King Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, Rifle Club @ Crown & Anchor, Adelaide 10/5/2018

Local support Rifle Club looked like they shouldn’t be out on a school night, especially their drummer who very much had a Hanson-esque quality about him, as was the murmured agreement amongst the audience. This was a technically proficient band, and they obviously had access to their parents’ or older siblings’ record collections, covering the Stooges No Fun in full and excerpting the Velvet Underground’s Heroin during equipment issues when part of the drum pedal was lost in the bass drum. A significant turn off was the singer’s clearly obvious fixation on the Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner, covering that band’s Fake Tales of San Francisco down to the Sheffield accent. If they can manage to find their own voice and individuality there is hope for them.

Sporting a pencil thin moustache not unlike transgressive filmmaker John Waters, Kid Congo Powers, the Cramps, Gun Club, Bad Seeds veteran returns, although not exactly from the dead. He’s eclectically dressed in a shiny cape looking either like a Vampire magician or a late night TV show host presenting repeats of black and white retro horror B movies. In fact, they commence their set with their single of the theme song from B movie Spider Baby. A couple of songs in, Kid introduces bass guitarist Kiki Solis and announces, “tonight you all have a date with him… but it’s in some psychic future”, prior to a song of that title, one of many cryptic song introductions throughout the set. The other Pink Monkey Birds, guitarist Mark Cisneros and drummer Ron Miller are gradually introduced as song after song of voodoo blues inspired 50s monster mash ups with vocals drenched in reverb almost flow from one into the next. The rabid audience embrace Kid’s kitcsh and schlock and are loving every minute. I note a girl in front of Kid kissing his hand at every opportunity with Kid actually having to pull free from her grasp at one point in order to be able to play his guitar.

Although not playing any Nick Cave songs, Kid does occasionally dip into the back catalogue of the two other major bands he has played with, performing a couple of songs from the Cramps, New Kind of Kick and Can’t Find My Mind, and from the Gun Club’s Fire of Love album including For the love of Ivy and Sex Beat. The rest of the set is dominated mainly by songs from the last Pink Monkey Birds album, 2016’s La Arana es La Vida.

The Pink Monkey Birds are clearly enjoying playing back up to Kid but are just as bemused as the audience by his idiosyncratic between song diversions about licking cracks in the pavement where clowns are hiding and his avowed fondness for Australia’s spiders prior to their performance of La Arana. Kid mistakenly thanks the support, “Wolf Club” but is corrected by his band mates, not before stating that any band with “club” in the name is okay by him. The Pink Monkey Birds also have some drum issues of their own, Kid asks to borrow the support band’s snare drum and with little response, he considers that because it’s a school night they might have gone home already.

While it is freezing cold outside, inside gets progressively uncomfortably warmer for those packed tight in the band room of the Crown and Anchor Hotel and by the end of their main set drummer Ron Miller’s shirt is soaked through. The band doesn’t quite leave the stage, Kid removing his shiny cape prior to Sex Beat which commences the encore. The set ends with the epic Five Points / Howards End, Kid playing an extended slide guitar intro before the rest of the band joins him to jam like it’s a mutant variation on Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross. Kid thanks Adelaide and then it’s over until the next time although not before some meeting and greeting over by the merch table.

Live Review by Jason Leigh

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