Tag Archives: adelaide

Fowler’s Live Closes: The End of an Era

Fowlers Live Adelaide South Australia music

When a social media post announced the impending closure of Fowler’s Live on October 3rd, the outpouring of love for the beloved music venue left operator Peter Darwin staggered.

“The support we’ve received has been unbelievable,” he said. “We had thousands of comments and messages on there. The overwhelming reaction was that people felt safe here, they enjoyed the community, and they felt that it had a genuine family feel. For a couple of days there I was really quite gobsmacked and found it difficult reading a lot of the heartfelt comments and feeling the love for the place.”

After 15 years spent fighting government red tape and upheaval to keep the 500-capacity venue afloat, Peter finally had to admit defeat when Arts SA announced they would be seeking to expand the use of the space at a significantly increased rent.

“Essentially, for that entire period we’ve only had two-year leases or occasionally a little bit longer,” Peter said. “There have been probably two other occasions when government policy was looking to revert the space into theatre or general art space, and on both those occasions that changed again. They then advised on September 30th that there was another operator coming in and we wouldn’t be able to continue. Clearly I’m unhappy about the situation, but I also am a realist in that I’ve known that, ever since I’ve took the place on with two-year leases, it was clear that it was going to end. To get to 15 years of operation and not be bankrupt is a reasonable achievement.”

The venue is well known as a national touring spot and as a place for local bands to cut their teeth, and leaves behind countless memories for those who have passed through its doors. While Peter could probably tell stories about the venue for days, two in particular stand out.

“We had the Mark of Cain, obviously a great Adelaide heavy-rock band, playing here one night some years ago on a stinking hot Adelaide summer night. It was about 42 degrees outside and must have been 60 inside by the time we had 500 people under the hot lights. It was just one of those nights when 500 people were operating as one person, rocking out to the band. Everyone was dripping in sweat, the place stank, and we were handing out water everywhere – it is still so clear in my mind.”

“Another time, [Californian punk band] Unwritten Law had played a gig here that night and some of Keith Urban’s crew and band came back to the venue, and the Unwritten Law guys were hanging out having a beer. For the next two hours, there was this bunch of punk guys drooling over the experiences, the stories and the knowledge of the crew and musicians of the Keith Urban band. The monitor engineer had been around for about 30 years and was reeling off stories. These guys were just beside themselves with the experiences and stories. You would not think those two groups of people would any recognition of each other at all.”

While the Fowler’s Live community is left with only memories, Arts SA has announced that Five Four Entertainment bid successfully for the lease, and aim to operate it as a live music and arts venue from January.

Peter, who will keep busy with the upcoming Keith Urban tour and looking after live music for the Adelaide 500, among other things, reluctantly admitted he can look back with pride.

“I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity and proud of what we’ve achieved,” he said. “Somehow I managed to make things go from A to B without fucking up. I just hope the new tenants keep a strong, original live music content here.”

For Scenestr

Record review: Summer Flake – Hello Friends (2016, LP)

summer flake hello friends

What a pleasure it is to give an album a spin after enjoying a single, and finding out the whole lot is as good as the individual reason you arrived at this place in the first instance. Such is the case with Hello Friends, the excellent second album from Melbourne-via-Adelaide musician Stephanie Crase (formerly of Batrider). The instantly-familiar ’90s guitar-pop sound of single ‘Shoot and Score’ provides a good indication of what’s to be discovered across ten tracks. At first it all sounds so sunny and warm, but there’s darkness just out of shot at many points, and Crase is often in a scathing mood. Opener ‘Son of a Gun’ finds her in such a headspace, but it’s more contemplative than combative, while ‘Make Your Way Back to Me’ is part Sonic Youth, part dream-pop transcendence. The distortion-driven ‘Wine Won’t Wash Away’ is a highlight, while the slow, gentle guitar lines and reflective lyrics of ‘Tumbling Down’ and ‘So Long’ are no less engaging. Crase’s skill is in making it all seem so effortlessly easy, whether it’s witheringly dissecting those around her, switching from loud to quiet à la the Pixies, or peeling off an epic solo, and there’s a lingering feeling she’s not really taking it all seriously, which only adds to the appeal. The musical reference points are clear, but its Crase’s contradictions which make this such an appealing collection of tracks, and there’s much more here than meets the eye.

For Beat

Record review: Bad//Dreems – Dogs at Bay (2015, LP)

bad dreems dogs at bay album cover

Ahh; take a deep breath and suck in the smell of stale beer, man sweat and fetid urinals: pub rock is back and it’s as welcome as an icy stubby to a parched throat in the summertime. Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems are perfectly placed to provide Aussie rock with a shot in the arm with this debut album, having put in the hard yards touring at home and overseas and recently soaked the Splendour stage in much of the contents of their rider. The result is their music is no longer left of the dial, as their songwriting hero Paul Westerberg would say, but easily accessible to anyone with a penchant for heart-on-sleeve rock and wonderfully raw live shows. An early highlight is ‘Bogan Pride’, on which frontman Ben Marwe announces “Friday night and I’m five pills deep, I can’t think straight,” before questioning the motives of those overly-muscular boneheads every festival-goer loves to hate. Gutsy singles ‘Cuffed and Collared’ and ‘Dumb Ideas’ provide the rockier moments, but the real magic is to be found among the nostalgic ‘Hume’ and ‘Ghost Gums’; moments of sunburnt Australiana which mark this album as a guitar-rock classic. In true Westerberg style, though, the quartet know a record isn’t complete without at least three minutes of devastating loneliness; provided in the form of ‘My Only Friend’. Top-drawer production by the legendary Mark Opitz helps their honest and often bleak Australian world view come to the fore, on an album that will sound just as good at home as it will down the pub. Tip: best served with a refreshing pint of West End.

