The Axemen, legendary Christchurch weirdos, come out of their hiding hole again for this 2020 New Years Eve Eve celebration at the newly opened and revamped Loons Club in Lyttelton, New Zealand.
I was familiar with the Axemen in name only back in the 80's when they started out but have, in the last few years managed to collect most of their small vinyl discography, although they actually have quite a vast collection of recordings available to listen to online on their website.
I missed them last time they surfaced a couple of years back, so was keen to get to see them play this time, but also enticing was the slapped together Kiwi super-group The Sundae Painters and the fact that Bruce Russell of The Dead C was the nights DJ.
So I arrived about 8:30pm, scored a drink and settled back to listen to what Bruce was playing on the Turntables(mostly familiar stuff, but a nice eclectic mix with some surprises in that he played some quite famous songs, particularly, Bowie and Creedence Clearwater Revival) and watch the people arriving.
First up was Violet French and The Horrible. Fortunately, they weren't Horrible, it was an enjoyable set of rocking riffs and some catchy tunes. I have seen Violet several times in various bands but this was the first time in her own band but I did not recognize any of the rest of the band. Still, they played a great set of songs.
Bruce spun some more tunes in-between bands and I caught up with Reagan Elliot of Cocomuse Records and talked about their upcoming vinyl releases.
Sundae Painters are five legends of New Zealand Music, who have recently got together for this project and already have a couple of songs on Bandcamp and a video for one of them. They were certainly part of the reason I was drawn to this gig. Some of the cream of NZ music from the early 80s and even earlier with Alec Bathgate of The Enemy/Toy Love, Hamish Kilgour of The Clean and The Great Unwashed, Kaye Woodward of the Bats and Minisnap, Paul Kean of The Bats and Toy Love and Delaney Davidson, a more recent troubadour of outstanding reputation.
Their set was pretty good, I didn't recognize any of the songs, although they did announce a Tall Dwarf song but I didn't recognize it, and later another Young lady joined on Keyboards. One song Hamish sang from the drum kit and it seems to be some sort of rave against the gun toting rednecks in the US, there was some pretty heavy language thrown out with plenty of vitriol. Hamish swapped with Delaney for the last song, and it had some similar language on a similar theme as he finished the song by handing his guitar to someone in the front of the audience and heading into the crowd with his microphone.
I almost missed it as I was getting a drink, but some unholy noise erupted from the stage soon after the end of the Sundae Painters set and as I wandered back up the from I see Bruce Russell and Delaney Davidson abusing their guitars and making a wonderful drone/wall of noise for only a very short time but it was a great improv. I tried to video it but stuffed it up somehow so got nothing.
And finally, The "Axedmen" hit the stage. The band on record, especially their early stuff, are chaotic, Lofi and sound so amateur and yet there is so much happening in their music and the songs are most intriguing. After nearly 40 years though, the band have developed into a pretty tight rock unit and just stripped to basic rock instruments, as opposed to the additional electronics they sometimes added in the old days, they sounds bloody impressive. So, they are playing their weird songs but it is straight rocking punky style and I only actually recognized one song, being the excellent Nutsack Single from 2011. Their set was bloody great.