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.

Swamp KittehThere's a good Swamp Kitteh. 

Righto. Not been to this venue before, so follow the website instructions and park out the back. Entry through a gate which is just being locked, sensation of entering rather nicely-done up castle. Ask manager for directions, find myself discovering the front bar with SK playing ... well, measured, uplifting rock. Not out of place on FM radio, but not as fugly or schmaltzy. Buy first beer (Coopers Session Ale, nice and hopsy). Hermann and Chriss from FAL (Fur and Leather) are playing in Swamp Kitteh, which means they're in for a long, busy night. 

Notice I can't hear Jen, the violinist. I move closer, digging the vibe the band have. The bands are placed in a corner, not too far from a swing door which has a mind of its own. I could watch it all night. But SK: good vocals, good depth to the guitars and songs and then it's over. Bugger. Wanted to hear more. 

Outside, I talk with Jen and ask her if she's thought of using a pedal. She replies that she's been told NOT to buy a wah-wah. Which she must, of course, immediately do. Will open the band up enormously. If people can hear her, of course. Honestly, violinists never understand the potential their instrument has for being the second lead guitar.

Lucy the band are up next, and I've not heard or seen them before. It's a good introduction; the songs instantly get you. Think 1967, and the shift from pop rock to rock on the west coast of the USA, with fuzz and big vocals. I enjoyed them, but wondered whether Sarah would enjoy singing rather than singing and playing guitar more. Seemed to me there was a lot of potential for bigger scope here. 

See, I told you I hadn't thought about reviewing this gig. When I do a review, all I'm thinking about, the whole night, is observation and how do I say it. By the time I get home I'm all bottled up and out it pours. This is several days after and my memory is faulty. Boo!

By now I've downed my second and last. Must be good. Notice that band members are also being good. Going outside to smoke, for example. Engaging with the locals (and the pooch, who chases balls as well as cigarette butts).

Some locals have been coming in and a few instantly leave, which is normal for a pub putting on a band. Happens at the Cranka, for example, as well as your local. Most, however, appear to be staying, some becoming instantly excited by the influx of strange creatures. Hermann Lauss, with his height and ... hair ... is apparently mistaken for Robert Plant, leading to an entertaining series of exchanges. 

Filthy GypsiesFilthy Gypsies. 

The Filthy Gypsies are next. They're one bass player short, so are using a friend, and though there's a few tech issues the friend plays well once these are sorted. There's a second guitarist too, and apparently the band are usually a three-piece. But... oooh! Jake's guitar is a nasty, noisy bastard. No pedals, just amp work. Loved this band instantly. Umbilical cord reeling me in. Must see them again. Wonder if they could add that other guitarist. Seems like lots more scope to flesh out.

Fuck, that's three bands I've thought the same thing about. More! Bigger! 

Oh, dear. And only on two beers. See what happens when you bastards make me write when I wasn't planning on writing?

FAL (Fisting and Lather) are next, taking the stage at 11.45 pm (which is a welcome change from their days of 2.30am at the Squatters). They look pretty stuffed - they work for a living - and Chriss in particular looks like he needs a cuddle and a mug of cocoa. But the band are cheerful and get down to it. Jesss, the singer .. well, he's just full of beans and huge energy tonight; in the second song he goes charging through the crowd to the back of the room, jumping onto a chair and then this tiny table and hollers on from there. I'm rather concerned he'll slip so I slide over ... he of course brushes it aside, later hopping down like a faffing monkey. 

FAL (Fudge and Liquorice) were on top form, one of their belting, fabulous shows. The locals were into it, the fans had turned up and everyone was sweaty and happy. The last song was dedicated to The Fed, and the venue was thanked and glasses were raised. 

That was, I thought, the end of it and ho, to look forward to the next one...

However, the person who booked the bands received an email. Once again FAL (Farting and Liposuction) has been banned. But also, so have Lucy and the F***** Gypsies and SK.

Here's a couple of excerpts from what I've been told is the original email (typos included): 

1. One band sang a song about not getting free beer on the night  which included lyrics such as " fuck the fed for no free drink ryders". The song was full of profanities.  We were very clear on the terms of engagement and the bands accepted our terms. To insult the host venue is  extremely unprofessional and is something we will not tolerate. The behaviour of this band speaks volumes as to the character and standards of the band members. They are definitely not the type of people we wish to play the Fed. 

2. The use of profanities was prolific in too many songs sung by the bands. As advised previously we are prepared to accept the occasional colourful word where this is used for the purposes of emphasis , however, we object when profanities dominate. 

3. We had numerous regular customers walk in only to walk out again almost immediately.

Based on the above position, and primarily on point one above, I do not have any alternative but to cancel the gig for all four of the bands on Sunday 6 October 2019.

May I suggest that you counsel the band in question, and advise that if they have an issue with the terms of engagement they either refuse the gig or take the matter up with the venue prior to the gig. You may also wish to consider distancing yourself from this band. Under no circumstance is it acceptable to turn up a gig and then insult the venue.

I won't say anything rude about The Fed, they were professional while we were there. It's also a fine place, with accommodation right on the main drag, decent parking behind (rare on that street) and a rather nice general atmos all round. 

