diabolical shitstorm of rock. A "diabolical shitstorm of rock" that in many ways is just as wildly colourful and it's theatrically bi-polar. With their first bassplayer (for the first 2-3 songs) they let loose a ferocious blast of white noise not too dissimilar to that of Nick Oliveri's Mondo Generator, Queens Of The Stone Age's "Songs For The Deaf", or the sound of someone's pink bits being lightly toasted by a blowtorch. With their second bass player (for the remainder of their set) they channel everything from Grinderman, Rocket Science, Tom Waits, Ween and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.. or if all of that seems a little too confusing? their guitarist Christian Thompson offered up a slightly more succinct description when he told me after the show: "take the band Clutch out into the desert and fuck them up with a brick" (hmmm no wait.. that might've just been an unrelated suggestion). Better yet almost all of their songs are introduced in fine form by Mikey with some whimsical rambling non sequitur: made all the more awesome by the fact he bears more than a passing resemblance to Bill Bailey from Black Books attempting to describe an acid trip. Songs that in their masterful delivery sound like they've been dragged through the gutter, given a few dozen shots of tequila, thrown behind the wheel of a monster truck only to drive crashing through a kindergarten. To add icing to this urinal cake they also invite uber producer Matt Hills to provide vocals in the middle only to throw both bassplayer "Sam" and Paul "Nazz" Nassari out into the crowd for the rage blackout finale. With an overall impression that makes me think if THIS is what "adult responsibility" looks like? not only does it explain everything we've ever seen on A Current Affair, parliament question time, on and off the sporting field (or anywhere without a sizeable police presence) but it also reminds me how much more awesome all the above is when we're hilariously drunk. In other words? yup we need never grow up at all! That's Van Cleef. They're playing a month long "residency" here at The Grace Emily, they've got an album out in two weeks time: seriously duuude.. what more excuse to fuck shit up could you possibly ever need?
...SO YEAH (****) Which by no segue whatsoever (as I like to think of this shit as a thematic continuation with the volume turned up) brings us to our headlining act. Here to celebrate lead singer Paul "Nazz" Nassari's 41st birthday in a way very much befitting his age, or more accurately very much in utter defiance of either acting or looking his age (in a way that very much suggests he's the demented love spawn between Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger and Prince.. and don't say it could never happen!) by making an absolute exploding twit of himself on a live stage.. YEAAAS!! As such he clearly needs no introduction (as much as I'll provide one anyways) as maybe you've seen him in years past when he used to front King Daddy, or maybe you've flipped blissfully past his classic albums column in the entertainment liftout of the Sunday Mail (in search of the social pages to wipe your arse with) or maybe you remembered THIS his latest band when it debuted ever so triumphantly at Matt Hill's 40th Birthday party at Jive (aka: that "blink and you'll miss it affair" between The Battery Kids and Friends' album launch parties back in June.. GOOOD TIMES!!). Either way and I know I've said this countless times before but he truly is a gift to rock photojournalism that keeps on giving. Duuude he's like the human equivalent of a rubber chicken stuffed with a chinese firecracker! he's like Jar Jar Binks in a leather jacket! he's like everything our entire species could aspire to, if only it didn't somehow (and rather swiftly) lead to our mass extinction! aaaah but what a way to go out in a blaze of glory too? "huh.. what!?" yeaaah I've got no idea either. But at the very least he does provide me with a legitimate excuse to blow a sizeable portion of any given ...So Yeah live review cracking jokes at his expense; as much as we can also lay the blame square on him for a great deal of tonight's loose approximation of a "live performance" too. Yup in short this set was a total fucking disaster, from beginning to end, and yet very much in the most ridiculous and entertaining way possible too (arguably a few shades short of a Crying Game gig.. yeeeouch!). For one Nazz was clearly waaay too drunk to be on stage tonight, as much as he was clearly waaay too drunk NOT to be on stage having the absolute time of his life. Which would've gone all but unnoticeable by everyone in the audience laughing it up retarded, as let's face it, just from the photos alone he's not exactly the most subtle of cats in the art of "pulling shapes" (the weirdest of which being his habit of stuffing a microphone down his trousers and doing the duck dance shimmy to it) if it weren't for the fact he was also losing his voice; completely unrelated to how many cigarettes he might've been smoking in the beergarden tonight. Awesome! Still