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...
INSTITUT POLAIRE + THE HONEY PIES LIVE @ THE GRACE EMILY / Saturday October 16th 2010
I know it might not look it, especially not in the way that I write it, but what you're getting here in any given episode of Spoz's Rant barely covers the "tip of the iceberg" of what I experience in a night out.. HA HA HA duuude you have no idea! Nope at best you're provided with a "Titanic scale" head on collision complete with the "vicarious thrill" of watching Leonardo DiCaprio drown each week (and let's face it it's not like he could play guitar to save his life anyways.. so fuck him!) but more often than not (ie: once you get past the ridiculous purple prose padding?) all this insanity you see HERE is little more than a blissfully abrupt "fortune cookie summary", a studio endorsed "director's commentary", an altogether patchy "black box recording" of what it's like to live my life in the Adelaide scene; and there's a damn good reason WHY too! Most of this "behind the scenes" crap seriously wouldn't interest you.. it wouldn't! It's little more than a logistical nightmare of my own concoction, a borderline impossible all encompassing juggling act (on the verge of a fullblown psychotic breakdown) between two equal but opposing "ideals". On the one hand I'm orchestrating layer upon layer of ever more sophisticated micromanagement and control. We're talking endless plotting, scheming and under handed conspiracy acting through social networking, text messaging and record label bribery (fuck it.. more the merrier!) as I do my utmost to keep all your overblown egos happy whilst simultaneously seeking the comical means to destroy them. No shit! I've totally become a mad Machiavellian mind honed like an HB pencil, a surgical scalpel and a laser beam in being able to duck and weave through all your dysfunctional shit and make sense of it on a weekly basis! On the other hand since most of my friends are artists and musicians now, with the wild temperaments to match, it's nonstop, I can't escape it, I can't sleep! my life is forever the eye to a shitstorm teetering a few dominoes short of complete and utter collapse! I mean seriously I don't know how I do this sometimes (make that ALL THE TIME when I wonder out loud just how I'm not dead yet) and I really don't know why I'm telling you now.. I mean what has all THIS got to do with a "quiet" Saturday night out at The Grace Emily!? AAAAHAHAhAHaHAhAhAhAHahAhA!! *ahem* well thanks to some very selective editing of what you're about to read? oooh nothing.. nothing at all!
MOUNTBATTEN (!?) myspace :: Which by no "ominous" tidings at all brings us to our opening act.. ummm yup? or at least it wouldn't have been if I'd gotten here an hour earlier. You see when you're running a "logistical nightmare" like THIS one, it doesn't necessarily mean it's always gonna run according to schedule or what I laughingly like to call a "self imposed deadline". Nope more often than not what appears to be a blog on "...So Yeah, Van Cleef and Tuscadero" published on a Wednesday afternoon, is in fact a blog published on a SATURDAY afternoon back dated to "Wednesday" just a few hours shy of me leaving the house tonight. Awesome huh!? TOTALLY!! (oh I love writer's block.. I really do!). Better yet thinking I still had a few hours to work with before doing that, I started editing up all those photos I got from that Coopers Alive showcase last night. The logic being: I looked up the photo logs from that Grace Emily show I covered LAST Friday, and according to them the first band didn't get on stage till around 9:53 and if I caught the bus in tonight at 9:30? I'd easily make it here with more than enough time to spare. And by "more than enough time to spare" I clearly mean missing out on maybe the first two songs (aaaah fuck it what do I care!?). Only by the time I got here? turns out I missed out on their entire set. Ooops! Still it wasn't a total bust as they were giving away free copies of their demo. So in lieu of any proper "live review" (or at least one of my laughable approximations of one) I figured I could totally review their CD instead. Only since it hasn't even left my pockets all week after collecting it tonight and I'm too lazy to do anything about that, I figured I'd just review what it looks like in this photo. Yup this is Mountbatten. Not to be confused with "Mount Barren" listed on the chalkboard outside (as they mysteriously had to pull out at the very last minute). It's got two songs. The first "Ball & Chain" I'm pretty sure I heard in a live set from We Grow Up back in August (so you may want to contact your lawyers over that). The second "First Impression" I don't doubt would make a really nice first impression except its their second song. Hmmm. It's presented in a white paper sleeve. It's got a little window in it (it's kinda shiny and reflective). It weighs approximately 50 grams (but don't take my word for it, as I simply pulled that statistic out of my arse). And despite all appearances to the contrary it would make a really crap frisbee, but if you aim it in just the "right direction" for a flying paper cut? it'd make a wicked-arse ninja star. Mountbatten. No really, totally look that shit up.. I reckon they'll go far!
