We all know Adelaide flies under the radar: we are often defined by the Malls Balls or our filtered water. Although we aren’t considered to be the artistic hub of Australia, little old Adelaide is home to one of the most vibrant art scenes in our country. The proof is in the festival pudding. The most recent example: Spin Off Festival 2019.
For those who are not familiar with this festival, Spin Off states that it brings ‘the cream of the Splendour in the Grass line up to Adelaide, curating a concentrated super dose of sideshow revelry’. It was a concentrated super dose of talent, but not for a second did this festival feel like a sideshow.
We were blessed with a divine day. In the midst of what has been a cool Adelaide winter, the sun showed its face, the air was still, and it was blue skies as far as the eye could see. The space was decked out with food trucks that bordered grassed areas, and a KFC tent was providing free food on the hour. Transmission – who run Adelaide’s regular indie music nights – set up a dance floor that was buzzing well into the evening. Our showground was filled with so many beautiful, energised, and groovy people.
The day kicked off with Kian, our young hip-hop, indie singer who melts hearts left, right and centre. The Australian rapper Kwame, known for his performance energy, was unmatchable on stage. Around lunch time, Ruby Fields brought waves of crazed fans through the gate to see her rock out with her appealing angsty vibe. Mallrat followed – wearing the most fabulous red, frilly two piece– and drew us in with her sweet nature and infectious liveliness. The flow didn’t stop! The surf and garage rock duo Hockey Dad impressed, backed with artistic on-screen visuals, Wolf Alice gave us the music for a solid, high energy dance session, and Ocean Alley, as the modern reggae fusion group they are, did not disappoint their devoted fans. Ball Park Music were next and have established themselves as irreplaceable in the Australian music scene, always pleasing with their honest, upbeat tunes. Catfish and the Bottlemen were the penultimate act and, from what I heard, were a huge influence on the large attendance at this year’s festival. Boy, are these guys loved, and their music is what I like to call ‘boogie friendly’ – it’s awfully hard not to get into it. And then there was Childish Gambino. The big one. What talent. What spectacle. His dramatic display was captivating, and I have very rarely been a part of a crowd so enthralled by a performer. Gambino will be spoken about for generations, and Adelaide was stoked to have him here.
The thing about any festival, is there is a strong sense of community. For however long a festival lasts – a single day or an entire weekend – festival goers get to know the space and all its nooks and crannies: a festival and its set up grows to feel like home in a mere few hours. People bond over a shared experience, and sweaty bodies getting down for a groove creates a unique intimacy. But in our city, I can’t help thinking that these festivals are even more close-knit. You could stand in a single spot in our showgrounds filled with thousands of humans, and bump into half of the people in your life. In the mosh, all you have to do is look both ways and you are guaranteed to lock eyes with a familiar face. It’s nice to think of this city, and the young people who go to these events, as an interlocked community.
Adelaide not only showed up for Spin Off, but we gave the national and international artists before us a bloody good time. Good on us!
Having seen Little Captain play the music of The Velvet Underground at the Grace Emily during the Fringe, Tulpa decided to catch up with the band to see what they have in store for the future. A residency at the Grace Emily throughout May will be first on their agenda. This time, however, it won’t be The Velvet Underground, they tell me, it will be their own music.
We’re sitting upstairs and outside at local bar Proof, where Grace Goodfellow, Todd Bennett, Kris Jaw-Moss, and Josh Pullinen let us at Tulpa in on the ideas they’re currently working on.
In the lead-up to their Fringe performance, Little Captain had been preparing since October and worrying about how many people the lure of The Velvet Underground would attract, eventually playing to a packed Grace Emily. The result was not just the old die-hard Velvet Underground fans coming along, but also others new to their musical offerings. As Grace Goodfellow recalls, some of the audience came up to them afterwards to say they didn’t really know the Velvet Underground but thought they’d check it out. All agree it was nice to do something a bit offbeat.
Covers will still be present in their May residency, alongside their own original offerings. What the covers will be is resolutely kept a surprise. Sadly, no exclusive here on that score. All I can get from them is it will be a bit more contemporary than The Velvet Underground.