to their infinite credit the rest of the band DID do a masterful job in covering the shortfall, short of one teeny tiny "snag" of course. As to make matters slightly more "complicated" tonight? (for their second show no less) they introduced a sample pad to the mix. One which drummer Travis Williamson seemingly possessed as much technical mastery in "utilising" as a gorilla would with a sewing kit. No seriously almost everytime Travis used it? (often to kickstart a song in a blaring symphony of 80's synth cheese) he would accidently lose half a beat and throw everything ever so slightly out of whack. Granted most of us in the audience hardly noticed it (as to be honest most of us were far too drunk to care) but by all sober accounts (ie: ask their bass player Matt Hills face palming himself after the set) they goosed all but ONE of their songs by the end. And yet very much in spite (or thanks) to all these glaring faults they never failed to entertain. They combined everything awesome from Iggy Pop, Dinosaur Jr and Ween into the one sound; as much as you could also consider it (thanks to Nazz's encyclopedic grasp for rock & roll history) as a mad mixtape throwing in snippets of everything from David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel", The Doors "Hello, I Love You" to The Rolling Stones' "(I Cant Get No) Satisfaction" into the one live performance "mashup" reinterpretted and reimagined with Nazz's demented lyrics. And as loose as it all was? if you didn't leave tonight's set grinning ear from ear at the sublime spectacle of it all!? (most of it very much intended) then surely you didn't possess a soul. Yup that's ...So Yeah. They might be yet another in a long line of Adelaide bands needlessly abusing punctuation to make a name for themselves, but when they totally sport the mad hooks to back that shit up? aaaah fuck it.. you can't help but want to come back for more!
And I'm not even kidding you, we DID keep coming back for more.. HA HA HA duuude we never wanted them to leave! as much as they did their utmost to sneak off stage "quietly" without causing any more damage; only to be shouted right back to play us an encore. Or as it turned out TWO encores: the first I believe was a sketchy cover of "When You Were Mine" by Prince (but don't take my word for it) culminating in this utterly spontaneous and hilariously fucked up ode to "LA Woman" by The Doors (as much as the following video isn't conclusive proof of THAT either). And as such? yeaaah ...So Yeah and pretty much anyone else involved in this shit would like to apologise for pretty much everything you're about to see.. no really, don't say we didn't warn you!
1:43AM - Yup with the dust now clearing on stage, we could finally take stock on what had been unleashed at The Grace Emily tonight: the most mysterious of which being THIS pint glass (or possibly tumbler glass) that materialised above Travis' drumkit two thirds into their set, only to shatter into a thousand pieces and shower onto the carpet below. The weirdest thing being? no one knew just where the fuck it came from, who was responsible for it and by my recollection just why it looked like crushed ice cascading over his drumkit instead; only it was a little bit more ouchy and pointy than "crushed ice" when I laid face down on the carpet attempting to take a photo of it here. I mean it's kinda poetic when you think about it isn't it? all up close and personal? perhaps even symbolic of the all too tenuous grip we all have on this prime material plane? like Humpty Dumpty, or a snowflake, or smashing a watermellon with a sledgehammer laughing our tits off.. *sniff* life so fleeting! so fragile! kinda makes you want to go back to the bar and drink a dozen more aye?
1:58AM - And so in riotous celebration of "life itself" and all the idiotic and insane things we do to shorten it, we did just THAT (HA HA HA did we ever!) and not a moment too soon for ME as I'd been dangerously "sober and of sound mind" in all this time tonight (fuuuck I know!). And as for how these 3D glasses got involved? yeaaah I wish I knew the answer to that; or why we somehow ended up with a pair of retro "red and blues" from the 1980's (no really.. who even uses this crap anymore? cineplexes in Outer Mongolia!?) but we sure as shit weren't gonna let this opportunity go to waste; especially not after five or six beers. For as they say: never put off doing something drunk TODAY, that you may later come to regret doing when you're sober the next day.. YEAAAS!!
While Nazz here looks like the "dribbling sociopath" most likely to kidnap him.
2:16AM - And as for this utterly pointless "totem head" here? (in every sense that it's clearly the most head explodingly awesome thing you've seen me do all night.. AND YOU KNOW IT!!) yeaaah I believe THIS is the exact moment all five or six of those beers I'd been drinking in the past hour in a frantic game of "catch up" finally caught up with me (or maybe it was just the three or four beers, or maybe it was just the two? aaaah fuck it.. who even keeps count of this shit anyways?).