THE HONEY PIES (*****) myspace :: Which with only the utmost "professionalism" in mind brings us to our second act: a masterfully sarcastic segue if ever I concocted one for introducing them here tonight, for as much as they're arguably one of the most fiendishingly brilliant up and coming bands in the Adelaide scene right now (only nobody quite knows it yet) they're also one of the most pissingly shambolic, chaotic and utterly unpredictable in proving it. Which appears to be very much part and parcel of their headfuck philosophy and maybe even a large part of their batshit appeal. Inspired equally by both The Beatles and The Libertines: they take the ridiculously infectious 60's pop sensibilities of the former (in fact those slightly more observant may even suspect they got their name from "Honey Pie" off The White Album; only they'd vehemently deny that) only to smash it over the head repetively with the crack pipe punk hysteria of the latter (ie: see everything Pete Doherty has ever done short of forming a coherent sentence). Or in other words? they're a laughing contradiction in terms, they're pranksters and troublemakers in the most annoyingly "talented" way possible, and no two shows will ever quite sound the same way. Or to cite more concrete examples? they'll let loose everything from a littany of half baked covers (everything insane from "Moon River" to "Doctorin' The Tardis") only to never quite follow through on them, their lead singer Jon Marco will constantly berrate drummer Marcus Warnecke for no good reason other than for the sake of sibling rivalry (and if you're confused? "Marco" is apparently just a stage name) or guitarist Tony Marshall because he's standing all of two metres away. They'll back announce the band as everything from "City Riots" to "The Battery Kids" anytime they fuck up a song or two (or simply to start some shit), especially when Jon breaks all but two strings on his guitar (which he's done on more than one occassion only to never bring spares). And they almost never EVER bother to write a setlist (as much as you half wonder if they even rehearse). And yet as much as all this shit could come off sounding like an exploding dog's breakfast bordering on a fullblown fucking disaster? Short of that one "infamous exception" back in July (when Tom McCarthy-Jones' bass amp kept cutting out and then everything ELSE went wrong) they almost always manage to bluff and bullshit their way to sweet sweet victory. Or in the case of tonight's set do everything short of falling flat on their arses to achieve a five point landing, I mean seriously the more they set out to sabotage their shit the better it sounded! For one they insisted on playing almost every one of their songs twice as fast and twice as loose (and in doing so STILL managed to rock the shit out of their first song Sex Wax like it never had its shit rocked out before). They throw in spontaneous covers of everything retro eclectic from 60's band The Zombies, The Kinks and about two or three other obscure-arse choices in between that I couldn't even place. Song "Fool In Love" came with extra gang harmonies in the intro from both Tony and Jon (or at least I think they did?) only for Tony's microphone to cut out halfway through, only for both of them to share a mic instead (cue a suitably infantile joke from Jon) only to drop everyone's jaws to the floor with a haunting rendition of crowd favourite "Diving Bell" (watch the video and you'll surely understand why). Every song in succession is seemingly picked on a whim to Tony's increasingly befuddled expression and Tom's increasingly nonchalant channeling (like he could do it all in his sleep) throwing out rapid fire punk jams and tinkering little segues like they simply invented every one of them on the spot. I mean I don't know how they did it with such "eerie precision" when they forever sounded just shy of screaming off a cliff, and clearly this live review is making an absolute mess of it.. but it was serious skin of your teeth shit! It was like The Three Little Pigs out of that Looney Tunes cartoon and the Big Bad Wolf let loose in a mine field without even a hint of burnt fur or bacon.. I mean FUUUCK!! how in the hell did these maniacs pull such a "happy accident" as this without causing themselves a spontaneous head concussion it blows my mind! Yup that's The Honey Pies. I can't quite fathom if they fluked it or if they planned it but for achieving a sublime symphony in chaos like this? whoaaa.. seriously fucking WHOAAA!!
