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...
CHEER ADVISORY COUNCIL (*****) - Which by an all too fitting "operatic prelude" brings us to our headlining act, here to launch their album; and no less dramatic in their own right (in fact they're practically a Greek chorus in making us feel every ounce as if it were a tonne of this very auspicious occassion). And quite like Steering By Stars before them? yup they're a band that needs NO introduction from me. And not necessarily for the band themselves: as they've featured sparingly at best in my blog since forming sometime late in 2008; or at least as much as I'M dimly aware (half their luck I say... all things considered!). Nope it's more for their infamous lead singer: the same I've almost always use as a punchline in search of an ongoing in-joke (pfft... what? he's Adelaide's answer to Frasier Crane with a beard and glasses: he's a comedy freaking goldmine!) yup we're talking THE newborn giraffe himself, E.T. The Extraterrestrial with a spastic afro, the one and only Ben Revi... YEAAAS!! In saying that however I'll save him most my pisstakes in following (as much as I've dished up the best of it already in my introduction... OOOPS!!) as much as I like to think in my own misguided way that this is me celebrating the richness of his (cartoon) character (seriously the Adelaide scene just wouldn't be the same without him! *sniff*) and instead focus on the ridiculously overtalented ensemble he's collected in forming this band, the same band who are launching their album tonight: Cheer Advisory Council. Now in times past watching them perform live, I may've jokingly referred to them as "The Ben Revi Clusterfuck Orchestra". Because yes they have been an absolute nightmare to keep track of (and then some!), as short of Ben Revi on lead vocals and guitar and Carly Whittaker on backup vocals? all seven members of this band are avid multi-instrumentalists, and by "avid" I mean it's beyond the point of ridiculous watching them swap their shit about in almost EVERY SINGLE SONG. So short of me listing them in order of appearance (and left to right): Ben, Carly, Adam Osborn, Neil Clark, Emily Heylen, Brendan Moyse and Carly Norman, I won't tell you WHAT they play exactly (no really... just you try following it in the photos!) because yes they pretty much play everything AT THE SAME TIME (I mean ferfucksake duuude they even have a bassoon!). But as much as they have been a clusterfuck in the past? I will say they've come together beautifully in presenting it here tonight. Yup dressed in their "Sunday school" finest (or perhaps they're an army of Jehovah's Witnesses come to annihilate us all!? FUUUCK!!) they've at last become so much greater than the sum of their parts, and they're delivering nothing short of a seamless symphony in its artful ensemble. Mixed flawlessly by mixer Matt Hills (the same who produced their album... I mean shit, who else!?), stage lighting dimmed to give us an intimate "candlelight" feel, an old timey wimey B&W film playing in the background to set the scene (and no I wouldn't have a clue WHAT it is but if I were to bullshit a guess I'd wager it'd be one with Cary Grant in it, maybe "His Girl Friday"? eh? EH? aaaah who the fuck knows!?) and performing their entire album for us from beginning to end in order, what's most striking: isn't just how well they've orchestrated it, fiddling it like a proverbial Stradivarius; but just how emotionally overpowering it is in impact... and in the most beautifully understated and refined way too. Hopelessly romantic and melodramatic (and clearly influenced by the likes of The National) it draws you inextricably into its turbulent tapestry: like the male equivalent of a Jane Austin novel gone horribly Charles Dickens, and just as deeply interpersonal, political, and utterly a-grade melancholic (like a heart crushed in a velvet vice) wallowing in its bittersweet sorrow. I mean granted to a beer belching troglodyte like myself? a LOT of this simply flies waaay over my head. Not the feelings necessarily, they're clear as day... but definitely in the way that they express it with such orchestral aplomb. It's music made somber, serious, austere and achingly intense; music for old souls, studied postgraduates and war veteran geriatrics to cry into their brandies with wry smiles; music you can't help but respect the fuck out of, as much as many of its intricate layers will be lost on you like a Shakespearean play minus the CliffNotes: THAT is what Cheer Advisory Council gave us tonight. FUUUCK I know riiight! they clearly blew our minds and wrenched every last drop of it on stage tonight. But at the very least we can walk away with an album that'll totally make sense of it all after a lifetime of study.
