The Mummies go Down Under

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The Mummies in full flight. Shona Ross photo

The Mummies in Australia? No fucking way! Hard to believe, but true. A hit-and-run visit spanning three states in less than a week (with a stop-off in New Zealand on the way home) admittedly but a tour, nonetheless.

The Mummies were The Shit in garage rock in the late 1980s. Conceived as the ultimate anti-band by Trent Ruane (organ, vocals), Maz Kattuah (bass), Larry Winther (guitar) and Russell Quan (drums), they were a lynchpin of San Francisco’s lo-fi scene. Emerging from their tomb sporadically in the ‘90s and ‘00s, they’re renowned for being the band that gave the then very hip SubPop label the finger when refusal to sign was a death-wish. They have made no-frills Budget Rock an art-form.

Sunn0))) and Magma at the Adelaide Festival

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Sunn0))) holds court: Tomway Armie photo

It’s one of the last couple of nights of the Festival and Fringe; Womad is grooving away in Botanic Park, hipsters are growing beards, diners are admiring themselves and magician James Hessler is befuddling everyone else. Crowds are flocking like pigeons in one of Godspeed (etc)’s fillums.

Over at Thebarton, we pick up the tickets and plunk ourselves outside the door. The beefy bouncers all wear yellow shirts and clutch industrial strength earmuffs. After about 40 minutes we scurry in, straight to the interior entrance, for another 30 minute wait, and a $12 plastic cup of cider (our last, at that price).

Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Vampillia at the Adelaide Festival

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It’s bloody festival time here in Adelaide; the week has been a hot one and between stepping around benighted tourists we’ve been taking extra-long detours around the city in order to get anywhere, cheerfully accepting the extra time and travel because the V8 car race is also on.

Then the weather bureau decided that there would only be a 30 percent chance of any rain. Parking the car the heavens opened in what is a sort of minor subtropical hissy fit, and I get drenched.

Hurrah.

It's high time for X to get into the studio

steve lucas nscSteve Lucas at the Newtown Social Club. Murray Bennett photo

X is a Sydney band.

I can’t think any other outfit that personified the street-level, brutal and at times minimalistic music of Sin City Sydney of the late ‘70s like X. Theirs' was a world of squats with a city awash with Terrence Clark's cheap smack, the odour of brown bags of dirty money and nightly beatings at Darlo police station.

It was a world of corrupt pollies and police in the post-Askin Sydney. X captured that harsh, nihilistic inner-city world. One that has long since been gentrified.

Beast Records Night at the Tote Hotel in Melbourne

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Tamara and Evil Dick.  Caroline Burston photo

In a parallel historical universe the vast southern continent now known as Australia might have been conquered by France.

While France was still a functioning monarchy at the time Captain James Cook invoked the now discredited legal fiction of Terra Nullius to claim the territory on behalf of the English throne; by the time Arthur Phillip lobbed into Botany Bay in 1788, France was starting to buckle in the face of rising bourgeois unrest, and had bigger internal fish to fry (or heads to lop, as the case may be).

An Adelaidian in King Kim's Court: A Day By The Green 16

ADBTG Kim SalmonHeadliner Kim Salmon: No fish out of water.   Campbell Manderson photo

Every time I go to Melbourne, something elbows me in the ribs and, somehow, things don’t go according to plan. The last few weeks have been short pay weeks, so I didn’t have quite enough dosh as I expected.

Of course, I had also completely forgotten that hotels now want a deposit against impromptu extra day stays and so forth, just in case you take the toaster into the shower or, to settle an argument, see how just far down the emergency stairs you can surf on the bed.

So, somewhat impoverished, I set off for St Kilda, a once-magical place of genteelly-crumbling art deco, dread gangsters (the real kind), assorted equally impoverished students, musicians, dealers and migrants and so on and so on. The event is the 16th A Day By The Green, a long-running Melbourne rock and roll institution.

Henry Hugo live in Adelaide

hugo henry wideCredit: Barry C Douglas (Barry Takes Photos)

Zurich-based Henry Hugo has been in Melbourne for a few weeks, playing with a variety of Melbourne talent so glittering it fairly takes your breath away. I believe there might be a couple more gigs to come, so I suggest you get your hat and coat and wallet and get out the door right now.

Before I go on, I missed opening act the St Morris Sinners. I have heard endless good things about them and I must catch them soon. But it wasn’t to be tonight.

A Psychotic Xmas as the Turnbuckles prevail

jesse factoryJesse the Intruder of the Psychotic Turnbuckles

The Kings of The Combat Zone, the Psychotic Turnbuckles, returned to Sydney from Pismo Beach last Saturday night for a one-off Xmas show, presented by the I-94 Bar.

They were joined by Melbourne's Stoneage Hearts and Sydneysiders The Prehistorics in a no-holds-barred tag-team contest at Marrickville's Factory Floor. Shona Ross captured these images as the Turnbuckles triumphed in front of a packed house. Click more to see the images.

Come back Lucinda, all is forgiven

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Truth be told, Lucinda Williams’ last tour of Australia in support of the "Little Honey" album was a little disappointing.  And by a little you can read a lot.  I had pretty much said I would never attend one of her concerts again.  Ever.  All right.  It was more severe than that.  Blood was spilled and oaths were sworn.  A goat may have been sacrificed. 

So what was wrong with that show?  Vague and disorientated, Ms Williams stumbled around the stage in a manner suggesting someone had slipped her a Rohypnol and it may well have been her.  She kept telling us how great it was to be playing in a rock and roll club.  The “rock and roll club” in question was the all-seated Enmore Theatre. 

The seats were so tightly jammed against each other that you couldn't clap for fear of putting someone's eye out.  The band laid down a brutal four-on-the-floor boogie.  She indulged in strange off beat dance steps, shifting weight from foot to foot and clapping hands above head.  These activities seemed to bear no resemblance to the placement of snare and bass drum.