INSTITUT POLAIRE (****1/2) myspace :: Which then brings us to our headlining act and the real reason why I'm here tonight, and in case you're wondering "no really, WHY!?" (as admittedly I'd never heard of this band either) that'd be thanks to an email I received on Friday, yes.. an EMAIL! my mind's totally blown over that shit too! I mean who even uses email anymore? what.. is this 1998 again!? is this dialup internet speed? am I posting this on my Geocities site with a fuckload of animated GIFS all a sudden!? WOWEEEE!! *ahem* but I digress. For it wasn't necessarily for the fact I was being emailed about it that caught my eye (as to be fair a lot of PR types DO contact me this way and I truly have no legitimate excuse to make fun of them for it) but more for the content of the email itself. Now obviously I won't mention them by name, or who they were representing, but I can't help but share what they sent, and I quote: "Spoz Dude! Shit in a pool of water. I almost forgot to email you about this gig tonight. This band is good. Fuck I’m a good publicist! If you’re not climbing trees, setting up camp along some pure Adelaide river, or smoking weed with your partners younger brother.......... Feel free to kick along to this show". I mean seriously? HOW COULD I NOT ATTEND THE FUCK OUT OF A SHOW WITH A SALES PITCH LIKE THAT!? WOOOO!! (better yet? he even got the date wrong too!? HA HA HA AWESOME!!). Yup this is Institut Polaire. I wouldn't even know them from a proverbial "can of beans", a "bar of soap", or even a seven piece band (formerly eight piece) from Melbourne who are launching their debut album "Make Your Own Mayflower" tonight; short of any publicity clippings accompanying that email of course (which I totally didn't get around to reading in time, ooops my bad!) some "mad buzz" preceding their appearance on my Facebook newsfeed tonight and the fact that two of their members are apparently from Adelaide (one of which I recognise as bassplayer Lyndon Gray from The Finishing School) but hey.. I do rather like the challenge! And right from the outside they DO provide quite the curious "nut to crack" too. From first impressions I totally have them pegged as sounding just like the Arcade Fire (or at least some of the more mellower Arcade Fire back catalogue off of "Neon Bible"). Only clearly I'm being way too lazy in that assessment: as I generally use that reference point to describe just about any oversized ensemble past a five or a six piece (even if their lead singer Erik Hecht does sport an eerily similar hairdo to Win Butler, and an even more eerie "American" accent to boot!?) because clearly there's much more to them than that. And after wracking my brain through the entirety of their set? I start to pick up on it too: everything from the upbeat indie pop sounds of Ben Folds and The Shins, the alt country flavours of Ryan Adams, the well travelled feel of The Triffids.. and fuck, maybe even the heartfelt yearning of The Decemberists at a total stretch!? I mean clearly I'm clutching at straws here trying to describe it all but at the same time I'm very much enjoying the loose, colourfully eclectic flavours they have on offer too. To make matters "worse", band members will frequently swap instruments and places on stage. Samantha Watts will swap from piano accordian to acoustic guitar, vocals and keys; Elliott Brannen from acoustic to trumpet and even more befuddlingly Ash Blakeney (stuffed in the corner) swapping from guitar to mixing the band AT THE SAME FUCKING TIME!? Yes I know, it so totally shouldn't work either and yet it does so masterfully (short of some feedbacking issues) and better yet they make it look so effortless too!? Yup there's an infectious bounce, skip and a step to their rhythm and keys. A guitar sound rich with improvised flourishes. The crowd responds in kind, dancing up a storm almost to the point where you can't quite tell where the band starts and the crowd finishes (and not simply because they're wildly overcrowded up there). I mean what can I say? (short of proving beyond a doubt that I'm at an utter loss for describing it) they're a total shock and awe all-star ensemble! Yup that's Institut Polaire. They're just like a tornado wrapped up in a cool summer's breeze and you might totally find your brain on back to front dribbling incoherently attempting to make "head or tails" of it in a live review, but they'll still leave you grinning by the end of it.. and for that? they're well worth coming back for!
