The opening night of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival brought so much glitz and glamour to the Adelaide Festival Centre; it was hard to pick the celebrities and performers from the rest of us schmoozing about in our finest. Following a walk down the red carpet and more than a few pre-show wines at the bar during happy hour, I and many others gathered in the Space Theatre for the first show of our time at the festival.
The Snowdroppers kicked off their run of shows tonight in front of both die-hard fans and newcomers, though by the end of proceedings, I’m pretty sure everyone was either won over completely or too drunk to be able to criticise. I’d interviewed the band’s front man, Johnny Wishbone, for The AU Review a month or so back and after what was probably one of the more entertaining interview experiences I’ve had in my career this far, I knew I had to score some tickets to see the four-piece perform live. From the onset, the band comes across as dangerously unhinged; as a collective, it’s like they began performing on with the dials already switched to 11 and proceeded to push it until breaking point.
As a musical group, I’m still finding it difficult to properly describe what I heard coming off the stage tonight. At first, I was comfortable with labelling The Snowdroppers as a rock and country influenced act, but as the show continued, there were some heavy blues and rockabilly influences which take the reins and continued to penetrate and drive the show from then on. Wishbone performed as if he was possessed; whether he was playing the banjo, harmonica or simply screaming out to the crowd, the man has an ability to catch and retain the attention of a large, yet scattered crowd (hell, whoever can take a plastic tumbler to the face and women trying to molest him in good humour deserves some kudos).
I was impressed by Cougar Jones’ drumming; while the guitarists did well in providing some epic solo moments, Jones’ pace was brilliant to experience. While everything about The Snowdroppers, as a live act, would suggest that they’re a group of musicians who simply don’t give a fuck about making decent music or taking care with creating it, there is a shitload of talent which clearly exists behind each cheeky remark and outrageous stage antic. The reworking of established musical conventions and genres the band has undertaken has produced something new and for a newcomer to it all, as I was tonight, the show served as a great introduction to the scope and musical range these guys are carving for themselves.
It’s not a live music experience I thought I would ever enjoy, but my God, these guys were so much fun. From politely tapping my feet at my table, by the end of the show I was amongst the rest of the crowd, dancing as if we were at some drug and alcohol-induced hoedown. An excellent way to kick off the Cabaret Festival tonight, I can’t wait for the band to come back through town, though I hope the ‘Adelaide, Radelaide, have sex with your Dadelaide’ joke has worn off by then.