But of course in writing all that glorious "five star" wank in reviewing their set tonight (oh and it was worth all FIVE of those "stars" too!) I might have left out a few "teeny tiny", you might even say "vital" details. And I don't mean all the inner intricacies of their live performance, pfft... no really? why do we need to know all THAT shit!? when we can just go to their bandcamp where their album can be streamed in full, because yup I was there duuude and believe me it was JUST LIKE THAT: nary a note out of place! (and a thing of sublime and sophisticated beauty it was too!). Oh and do we need mention how band member Neil Clark swapped to bass, drums, vocals and back again with dizzying, wildly unprectable regularity (along with almost every other member of the band?) yeaaah probably not. Ditto the veritable "firing squad" of amateur photogs forming a line out front and feverishly shooting every which angle in documenting the occassion, or even that this album was two whole years in the making and that THIS might be the last time we'll ever see this full lineup performing it live (or at least if rumours are to be believed), no that's just a harsh reality of the Adelaide scene we need not be reminded of. It's more the subtle sense of humour that this band possesses. And you don't necessarily get it in the music: it's as somber and stately an affair you could ever imagine outside of a wake, over a few too many glasses of wine wondering "where it all went wrong" (like maybe when you told her you've spent the past 10 years completing a post doctorate on the Crimean War, you're now dead broke, you're living with your grandparents and an incontenent cocker spaniel named "Geoffrey"... and she won't return your calls!?). No it's partially for the witty banter you get from Ben Revi between songs, but more so in how they chose to end this most somber of live shows with the silliest of encores: as all seven of them assembled out front as if they were about to pull a theatrical bow, only instead? they busted out an hilarious cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecilia". It was the dorkiest thing I'd ever seen... I mean you SO could imagine geeks getting beaten up for this shit in highschool, but it made for THE perfect send-off!
AUXILLA (***1/2) - And with my brain now suitably "soothed" with beer (and I swear steam actually came out of my ears when I did too... aaaaah SO GOOD!!) I then hit the band room. And no I wasn't looking for anything too "challenging" here, nothing too cerebral, too shitcrazy or head explodingly hardcore, but hey this IS The Ed Castle we're talking about, like SINCE WHEN DOES THAT SHIT EVER HAPPEN!? which is why I was rather surprised to bump into the likes of Auxilla here instead. Second band on the bill tonight (I just missed out on opening act Hawks Of Alba) and two things immediately struck me as odd about them; and by "odd"? it was rather like a frying pan of "oddness" to the face... but not necessarily an unpleasant frying pan, more like one that was serving up fresh pancakes at the time and I just so happened to pop my head in at inopportune moment: "OW FUCK!! no wait, is that maple syrup? NIIICE!!". Firstly it's in their shitcrazy lighting scheme slapping my eyeballs silly like they were pingpong balls. And secondly? they well and truly had THE shitcrazy sound to match. And both points bear elaborating too. To understand the first: merely look at all seven live photos I got of them below, then watch the live video. Now imagine me trying to GET ALL SEVEN OF THOSE PHOTOS at the same time WHILE all that was happening. *PHEW*. And it wasn't just thanks to the mounted lights being placed on the floor pointing straight up, the same that're flickering on and off sparingly (at best) when the entire stage ISN'T plunged into absolute darkness while an additional "decorative light" is throwing all manner of shitcrazy shapes up on the walls to confuse me even further... although BELIEVE ME that's a photography nightmare all of its own, FUCK!! No the real "mission impossible" was with the strobes. Yes... they had strobes (and as for why? yeaaah I'm hoping our headlining act may answer that in turn?) and I swear they're the WORST THINGS EVER. I mean they're the best things ever too... don't get me wrong! they make shit epic as fuck, duuude what's not to love about lights that come with their own medical disclaimer!? until you train a camera lens on them. And it doesn't matter if you set it to single capture mode or rapid fire machine gun burst: for every single EPIC AS FUCK photo you get of a bright light exploding about you like a bomb's gone off? you'll have a hundred times more shots of pitch black to contend with. Everytime, no matter what shutter speed you pick, the odds are stacked waaay against you: like trying to punch your fist through a plane propeller and hoping to get all four fingers and a thumbs up in return. But the second point that bears making? is that this band makes all THAT impossible effort worthwhile... OOOOH SHIT YEAH THEY DO!! For Auxilla are a rare and remarkable breed. One that almost defies description in that they sound like a schizophrenic mix of just about everything and anything colliding with your ears all at once; but if I'd hazard an educated guess? I'd figure them as being in a similar ballpark (or batshit insane lunatic asylum) as say Mr Bungle, System Of A Down, The Sound Of Animals Fighting or The Mars Volta. Think impossibly intricate body popping jams that extend for ten minutes or more, ones rife with wildly unpredictable moodswings, dyslexic time signatures, spontaneous spoken word rapping manifestos (as much as they're shouted) and all manner of wilfully disjointed, mathematically angular and spastic eclectic instrumental tangents... as much as me saying that barely begins to describe any of it (because as you might imagine it was a little hard to concentrate on their music when I was busily throwing my camera against a wall and screaming) suffice to say the more you hear of it? the more you begin to not only "appreciate" it but to truly enjoy the hysterical "head exploding" fuck out of it. And yup that's me struggling to write a review on Auxilla. They'll confuse, they'll confound: like a loud speaker crossed with a 3D "magic eye" puzzle (that requires a third eye gone cross-eyed to spot the "dolphin") all thrown into a blender. But one I suspect will also reveal a world full of "riches"... the more return trips you take in exploring its endless tangents.