With a host of support bands to compliment them during the May residency, the band look forward not just to taking the stage with their friends but also debuting a new song. The band expresses a shared fondness for the Grace Emily so the oncoming residency is an exciting prospect on their horizon. Little Captain consider the Grace Emily a champions of local artists and very supportive of local music. The free beers don’t hurt much either.
Beyond the May residency, what does the band have planned? As far as plans go, nothing concrete, but Little Captain have goals for more recording, the release of another single, and taking what comes next as it comes. Having played a lot last year, the band wishes to turn their focus towards recording and writing some new songs, as the experience of booking, planning, promoting, and playing was an exhausting one.
The band, having originated with Grace and Kris, has a number of songs, so the prospect of adding to their collection seems to be one they’re passionate to undertake this year. Or possibly going to Morocco for the year and returning tanned and possessing bongos, offers Josh.
How do they find the balance? There’s the one side of planning their gigs and getting everything ready, and the other side of the performance itself. The answer is it’s something of a work in progress. The band is playing every weekend this May, but they feel a residency is a better plan than being a band playing a pub somewhere in the city every weekend and risking the apathy of the crowd. It seems the band plays by the old adage to always leave the audience wanting more.
Asking what the audience of their Velvet Underground Fringe gig can expect to find different about their own shows, I learn it will probably not be quite so loud. Possibly fewer drug references. Though there’s no great consensus on that. There’ll also be just as many – if not more – guitar solos by Kris. Maybe a larger crowd too (the show is free).
The future, Little Captain hopes, also sees them playing further afield than the Grace Emily, much as they love the place, and a desire to grow their presence – being played on Triple J being a major goal.
They have already played plenty of other venues including Jive, the old Rhino Room (where they played in the last ever show), the Cranker [Crown & Anchor], and the Semaphore Music Festival. Little Captain has even played as far afield as Melbourne where they played at the Workers’ Club and The Old Bar in Fitzroy.
The Grace Emily has been their ‘constant’, though. They played their first performance as a whole band there. They also built their initial duo there. Grace [Goodfellow] was opening for musician Patrick James and Kris [Jaw-Moss] joined with guitar. After this, a reviewer wrote they considered the best part of the set to be the duet which led them to opening as a duo for others.
As new drinks arrive, we enter a deep discussion about the merits of mint and its importance in cocktails. It’s a conversation that slowly, and indirectly turns towards the origins of the name ‘Little Captain’ after the conclusion of an exhaustive list of mint-based band names. With two ideas for the new-born band’s name being ‘Little Silver’ and ‘Captain Gentleman’, the two proposals were merged, resulting in the eventual ‘Little Captain’.
The band discuss how the name Little Captain has, on occasion, led some to come to their gigs expecting a sweeter style than theirs (though they hasten to add they do offer some gentler songs), leaving the occasionally surprised punter. Across my hour with the band, I learn that what they lack in sweet songs, they more than make up for in ‘dad jokes’ as all band members offer their best (or worst) dad jokes.
During the residency at the Grace Emily, Little Captain will be supported by Elli Belle and Beyond the Picture on May 4, Georgy Rochow and Bromham on May 11, Ron the Ox and Ty Alexander on May 18, and to round the month out is Panacea and Hey Harriett. The band members have ties with many of their colleagues from being high school bandmates, to being neighbours, to playing in connection with them.
Should the audience come back week after week, I ask. With two different support bands, free entry, the unique nature of the Grace Emily, and of course, the talents of Little Captain, yes, is the answer. You can get told you’re a great audience every week, they say.
On a broader note, how is the current state of Adelaide’s music culture? The answers range from ‘brilliant!’ to ‘it’s pretty good’, so generally a good and hopeful view from the band. There’s more variety, and every night offers a good gig somewhere in the city, they tell me. It’s come a long way in the time they’ve seen it grow, resulting in the challenge of picking support bands due to the high quality of bands around the city.
