R.I.P The Lansdowne Hotel, and Why That Shithole Made Me A Better Person

“Oi, fuck mate, what’s happening tonight?”

“Nah man, I’m absolutely fucked, got no clue”

“Lanny?”

“Fuckin’ Lanny”

The amount of times this conversation has passed between mates and myself runs into the hundreds. We had just left high school, and were loaded with dumb, naive views of how the world and society operated. Getting drunk every night seemed like a feasible option. Punk bands who’s imaginations stretched to minute and a half diatribes felt like genius. Our jobs in retail left us with little to no option but to opt for the cheapest morsels of food. For us, The Lansdowne was able to deliver all of that, and so much more.

Located halfway between the boiling commercial cesspit of the city and faux hippie-laden, over-priced Newtown, The Lanny was a bastion of hope for a bunch of kids who wanted the simple things from life. I say was because, as of yesterday, the historic venue has been sold and will be replaced with a fucking performance arts school. The same place where I, and thousands of others, have stumbled out of after an incredible night of eardrum-excavating rock ‘n’ roll, is being replaced with some NIDA-lite shit.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that the Lansdowne’s history begins and ends with my experiences within it – it’s been one of the biggest champions of rock and roll music in Sydney for a looooong fucking time, and I’m simply one of the many teenagers who have happened through its doors, from its early days in the 1920’s, to the glory days in the 80’s and 90’s. But wasn’t there for that, and this article isn’t about how great the Lansdowne was back in the day when the The Hard-Ons played every second week. I wish I was there, but alas, I wasn’t, and therefore, it feels wrong to come at this obituary from a point of view that isn’t my own.

The first time I stepped inside the Lansdowne, sliding across piss-stained floors, eased past slouching couches, and sidling up to the protracted, splintered bar, it was approximately two weeks after my 18th Birthday. One of my favourite locals Step-Panther were playing a free show, to celebrate the re-opening of the venue after a 2013 fire severely damaged the hotel – I was absolutely fucking pumped. Step-Panther??? At the pub??? Free??? What does that even mean? What the fuck was I about to witness? SOMEONE GET ME A BUCKET, I’M GONNA SPEW!

Actually, the result, especially upon reflection, was pretty void. Step-Panther played well, but there was almost no-one at this show. The Lansdowne cavern remained black and hollow – my best mate and I drank heartily with the band, and it was an exciting time, one of many opportunities I’ve had to split a drink and share my appreciation for my favourite bands after a show. But when the hangover subsided, there didn’t feel like there was any real reason to head back to the corner of George St and City Rd. I returned to more traditional 18 year old activities – Goon of Fortune and unsuccessfully hitting on girls.

About four months later, a guy called Simon Parsons e-mailed me asking if I’d like to DJ at the Lansdowne. He was starting a brand new Thursday night called The Mess Up, and Yes, I’m Leaving and HANNAHBAND were playing. Fuck, of course I was gonna DJ! I rocked up, but the place had completely changed from the abandoned crypt it was before. There were more people there, there was a sense of community, and the whole room felt charged. Maybe it’s looking back through a mirror of nostalgia, but there was definitely a sense of rejuvenation in the saggy bricks that night.

The year that followed from there was the best year of my life, only rivalled by my first year of existence during which people loved me simply because I was a cute-as-fuck baby and I could shit myself at any point without fear of repercussion. Every week, without fail, I was at the Lansdowne. By myself, with mates, it didn’t matter – I was fucking there. There was always a show on, and it was almost always good. From the splashy slackjaw of Unity Floors, to the paranoid vitriol of Constant Mongrel, to the down and out gruel pop of Mope City, there was always something interesting gracing the stages of The Lansdowne that was ripe for discovery. If any band, either local or interstate, asked advice on somewhere to play, the Lanny was the first venue to escape my lips. I was addicted to this shithole.

Soon enough, major draw cards began to befall the crumbling venue – Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Straight Arrows, Palms, TV Colours and The Ocean Party all played incredible sets there. SPOD and Richard in Your Mind played an insane double bill. A bleeding foot stopped a Peep Tempel show, whilst nudity spurred on a Gooch Palms one. Vibrancy, diversity and discovery soon became standard practice at Sydney’s favourite pub. It was an incredible few months that culminated in the MATES Festival in late January 2015. Every single one of my favourite bands in Australia played a series of blistering shows that showered The Lansdowne in sweat and beer. That day still sticks in my head as one of the most brilliant things that has happened to me – an absolute treat!

