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...
THE SEA THIEVES + STEERING BY STARS LIVE @ THE GRACE EMILY / Sunday October 31st 2010
Aaaaah the Sunday night gig.. the last refuge for the damned! Sunday night! no seriously what the fuck am I thinking, doing THIS on a Sunday night? shouldn't I be home? SHOULDN'T I BE BURIED SIX FOOT IN A COFFIN BY NOW? HA HA HA WHAT THE FUCK DUUUDE!? Yeaaah I know, believe me I know! I'm almost never out on a Sunday night, and for damn good reasons too! (I mean don't I do nearly enough "damage" as it is on a Friday and Saturday night!?). Just like I've clearly lost my mind in agreeing to THIS, and it's not just "lost" under the sofa cushions this time around (with all $3.75 of what's left of my "common sense"), or in my refrigerator floating in a jar of formadehyde, or kicking about the curb outside Supermild like a lost puppy looking for a home (or a veterinarian to destroy it) oh no it's long gone pissed into the breeze! And as for WHY!? yeaaah let's rewind back to my Saturday night. Maaan did I have the maddest Saturday night ever.. THE MADDEST!! It was so freaking "mad" it was certifiable! The stories I could've told! the wild and wacky adventures! the eye gouging kaliedoscopic chaos and carnage! In fact it was so fuck full of spastic anecdotes in head exploding, self destructing, shitcrazy dribbling debauchery it'd damn near blow your pink bits concave like an oscillating loud speaker if ever I told you in full.. WOOOO!! Of course normally I'd simply go right ahead and tell you anyways, in every stupifying detail, with a rambling word count that'd damn near put Kerouac's "On The Road" to shame (in a way you'd half imagine it, if it was scrawled in crayon on a meth amphetamine bender) except THIS "Saturday night" in question had even less to do with the Adelaide scene than my piss poor excuse for a Friday night did (no shit? explain to me again JUST WHAT THE FUCK THAT WAS ALL ABOUT!?) which is why I feel the need to "compensate" with my Sunday night instead. Still in saying that.. my stupidly "off topic" Saturday night was SO colourfully insane in scope, and I took so many stupidly ridiculous photos in covering it all (and I'm possibly bragging over just how ridiculously awesome said "photos" are) at the very least in explaining my Sunday night? and just why I'm yammering out my skull in the telling of it!? I'd be totally remiss if I didn't give you a taste here of what we liked to call.. Oktoberweenerfest!
Yup as you might've guessed, it was a Halloween party. Just like there was likely a billion and one OTHER Halloween parties you could've totally hit up instead: not least of which the ever popular "Plus One Halloween Party" held at The Ed Castle featuring the East End Villians, Simply Thrash and Collarbones (if ever you find your way out of the beergarden past the hilarious freaks that is). The ever infamous "Church Party" all the cool kids were attending at who-the-fuck-knows where but they keep inviting me to it: and yes I'm kicking myself retarded over the fact I keep missing it too (next year damnit! NEXT YEAR!!). Or the uber hipster "Boat Party" thrown down Port Adelaide way featuring a shitload of indie disco DJs, Transatlantics, Shaolin Afronauts, Colonel Kernel and Jimmy & The Mirrors on Sunday night (and likely more cocaine than you'd ever know what to do with). And as for why I chose THIS party? Well for starters only chumps hit the CBD on Halloween anymore, no seriously it's practically like New Year's Eve now it's that retardingly fucked up (duuude it blows a "21 goat salute" and it's only getting worse!). Secondly, you haven't partied on Halloween until you've partied with an oversized chilli made of felt.. FACT! Thirdly calling this a "Halloween party" is actually a bit of a misnomer: a more accurate description would be a combination Halloween and "Oktoberfest" verging on a "biblical" scale cautionary tale on how best not to butcher up your own intestinal tract whilst simultaneously barbecuing up the (occassionally cheese filled) intestinal tracts of animals "less fortunate" than you (oh yes we have wieners!). Better yet it's a house party out in the suburbs: so there's no security, no douchebag DJs, no last drinks called, in fact no rules at all and all the alcohol you liver and kidneys could possibly handle just short of it exploding out your ears and eyesockets!? OH YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT BAAABY!! which is just as well considering all the cannibalistic circus freaks you'll be partying with.. oh yes, it truly don't get much better than this!
*Ahem* so yes obviously all we did tonight was sip teeny cups of tea (Chai mostly, Earl Grey if we were feeling really "adventurous") compare knitting patterns as found in back issues of Women's Weekly and discuss (quite heatedly mind you) our favourite scenes from Mary Poppins and The Sound Of Music: especially that one scene in the latter when Julie Andrews' gets decapitated by the Nazis, only for her disembodied head to keep on singing until it explodes like a hand grenade (but that may just be in the Robert Rodriguez "Director's Cut") in fact I don't even know WHY I showed you all these photos in the first place. Just like that photo below totally isn't me passed out stone cold on the medium strip of a main road at the end of the night; it was actually in the MIDDLE of the night (aaaah that Chai you mischevious little minx!). Just like I can't explain WHY that arrow is pointing directly at me, as we totally didn't plan for that, or brought the white paint to facilitate it (hello increased road fatalities!). Just like I totally can't explain either how an Ikea mantlepiece in the living room might have caught fire that one time (yeaaah don't ask), or who eventually put it out and how, or if it was in actual fact ME by pissing all over it (as to be honest I barely recall ANY of this shit happening in the first place so you can't prove anything!) either way? GOOD TIMES!!