12:41AM - Now I was nowhere NEAR drunk enough to handle all of that shit just then... or perhaps I just needed to be on acid, or on shrooms, or both at the same time and then perhaps all those head exploding frequencies would cancel each other out in my head and it'll be like I was in the womb again only it's inside the body of a whale and it's floating through space!? yeaaah maybe it's best I hit the bar again aye? preferably repetitively, with my head screaming; the blunt trauma will do me good! SQUEEEE!! And it's somewhere in the middle of all that, that I then bump into Thom Gardiner from Like Kites. And to save you what you're about to ask? I'm mentioning him because I reviewed his band last week when they supported Two Way Radio, I wrote a... well let's just say it wasn't an entirely "favourable" review (I believed I called them "a diet coke version of Kasabian"? WHOOOPS!!). Only instead of wanting to kill me, he actually wanted to shake my hand, he shouted me a beer, we laughed and laughed over just how unfavourable that review was, I mean crazy riiight? And then I bought this jug of sangria and headed back into the band room, because something tells me... where all this is heading!? I'm gonna need all the help I can get!
DZ DEATHRAYS (****1/2) - And by that I obviously mean our headlining act in following: rage fucking our eyes, ears and brain (and loving it!) the minute I walked INTO that band room. Or if you wanna save yourself the longwinded review explaining that in detail? here's the abridged version: "ZOMG!! FUCK!! SHIT!! LASER BEAMS!! LASER BEAMS!! EXPLOSIONS!! DOUBLE RAINBOWS!! I'M A GOD!! I'M A GOLDFISH!! AAAAHAHaHahAHAhAHA FUCK I'M DEAD!!"... or if you wanna play this game at home? kill the lights, crank the volume, drop acid and watch the accompanying live video in FULLSCREEN (and keep 000 on speed dial, because you're sure as shit gonna need it!) and THAT'S DZ Deathrays.... OOOOH FUCK YEAAAH!! Now if you did all that (and apologies in advance if you've just woken up again, with your head rammed halfway through a wall twitching and flailing), there's probably no point in me writing anything further, and you might as well just skip to the next paragraph; but if you're one of those fisting arseclowns reading this on your android/iphone/ipad thingy whatever-the-fucks who don't have ready access to youtube? read on. DZ Deathrays used to be known as DZ (or at least they WERE when I caught them back in January 2010). They're from Brisbane. Only they since got into some shit with a dubstep artist called "DZ" from San Francisco, and had to change their name. And the simplest way to describe them is to either imagine: (a) Death From Above 1979 covering The White Stripes... in GASOLINE and then setting them on fire, (b) a chainsaw fucking a Nintendo repetitively to a kickdrum backing, (c) what the robot apocalypse would totally sound like if it was held in a German S&M club, (d) barking dogs with killer bees in their mouths, or (e) simply re-read my original statement in the voices of Itchy & Scratchy through a megaphone while midget ninjas nunchuk you in the balls. And yes it was so much FUCK OFF awesomeness exploding in my face all at once I kinda wish I wore a raincoat, or welding goggles, or both, while I was on fire thrashing and flailing and mad pinging off all four walls and the ceiling laughing my tits off to this insanity; preferably in the nude... instead of trying to get photos of it. Because yes it was nothing but nonstop strobe lights flashing, guitars buzzing, metronome 4/4 beat smashing, shrill chipmunk shouting and everyone of us standing in this room well and truly shitting ourselves like a vindaloo made into an aerosol spray (helps not to linger on that one for too long) duuude this SO rocked the shit out of shit, I SHIT YOU NOT, many of us who were here tonight might later discover we're pregnant with, well I dunno what the hell it would be... but it would make Dragonball Z look like Steamboat Mickey, dubstep sound like polka, defy all known laws of physics and solve the world's energy needs... DZ Deathrays? HOLY FUCKING FUCKBALLS!!