Then, The Lansdowne bit the hand that was shovelling delicious canapes down its throat with fervour. They let go of their booker Jo, essentially believing that, well, now the people are here, they’ll just keep coming. The gravy train won’t ever stop! Fuck, these kids, they love it here at the Lansdowne! We can hike up the prices a few cents here and there, and no one will notice (believe me, there was outcry when the jugs went from $10 to $10.50). As for booking a pub, how hard can it be? The day they got rid of their booking team was the last day I went to the Lansdowne.

Actually, that’s not entirely true – I went there one more time. The band that the owners had picked for the night was absolutely fucking atrocious. Whereas a Friday night at the Lansdowne usually provided a band like Day Ravies, Alex Cameron or Donny Benet, this headline band was stirring up some absolutely abominable tropical pop shit. I learnt two things that night – that I hate tropical pop music, and that booking venues is incredibly hard. But Jo, Simon, and the rest of the crew behind the Lansdowne bookings did their jobs with jaw-dropping gusto, enthusiasm and knowledge. They knew the ins and outs of Australian music, who played a good show and who played terribly. They knew that to keep a band happy, you actually needed to pay them, which they did gratuitously. They knew that free entry only brings in so much – that maintaining high quality lineups was what brought the savages, not the door charge. And most of all, they knew their audience, and their venue: the average punter who wanted to go to the pub and see some great fucking music. The extent to which they provided all of this is disembowelling.

People don’t seem to appreciate how great pub venues are – they allow bands to play without pretension. The worst show can be a learning curve, whilst the best show can cover the walls and floor with a thick layer of sweat and grime. A casual night can turn into the inspiration for someone in the audience starting a band, who in turn get their first show playing a support slot on the same stage that sparked the discussion in the first place. It’s this aspect that venues like The John Curtin and The Tote achieve so well in Melbourne, and probably explain why there’s such a healthy band scene down there. The bookers actually interact with the local rock groups, and reflect that in the awesome bookings that go on there. Who knew that booking a pub with rock bands requires a knowledge of rock music? It’s a self-fucking-perpetuating force!

Don’t get me wrong, Sydney still has plenty of great venues: Blackwire Records is Ground Zero for punk, experimental and amateur music, and I urge anyone who hasn’t been there to attend immediately. The Vic, The Marly Bar and Waywards are also great venues in Newtown, and GoodGod and Brighton still provide some fairly decent rock shows every now and then.

But in terms of a central pub that wore disgusting on its sleeve, The Lansdowne was unrivalled; a mess of putrid, shit covered bathrooms, smoke-choked beer gardens and chicken-schnitzel that was suspiciously cheap and delicious, this place had it all. From the gorgeous, burned out aesthetic, to the pungent aromas that coated each room, to the sprawl who littered the pavement for lung cancer injections, it was the final bastion of pub rock in central Sydney, and now, it’s gone. It sucks, it really fucking does, but I’m glad that it burned bright for the time it did, and that I was able to slot into the rite of passage that so many teenagers before me have. Even when those welcoming doors have shut, it’ll be nice to remember the constant year of fantastic shows that accompanied me growing up a bit, and realising I wasn’t the hot piece of shit that I thought I was. The Lansdowne is pretty much solely responsible for easing my transition from know-it-all, acne-splashed wanker fresh from high school, to the wide-eyed dipshit who’s finally learnt to shut up and enjoy the good music and people that Sydney has to offer.

Now grab ya 40, and tip one out for the best pub that was.

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Video: Constant Mongrel – The Law

After two and a half weeks of traipsing through some beautiful and old shit in Europe, your old mate Ryan aka The AntiChrist, has returned with the offering of new stuff from Constant Mongrel, the pinnacle of criminally underrated bands.

They’ve released “The Law”, another single from an upcoming ‘DCM’ 7″, which sounds like an Eddy Current Suppression Ring disciple rehashing the Judas Priest classic, badass riffs and all. The track comes over 6 months on from their last single (and the song of the year) “New Shapes”, and still has that demented sado-machistic bleeding riffs that draw you into Constant Mongrel like they’re a black hole and you’re Matthew McConaughey.

Furthermore, they’ve got a video to go along with their tune, which blends the Kafkaesque and the minimalist. All the looming presence of their music is contradicted by a couple of mates fucking around with masks, everyday objects and the sort of synchronised dance that would make DEVO fall apart in adoration.

