Take the massive rhythm section of Fear and Loathing, add ex-Love Fever and Primevils’ David Mason on one guitar and the redoubtable Sean Tilmouth on the other guitar and you have a crunching, bowel-scouring rock band.
The Bums were first put together a few years back by the late Renestair EJ; their first gig featured a rather heatstroked Ren beaning a startled Mr Tilmouth with the mic stand. Mr Tilmouth’s response to this was not, "I say, that’s a bit harsh, Ren old buddy". No.
Sean knocked Ren out cold, and floored him again when Ren got up and went for the cuddle of forgiveness. I’ve seen the video and this band owe me a new pair of underpants.
It is my great privilege to interview the elusive Chris Spud at his home. Who? You may ask. Among other things he’s a member of Fear and Loathing, who might just be Adelaide’s most seminal band of the last 30 years. He’s also a solo artist in his own right with persona like Captain Spud producing quirky music that spans the genres of exotica, punk and electronica.
Chris Spud’s home: It’s the kind of neat and tidy which frankly gives me a headache, yet is essential for Chris and Mrs Spud to live an orderly life while creating … a certain kind of chaos. A sheep’s skull peers in through the window…a pricey artwork leers down like the bottom of Poseidon’s trunks…
Andrew Bunney is a 3D radio announcer and former member of the Coneheads and the Exploding White Mice. He shot and compiled this amazing piece of Adelaide underground rock and roll history in 1978, featuring rare live footage of three local punk scene originals.
The footage features The Accountants playing “Elizabeth City Riots” (with Bad Boy Bubby star Nick Hope on bass!), The Dagoes delivering “This Perfect Band” and The U-Bombs dropping “Give Me A Medal”.
Says Andrew: "There are a lot of people who are in this film (or would be interested in seeing it), however I don't have their contact details. Please feel free to alert any such people, especially Doug Thomas, Hugh Llewellyn, Ron Putans, Kate Jarrett, Doss (Frances) Grieve, Andy Steele, Nick Hope, Richard Gak, Neil Perryman, Bo Costerson and Roy Ersinger."
First up I must confess I’m a Buzzcocks tragic from way back. Been in Adelaide for 10 years now and this is the fourth time I’ve seen them, plus once in '92 in Melbourne. So the title Buzzcocks Tragic sounds good to me.
I missed Babes Are Wolves but caught The Babes (two men, two women), who did a good strong metallish rock set - both bands had people dancing and paying attention despite only using about a quarter of the stage. No mean feat. Both are Adelaide acts and I can see I’ll have to investigate properly.
One of the most enduring memories I will carry away with me from tonight’s show is that this 5’1” thin scrap of a person, Cherie Currie, demonstrated sensibility, strength and love without any of the usual r’n’r proclamatory chest-beating. She still looks gorgeous (her genes should be investigated and the rights procured) with her boyish figure and sexy smirk …
But that’s the last time you’ll see me use the term “sex”. It’s essential to mention, of course, but whereas most of us, at 56, have begun to look like Santa (and the ladies begin to resemble the Family Guy dog’s lost teenage love.. I don’t know if you know the episode, Brian turns up at a shack where some ghastly bovine opens the door and…) Cherie looks good in a way most of us would kill to look like when we were 32.
This was the weekend that Hugo Race and Kim Salmon played separate shows in Adelaide on successive nights. At first glance, there might seem little to compare the two. But there’s plenty.
Both guitarists, both swimming against the stream writing songs which are, essentially, written as much for the ages as us. Both Hugo and Kim are touring professionals who love playing live, giving to a crowd.
Arguably, both also make the kind of music which seems to endlessly slip between the cracks in a modern world so devoted to novelty (rather than a trend) and the appearance of substance or significance, as opposed to any depth or meaning.
It’s going to take a while to recover from this weekend. Each of the bands above play very different rock from each other, and were all well-suited in the line-up. Curiously, at each gig I was reminded of the late Darby Crash.
Friday night gigs are always a bit weird as so many of today’s musicians have day jobs. So, for example, they finish a week’s work and, instead of coming home to a beer or four and a chewie, people have to hurry home, put their gear together, get their stage concentration going and head out the door.
So a Friday night gig has all the makings of tired people fucking up and so on; for myself, I have work the following day, so I have to curtail the popping of champagne corks (cue: mock-chorus of “aaww” followed by a hail of empties).
Cabin Inn, Michael Plater and Tom Redwood at The Barn near Adelaide. It’s up the hill on the unpaved road, dodge two donkeys and a sot in a ute, down the hill and round the bend and there you are. Just follow the signs.
Of course, I’m kidding a little about how to get to Aldgate’s The Barn. There might not have been quite as many donkeys, for example. But it was an adventure, since none of us had been there before.
The Barn is a combination of things, and it works surprisingly well. Rather like the Wheatsheaf Hotel but just outside of the city, it’s an artist’s space (to five artists, it seems) as well as a gallery/learning centre/wine hall which serves decent grub. And they’ve been having music on.
Adelaide has a history of swaggering, scrunching rock and roll bands who manage to spit out one single or EP and vanish into the backwater. Acid Drops and Die Dancing Bears, for example. Few are lucky enough to release an LP and get away with it like, say, The Primevils and the Exploding White Mice.
The Systemaddicts in full flight. Mandy Tzaras photo
Right now, Adelaide might not be the centre of the musical universe, but that's not for want of talent, effort and sheer fuck-offed-ness. Last weekend proves it.