7:49PM - And so back to my Sunday night here.. and I swear I'm nothing but fuck off awesome. HA HA HA duuude I'm not even kidding you! and I don't even know how this happened either! It's like I totally pulled a move out of The Matrix: like I dodged a few thousand bullets (or more accurately a few thousand beer bottles) aimed square at my head last night and came out the other end thinking I could fly or do a really good impersonation of a plank of wood or something (or maybe that was just the Galliano talking!?) either way I pulled the insane! I pulled the damn near impossible! Or at least until I picked myself off that medium strip, brushed the broken glass off my jacket, bid adieu to the emergency crews working around the clock collectively giving me the stink eye (no really I swear! those road markings were like that when I got here!) caught a bus back into the city and then all the laws of physics finally caught up with me; like they were on some kind of Looney Tunes time delay, like they were a million termites holding hands within me saying "fuck this!" and collectively fleeing in protest. I mean I wouldn't say I was "hungover", more that I was hanging by a thread, that I was a candy coated corpse one swift blow to the "donkey piñata" short of impending doom and I've come here to The Grace Emily to die; or shit maybe it's just gas? Hmmm. Still to be fair I couldn't have chosen a better place for it, just as I couldn't have chosen a better night for it, only that I've regrettably arrived much too soon (shit isn't it always the way!?). Apparently they were still setting up, they said "come back around 8:30?", they might've mentioned something about the "smell" too.. and so before they could pin that on ME I headed out the door again. I mean every one of my internal organs might be pissing out air like a popped balloon all of a sudden (and perhaps I should be doing something about that?) but I was feeling kinda peckish too. No really.. does anyone know where I can get some fish tacos or vindaloo!?
STEERING BY STARS (****1/2) myspace :: Or at least it would've if it wasn't featuring THESE shoegazer shitweasels again.. "HA HA HA WHAT? Steering By Stars!? STEERING BY STARS!? Spoz what the fuck happened maaan!? YOU USED TO BE COOL!!". Yes I know.. BELIEVE ME I KNOW!! as much as I vehemently deny you on that last point (pfft.. duuude I write a blog on the Adelaide music scene, it's pretty much a given that I'm pretty fucking far from "cool") just like I know that you're totally rolling your eyes at me, and you have every reason to, and I understand that because yes this IS the third week in a row I've reviewed this band.. THIRD WEEK IN A ROW!! Better yet it's the third week in a row that they've been using the exact same setlist (as much as they've been using that exact same setlist since their album launch and I've never even noticed it until now.. ooops!). So much so in fact they've even used the exact same slip of paper by Adrian Reveruzzi's bass pedals, right down to second song "Ink" being misspelt as "Inky" and a series of chord changes listed below in turquoise texta (or perhaps it's more of a kingfisher blue and they're guitar tunings?) either way it's an observation that only gets funnier for me everytime I see it. Guitarist Rory O'Connor appears "embarassed" by it, vowing this'll be the last time they'll ever use it. But he needn't have to be because it's served them so very well the past three times and I very much doubt tonight's gonna be that "grand exception". For you see the real reason why I'm here? (besides clearly compensating for my gross lack of live coverage the rest of this week) is for that "once in a blue moon occassion": Steering By Stars and The Sea Thieves on the same stage at The Grace Emily.. YEAAAS!! One that very much echoes an equally auspicious Sunday night gig I caught back here in July 2008 when Mr Wednesday (with lead singer Lachlan Wilson on guitar) tag-teamed with The Sea Thieves: quite possibly one of THE best Sunday night gigs I'd ever witnessed (duuude it was some next level transcendental shit it was THAT mind blowing!) and they couldn't have planned a better week than THIS for its "encore", duuude it's every essence a "slam dunk" you couldn't afford to miss! Still that being said: short of it being the first time Steering By Stars have ever played The Grace Emily (and the fact that uber producer Matt Hills is working the sound.. always a plus!) it IS essentially the exact same show I've seen them play three times before. But even so they ARE sending it off on a high note tonight, and short of some teeny tiny issues with opening number "Dissonance"? (Lachlan's microphone keeps feeding back ever so slightly until the levels are adjusted) it's as smooth as silk through and through. Adrian's bass hits heavy in the mix, Tom Smeet's drums cut like chopsticks the size of sledgehammers but it's ever so crystal clear in the high end too with Rory's intricate guitar riffs and Lachlan's ethereal keys and vocals. It flows seamlessly and effortlessly from "Dissonance" to "Ink" to "Magnets" to their single "Closer" (always garnering the best response from the crowd). Pauses briefly as Rory reluctantly takes to the mic to thank everyone for turning up, only to launch into "Cables": which is always a mad source of amusment to me as Rory "reluctantly" plays the glockenspiel (only to suddenly realise just how many times I've already photographed that before) and then the jaw dropping catharsis that is "Blood-Letting" (formerly "Mouse/Rat") as Lachlan let's loose from his seated position and damn near tears the roof off thrashing and flailing to much hooting and cheering. I mean sure I've seen the exact same schtick from this band so many times before.. but perhaps since none of these songs have any recogniseable lyrics that would otherwise grate on me in repeated listens? it never seems to lose its lustre. The crowd soaks it up like a sponge, some lying on the carpet front the stage totally lost in a trance, like the entire room is smoking a giant monster spliff (mad high / mostly none of the paranoia) or savouring a fine wine? Yup that's Steering By Stars. Even in all their "familiarity" here tonight.. they're no less hypnotic!
