Croxton Park Hotel, Thornbury, VIC
Saturday, February 23, 2019
I’m pretty sure Spencer Jones is the only member of the Beasts of Bourbon, past or present to have played the Croxton Park Hotel, back in ita heyday. That would have been in 1982, when Spencer was playing guitar in the psychedelic cabaret troupe North 2 Alaskans.
Back in those days The Croxton – ‘the Croc’, to its more familiar patrons – was a bastion of the suburban beer barn circuit. AC/DC played there back in the day, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Chisel, all the Oz pub rock greats.
The Alaskans didn’t really fit in with the pub rock crowd, but they were as funny as a fit, and damn good musicians too. The Alaskans were, in hindsight at least, a link in the chain that led to the formation of the Beasts of Bourbon.
John Dowler with his band The Vanity Project. David Laing photo.
In his 1981 feature on Australian powerpop pioneer John Dowler in Roadrunner magazine, Melbourne rock writer Adrian Ryan commented on Dowler’s then-new band, the short lived Everybody’s So Glad. He said they played with a certain kind of soul, and a type of sound that hadn’t been heard in town since Paul Kelly & The Dots underwent a line-up change too many, and since the Saints were last here. It was the kind of sound that “had nothing to do with horn sections and screams, but rather with jangling guitars, a passionate beat, allusions to something half forgotten.”
I love that soul and those jangling guitars. Being Melbourne born, I heard a bit of at as I was getting into music. It’s not the jangle of some insipid jangle-pop band, it’s a hard jangle, which is where the Saints come in. Ryan was referring to the Saints that recorded such classic tracks as “Call It Mine”, “In The Mirror” and “Let’s Pretend”.
When you realise we came up to Sydney from Adelaide solely to see The Chickenstones you may deduce from this that I am a tad biased towards the band. However, if I were able, I would simply be at every gig they do, because, to my mind, they really are that good.
However, one of the reasons I can't dash all over the country is the inevitable lack of money (donations are welcome), and another is that I work in a family-operated business, so I fit myself around what everyone else is doing. Mostly this means that there are things on interstate which I would love to see, but can't.
Opening band Dias - pronounced Dee-az - have good songs and the young folk love them. I think they may also be currently in a bit of transition, as some of the songs showed a similarity of purpose, while some of their others seemed to be coming from some other place.
Guitar and vox, bass and drums; it's amazing how varied people can make such a traditional set-up. While comparisons are effectively fairly useless, my photographer was reminded of The Whitlams, a musician in the audience was thinking about The Strokes, and I was reminded a little of early Go-Betweens. Truth is, I'd characterise them as a richly shiny, slow-burning surf waltz.
They went down well with the very mixed crowd (old unionist surfers and their wives, and folks who may as well be their university-aged grandkids ... hell of a mixture). I don't know if I'd liked Dias if they'd still had their other guitarist - what interested me was that, as I say, I think they're still trying things out - which is always an excellent reason to see a band.
Brando Rising strut their stuff last weekend. Marina Valieva photo.
Someone from interstate recently commented that it looks like Adelaide is the place to be right now.
No, it's not. And certainly not with another inexcusable electricity price hike on the cards this year - do our Fearless Leaders have any idea what damage this is doing to the economy? No? Perhaps those protesting schoolkids could do better. Certainly they found a better cabinet in Ikea, so they must have a better idea about things than the current crop of cockwombles.
However, the bleary light of today reveals that, had I known about the other gig last night, I might have faced a difficult decision. Missing the Yard of Retard gig, with (among others) Fear and Loathing and the first appearance of Bomber Down (featuring, as YoR so eloquently put it, "Rob Szkolik, Adelaide’as gayest man") would have caused a grave personal "torn in two" moment, as I had put my grubby paw up to see Brando Rising at the Enigma months before the gig was booked. Instead, I see the results of the Yard's gig on Fartabout and, not for the first time nor, I suspect, the last, I rather wish I could clone myself so I could do several things at once.
Okay, hands up, please. What are Croatians famous for being passionate about?
The Ustashi, says one. Well, once upon a time the Ustashi did arouse passions, but they seem thankfully forgotten. That's not the answer I was hoping for. Any one else?
Confusing civil conflict!
Hmmm. You're a cynical bunch. No, Croatia is renowned for being passionate about their football, or 'soccer' as we here in Australia call it. (The term "soccer" is a mangulation of "association football", BTW).
So, ho to the Croatian Sports Centre, home of the Adelaide Croatia Raiders Soccer Club, is at the end of a curving drive and situated between a Woolworths unload and reload depot and the Adelaide Superdrome, the headquarters for Cycling SA.
It was the sort of rock’n’roll crowd you would have expected to find in St Kilda. Weathered old punks, redoubtable rock dogs, wandering spirits from a bygone era. Lots of black, some punk rock bling, a room full of fading memories of lost nights and wasted days.
And so much love. Love for rock’n’roll, and love for the late Brian Hooper, whose new album, "What Would I Know?" was being launched, with a cast of his loyal friends and rock’n’roll family.
The obligatory "I missed the opening act" apology: It’s a long hike across town by public transport, especially when there’s a connecting bike ride in there as well. The fact that my household was engrossed in a compelling episode of "Peaky Blinders" rendered it inappropriate for me to spirit out of the place in time to see Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen revive their Tendrils project.
Serendipitously, but sadly, the last time Tendrils appeared on stage was at Brian’s fundraising gig. Everyone I spoke to said it was, as always, memorable. Hopefully next time Tendrils play it will be free from the spectre of tragedy.