WELCOME my fellow children of the rainbow to another fortnightly program of The Slam Segment where I introduce you to the newest and best of the various organs pumping vitality into Adelaide’s music scene. From the violent sticks of ear drum smashing noise to the elegant blankets of soul reviving sound we review the artists and from the sodden mud fields of the country to the tight and sweaty innards of the city we review the venues. Rip the threads from your legs and feel the breeze on your eggs because the goose bumps of anticipation have come for us all.
Can you feel the beat pulsating through your heart? Has the air suddenly fallen still in the cold? From where do you hear that curious sound floating tentatively on the tide of falling autumn leaves? You look up into the greying skies as the thundering rage of winter descends, but it is not there. Look around to the left and right and in all directions but still the scraps of something strange flitting about like wisps of a vivid dream barely form something distinctive. Ever thought of looking down? Of course you haven’t. Why would you? Down you cannot see, hear or taste what is not commercial. The radio does not broadcast it, the television does not smile about it and celebrities do not endorse it. However, it is when you look down that you feel a particular earthen togetherness that feeds on the raw and real energy of people living the way they want to live and making the music they want to make. This is the sound of the underground. We are at Soundpond on a Wednesday night, codename: Hotbox.
As you swing down the ever-cool Rundle Street in the chilly autumn grey of a Wednesday evening you would never expect the city of Adelaide to drag a scene kicking and screaming into life, especially in the colder months. Nearing East Terrace, however, something makes you pause. A steep set of stairs appears without much introduction, walls lined with vinyls of all descriptions. From the top of the stairs you hear the deep veins of bass pumping colour out into the near-lifeless streets and you mount the stairs, the last four welcoming you with a faint greeting scribed in white plaster tape:
A dark and dimly lit room throbs with bodies grooving to incredibly smooth and easy Trap beats and a massive PA system blasts the tunes at a comfortably non-deafening level. Carefree movers and shakers fill up a surprisingly well-sized space, not so small that it is confining and not so large that gaps awkwardly appear like sex scenes in a movie you are watching with your parents. This space is comfortable at the exact moment of entry and is such a great vibe for anybody in the mood for that big night out or just a few drinks, a dance and a chat. Like all of those venues that we love down here in Slam town, Soundpond’s Hotbox offers us that great feeling not provided by the cramped suffocation of a sweat-stained night club; intimacy! Oh, how we love intimacy. Awesome Dj’s lined up by the nights host and resident Disc Jockey Taylor Two Four Five swing the dancefloor into a thriving patch of lively energy. The transitions between tracks flick past with effortless skill, the layers are admirably intelligent and their fingers flick like a conductor’s wand that guides the shifting masses with a control that makes a hypnotist seem like a delivery boy on their first job. Just behind the dance area the bar is a cosy pocket of lights and sociable bartenders nestled into the back corner. The outdoor smoking area, a long balcony covered with dim fairy lights is dotted with laughing and chatting clusters of patrons. This balcony in particular offers the threads of comfort because it provides that ability to chat with those around you as its narrow setting almost forces conversation immediately upon eye contact.
Although Hotbox has only been active for the last three weeks the night has been attracting a loyal clientele every Wednesday. For the lovers of a fun time dancing and hanging in a welcoming environment unlike any other on Rundle Street it is a great way to spend a cold Adelaide night. Intimate is the name of the game and it has been achieved through the cultivation of togetherness, socialising and networking into an organism capable of feeding and growing of its own accord. The hand of the underground has reached out and slotted neatly into the glove of Soundpond and Hotbox is just one of the many warm fingers nestled in the warmth.
In the Moo-din for a Groovin?
Now if there is one thing our lovely old Adelaide has been copping a fair amount of flack about over the last couple of years it is the apparent decline of festival goers. Soundwave promoter A J Maddah claims Adelaideans do not attend festivals for a variety of reasons, one of which being the fact that we always have our festivals in the most extreme weather months, like February on swelteringly hot days. We have lost festivals such as Soundwave, Big Day Out and now Future Music tinkers on the brink. Well, A J and other doubters, you obviously haven’t been doing your jobs right then. You only had to bear witness to the slopping madness of Groovin the Moo on the ANZAC day holiday out in Oakbank and you would be eating your words faster than the munchies. That’s right Mads; the term SOLD OUT is one I believe is most appropriate. We couldn’t care less about proving anything to anyone, but boy did we show the doubters that Adelaide can still sell out a festival.
As the morning tributes to Australian soldiers both past and present subsided with the rising sun music began to flow like a translucent serpent through the beautifully lush Adelaide Hills in a setting that would put the final scene from The Sound of Music to Shame. A sodden brown path bordering the Oakbank Racecourse lead up to the main gates teeming with thousands of people who braved the many hectares of mud to attend what was to be one heck of a memorable festival. The fact that every step was a chore because the ground had been churned into a quagmire added a unique aspect to the scene which left the majority of attendees grinning like seventeen year old boys in a strip club. Not only were there literally thousands of people dancing, screaming, laughing, sliding and hugging, the two main stages ‘V’ and ‘Moulin Rouge’ were never shy of jam packed. Australian artists were the main theme of the day with Ball Park Music, Wolfmother, Carmada, Delta Riggs, Hermitude, DMA’s, Hot Dub Time Machine and Hilltop Hoods, alongside a host of international acts such as R L Grime, You Me at Six, Broods and ASAP Ferg. Sticky Fingers were a damn fine highlight, mellowing and energising us simultaneously with their hypnotic set of soulfully cheeky and charming street reggae rock. As Flight Facilities rounded off their set the wind and rain brought with it a wall of cold that began to chill even the most hardened of festival goers and the desperate scramble for a bus or taxi began. Balhannah Bakery was dishing out free pies to the mud stained and rain soaked masses and free buses ran straight to the city all night.
Quite possibly the most attractive aspect of Groovin in Adelaide is the fact that as an Adelaidean you are bound to run into somebody you know, something that happened non-stop all day and night. It seemed like every ten minutes someone you knew or somebody one of your mates new came running out of the teeming crowd to embrace and laugh and play in the mud. The waves of people crashed into us time and time again, receding back out into the ocean masses and leaving behind the fondest memories that cemented themselves in our hearts like chewing gum in armpit hair. Despite the rain which coated us all day, despite the cold which ate into our marrow and despite the wind which shrank away our nerves still we came out into the world and had a soirée well worth remembering. In a life of working to earn to save to study to find more work to find better pay to save more money to live a comfortable life until you retire, the city that everybody seems to be turning away from threw itself one damn good time. The weather was poor, the location was a pain but we came and we partied and we sold that festival out, Adelaide style. Somebody grab A J some gum boots and next year we will show him what we are really capable of.