“Plick” Recalls Sydney

“You know how many times I've been laid in this band?.. Zero!” - Shogun (Royal Headache)

Of the few things I learned the weekend spent in Sydney, Australia, 30 September to 2 October, this was surely one of the least encouraging. Right now that boxed jaw tool from The Oh Sees is fighting off a small frenzy of San Fransiscan chanteuses, tellingly hormonal and hard at the nipples, sharing preoccupations with neo-'hippie psych', wet at the hemp panties; the almost-women from Tame Impala are clammy at the palms trying to navigate around statutory rape charges....and all the while the Shogun- with the grizzled physique of an NRL player from the late 1980's and a voice that could melt the butter in Aretha Franklin's refrigerator- is left stranded cold and without a cave in which to ejaculate on a Sunday night the day before a statewide public holiday and having just performed to an enthusiastic, pogo-dancing, booze addled crowd of...mostly blokes, I would imagine.

The Annandale Hotel is a Hotel located in the inner city suburb of Annandale. Last time I was there I watched Lucas Abella's crazy alter ego Justice Yeldham press a sheet of amplified glass to his face until it was smeared with a wall of blood, and witnessed Naked on the Vague perform for the first time as a power-metal four piece. Tonight I was here for a music festival arranged by Nicolas Warnock of Rest In Peace Society records and promotions. “This is gonna be IT mate!”, clued Warnock, and it seemed to be the general consensus echoed through the hall of a crowd of sheilas, haircuts and manchildren. Tellingly, Harriet and Angie of Circle Pit and Southern Comfort set up a merch deck selling bootleg CDRs of live sets from Blank Realm and Circle Pit, because where there's money to be made, bootlegging CDRs with tasteful hand-drawn covers is always going to be a viable option.

The best band I seen at the inaugural RIP "Success Summit," hands down, was Whores, a band so up my alley that it is starting to cramp. To put it into perspective, picture the concise, headsplitting noise rock of your Lamps played with the go-for-it ineptitude of aboriginal street philosophers. I think that Royal Headache and Boomgates - the two big draws of this festival - are incredibly tasteful and talented pop groups who draw from the appropriate references and modern cultural scee, and will surely help RIP Society garner a well deserved international fanbase. But, I think the label needs to finally get that goddamn WHORES 7” out for people like YOU - who dig their music grogged and bleached and Cramps/noise/cock/noose damaged - to get them backing the label 100%. All killah. Two thumbs up. Not for clumps. The closest local reference I can come up with is that out-of-nowhere Rubbish Throwers 7” (ie. the chassis is loose, threatening to fall apart at any second without proper WD-40 application) though this leans more towards a straightforward bashing style than the vaguely art leaning NZ approach of D. Blachford's project. This band was worth the wait...

(Which I'm gonna talk about right....wait..ok, yeah, keep goin', that's the spot. Don't pull on it, ok, ok, hey did you catch that new Gaspar Noe flick? What a crock of shit right?! Hold on, now!....)

We got in town two nights earlier. The driving distance from Brisbane to Sydney is roughly the same as from Buffalo to Ontario, Canada, and you are given ample opportunity to stare at cow paddocks and mountain people/incest. I travelled with Matt Kennedy of Kitchen's Floor/Dirty Mattress, alongside the two goons behind Bedroom Suck records - who also play in a local masturbation themed hardcore ensemble LOOSE GRIP - and Matt's romantic interest, photographer and amateur documentarian Fanny Loose. Not being privy to a registered Australian driver's license, I sat in the back for the length of the trip, flipping through an issue of Homegirls and insisting on sticking V-3 in the CD drive. Dirty Mattress were due to play that night at 9.30, opening for CIRCLE PIT who had scheduled a warehouse show as fundraiser for their upcoming tour of the United States. The "U.S." - as is the parlance - is a large country and managing your way round it is a potentially expensive endeavour. This show needed to have stomach and game.

We arrived late and Dirty Mattress were treated to a silent yet all-too-obvious sense of spite and scorn from an indifferent, unenthusiastic crowd (save for Circle Pit's Jack Mannix, who seemed to be in constant state of non-narcotic euphoria, while others smoked hand rolled cigarettes and talked to their stupid shoes), while DM plowed through a selection of songs from the back catalogues of both Look!Pond and Kitchen's Floor. While I think that their set might have benefited from focusing on beefing up the Kitchens Floor tracks and dropping the Look!Pond tunes all together, I recommend tracking down a copy of the latter band's CD if you want to hear the petty burdens and warcries of a suburban Helensvale adolescence filtered through "deconstructive grunge funk". I missed seeing a band called Mother and Father and didn't care too much because by all reports the band sounds like bad Nirvana rip off and are degenerate poseurs. They are also called Mother and Father. Circle Pit were fan-stinking-tastic. They really won me over on the night, performing a set of solid, confident rock'n'roll. Chances are by the time you read this they will be somewhere in your large country. If they come through your town, see 'em.