With a good future predicted for Adelaide’s musical climate and Little Captain sailing towards broad and exciting horizons, I leave them, finding myself enthused for the future of Adelaide’s gigs and shows. At least until the May residency, when it seems the offering will be too good to turn down.
Perhaps we’ll see you there!
Words by Liam McNally
Thanks to the members of Little Captain.
Little Captain will be playing at 8pm at The Grace Emily every Friday during May.
I went to see Adelaide Songs at the 2016 Fringe and hoped then that they would prove to be fixture of our city’s festival scene. It seems my hope has been granted as here they are again for their third straight Fringe and I couldn’t resist checking in to see how things have changed.
Selecting from their bank of songs, the performers gave the audience a generous fourteen songs. Six I’d heard last time, and eight new. The six older songs were welcome returns including a rousing tribute to our state’s ‘best premier’ Don Dunstan in “Politics of Love”, and a song dedicated to the patchy nature of Hindley Street in “Hindley Street Waltz”.
The new songs included the very timely “Battery Powered Premier” and to discuss the changing face of Adelaide, “City of Towers”.
The song list charts South Australia’s long history, through its ups and downs, from arrival of Colonel Light to the present – while still paying due attention to all that went before Light. The performance celebrates South Australia without ignoring the less pleasant elements of our history. It’s not without an understanding of the questionable times in our past.
Adelaide Songs is educational, enjoyable, and a worthwhile show. Any member of the audience is sure to go home having learned something and possessing a greater appreciation for our state’s unique history. The show does not sacrifice entertainment for its educational elements, though, as it maintains a light touch and sense of fun throughout, except for when dealing with the more serious corners of our state’s past.
It is an unrepentant celebration of our city which sits in stark contrast to the popular view of looking down on Adelaide. The performance and the artists invested in it show a willingness to buck the trend of cultural cringe in favour taking time to celebrate the vast range our state’s past, present, and future takes in.
It’s well worth having a show in the Adelaide Fringe that puts Adelaide so much at the centre. Where Adelaide might be the canvas, Adelaide Songs makes our city (the fifth most liveable in the world, apparently!) the artwork itself.
As we went into the wonderful venue that is the Lab at Queen’s Theatre, hospital-style hair nets were handed out. This method of blurring the lines between performance and real life pays off in spades due to the strength of the show itself.
Being capable of eliciting anxiety, joy, and a whole gamut of emotions is a remarkable skill and one that Josh Belperio masters to great effect in Scarred for Life. A tour de force of musical talent, the performance balances both the intrinsic skill Belperio exhibits but also plays to his strengths to charm the audience. Quite a charismatic performer, Belperio is aided by excellent production to tell a story that weaves between emotional weight and lighter humorous turns. The shifting of tone could easily have been mismanaged but no emotional turn feels abrupt.
The production is perfectly geared to maximise the strength of Belperio’s story. Watching this performance is a powerful experience and is ultimately an uplifting one that will surely see the audience leave on an emotional high.
Charting trauma, anxiety, and recovery, it’s impossible to avoid the seriousness of the situations but Scarred for Life is able to measure the humour to perfection. The blend that results from this artistic measuring of themes is a special one. The story is a worthy one, the themes universal (even if not the actual experiences, hopefully) and the production pitched to perfection bring out the pre-existing strengths of the show. Undeniably, this is an engaging and charming performance mounted to perfectly play on the substantial strengths of Josh Belperio as a performer and Scarred for Life as a performance.
Seeing Scarred for Life in the same day as Mental as Everything only added to the experience as both shows complimented each other with their shared themes and ethos. I’m sorry to say that both shows are now ended but hopefully they will not keep us waiting and the wonderful and unique performance staged at the Lab at Queen’s Theatre will return before long and not starve the audiences of such great marvels.
The Brewster Brothers play Bob Dylan is a thoroughly enjoyable and rousing tribute to one of the world’s most famed and celebrated songwriters. The Brewster Brothers, John and Rick, of Australian band The Angels, are accompanied by Nick Norton another Brewster in Sam at the German Club in their entertainment of a packed hall. Sadly, this was a one-off performance, so I can’t encourage you to go and see the next one but the barnstorming success of this show is such that the next time they are performing a show (or should they return in Fringe 2019) this is not to be missed.