First, Friday night at The Grace Emily Hotel. It's probably wrong to describe Subtract-S as Tomway Army's band, but he's definitely the leader, and the star. In fact, at the Grace Emily in Adelaide tonight, the air positively stinks of stardom, the kind of stardom which winks at you, lures you in like a jam rolypoly to Billy Bunter, then rams a fist into your blubbery belly.
If you've not caught Subtract-S, you must. In the audience tonight was a gentleman who'd come all the way from Hamburg just to see Adelaide bands. And he loved it.
From the spectacle of the Rolling Stones the previous night, I awaken somewhat seedy and blasted. It’s been a huge week, dealing with our Beasts of Bourbon documentary, taking note of Stoneswatch, seeing the Stones on a stage half a soccer pitch away and now… Rowland, who would have been 55 the previous day (AKA Stonesday here in Adelaide).
Ho to the Wheatsheaf Hotel on a borderline suffocating hot day, where Alison Lea’s photographs of young Rowland (the infamous late 1980 Adelaide tour, where scrawny Nick Cave painted a skull and tentacles on his chest, performed topless with the paint running to buggery and beyond.) If you’ve seen the cover of the Nick the Stripper 12”, that’s Alison’s photo. If you need more information go here.
There were two sets, the first being These Immortal Souls, and the second devoted to Rowland’s solo work. It wasn’t the line-up for the Melbourne shows; Hugo Race wasn’t there, nor was his sister Angela, nor Ed Kuepper.
I haven’t been so profoundly moved all year. Partly because, after interviewing him on many occasions and brought him down to Adelaide for a few gigs, I knew Rowland reasonably well. Which meant that seeing these songs being performed by his friends had me rather teary. It was painful to watch, confronting, nasty even; more poignantly, his words are now far more loaded…
Ho to the Gov, where the food is great, the Coopers flows and Tuesday is legendary Ukelele night. I love the Gov. Great venue. And ho, back we go to the 1970s… hmm.
Does the spectacle always win in the end? Is the naming of the legend so important? You’d like to think not. You’d like to think that people wouldn’t be so fickle.
You’d be wrong, of course.
To paraphrase H.L. Mencken (I know you have all his books) ‘Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the people.’
A while back I wrote about The (British) Beat on this very stage. They played very well, worked hard. But long gone was the feral desperation of the Beat’s first releases - and they came across rather like a cabaret act. Good fun, certainly, but not essential, not inspiring. If you’d never heard of them before, and you were told afterwards how important the Beat had been at a time and a place … you probably wouldn’t have believed it.
Of course, the crowd thought this version of the Beat were wonderful. Because you can’t argue with a spectacle, and a band would have to be pretty dire to beat down expectation. The (British) Beat were fun. But you can’t go back. To a certain extent, they were kinda covering their own songs. The intention, the point, the urgency, the personality-driven chemistries had all faded.
So, first money shot tonight: were The Main Band any good?
Mark Seymour of Hunters and Collectors. Mandy Tzaras photo
Hunters and Collectors at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide? Dunno about you but we started the year behind and so far we’re still behind. So we didn’t think we’d be able to go to this, and planned accordingly to see Fear and Loathing at the Metro instead.
It’s a nightmare place to navigate, is Adelaide. Circling the city are roadworks (which take four times longer to do than in Syd or Melb) and go-slower signs everywhere which result in funding for local government. This week’s big car race this week has caused 40 percent of the public transport and cars to divert, thus clogging up the rest of the roads; Festival and Fringe are cluttering up the place with doofus tourists in daggy clothing and "duh" expressions...
I know people who only visit the city between April and November because they can't stand it and are fed up with struggling through the traffic. A lot of "normal" businesses lose money because of it. And all, one suspects, to sell alcohol.
“X Factor”, I see from that reliable source of intelligence, has been rocked by accusations of performer manipulation and general bastardry. Strange place, Facebook. You can set up any FB page hating all manner of innocents, and they’re fine with that. Indeed, I should imagine Channel 7 pay large sums to FB to ‘get their message across’.
We all know Facebook is filled with the ‘politics’ (a rash word to use in a music review, I admit) of the modern age. Post a picture of a mum suckling an infant - a mundane enough sight as you head to work each day, or as you munch a burger and chug a thick shake at the local cholesterol emporium - and you’re banned because you “don’t meet community standards”.
A few weeks ago I went out in search of crunching, scabrous rock’n’roll. Headlining were Fear and Loathing (their usual ramshackly brilliant horrorshow), Leather Messiah just before (their new stuff is fabulous. Remember how Legends of Motor Sport were great fun but seemed to lack something? Leather Messiah have that extra something - they’re a burnout, man).
The band I was curious about, Iron Feather, were second on the bill, and within seconds of punching us all out, assorted members of the Messiah and FAL were front and centre, thrilled.
And you know how old and past it we all are. Who the fuck are Iron Feather?
The St Morris Sinners must have had a lot of fun recording this. They’re one of those bands who, like the Butthole Surfers on their first 12”, have released a disc so uniquely different you could be fooled into thinking you’re listening to several bands. That’s a good thing, of course, because it implies that there’s a broader palette just waiting to be applied.
It’s rated five bottles, although depending on your taste, you’ll likely be putting this one into the obsolete technology in 20 years. ‘Songs about Insects’ is a big restless, itchy slab of mucky stuff and St Morris Sinners have a narky, deceptive approach all their own.