1:14AM - And so here we are: in that brief shining moment after a show (or in this case just a few short seconds after the room stops spinning) where all is quiet again. Here in this teeny tiny "moment of zen" in any given night where I sort through all the photos on my camera: sorting out all the gold from garbage, hidden away in a corner of this room or out in the beergarden like a blissfully medicated mental patient, putting the world into order. YEAAAS!! And for that brief shining moment all IS right with the universe too, it truly is! and a whole wealth of drunken possibility extends out before me.. all the mad mischief I could totally get upto tonight, no really! breath it in peeps.. it's the awesomest place to be in my brain right now! WOOOO!! Or at least it would've been if the phone didn't start ringing soon after. Hmmm. And not just any phone call either but what for all the world sounded like a bag of cats fighting a wolverine stuffed into a washing machine fed through a megaphone. Yes.. yes I know! Now I'll spare you (and her) the particulars on who it was, why they were ringing me ever so frantically (read: drunkeningly), or why I had to chase them down every back street and side alley in the west of Adelaide for the next half hour in effort to "rescue" them (possibly from themselves). Nope instead I'm going to show you THIS photo of a teeny tiny drummer's foot stool someone's left on the stage just now. Yes.. foot stool!
Just like I'll also spare you all the (increasingly eye gouging) details of what happened with the next two hours of my night (and how!) and why I conveniently have no photos to account for it, and thus in my mind it totally never happened (but if it helps to paint a picture here: she *ooops* I mean "they" did totally post the most hilarious "apology blog" on the following Monday night in effort to explain themselves) and instead direct your attention to a funny little anecdote I left out from last night's Coopers Alive showcase at The Ed Castle. As you might remember (and if you don't feel free to read up on it here) a good part of the stage setup that night involved various desk lamps and night lights of assorted shapes and sizes being used as a novel method for providing both "mood" and "ambience" (which admittedly it very much succeeded in doing) whilst simultaneoulsy making it next to impossible for me to take photos of anything. But what you might not have seen or known about, was THIS light in particular: a cutely innocuous teddy bear lamp (yeaaah it might've been stuffed in the corner somewhere behind a guitar amp). The same "cutely innocuous teddy bear lamp" that Sarah Masters from Hawks Of Alba might've insisted that I adopt as my own, despite my repeated protests, until I finally caved on condition I could leave it here overnight for "safe keeping" until I could pick it up on Saturday. Of course what she failed to tell me was that it was a potential fire hazard and it could very well burn my house down if ever I plugged it into anything.. but awwww look how cuuute it looks in this baby seat. I KNOW RIGHT!?
2:47AM - And the reason why I'm mentioning it just now.. is that it very much came in handy as an entirely ridiculous (but entirely legitimate) excuse to flee whatever-the-fuckarse situation I'd just found myself in tonight (and how it led me to The Crown & Anchor of all places!?) in effort to pick it up just now. I mean c'mon.. it's a bear lamp ferfucksake! I mean just look at that photo! JUST LOOK AT IT!! HOW COULD I POSSIBLY GIVE THAT UP? AM I MADE OF STONE!? FUUUCK!! And so, fast forwarding two hours later (give or take how impossibly long it felt in my head) of me fleeing flailing and screaming, all the while persued by a persistant ringing of my phone which I was doing my utmost to ignore.. admittedly whilst laughing my arse off over it all (aaaah I truly DO have the most awesomely fucked up friends don't I?) I finally arrive here at The Ed Castle. *PHEW*. And might I add? possibly the most grateful I've ever been in seeing this place too. YEAAAS!! THE ED CASTLE!! no really, you're so damn beautiful right now I'd damn near KISS you!
2:50AM - Upon arriving, the task of claiming said "bear lamp" initially proved a little difficult. In the very least explaining it to the bouncer posted at the entrance to the band room where'd left it for "safe keeping", and no less so to bartender Miranda cleaning the tables inside who gave me a weird look like I'd well and truly lost the last of my fucking marbles in asking her about it (and would you believe I was still "relatively" sober at this point!? FUUUCK!!). But once I DID unearth this chance treasure and bring it out by the front bar? oh you could just tell there was an air of excitement in the room, an air of anticipation, an air of "just what the fuck is Spoz holding in his hands and what magical mischief could will unleash!?" or kinda like The Ed Castle equivalent of that infamous "obelisk scene" out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, only swap the shrieking monkeys for drunken hipsters (or on second thoughts? yeaaah it's pretty much the same thing). Especially for Shari here, aka: "Ed Castle's ridiculously cute bartender" (aka: totally not a monkey.. and yeaaah you probably know the one I'm referring to) who jumped up and down all ecstatic when she saw me, offering to plug it in by the bar and pose for a photo with it. And yes this may very well have been THE highlight of my night to oblige, for reasons that clearly need no elaborating.. awwww!