The crowd was large, passionate, and diverse. There were older members of the crowd whose lives likely flowed alongside the career of Bob Dylan, those much younger, and some wearing ‘The Angels’ t-shirts. The performance was not necessarily simply for those who already had a pre-existing love of Dylan’s work. It was simply an opportunity to revel in the joys of great music.
The show was scheduled for 75 minutes and when the time came, the band was dragged back on stage not once, but twice, by enormous vocal demand of the crowd. In that minute or so after the band had bid the audience goodnight and left the stage, the hall was filled an uproar of demands for ‘one more’. As it happened, the Brewster Brothers offered not one but three final songs to round out their tribute to the freewheelin’ Mr Dylan.
If there are any critiques to be made, they would the lack of such major songs Chimes of Freedom and the songs from the album Blood on the Tracks.
The Brewster Brothers do a remarkable job of conjuring up that unique element that saw Dylan rise above the rest. The famed troubadour would surely have been proud of the care and detail taken by the Brewsters in paying tribute to his long career.
The Brewster Brothers read the crowd to perfection, with the deftness and skill that comes from their own successful careers. Their 75-minute performance blew out in length and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the band were having as great a time as the audience when the final song came around and they kept it going as long as possible. The final, lengthy song, gave each performer a chance to showcase their own individual skills in a marvellous send-off to the rapturous applause of the crowd. A total success.
Words by Liam McNally
The Brewster Brothers play Bob Dylan was a one-off performance at The German Club.
Tulpa writer Liam McNally sat down with Porch Governor Sharni Honor in the wonderful surrounds of Glenelg’s Seafaring Fools, to talk music in Adelaide, how Porch Sessions got its start, and the journey from beginning to award and success!
How did Porch Sessions start out? Was it initially your idea or did you have collaborators from the start?
It started out as a tiny idea in my brain. I’ve always been a passionate follower of music and it was a response to an assignment, of all things, while I was studying at Music SA. At the end of the year, they were like ‘put all your skills in one little box and see if you can put on an event and make it happen’. I remember looking back at my big journal and on the second page I’d scribbled ‘porch sessions’. And then I had the first gig in my parent’s front garden and threw it all together. I had no idea what I was doing. There’s no manual on how to put [a gig] on in someone’s house. A lot of it was straight-in-the-deep-end, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. After doing the first one, the response was massive. It was sold out, 150 people. Timberwolf played our first show, who’s now killing it. The headliner was Benjalu, which is now one half of Boo Seeka who are also doing great things interstate. I guess after that first show, it was, ‘this is great, when’s the next one?’ And then it hit me, ‘I can’t just have gigs at my parents’ house for the rest of time, how’s this thing going to grow?’ Then the travelling element came up.
Where was the second gig?
It was actually a punter who came to the first gig. My yoga teacher at the time, straight after the show, she was like ‘I’m having the next one!’ Realistically, now, the house was a little bit of a tricky space to work in. We had two shows back-to-back there and a guy named Stu Larsen who is now one of our favourite artists played two sold out shows there and that kicked things into full motion.
Where did the idea for Porchland come up?
I guess the cool thing about Porch Sessions is that it ultimately started as a travelling backyard music festival is now a brand that represents nice times, amazing experiences, and unique spaces. The idea around Porchland is that as we have so many intimate shows that can be fifty people in a tiny space and [from that] we bring together everyone from these tiny gigs to have a dance and celebrate. We bring it all together in one space.
Have you branched out into pubs and other different things?
We’ve dabbled with curating music in spaces but we’re pretty diligent on the reason for which we exist. We don’t exist in venues, and that’s kind of our point of difference. That said, we do curate music in spaces and help people out in that sense. I guess to take music out of that and create venues where venues don’t exist is our biggest passion.
Do you ever do a gig in the city?