Apparently it was Jake Pickels (who runs music shop Pickels Music Factory) said that dreadful thing about "no free riders" but ... honestly. Every band always has a whinge about that. Every single one. Aside from that, I not only have no memory of him saying it, I doubt anyone else would either.

I certainly saw regulars walk in and right walk back out again (but only about five or six, and notably more of the obvious regulars and locals stayed, to great enjoyment). If hordes of punters streamed in and straight back out again (I've seen this before) then yeah, I'd say the Fed would have a right to be peeved. 

Perhaps the pokie players nearby were disturbed? There's a lot of machines in there, and that would be a significant income stream which a venue needs to keep undisturbed. Perhaps I should go back next Saturday night to see how the two nights compare; although photos on the Fed's website show roughly the same number of happy punters in the same room as turned up last Saturday.

As for swearing? Maybe this is the real issue? On enquiry, I gather there was a small amount of correspondence on the matter between the Fed and the band booker prior to the gig. Two songs, SK's "We're All Fucked in the Head" and Lucy's "Fuck You and the Horse You Rode In On" were, apparently, deemed acceptable. The 'c' word was right out, of course (so The Meatbeaters won't be playing there anytime soon) and that's fair, too, as plenty of women find the word objectionable and offensive. Of course there are plenty of places where a certain type of band can empty one sort of venue because they're in the wrong place; the same band will pack a different venue. Venues rely on punters staying and buying.

So, yeah, Jake sang one song whose entire lyric was "Fuckin dogs. Oi Oi Oi"'. But FAL (sorry, Femdom and Lippy)'s should-be-a-hit "Fuck You I'm God" brought the proverbial house down.  However, this is a pub. And from what I saw, none of the punters left because of the f-word. And - look, anyone who objects to swearing in an Australian pub - or any English-speaking pub - is, in my opinion, a bloody idiot. 

Fat bastard talks down a jumperWeird Scenes Inside the Fed: A fat bastard talks down a jumper. 

I am sure that the offenders in question; Sarah, Jesss, Jake and everyone else who said any rude words that night in conversation, or even thought a rude word, will eagerly enter counselling. I for one said several rude things, and I am very very sorry and am looking forward to learning finger painting, macrame and interpretative dance. I believe the band Decent Language for Serial Coarse Offenders course is being run by the South Australian branch of the People's Liberation Army, who have had plenty of practice in China.

I will add that according to the Fed, "the majority of our bands ... preferred to use their own" PA. Perhaps it's me but I find that dead odd, because it requires a band to outlay a rather hefty sum in order to play what is, for most bands, a series of relatively low-paying gigs. I've never actually seen a pub ask bands to bring their own P.A. before; until I looked at their website I supposed that this is the first time The Fed has had bands on - even places like The Exeter and The Metro in the city have splashed out on a small P.A., and a house mixer, because they know that the more people come in, the more people will drink. And I'm sure they'd rather lose four Saturday regulars if they can attract 50 other people who are happy to buy a few pints. 

The band booker responded to The Fed, of course: "I replied that I thought it was a great night, they replied: 

"Based on your response, am I to understand that you consider it appropriate behaviour for a band to sing a song venting about not receiving free beer which was proliferated with profanities and included repeated lyrics such as 'Fuck the Fed for no free drink riders'?  Put the Fed's hat on for a few seconds and ask yourself if you would invite anyone into your home, school or any social function who you knew was just going to run you, your home or your school down, particularly without any just cause?"

The e-mail has of course been disseminated amongst the offending band members; here's a carefully-selected (and slightly censored) few comments:

"We played at enigma bar once and I said on the mic the venue was a piece of sh*t then proceed to spit all over the stage like Pete Howlett and we still didn’t get banned from there !! WTF!"

"They had more people in there than they would have gotten that night and quite a few of the regulars loved the bands. The ones that I saw walk out were obviously so not into anything that didn't have J-Lo in the music or F*cking Nickelback fans. It was promoted as a PUNK show!" 

"Correct me if I’m wrong but I remember saying into the mic how cool it was to see local original bands in this pub."

"I even went outside to smoke my weed! Acted all civilised for them and that."

You know what I think is really, really hugely funny about this? It was billed as a punk mini-festival, and as far as I'm concerned not one of the bands playing tonight are really punk rock. Even FAL (Fairies and Letraset), for all that they describe themselves as punks ... don't fit the genre. What they are is fucking good, powerful rock and roll. True, Chriss has said that the band are still really awful, but somehow over the years they've gotten really tight. Thing about FAL (Farage and Ludlum) is that they have been really bloody good for a long time, and they'd blow most straight rock bands off the stage, if they were in the mood and if they felt like it. What on earth The Fed thought they were getting when they booked a 'punk' mini-fest I don't know. Perhaps a cartoonish band with spiky hair and polite 'attitude'?

Oh, FAL (Finks and Laughter) were missing a member as well. He'd better have the last word.

"F*CK, what did I miss? The only thing good about the fed is cheap Southark from the Offy."

Here's some links; apparently CDs as well as stickers, T-shirts and memorabilia are, or might be, available here.  Get the bands' CDs here:

FAL (Fondle and Lotion)

Filthy Gypsies

Lucy the band

Swamp Kitteh