Constant Mongrel are making a rare and welcome appearance in Sydney this weekend. Firstly at the NAG NAG NAG mini-fest at the Marrickville Bowlo on Saturday 17th of Jan, were $15 will get you unlimited access to The UV Race, Peak Twins, Housewives and a plethora of others. THEN, they’re playing on the Sunday at the Lansdowne, with Woollen Kits (!) and the people’s poet Nathan Roche (!!).

Top 20 Australian Songs of 2014

It’s that time of year, when I sell my soul, and conform to the expectation that all blogs, no matter how small and shitty (of which Soundly Sounds is both) needs to compile an end of year list, summarising all the great things that have been accomplished by the fair artists of the year. Now, if you’ve ever been on this blog, or heard words out of my mouth, it becomes apparent that I have a habit of hyperbole, and describing everything as “my favourite” or “the best thing ever”. Well, now it’s time to pay up, and show what I, King Deadshit, reckons is the best of the best this year.

Fuck, this shit is really hard. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do. As opposed to the Best Videos of the Year, and the Best International Records,  this list has taken me days to put together, as I’ve been more indecisive than a newspaper editor trying to decided the front page between a story in which David Beckham and Ryan Gosling have constructed the world’s most beautiful baby, or an exclusive interview with Clive Palmer’s fourth chin. A toughie, that’s for sure.

Anyway, here are the picks of the year – Aussie songs that have made people turn their heads, jaws drop in astonishment, and allow for spines to be frozen over in fascinated horror. The list was torturing me, so it’s been lengthened to 20. Also, songs that were just released as singles got preference over stuff that was on albums, simply because those are coming in the next list! OH FUCK, CAN YOU EVEN WAIT THAT LONG, OR ARE YOU GOING TO CRYOGENICALLY FREEZE YOURSELF UNTIL IT COMES OUT, WALT DISNEY STYLE?

Honourable Mentions: Step-Panther (Parallel) Solid Dad (Kewl December), Jack Ladder (Her Hands), Andras & Oscar (Looking Back), Babaganouj (Bluff), Disgusting People (I Wanna Ctrl Alt Delete My Life), The Stevens (Thirsty Eye), GL (Won’t You See), Wives (Buried), Day Ravies (Hickford Whiz) Dead Set Ledger (Buddy’s Kickin’ Screwies on the SCG).

20. Miss Destiny – The One

A lambasting surge of sound from Melbourne’s Miss Destiny, this song is like Courtney Love being thrown in a blender whilst The Donnas and The Darkness throw down.

19. White Hex – Paradise

White Hex released a badass synth record earlier this year, ‘Gold Nights’. Dangerous seduction was the game, the kind that Michael Douglas would engage in, and White Hex won. Jimi Kritzler, former Slug Guts member, also released a fantastic book this year, “Noise In My Head”, but “Paradise” makes a case for being Kritzler’s no. 1 achievement of 2014.

18. Bachelor Pad – Fried

Bachelor Pad’s garage rock enthusiasm is irrepressible – it is actually impossible to stop them. Sounding like the bratty, cone-smoking kid of Ty Segall, “Fried” is as infectious as those warts that have started collecting themselves between your legs.

17. Postblue – Ugly

Poison City Records had a fuckn’ year didn’t they? Between the release of The Smith Street Band, The Bennies and re-releasing old Screamfeeder records, they found time for Postblue’s “Ugly”. On a record that’s full of affable, catchy rock tunes, Postblue especially stuck out on “Ugly”, an early Jebediah track that went through the digestive system of Steve Albini.

16. Total Giovanni – Human Animal

“Human Animal” makes me do weird things with my arms, but I like it.The bastard child between Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem, Total Giovanni have a feverish cult of personality surrounding their music. It’s alluring, funky-as-swinging-leather-pants music that PT Anderson wished was around for the soundtrack of ‘Boogie Nights’.

15. Nun – Evoke the Sleep

Easily the most ferocious synth-punk released this year, Melbourne’s Nun provided a storming debut LP earlier this year. “Evoke the Sleep” makes the case for these guys to be considered amongst the likes of DEVO and Depeche Mode.

14. Old Mate – Requesting Permission

On the more heart-breaking end of the scale, there’s Old Mate. A member of Bitch Prefect, Pat Telfer’s “Requesting Permission” will make you start jabbering about all the random dust that’s flown in within the last 30 seconds.