Or at least it WAS for all of five seconds that it was working, until "bear lamp" promptly imploded (possibly due to cuteness overload) leading to THIS the most heartbreaking moment of the night.
3:14AM - Hitting the bar at last, I ordered up a long neck and sequestered to a quiet corner of the room to drink myself delerious.. as short of that ONE beer someone shouted me earlier at The Grace Emily, I've actually been dead sober in all this time. SOBER!! (I mean who even does that to themselves? FUUUCK!!). And as much as I was enjoying this newfound "peace and quiet" here? it was soon interrupted by THESE two nitwits. The one on the left you might recognise as "Dave Blumberg", singer, guitarist and bassplayer for Tea: that hilariously fucked up (possibly fictional) band that always seems to appear in Spoz's Rant of late, without ever actually being REVIEWED in Spoz's Rant. The one on the right? yeaaah who fucking cares!? (hi if you're tuning in!). Word is they played a show earlier tonight at Enigma Bar, along with Nicker Teens and Loaded Leopard only to somehow be banned for life from Enigma Bar. And as much as I'd love to elaborate WHY they were banned for life from Enigma Bar (oh believe me it was quite the story too!) all that was really registering in my brain at the time was "blah-di-blah-blah-blah mmmm beer.. BLAH!!" and then we laughed and laughed at our collective misfortune (especially after I told them about MY night) and all in all? GOOOD TIMES!! Or at least it was until my phone started ringing off the hook again. FUUUCK!! And as much as I had the near irresistable urge to flush it down the toilet for the trouble it was causing me, after the upteenth billionth call? (turns out "they" were lining up outside trying to get in after being kicked out of The Crown & Anchor *forehead slap*) I finally took pity, put down my half full long neck (GUH!! DAMNIT!!) and headed out to face what will surely be too stupid a "situation" to put into words (as much as it's arguably hilarious with accompanying diagrams).
4:30AM - And then little under an hour and a half later? I returned, or at the very least a near hysterical "facsimile" of me returned after finally bidding that looney drunk who's name I dare not mention "fond farewell" in a taxi (wait.. I said "in" not " thrown in front of" riiight?). And after all that? oh I needed beer. I NEEDED BEER BADLY. I was still sober. This was exactly the state of mind I shouldn't be in right now. NOT NOW!! Only as it turned out Supermild was closing up soon, so instead of the bucket and funnel I very much had in mind, I simply ordered up a stubbie instead. Still all things considered? I could easily have downed a bucket in the time it took me to drink it.
Yup sometimes some of the best stories I can ever tell you, are the ones I never dare tell at all, like the Spoz's Rant equivalent of a declassified document with all the "best bits" blacked out. And as hilariously dysfunctional as it must seem by omission in this instance? it's hardly an exception. It happens all the time! Every night I do this to myself. EVERY FUCKING NIGHT!! I jokingly call it an "extreme sport for the mind", I even thrive off it only to push myself so screaming over the edge attempting to do it all justice, that I wonder out loud if I'll ever return to where the skies are blue and gravity still works in the right direction (and even then I'm still leaving the best bits out!). And yet every time I simply bounce back like Wile. E. Coyote shit grinning all set to blow myself up again? it's the maddest buzz I swear! It's what I totally live for! and I used to think I was insane for doing it! that I was eccentic to the point of extraterrestrial! (and at the very least it'd definitely explain how I can treat writing this blog like it's a mad science experiment). But the more I do this, the more I surround myself with like minded freaks fueled by nothing but chaos and creativity to inspire me? I discover to my horror that I might not be so dysfunctionally "insane" afterall. I might be the ONE functional human being capable of holding it all together in the eye of this shitstorm. Which is why all THIS you read, all these madenning adventures in drunkeness, debauchery and screaming dementia will only ever be an "edited transcript". No shit duuude.. if you knew the full scope and scale of what I've got flying about in my head sometimes? it might actually kill you!