THE SEA THIEVES (****) myspace :: Which then brings us to the headlining act in our tag-team double billing tonight: one which you may already be familiar with by name as well as by nature as a "solo project" for one Zac Coligan (aka: "Psychic Zac", "Merry Brandybuck of The Shire", perpetually happy-go-lucky bartender and proprietor for The Jade Monkey) only to collaborate with whoever he can convince to tag along with him (sometimes even just random drifters he finds on the street) whenever he fronts up to a live stage. Everyone from his "softly spoken" wife Naomi Thompson on ukulele and accordian back in the early days (when they performed and recorded as a duo), except she used to get mad stage fright whenever she did so (as much as I'm aware) and quietly opted out sometime after 2008. To Jed Palmer and Zoe Barry from the Alarm Birds on ukulele, acoustic guitar, cello and accordian back in 2009. To the "barnyard ensemble of seven" that was assembled most recently for their Sparklehorse Tribute Show in September this year. And it's that latter lineup that's inspired him to form THIS fulltime band playing their debut performance here tonight. And as such.. in featuring one Tom Spall on guitar, violin and ukulele (from Cortez and Doe), Justin Hermes on bass (from Diplomat) and Aidan Moyse on drums (from Hawks Of Alba and The Burning Sea) it could be argued that we're witness to nothing short of a bona-fide a-grade "Adelaide supergroup" in the making here. As much as we could also argue all the above simply came together out of sheer laziness: as next to every one of them works as either barstaff or sound engineers at the Jade Monkey. Which in a roundabout way is another reason why I just had to be here tonight blogging the fuck out of this shit, because in many ways this is the Jade Monkey being teleported INTO The Grace Emily: which in my books is at least two kinds of head explodingly awesome for your Sunday night out; but perhaps still only in theory at this point. As for all the ridiculous potential this band has to do "big things" in the burgeoning twee folk, sea shanty and "singing saw" scenes (aaaah and could you imagine the blogger buzz!?) they're still a brand new band, this is only their debut performance and to put it mildly they're still that little bit green. And by "little bit green" I clearly mean me referencing Ben Revi wearing a "newborn giraffe" t-shirt with a despondent look on his face (except surely we've moved past that joke by now!?) but in many ways quite "endearingly" so. You'll see them shuffle about stage all scruffy headed and not entirely sure what they should be playing next, intersperced with Tom swearing anytime he "flubs a line", or Zac apologising when he does the same, or Aidan offering gentle encouragement to cover for it, like we're witness to a ragtag group of English college professors making a mess of a friendly game of cricket. But when they DO get it right they absolutely nail it. And what they "nail" here is the colourful eclecticism and instrumentation of Zac's vision only that much bigger in scope. Mixing everything from toy piano, singing saw, violin, ukulele, guitar, bass and drum: most of it would already be familiar to anyone who's familiar with The Sea Thieves (think equal measures Sparklehorse and Tom Waits) but what the full band brings now is this added layer of "weighted melancholy", this "world weary woe" that counterweighs all the whimsy and makes it that much more compelling. Most striking of which when Tom sings their cover of Sparklehorse's "Sea Of Teeth", or the call and respond vocals between Zac and Aidan (or just for the simple fact that both Tom and Justin always looks like they've just killed a man and they're deeply troubled by it) and it makes me think everything from Johnny Cash, Mazzy Star to Low in describing it, and it's just as moody in listening to it. The crowd here (many of them sitting on the floor around me) are utterly transfixed, mesmerised, perhaps even silently freaking the fuck out to it (except when they're yelling out for encores at the end) but the band's got that compelling presence now that deserves such awestruck apprehension. Or in other words? they're are not quite the same "band" we once knew but maybe all the better for it. Yup that's The Sea Thieves in 2010. They're two psychic bartenders and two sound engineers combined as one, as much as they're far from the psychic band yet in "communicating" it, but once they've got all that shit sorted? then all signs potentially point to THIS as being something truly special!