13. Hockey Dad – I Need A Woman

South Coast-muzzas Hockey Dad provide a slab of feel-good surf rock that’s lathered affectionately in pop and fuzz, drives school-girls crazy, and is really fucking great. Hockey Dad just need to stop wearing their damn trousers so low, and they’ll be well on their way to success.

12. Dorsal Fins – Monday Tuesday

Pop music so good Madonna would want to rip it off. Beginning with urgent piano and stomping bass, Dorsal Fins turn things into up a dramatic notch for an 80’s singalong straight from the stolen brain of Debbie Harry.

11. Bad//Dreems – Dumb Ideas 

When the opening notes of “Dumb Ideas” ring out, it becomes fairly obvious that Bad//Dreems are going to provide another stomper of a track. A flippant flipping off, “Dumb Ideas” is a confident, surly piece of rock that Angus Young would want to call his own.

10. Liam Kenny – I’m The Ocean 

Fairs fair, when you’re covering Neil Young, you’re headed straight to the top of a best-of list. But when Liam Kenny (Peak Twins, Bitch Prefect, The Friendsters, Roamin’ Catholics) does it, it turns into a squalling guitars, and heart-clutched vocals.

9. Tempura Nights – R.I.P Chix

Brisbane’s on a roll right now, with Velociraptor, DZ Deathrays, Babaganouj and Major Leagues all kicking major goals this year with releases and singles. But Tempura Nights, a lil’ suprgroup, kicked the most amount of ass with “R.I.P Chix” a sweet garage sprinkled with Deal sister guitar and the kind of head noddin’ you’d expect from a Brissy pop band.

8. Peter Bibby – Hates My Boozin’

Peter Bibby is a moper amongst mopers, a bloke who paints his own portrait with a bottle constantly in one hand and an impossibly perfect rolled cigarette in the other, carefree and full of whimsy on the outside, but burning up within.

7. King Single – Restart Newstart Allowance

A certain Bare Grillz/Lenin Lennon member changed things up by providing gorgeous guitar-pop and glassy drum sounds that create only one reaction in all within earshot: *SWOON*.

6. Richard In Your Mind – Hammered

Richard In Your Mind say it best when they swing drunkenly upon the line “Me and my baby get hammered in the daytime”. From their latest record ‘Ponderosa’, it’s a honeyed trip into the tastily warped senses of Richard In Your Mind.

5. The Harpoons – Unforgettable

As far as breaking up goes, no one seems to have hit it on the head harder than The Harpoons. What a bunch of sultry crooners! It’s a jam that’s part Caribou, part TLC, and part doe-eyed wistfulness that feeds upon your heart like a piranha of romantic longing.

4. FLOWERTRUCK – I Wanna Be With You

Speaking of romantic longing, the best band that seemingly came out of nowhere was FLOWERTRUCK. Bursting forth from the same scene that’s brought Big White, High-tails, and New Lovers, FLOWERTRUCK make the descriptor ‘infectious’ cower in fear. They’re Sydney’s own version of Blank Realm. If David Byrne and Bryan Ferry exploded into fit of joyous crooning, amid slashing puffs of synth and guitar, it’d be about as great as this.

3. Donny Benet – The Edge. Feat Kirin J Callinan

Donny Benet. The man. The legend. The myth. There ain’t nobody like this feller in the universe, mainly because there can only be one moustache-weilding, impressively groomed prince of seduction in the world. It’s a Highlander thing. On, “The Edge” Kirin J Callinan and the Don do battle over five minutes of exhausting sexual healing.

2. Weak Boys – Hangovers

“Hangovers” sort of set the staple for what my 2014 was, along with many other budding attendees of whatever Inner West domain Weak Boys have been fortunately dominating. I’ve listened to this song more times than I’ve asked for a jug of Resch’s at the Lansdowne. My intimidatingly large beer belly nods in agreement.

1. Constant Mongrel – New Shapes

In 2014, no single came close to the grisly terror imagined on Constant Mongrel’s “New Shapes”. Melbourne’s most ferocious unleash a bass-driven hellscape that indulges primal and carnal desires. As far as finale’s go, Constant Mongrel went for an ending more taut, nail-biting and mentally draining than the conclusion of ‘Heat’. A blood-caked knuckle-duster ride into a starved post-punk oblivion, “New Shapes” is the kind of thing post-apocalyptic hero would throttle in their car as they ravaged a scorned landscape in survival mode.

Video: Constant Mongrel-New Shapes

There is nothing more satisfying than hearing some insanely guttural guitar to open a song. This is like Cosmic Psychos remixed by Total Control, and if that doesn’t make you wet between the thighs, then you’re actually fucked in the head mate.