Which is why I gotta give mad props to THIS shitweasel for going above and beyond; and not just because he's drinking out of his own shoe... although yes, that IS pretty righteous in its own right.
No, it's more for what he did straight after that... when he rushes off to the bar, returns with a tray of shots (and I'm not entirely sure but by the look of them they appeared to be black sambuca!?) bum rushes the stage mid-song, spilling half of it on the floor and serves it up to both Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley of DZ Deathrays while they're playing, hands one or two to his friends, then downs the last... like it's nothing out of the ordinary and he does this at EVERY show, and clearly I've been going to all the WRONG SHOWS because this is the first time I've seen him do it.
Yup, he may look like a retarded sewer rat (or been drinking nearly enough to be beaten by one in an IQ test) and technically not the weirdest thing I've seen let loose in The Ed Castle band room either (for that you need only see THIS FREAK in action!) but I'll salute him all the same... ROCK!!
And yes I'm taking all these photos while dicking about on stage like an absolute tool... because aaaah fuck it: when the guitarist is running riot off the stage? it's probably the safest place to be.
1:26AM - And then just like that, it's all over for another night... leaving me dazed, confused perhaps in need of a large bucket of something and a snorkel, and wondering just how the hell I ended up here in the first place. And no, I don't necessarily mean that whole "why am I writing this blog?" existentialist crap most people would ponder at a time like this (pfft... you kidding me? I LIVE FOR THIS SHIT!!). It's more the fact I sculled that jug of sangria from before within the first five minutes of me walking in here, it had absolutely no effect... or at least I don't think it has? and yeaaah this setlist pretty much spells it all out doesn't it!? Every week duuude, EVERY WEEK!!
And as for why I'm still here taking this photo just now instead of seeking out that "bucket" and "snorkel" and perhaps a teeny tiny wedge of lime to go along with it (well pfft, shit... no point me getting scurvy now IS THERE!?) yeaaah I wouldn't have the first foggiest clue... but ain't it pretty?
1:58AM - And then just like that everyone flees the beer garden... so astonishingly fast in fact I'm starting to wonder if that last thought I had was actually said out LOUD by mistake? WHAT!? it's not like I said I peed in that sangria damnit! someone else's piss... SOMEONE ELSE'S PISS!!
2:41AM - And so the only other logical step to take was to walk all the way to The Exeter. As much as I could've just taken a taxi home instead, except pfft... SINCE WHEN DO I DO SOMETHING STUPIDLY "RESPONSIBLE" LIKE THAT!? (I've got a pissy reputation to uphold damnit!) nooo... we all know I tried Supermild first: only they'd recently swapped bouncers (or maybe my personal doorman "Señor Sketchy" was simply taking a well deserved holiday? sheeeiit... no seriously who DOESN'T miss that guy!?) and thus horribly bereft of my bullshit queue skipping abilities I would've been stuck waiting in line for half an hour (especially during peak-hour) and yeaaah yeah, I know, I know! I'm just rambling because it's been absolutely dead at The Exeter since I got here and I'm bored silly and I spent all of twenty minutes walking here? AND NOW I'M WRITING A FUCKING PHOTO CAPTION ABOUT IT IN A BLOG!? *sigh* oh well, guess it's back to Supermild again huh?
3:44AM - And I'm soon reminded of my glaring shortfall in performing that "duty" tonight, when some of the people I'm attempting to "drink my beer in peace" with just now: namely a pack of pissclowns from Lyla and their fashion trash entourage (but I like to think they're the BEST KIND of "fashion trash" once you get to know them *cough* hi everyone!) start hitting me up for photos.
And WOW aren't we so thankful that they did too! No really this is important journalism I'm conducting here people! IMPORTANT JOURNALISM!! and aaaah fuck it... it's late, what do I care!?
Oh yeaaah, this one of Blobby here has "winner" written all over it!
And to think this is what I tell people is my "job" now? fuuuck no wonder it's so hard to write!