With The Damned, you just can be happy today

the damned factory

The Dammed
The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
Thursday, August 20 2019
Photos: Monique Simmons

Culturally, Britain was so different to the USA in so many ways in the ‘70s, and that had much to do with distance.  The US is a vast place with all sorts of cultures and entrainment influences. The south was different to the west coast and out was again different to the east. And that really showed in the disparate pockets of music that sprang up everywhere.

On the other hand, England was more centralised. Long before the ‘70s dawned, it had the ingrained tradtiion of music halls as its historical DNA.

Music halls were everywhere. At one time there were more than 200 theatres in London alone. They hosted events running for four hours and ranging from comedy, clowning, horror to serious  drama. For more than a century, popular theatre was a staple for the working man and middle class alike. 

Well, you may ask, what has this got to do with The Damned appearing live in Sydney on a Thursday night? I say, everything.  A Dammed gig is like a trip through classic British pantomime and theatre, full of drama and packed with wit and slapstick. 

Foul mouthed yobs: Adelaide "punks" in pub ban fury

Sarah telling Hermann not to swear
Sarah telling Hermann from Fear and Loathing not to swear. 

Fear and Loathing
The Filthy Gypsies
Lucy the band
Swamp Kitteh
The Federal Hotel, Semaphore, Adelaide
August 24, 2019
Photos: Wayne Ridley

What a pack of bastards. The folk in the bands, I mean. I wasn't going to review this gig, partly because the sound wasn't as good as it could have been, I missed most of the first act's set (and they were damn good and deserve a better review), one of the bands was using a stand-in bass and extra guitar player and... well, I hadn't gone with the intention of reviewing anyone, just a couple of brews and some friends. And the bastards have asked me to review the thing. 

If I could claim to have been too drunk, I would.

Oh, yeah, "full disclosure" as the Barman says on occasion, I know a lot of these folks. But you, I-94 Bar reader, may rest assured that I would never review a band unless I thought them worthy of your attention. All I will add is that I wore my latest and current favourite Chickenstones T-shirt.

You're never alone with a bulging back catalogue. Ain't that the truth

 rob factory
Rob Younger at The Factory Theatre. Shona Ross photo.

Radio Birdman
+ Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers
+ East Coast Low
Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday, June 21, 2019

Radio Birdman
+ Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers
+ The Dark Clouds
Factory Theatre, Marrickville, NSW
Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Aints!
+ Colonel Kramer & The Eamon Dilworth One Man Brass Ensemble
Factory Theatre, Marrickville, NSW
Friday, June 28, 2019


Your own legacy is a hard act to follow. This is a tale of two bands.

On one hand you have Radio Birdman, a thoroughly re-tooled and different beast to its previous incarnations and still carrying a substantial reputation. They’re a prime reason why The I-94 Bar exists.

On the other, you have The Aints!, who are led by foundation Saints member Ed Kuepper and armed with a setlist partly planted in that band’s past, with the balance comprising songs that were written for the old band but never recorded.

Hide your lighter fluid when these Schizophonics come to play

The Schizophonics Marrickville Bowlo Tom Wilkinson 28Tom Wilkinson photo.

The Schizophonics
Grinding Eyes
Sk8tergrrrl
Marrickville Bowling Club
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Photos by Tom Wilkinson

This gig was a bit of a big deal for Sydney’s spluttering live rock and roll scene. There’s an online buzz on San Diego’s Schizophonics, driven by their livewire videos and their reputation for spectacular shows. The Harbour City, however, was absent from their original travel plans.

A tour through New Zealand was being followed by just one Australian show - at The Tote Hotel in Collingwood, Melbourne - until last-minute intervention by a drummer in one of Oz’s most prominent bands (Russell Hopkinson of You Am I knows who he is) and another party who shall remain nameless. 



So a side trip to Sydney was organised - for a Thursday night show at Marrickville Bowling Club. The night after a hurriedly organised, extra Melbourne show. 

Marrickville Bowlo has become a haunt for Sydney’s older rock and roll demographic. Lansdowne for the kids, Bowlo for the seniors. It’s a nice-sounding room with a great PA and friendly staff. The drinks are cheap.

Transmission coming through, loud and clear

sand pebbles stairs

Sand Pebbles
John Curtin Hotel , Carlton
Saturday, June 1 2019

I remember 2004. Living in a spacious weatherboard house in North Fitzroy, two small children, disrupted sleep patterns, fumbling through the fog of the embryonic years of parenthood.

Watching the Howard Years roll on. Mark Latham pushed his way into public view, tried to take up the fight with Howard. Toned down the more provocative aspects of his public discourse, held a press conference in front of a row of American flags, presented himself as the guy who understood the aspirations of the suburban demographic, but who wasn’t a product of an era that’d never return. Who’d have though 15 years later Latham would be a One Nation member in the NSW parliament? People thought Pauline Hanson was finished too. History is funny, innit?

A full sick night, mate

adam mondayitis"The Odd Night Out"
Botanic Gordon + Leitmotiv Limbo
+ r.domain + Vomit of the Universe
The Metro, Adelaide 
May 11, 2019
Photos by Somnambulist Dillinger

I'd never seen any of these outfits. Only heard of one of them, Vomit of the Universe (aka VoU), because my friends Adam Mondayitis (pictured right - sometime DJ at 3D Radio until they got gentrified, Hydrocephallus and Smallpox Confidentialist) and Jordy Dodd are VoU and ... well. You never know, do you? Might be dreadful. Might be wonderful.

The organiser wasn't sure what the order of play was until everyone more or less got there. So this is how the bands appeared on the FB event page (and yes, it's 'sic'):

Vomit of the Universe - guitar and drums duo plays slimey soiled rusty metal

r.domain - modular synths of megalopic proportions with a sea of wires

Botanic Gordon - formerly of the '70s organ synth, now renovating for future antiquity

Leitmotiv Limbo - clarinet sin storage, synth put aside, "just playing spring sculptures"

Shoving some Stranglers down our throats

cornwell manning

Hugh Cornwell
The Manning Bar, Sydney
Thuirsday, May 9, 2019

The Stranglers were the first UK Punk/New Wave band I ever saw. It was February 25, 1979, at the State Theatre in Sydney with opening band, The Hitmen.

Of course, The Stranglers were not punk or new wave or pub rock or ANYTHING. They played Strangler Music (god bless their drug taking, karate fighting, foul mouthed socks). A band like that couldn’t last forever. Lead singer/Guitarist Hugh Cornwell went one way, the rest of the band went another way…que sera sera …what ever will be will be.

Hugh's stranglehold on the hits

hugh the gov

Hugh Cornwell & band
The Gov, Adelaide
Sunday May 5, 2019
Richard De Pizzol photos

It's a chilly sort of night and I really don't feel like going out at all.

However, I have made arrangements and shall honour them.

Bad Bob arrives, leans on his horn and I am dragged from my chamber to encounter my chum, all chirpy and smoky, in a dinky little white car and we zoom off, leaving dazed possums and alarmed cats behind us.

Hippy Days in a room filled with quiet joy

arlo1Arlo 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.

I-94 Bar