Not really. We have done Tram Sessions. That was a concept that originated in Melbourne. We’re good mates with the guys who run that and we toured it to Adelaide. We pick a tram stop, everyone jumps on and we play like five songs. People get on. People get off. It’s uncomfortable. It’s amazing. That’s the main thing we do in the city.
So, taking music to the audience, rather than the audience coming to the music?
A thousand percent. It’s amazing how much can be said for creating that atmosphere and setting the tone before the music even starts. When you design the architecture of a space, it can dictate how the night goes. When venues get in that stale space and become sometimes more about the bar and making money and surviving, which is what they have to do, the music becomes secondary to them surviving, ultimately.
On the subject of surviving, how do you find surviving in the Adelaide arts scene?
It’s hard. Very, very hard. The thing about Porch Sessions is that we pride ourselves on having super high quality across the board. High quality music, first and foremost. And we pay for it. We have some of the highest artist fees across South Australia for the music we book. For some reason a lot of people assume, ‘that’s a nice thing, it must be like a volunteer thing’. No way. We pay our artists really quite well, and all of our staff and photographers, and videographers. All the content that comes out of our shows is really valued and we’re pretty diligent about that. It takes a long time to balance all of that while trying to stay afloat and put bread on the table. It’s really tricky.
It is concentrated for a lot of people into one month. I know a lot of us who do this as a full-time job are very quick to wipe our hands clean of March and just step away from it because we slog our guts out for the rest of the year. It’s easy to be disheartened by it.
I suppose it’s a bit of a case of people building up all year for Fringe season and they just own that one month.
It’s exciting and people are pumped but we’ve got to look after the people who maintain our arts scene year-round. I guess, for people like us who live and breathe the industry, it never stops. It’s quite hard to get on the level of those who do dip in and out. It’s quite hard to be in those shoes sometimes but that’s reality. It’s really hard to keep on top of when things are happening. It’s work for people to go to shows and to find out about things. We have to remember that as curators.
Is that why you have Porchland, as your big event, about as far away from March as you possibly can?
For sure. It’s taken time. I guess the beautiful thing about Porch is that by moving really slowly, we’ve developed a really strong following and a lot of our shows do sell out. When we do have shows 45 minutes from Adelaide, to pull 180 people to a space is really quite cool. That takes a really long time to build and generate.
Is the advertising you do, like the coasters and posters here [Seafaring Fools], really just for Porchland, rather than the Sessions?
We’ve been pretty underground with our marketing for Porch Sessions. Social media is huge for us; mailing lists, word of mouth, the artists themselves. That sells the shows without us having to put up posters. Also, with such a turnaround of shows – we probably run over thirty events in a given year – if we were to put out marketing for every show, it’d be work that wouldn’t need to exist. I guess that’s the cool thing about Porchland, we can get people who’ve never heard of what we do to this one big event.
The Sessions themselves just build by word-of-mouth, then? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any advertising for a Porch Session.
I guess it’s that there is a kind of ‘beautiful secret’ element to it, and being in residential houses, we just publicise the suburb [rather than address] and put out the line-up. There isn’t much of a need for it. The next three shows, in the summer series, are all sold out, which is super cool. There isn’t much of a need for marketing. It’s an amazing privilege to have in Adelaide.
You’ve built to the point where you have a major social media following and you won the award Best Music Event/Festival at the SA Music Awards, beating out even Womad.
It was so unexpected. Everything at that festival [Womad], I go to, and admire, and get inspired by. That was mindblowing. Unbelievable.
As wonderful as Womad is, it must have been something to see someone other than them win anyway.
We were at the back, drinking beers and we were like ‘that’s not Womad – oh my God, this is not a drill!’ It was bizarre. To be considered on the same level is cool in itself but to actually take that [award] out, is very cool.
How’s that affected things? Is it just in the industry or externally as well?
I think actually across the board. It’s amazing how many people have heard about it. It lifts us into a new bracket. It attaches a new professionalism to what we do and nationally it’s been really well recognised.
How many sessions do you have ready in advance at any given time?