2:59AM - Of course there's a damn good reason for WHY I was drinking all these beers in a mad hurry: completely unrelated to me thinking at the time that'd be a genius method for killing a headache (ie: by stopping said "ache" by removing the head entirely) and that's because it was Nazz's birthday and we only just got started celebrating it. And yes I realise "birthday" isn't exactly a "green light" to binge drink myself into oblivion here, but it's the best excuse I had at the time (as much as I admittedly never need one anyways in writing this blog). As such with The Grace Emily closing up soon? we obviously needed a new location for it. Someone promptly offered up The Ed Castle, a brilliant plan if ever we had one: as they offer $100 worth of free drinks credit to anyone celebrating a birthday (and to think I had mine on Good Friday this year AND I TOTALLY MISSED OUT ON THAT SHIT!? FUUUCK!!). Problem being of course: the minute we got there we discovered Nazz needed a driver's license or "proof of age" ID to verify that, he had neither on him and so yeaaah.. here we are stumbling towards Supermild instead. A disastrous turn of events I believe THIS sign sums up rather nicely; as much as it's also telling us we can get drunk anywhere on Hindley street except where the giant arrow's pointing between those dotted lines. Hmmm?
3:13AM - Upon arrival we had little or no trouble bluffing our way past the lineup outside, and all of it thanks to "Señor Sketchy" being the attending bouncer tonight (aka: that fidgetty bespectled dweeb in his mid 50's to 60's who always looks like he's having a nervous breakdown anytime you approach him). As not only did he fall for my "Jedi Mind Trick" something fierce, he even allowed anywhere upto six of my fellow yammering mental patients in with me. And after hitting the bar in following? I obviously bumped into about a billion shitcrazy colourful characters worth mentioning but the reason why Lucy's making an appearance here? well not only is she the most ridiculously awesome person you'll ever damn near meet but she's also the only one here who DIDN'T run away screaming the minute I thought to take a photo of it. Aaaah Lucy what a legend! what a blissfully naive likely to regret ever having her photo taken when she sees this Lucy! (she truly is a gift that keeps on giving.. just as I totally don't look like an axe murderer standing next to her).
And as it turns out? it's just as well that I did find her when I did too: because not only was she on special at the bar tonight (yeaaah it's probably best we don't read into that) but moments later they totally ran out of her!? no really check it out duuudes, they totally had a sign and everything!
And as much as I was hoping that one of the bartenders would explain all this shit? (or better yet tell me how best to score me a six pack of Lucys going cheap the next time they're on "special" *ahem*) apparently they weren't all that forthcoming; or at least bartender Matt here wasn't when he saw fit to photo bomb me moments later. Hmmm. Do you ever get the sneaking suspicion that there's a whole other "second" Supermild below this one? and that there's a secret entrance behind the bar? and when the barstaff aren't serving you longnecks they do nothing but piss themselves laughing, lounging on beanbags, downing shots of absinthe and smoking shishas with oversized caterpillars!? just me then? well shit duuude.. you never would've guessed what we did next then!
4:36AM - Of course I have absolutely no recollection of it either, and not by "convenience" I swear, or because I signed any kind of "non disclosure agreement" (*cough* nope not at all!) only that I somehow spent the next hour and a half here having the absolute time of my life doing it, and I only have this utterly nondescript photo of stacked glasses at closing time to show for it? Awesome huh!? TOTALLY!! and peeps still wonder why I keep coming here all the time? yup it's not just to provide an ongoing punchline that stopped being funny well over a year ago, it's for actual legitimate reasons I swear! (hmmm now if only I can actually recall what those reasons are too!?).
Yup the rock & roll lifestyle will kill you fucking dead, there can be no doubt of that maaan.. no really! let this blog be a weekly lesson for each and every one of you people reading this now to NEVER TRY THIS SHIT AT HOME!! (FUCK NO!! it's so much better doing this in public and inflicting it upon as many other unsuspecting victims as possible.. weeee!) just as I somehow manage to find and accumulate every single insane exception to that rule in my ongoing travels. Yup there's a secret to this kamikaze longevity I'm sure of it! just as much as I'm entirely unsure what that is to this day and I'm simply bluffing my way through. I mean hell, maybe it's about living all the extremes in moderation? maybe it's all about eating and drinking and smoking everything that will kill you all at the same time so they simply cancel each other out, or give you freak superpowers, or both!? (shit it's worked for me so far). Or maybe it's all about snorting powdered wheatgrass, shooting up vitamin C in your eyelids and harvesting black market organs from virgin goats. Either way I'm still here, you're still here, we're all still here on this mad merry-go-round together.. and fuck it isn't that more than enough reason each week to celebrate like there's no tomorrow!? Yup "Weekend At Bernie's" or no "Weekend At Bernie's" it's never to late to be the life of the party!