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Live Review: A Day Of Clarity

21 May 2015 | 4:08 pm | Ran Boss

"Totally rad: will patron again"

In mid-2010, on the back of basically every specialty music retailer in Adelaide closing their bricks and mortars, you’d probably have questioned the wisdom of taking a fairly prime piece of CBD real estate and opening a new record store. Of course history makes fools of most of us and here we are, five years on and Clarity Records, via the nous and savvy of co-owners Matthew ‘Footy’ and Laura Horvath, is crushing it. The better news for us all is that they decided to celebrate by throwing damn fine multi-venue festival across Adelaide’s East End. Taking over six stages across four venues, Day of Clarity showcases some of Adelaide’s finest small-time-for-now talent.

The wintry Saturday evening was start like most others at this time of year, walking down a drizzly Rundle Street, but in the beer garden at the back of the Exeter a pretty special night was tuning up. With a hum and a thump, funk-alt-rockers Slick Arnold laid down the groovy foundations for the evening at the head of a standing-room-only courtyard. The trio played a well-paced set, skimming across the top of funk, punk and indie-rock. The cocky, preening lead guitar had plenty of room to move over the spacious drums and winding bass.

The openers packed up to a round of well-deserved applause. A quick change left festival-comers little time to warm their hands by the fire as Sincerely Grizzly took to the stage in earnest. The math-rock cum Ameri-punk three-piece displayed great control of their pace, pulling the crowd tightly along through their build and break set. The hot set-up, frantic crescendo and angsty shoe-gaze dissolve on their epic closing track, Kafkaesque, was a moving experience.

The final act in the first tranche of the night was the incomparable West Thebarton Brothel Party. If you haven’t heard of them, you can probably guess from the band name that they’re single-mindedly interested in having a balls-out good time. The Party got off to a typically slurry start, with a deep plod down a dark and bassy path, drawing the crowd into their world of wailing, seedy, pub-blues vocals and car-crash thrash guitaristry. The crowd followed gleefully, getting their mosh on to WTBP’s raucous commentary on the Australian identity, with thoughts on topics as diverse as terminal illness, Stereosonic and the sexual politics of Australian cricket. By the time the set peaked with Glenn McGrath, most of the band’s four guitarists had taken their turn crowd-surfing, with their vocalist getting deep into the throng to close off the stage with outrageously uplifting rowdiness.

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There was a spring in the step of the crowd as they filed out of the Ex and onto the next venue; there was a real buzz on the street. The Crown & Anchor got the punk treatment with local old-hands Pro-Tools warming the room with some metal-laced thrash punk before Melburnian guests Summer Blood came out and brought some more summery vibes to the fresh-as night, getting spirits high with some ‘90s-vibing up-punk. Toughening the core up next was Beaver, farewelling their bassist in characteristic style.

Meanwhile, the vibe over in the Clarity Records store was a little more introspective, as spatial-prog-rockers Canidae played out their farewell gig to an overflowing room. Well-wishers drowned their sorrows in complimentary vegan cup cakes and solemnly said ‘so long’ to a very talented group of local-lads. The prog progressed into the evening with architectural Sparkspitter. With great care and patience the three-piece masterfully crafted a handful of utterly transportive soundscapes, perfectly suited to the intimate venue.

Back at the Cranker, the party intensified, with energetic “at this time of the night I can’t even count that high”-piece funk-punk-fusion jammers God God Dammit Dammit. As usual, GGDD refused to let anyone not have a good time, slappin’ the bass and blowin’ the horns till Melbourne’s Clowns arrived to show we Adelaideians how to hardcore punk. The short, sharp, sweaty set punctuated a frenetic bracket and sent the punters off into the cold night with a well-earned layer of perspiration and a comforting ringing in the ears.

There was likely a great deal of wanting to be two places at once as the likes of The Weight, A Ghost Orchestra, Ben David, St. Morris Sinners and plenty more plied their trade around town but just being anywhere on the night was brilliant. The music was outstanding all night, but the atmosphere in and around the venues was the real highlight; genuine music fans flooding the streets enjoying some of Adelaide’s finest on what would have otherwise been a quiet Saturday night. 

At the end of the day, it was pretty clear that Clarity’s experiment in transforming the East End was a spectacular success: there was a genuine sense of community and vibrancy – not reliant on visiting creative energies; not beholden to inputs from other places – a truly homegrown night of artistic engagement and appreciation. Totally rad: will patron again.