We’re always forward-programming. We’re still pulling into place the rest of this season that runs up until the start of May. We have another three shows we’re going to release over the next couple of weeks and that’ll be the season done. Then we start on the winter shows. We also have Porch Session on Tour where we pack up five caravans and travel between Queensland and South Australia. It’s full-on and fast-paced but it’s the best. We’re already starting to plan for that next year.
Tulpa Magazine thanks Sharni Honor for her time, Jack Fenby for the Porch Sessions feature photo, and Harley Vincent for the photo from Porchland.
Only Objects will thrill the living daylights out of you with their new single
Recently Tulpa Magazine sat down with Patrick Lang, vocalist of electronic band (and self-described genre-botherers) Only Objects to discuss the band’s newest single, ‘You Only Kill for Love’. If the title brings to mind Bond films, you’re very much on the money. Created to evoke–but not emulate–the unique Bond sound, this is a perfect balancing act, and one the song achieves with aplomb.
In order to find the essence of the Bond theme, Patrick went back and listened to every Bond song again. He points to the Sean Connery era songs as an influence, acknowledging the significance of ‘Goldfinger’ and, despite his low opinion of the film, ‘Diamonds are Forever’ (both Shirley Bassey songs).
1973’s ‘Live and Let Die’ is another song Patrick refers to as an influence, as are the more recent ‘GoldenEye’ (1995) and ‘Another Way to Die’ (2008). The influence of all these songs can be felt in ‘You Only Kill for Love’ without ever feeling as though the goal is to imitate them. It is more a child of these songs than a clone.
Somewhat disappointed with ‘Writing’s on the Wall’, the latest Bond theme which accompanied Spectre, Patrick was moved to write something that felt more like what Bond is about. In the case of the most recent film, a song he considers a more fitting choice in Radiohead’s ‘Spectre’ was available but ultimately turned down, and released separately.
Asked about the less effective songs throughout the decades of the Bond series, Patrick alights upon the Roger Moore era as being one not graced by many memorable instalments in Bond’s musical ouvre. The late seventies and early eighties were a time of change in the nature of music production and Patrick theorises that the desire to keep up with these changes had an adverse effect on the Bond songs produced in this time.
Every era of the Bond series has produced a song that captures the essence of a Bond theme well, says Patrick. The Connery era had the memorable ‘Goldfinger’, the Moore era ‘Nobody Does it Better’, and the Pierce Brosnan era ‘GoldenEye’. In many cases, it is the first song of a new Bond that offers the strongest song, says Patrick, but he does not consider this to be the case with the Daniel Craig iteration. ‘You Know My Name’, the song accompanying Casino Royale, is a song Patrick considers a very good song but not such a good fit for the Bond series.
The process of making a song feel appropriately Bond-esque is a fine balancing act. A song such as ‘You Know My Name’ can succeed on its own merits but not quite fit the style of the series. There is an elusive essence to attain in order to ensure the song is sufficiently fitting. To that end, how did Only Objects bring together a song that matched the expectations of such a song? Patrick explains that he brought ideas and a demo to the band and they collectively workshopped it with their medley of instruments, including drum, keytar, keyboard, and synthesiser. Together, they managed to find the balance to work the style through the song’s components and ensure the song was one that played well on its own.
Due to the length of the song, a radio cut was a tough chore as the song plays like a spy film in miniature. It rises to a crescendo before the built tension is released by way of a dubstep drop standing in for the explosive action sequence, leading finally to the denouement. The shape and essential style of a spy film, most particularly a Bond film, is present in the song in a smaller format.
Come the recording, Only Objects sought to make it as big and dramatic as possible, giving themselves full licence to kill. The size and scope of the song is to be marvelled at, layered with a rich musical background as it is. The influence of the Bond series can be felt in it but it is never derivative of a song. To this listener, the influence of ‘Another Way to Die’ and ‘Live and Let Die’ are present, but not dominant, the balance is kept well and the musical heritage this song taps into can be found should you only look for it – and there’s plenty to be found in a song for which the world is not enough.
‘You Only Kill for Love’ is released on November 18 on most online music services.