The time of year when all right-thinking folk set out the Santa traps on Christmas eve, hoping for a big, juicy Santa (and not the scrawny weasel we caught last year, jesus, no meat on him at all) and the traditional charcoal spit-roast Santa in the back yard with all your mates and beer a-flowing. Done just right, the flesh falls right off the fucker's bones and melts in the mouth.
Preferably with apple and cinnamon sauce, but maybe that's just me.
Truth is that, while I heard a lot of wonderful music this year, I really don't feel up to delivering a Top Ten. Sure, there are some which leap out, but I didn't really listen that widely, I don't think. And I hardly went out. All were reviewed, look 'em out if you don't believe me.
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.
The Magic Numbers Subtract-S The Gov, Adelaide March 26, 2019 Photos byRick de Pizzol
Ho to the Gov once more, to attempt to find a car park which may not exist, to finally succeed in an adjacent suburb, and plodge back the way I drove, feeling not remotely conspicuous as a I pass several pubs with the locals whooping it up, trailing behind a herd of badly-dressed bumpkins heading, it seems, in the same direction.
No, thankfully, they're not; the Entertainment Centre across the road has another do on and the streets are filled with the aforesaid bumpkins and, perhaps needless to say, their cars. I don't know whether the local council is aware of the hideous car parking problem in these suburbs, caused mostly by the Ent Cent, which I thought had ample parking, but I have decided every night from now on I shall drive to where I left my car tonight, and walk to the Gov and back. Excellent cardio.
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."
I coulda sworn I sent a review of this violent fucker in yonks ago but... apparently not. Anyway, it's been a couple months, and I still play it, often and loud, usually in the car, and I have the dangerous driving fines to prov
"Brando Rising" sounds fresh, piercing, varied and they approach the six songs here from every which way, and the disc hurtles toward you with the measured savagery of a Hammer film (or a killer making his way up the stairs). There's a healthy dollop of Stooges/ Iggy influence (no surprises as singer Rip fronts the Four Stooges when he's got a few moments to spare) and as The Barman points out belwo, a few other influences.
Don't let the influences influence you. Guitarist Kelly Hewson wields a nasty, savage guitar and is one of the few guitarists to use wah-wah and get away with it. Wah-buzzsaw? Something like that. Either way, they've got a top rhythm section which knows how to party, a guitarist who wants to rule the world and a singer who already does (so I am told). They're entertaining, intense, new, not particularly pretty and belong headlining at your local beer barn.
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.
No less than Psychotic Turnbuckles elder statesman The Grand Wizard provided the good oil about this Adelaide band, who remain largely unheard outside their home town and more enlightened parts of Melbourne.
You might be surprised, then, to hear that The Molting Vultures have been going since 2004 and have four albums under their belts. “Crowd Surfing” picks the eyes out of the albums and presents them on one disc, with a couple of newly-recorded songs thrown in.
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.
Ever been in a position where you didn't know what to expect when a disc landed in the CD player? That’s often a good thing. My preconceptions of Sydney’s Urban Guerrillas as inner-city, squat-dwelling, agitprop punk preachers are somewhat passe, and almost abandoned after a couple of spins.
The UG sound is more folk-pop than punk rock these days, and the concerns of the seven tracks on the “Equation of Life” EP are mostly universal. Not that the band was ever stuck in one sound. There’s a splash of Celtic pipes in “Divine Image” (a William Blake poem set to music) and “What I Wish For” sets out a societal manifesto with a stab of mandolin in its mix.There’s also enough chugging guitar and urban angst in “Claustrophobia” to light up a street-full of terrace houses in Erskineville.
Arlo Guthrie The Gov, Adelaide April 24, 2019 Jeremy Tomamak photos
One of the things that really got to me the very first time I saw the film "Alice's Restaurant" (on late night telly, back in the days when Adelaide only had four stations) was the mutation of black humour, intelligence, and improbability running through the film like a twisted thread of opal.
Not least is the fact that Arlo was (in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War and the draft) declared by the US Army as “not moral enough to join the army.”
As Arlo told Rolling Stone: "I never thought of “Alice’s Restaurant” as being an anti-war song, but you can’t run a war being that stupid. You won’t succeed in the war and you won’t succeed in other things either. And I think that’s some of the lessons we still have yet to learn, you know?"
And tonight, I wonder what we're in for. His father, underground folk guitar hero Woody Guthrie, died of Huntington's disease (HD), also known as Huntington's chorea in 1967, at the age of 55, and when Arlo was just 20.
Opening support band to The Undertones in Adelaide, The Green Circles ,were good - but as I was preoccupied rescuing my keys from inside my car with the help of the RAA, I only saw the last half of their set. They seemed a little awkward tonight. The Green Circles are well and truly superb, however, and if this was a slightly off night for them, I’d better see them again to make up for it. Find them on Facebook and get their cds.
Next support, The Systemaddicts, are on Off the Hip in Melbourne, and they are one exciting, involving, often very amusing band. You don’t really know what you’re missing unless you’ve seen them. Fucking brilliant.
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).
Saw this unexpectedly in Streetlight Records in Adelaide and instantly snaffled it.
No Fixed Address (or NFA, as the Social Security acronym had it) was what every itinerant/traveller/boho put down as their address when they turned up in a strange town and went to lodge their form. Meant they weren't entitled to rent assistance.
The reason this release only gets its beer bottle rating is for the songs - not the memories. Certainly not for the sound - whoever did this was either having difficulties or not paying attention. The bass doesn't dominate like a liquid hot night in Adelaide, somehow to the fore and in the background at the same time; the guitar seems cleaner than I remember it, the pace seems slightly faster (though that could be time playing tricks) and, perhaps Veronica Rankine wasn't playing that night as I can't hear her sax.
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.