On the next night I stayed in Sydney to see the Murder Junkies while the rest of the gang scouted off to the mines of Newcastle to smoke shitty hydro-weed and limp groove to the menstrual moaning of Grouper. Before the show I caught the AFL grand final at a local pisshole and watched the mighty Collingwood Magpies decimate the measley eunuchs of St. Kilda's Saints. Stick it, Reidvolt! I talked to Merle Allin about the CHEATER SLICKS and JJ SPEEDBALL, who is Brisbane's last vestige of true toilet rock this side of Big Gutterball Pete, and the self-appointed spokesman of the Southside. I didn't ask him if it was true that the Slicks kicked him out because he “wasn't weird enough”, but I sure wanted to. I seen the Blurters and their charismatic spokesman rally anthems against homosexuality before 200 bogans and hemorrhoiding street hogs. My heart filled with goosebumps and I cried a little inside. After the show I cabbed to King's Cross - which is something like Brisbane's Fortitude Valley with a highly concentrated infection of Super AIDS - and sat in an adult leisure centre where the excellent Heath Ledger flick 'Two Hands' was filmed, railing lines of speed every half hour from a toilet seat that would've scared off rabies afflicted street rats, stared dead-limp at a selection of some of the most worn down, junked out slappers ever bestowed upon a central community this side of Kangroo Point, and when the cops turned up at 7AM on a routine prostitution bust I ducked out of there quicker than Phil Jamieson at a 'To Catch A Predator' screening; cabbing to a nearby McDonalds to drink coffee brewed in a derelicts rectum and hallucinate for several hours.

Back at the Summit:

1) Carborator are a quintessential opening band, so it's only fair that they should kick things off with their brand of personable 70's bar rock that might as well be warming up the crowd for the Living End or Wolfmother. The guitarist is said to be an advocate of the New Chaos movement, but I cannot provide confirmation at this point and my sources are flimsy at best (some drunk cunt). Expect mild to moderate success in the indie circuit and a support slot on the next Hellmen reunion stint. Carbonara. Carborator.

2) Speaking of quintessentialists, Boomgates reflect exactly-100%-to-the-tee the paradigm of Australian micro-indie music. Featuring the singer from Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and more tellingly, 'Home and Hosed' disc jockey Stephanie Hughes (no relation to the dickhead comedian whose first name doesn't even deserve a mention as slander), Boomgates strip down pop music to three basic elements: grace, dignity and class. While I caught the band in store the day before at Repressed Records, I missed most of their set tonight because I walked down the street to Maccas to get a Mega Mac, and it was fucking delicious. Look, like I mentioned earlier I think that Boomgates are intuitively capable of good songwriting, but unlike the wild rock'n'roll fuckery in Whores they just don't move me as much as a deluxe sandwich from a reliable global enterprise. I think the bands that form the backbone of Boomgates (Dick Diver, The Twerps) - excepting Teen Archer, who are on a GOD/Stooges trip - are competent, but ultimately unexciting bands whose degree of separation from my understanding of twee "college radio" is marginal at most. In all respect to the players, they make music for Melbourne coffee stall employees and university students. They play on Tuesday nights at 8PM and everyone shows up wearing leather sports coats and sipping Coopers Pale Ale through tightened lips. Boomgates were evidently the most popular band of the night, they are going to be well received in whatever festival hustle or hipster bar they play in from here on in, and they will put smiles on the faces of enthusiasts the room over, but mine was having a better time being wrapped up in and around a wonderful sandwich.

3) I've said it before, and for the sake of all you erstwhile Scratch 'N Sniffers I'll howl it again: Blank Realm are a Band. Four people doing four things at once that work together. They didn't always write songs, but nowadays you'll be hard pressed to find a band that does a better job of it. They are capable of an impeccable Alex Chilton cover (“Hey! Little Girl”), and their work ethic is second-to-none. They did not disappoint on this night, and many adults danced.

4) Woollen Kits played second to last. The singer looks a bit like the cartoon character Franklin the Turtle from afternoon television, and the band are often compared to Beat Happening. Here is some scathing criticism from Jarrod Zladdic of the Fabulous Diamonds, a good man, which I'm echoing as a reference point only for their initial sound. They have since morphed into something vaguely more character driven, though still somewhat ineffectual. “Pointless as in, why bother? When I saw them live they sounded like a complete carbon copy Beat Happening then proceeded to announce “This next song is a cover”...It was a Beat Happening cover.”. They didn't cover Beat Happening tonight, and they take their criticisms in stride. The drummer rears his head for what must be his second Carlton midstrength.The singer stopped midway through the set to thank the barstaff and all of the venue's attendees, a friendly if contrived gesture.

5) Zond do not sound like the Fugs. I asked bassist Harriet early in the night of what to expect from their set. “Your friend just took some acid right? Well, he's gonna have an OK time...The rest of you? Leave after Boomgates!”. I was impressed by the Flipper/No Trend influenced bass lines and the constant sense of psychedelic antagonism. They strained and wheezed the audience, faces of audience members turned to pasty constructions. They created a wall of ultrahot, bending alloy metal. Suck my ass it stinks.

Apologies for the askew narrative structure, I'm no lineast and this is no tour guide. If you want to get anything out of this rubble, I insist that you check out Whores and regularly revisit the entire recorded GG Allin catalogue. I respect what RIP Society are doing and did not want to be somewhere else for the complete duration of this music festival. Nic can obviously draw a crowd, and he should be duly noted. But, my free thinking, thoughtful, anti-antipodean, shotgun totin', Wall Street Journal browsing reader people, please take note: just because it's coming from Australia in the year 2010 (and onward), doesn't necessarily make it worth the effort. Unless of course it drops on Negative Guest List records, in which case you have my full, unanimous support. Live a little.

-Brendon Annesley.

Editor's Postscript: This article was written by Brendon in 2010 for inclusion in Scratch-n-Sniff #3, which was never printed. I don't know who took the picture he sent with it, but he put a note in around where it should appear. If whoever took it would like a credit, let us know and thanks. - RK

R.I.P. Society on the web here.

Picture by Sally Edwards.

To read other TB articles, go here.