For The Brag

Alex Cameron of Bad//Dreems: “We’re about to sign with a record label”

bad dreems

ADELAIDE indie-rockers Bad//Dreems are set to have a pretty big year.

“We’re about to sign with a record label,” says guitarist Alex Cameron. “I can’t say who it is, but we’ll announce the signing probably in the next couple of weeks, and the next release is a seven-inch called ‘Dumb Ideas’, which comes out at the start of April. That’s the first step towards an album that we’ll probably record later this year and release towards the end of the year or next year. There might be an EP in between.”

The quartet’s debut EP Badlands earned rave reviews and helped the band find their sound. This time, they’ve enlisted help from an experienced source.

“We’ve always got heaps of songs,” Cameron says. “We had fifteen demos for this seven-inch that we whittled down to get these two. One of the ways to do that is to demo a lot of songs and pick the best. The last EP was a collection of songs that spanned from when we started in 2012 through to just before we recorded it in January 2013. You can probably see an evolution in the songs; the first song we wrote was ‘Chills’ and the last was ‘Hoping For’, and I think that ‘Hoping For’ was the song that we think crystallised our vision into something that was around the mark of what we were going for. The difference may be that we’ve recorded with a new producer; Mark Opitz. He’s a pretty famous Australian producer; he worked with a lot of Australian bands of the ’80s. He originally worked with Vanda and Young doing a couple of AC/DC albums, then the first album he did himself was The Angels’ second album, which sold about 300,000 copies, and he worked with The Models, Hoodoo Guru and INXS. We thought it was a left-field idea to record with him, and we didn’t even know if he was still recording, but we got in contact and he really liked our stuff. I wouldn’t say the bands he recorded in the ’80s are particular inspirations of ours, but it was more of the way he captured what were good live guitar bands, and also the fact that he’s a very song-based producer and good at helping to bring out a band’s sound. Also, he’s good at sifting through songs and turning them into the best pop songs possible. He was given a lot of credit for the massive albums bands like INXS had, as he was able to pick out songs that had potential and take them to the next level. We were happy with the EP recording, but this time we were able to capture more of the live energy of the band. First and foremost our songs are based around playing them live; we don’t want to record with overdubs and there aren’t extra instruments in there padding out the sound. The EP didn’t quite have the same energy, but this time we’ve got that a lot better. I think the drum track for the single was the first take. We set up all our stuff in the room, gave it a run through and [Opitz] was like ‘Okay, that’s the drums done’.”

Triple J have been big supporters of the band, but radio airplay isn’t a make-or-break factor says Cameron.

“Triple J support didn’t happen overnight for us,” he says. “’Hoping For’ was the fifth single we put out. Having said that, Triple J have been supportive of all our things from the start; whether it was on Unearthed or Home & Hosed. There are two approaches that we wanted to avoid. One of those was caring too much about whether Triple J was going to play our songs or not, and pinning all our hopes on that. Triple J support is great, but if you pin all your hopes on it and it doesn’t happen you can be left high and dry, when there are plenty of other avenues to get your music out there. The second approach that some bands take is to be anti-Triple J and don’t want to put their stuff on Unearthed or associated with it. We just make the best songs we can and if Triple J support it so be it, but we’ve got other irons in the fire, and keep pushing ourselves to keep playing live and doing different things. The other thing I’d say is that the band started off not trying to ape any particular genre or make a new sound, but just trying to make really good songs. There are certain touchstones and elements that we reference, but our goal is to write songs that can be appreciated by everyone from the man on the street, to the music critic, to the hipster if you will, to the guitar shop guy. Some of my song-writing idols, from Dylan, Springsteen, Paul Westerberg, Kurt Cobain and Robert Smith; they wrote songs that are appreciated by everyone. That’s our goal as songwriters, and while we’re a long way off achieving that level, if you aim for that other things will follow. We just worry about the song-writing and the rest will take care of itself.”

Upcoming slots at Bleach* Festival and supporting The Scientists will give Queensland fans a chance to catch the band in their natural setting.

“Half the set consists of new songs now,” Cameron says. “We play most of the EP and plenty of new material. The shows are rock ‘n’ roll shows; we don’t go in for smoke machines or giant fans up there. We just really enjoy playing live, especially at the moment. It’s interesting when we play now because people actually know the words to the songs, which is pretty moving and inspiring. Bleach* Festival will be awesome; we’re big fans of Violent Soho. Supporting The Scientists will be one of the highlights of our career so far; we could pretty much pull up stumps and be satisfied. They’re idols of ours, and that might one of the few times I’ll be nervous playing in front of them, not that they’ll even be watching probably. I’m sure their fans will be pretty discerning too, so we’ll certainly want to be on our game.”

BAD//DREEMS PLAY BLEACH* FESTIVAL MARCH 14 AND THE TRANSCONTINTENAL HOTEL MARCH 27.