But seriously, watching one of Australia’s coolest bands rock out in their own merch (laundry day, I’ll bet) do a sonic freakout that sounds like Thomas the Tank Engine OD’ing has got to be the highlight of the week.

New: School of Radiant Living-Radiant Living

Okay, so to garner the reader’s interest straight off the bat, as a good story is want to do, I will begin by telling you that School of Radiant Living contains members from The UV Race and Constant Mongrel, Australian punk bands that put GG Allin to shame (that’s a lie-GG Allin had no shame). However, this band, School of Radiant Living are more on the sighing slacker-pop kind of thing, like any of those dope Chapter Music bands (Twerps, Dick Diver, The Stevens). Beautiful amateur vocals, jangled strumming, a ‘guitar solo’ that’s cooler than your aunt’s tattoo…’Radiant Living’ has got it all.

Video: Constant Mongrel-In the Courts

Oooooft! If this doesn’t describe suburban monotony to its most mind-numbing lengths, then i don’t know what will. The video for the Constant Mongrel single ‘In the Courts’ captures the raw, haphazard nature of the band and the song incredibly well. Every time that chorus comes around of ‘aaaaaah, in the courts!’ I get a buzzing feeling in my toes, which either means it’s going to rain kinda soon, or that this song kicks ass. I’m going with the latter.

For a free track from their second album ‘Heavy Breathing’, which came out earlier this year, go to Constant Mongrel’s Bandcamp, right here.

August Playlist

Some crazy shit has occured within the last couple of days. HSC Trials have started, I’ve coincidentally started looking for careers that accept an ATAR of an asterix, and the Big Day Out launched a pretty fucking spectacular lineup. Blur, finally! Also, DIIV, The Naked and Famous, Mudhoney, Cosmic Psychos, Toro Y Moi, and Dillon Francis, with DZ Deathrays, Tame Impala, Flume and Peking Duk bringing the local contingent to mindblowing. Should be swell. Well for a bombastic announcement, there has to be an equally bombastic playlist, right? Fuck that sounded a lot better in my head. Anyway, here’s a bunch of shit I’ve been jamming to recently that you could enjoy. Like the BDO lineup it’s pretty diverse. You’ve got slacker-soul from Hebronix, addictive punk-pop from FIDLAR, some wub-wub from Tornado Fight, and some Tool-esque steel fuckery from France’s Oyster Reluctance. Speaking of Europe, there’s Plastic Bertrand’s classic ode to fucking with people that don’t speak French, and as always, plenty of the local Aussie contingent. TV Colours and Hayden James have especially been rubbing me the right way the past month. Anyway, enjoy the shit.

1. FIDLAR-Awkward

2. TV Colours-Beverly

3. Tornado Fight-Alleycat (free download)

4. Hayden James-Permission to Love

5. Wave Racer-Stoopid (free download)

6. Jerome LOL-Tell U

7. Plastic Bertrand-Ce Plane Pour Moi

8. Hebronix-Wild Whim

9. Opposite Sex-La Rat

10. Fuzz-Loose Sultres

11. Palace Brothers-Come In

12. The Cannanes-A Bigger Splash

13. Bruff Superior-All Alone

14. Shiny Joe Ryan-The Old Man and The Sea (free download)

15. Chicks Who Love Guns-Pencil Neck

16. Ghost Wave-Hippy (free download)

17. Shark Week-Get High (free download)

18. Oyster Reluctance-I Still Trust

19. Sepultura-Roots Bloody Roots

20. Constant Mongrel-Complete

New: Constant Mongrel-Complete

It seems that Constant Mongrel are back. Not that you forgot about them. That Black Flag meets The Fall style of sludgy, grinding punk is unforgettable, like the first time you watch Terminator 2. Speaking of Terminator 2, that movie acts as a pretty good metaphor for ‘Complete’. A deadly, unstoppable force of molten bass that moulds itself over shredding guitar that packs an aluminium punch? Sounds a lot like the T-1000 to me, specifically the scenes where he shows off his gooey, indestructible side, like when he gets shot by shotgun shells and just pulls himself back together like nothing happened. Also, the slow impending doom of ‘Complete’ could totally be a harbinger of Judgement Day, so there’s that connection as well. Constant Mongrel’s second LP ‘Heavy Breathing’ is coming out very, very soon, next week if I’m not mistaken, on Sydney’s best label R.I.P Society.