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Monday, April 3, 2017

Nadia Reid - Blue Smoke - Christchurch - 1 April 2017

Nadia Reid had came highly recommended from a knowledgeable New Zealand music fan and I had seen her record posted on a couple of facebook vinyl groups I interact with, so it was inevitable that I would check out her music at some point. It was an almost last minute decision to attend this gig on her second album release tour, as funds were not available right up until the 11th hour. But the funds did arrive in time and enough to allow me to purchase both her records while at the gig.

 Blue smoke was pretty much sold out for the concert as about 300 patrons mingled on the floor supping their beverages. I arrived just before the support act, with just enough time to buy my records, stash then in the car and order a drink as The Breaking Hearts started their set. The Breaking Hearts are a male/female duo with her singing and playing Acoustic guitar and him playing electric. They have apparently been around for a bit as they had something like 3 CD releases for sale on the merch table. They played a half hour set of folky type music which was ok but overall didn't excite me a lot. There were two songs around the middle of the set that stood out with some good vocal melodies and impressed me the most. I did find her voice a little overbearing towards the end of their set.

 The obligatory changeover time then occurred during which time I had a conversation with the owner of my local record emporium which was a pleasant way to kill the interval as I was there on  my own. 

 Nadia hit the stage alone with her acoustic for the fist song of her set and was joined soon after by another three muso's to complete her band. She doesn't always play with a full band but a lot of the music on her albums is with a band. Her music is a nice folky blend of americana and fairly mellow, although a couple of songs were a bit more energetic. Some times hearing an artist live for the first time and not having heard them before makes it a bit harder to really enjoy them. Sometimes a live act will impress me a lot even though I have never heard them before and sometimes maybe being more familiar with the artists music makes for a more enjoyable experience. This gig was a good night but I failed to be overawed or blown away by what I saw and left a bit underwhelmed as my expectations had been quite high. I still enjoyed the gig but was happy when it finished. Listening to both her records now as I write and I am very impressed by what I am hearing, so will take the opportunity to see her again when it arises and will be interesting to compare notes.

Below is a live clip from Orange Studio(where I have attended a couple of cool jazz gigs) playing a song of her first album.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Lines of Flight Festival - 9-11 March 2017, Dunedin

The Lines of Flight festival is part of the Dunedin Fringe Festival, although the Lines of Flight itself has been going since 2000. Three days, four presentations of noise, experimental sound art and improvisations, no actual music was played during the event. Actually that is not true, there were four acts that did actually play songs with beats and melodies, but I'll get to that later.

I had not heard of Lines of Flight before even though this biennial event was now 17 years old, but these things are very low key and the audiences are pretty small. I was alerted to the event by a passionate New Zealand music fan and a appercionardo of drony weird music, Chris Walker, the DJ of the Waiheke Radio's "Counting The Beat" podcast, of which I listen to regularly. Chris posted the event on Facbook and I decided I was keen to go, not just for the event but also to go vinyl shopping in Dunedin and also to meet the man himself.

The first night was held at the Dunedin Art Gallery in the Octagon, on a mezzanine floor above the main lobby. I had a front row seat as a pretty good crowd seated them selves down for the evenings weirdness. Chris soon turned up and joined me for our first meeting and a quick conversation before the first act.
 Hermione Johnson was up first. A fairly young lady who has a background in Classical composition and plays piano. This night she played what I guess was an improvised piece on prepared piano and what a ferocious piece it was with her pounding the keys lightning fast as well as using elbows and forearms. During a quiet moment she was stroking the sticks and wires use to prepare the piano, creating lovey airy tones before thundering back into the keys. It was a very impressive noise and I was pretty stunned with the result. Magnificent. Peter Porteous( the event organiser) Then said it was the best opening act they had had. I didn't take any pictures as they did ask to turn off phones for the concert. The video below is from the 2012 Lines of Flight although I thought her performance this time was better than what I hear on this video,

Next up was a duo of a man on drums and a woman on sax, called Sewage. They played an awesome free jazz set with the young lady improvising on both violin and sax with some added screams. This was the first time I had actually seen live free jazz and I was really impressed.  Their hals hour set went very quick and I was sad to see them finish.

The third act for the night was a fellow called Johnny Marks, who I also understand is part of a fantastic New Zealand band called All Seeing Hand. This guy is a throat singer. His act was him using a box of electronics to make some pretty cool electronic pulses and throbbing and other sounds while using his throat singing techniques to vocalise over the top, it was pretty cool sounding and quite dark, especially when he started vocalising some very dark lyrics over the electronic sounds, An intense set and was impressed how much vocalisation went into the piece. Another great set for the night. Below is a video of Marks in Wellington in 2013 using different instrument for the musical accompaniment. 

The final piece of the evening was by French artist Jerome Noetinger a sonic artist of some international repute. This man played a Reel to Reel tape machine. I was pretty impressed, it was just as interesting watching him work as listening to the weird soundscape he created. The video below describes what I saw far better than I could, of course the show we saw sounded different but it shows his technique.  

Overall it was a fabulous night, better than I thought it could be and highly educational. I have sometimes struggled with some of these types of sound art on recordings but they do make much more sense in a live setting. The art galley was a superb setting for this exhibition and there was some pretty cool echos adding to the sound effects.

The second night was held at a different venue. Still in the Octagon, this time were were in a very old and rundown small theater, next to the wonderful Regent Theater. A smaller venue but also a slightly smaller audience this night, the evening started later than advertised, as usual, with things finally kicking off  about half an hour late(a pattern for the weekend) with a young lady going under the title of Smith. She sat near the edge of the stage on the floor in semi darkness with two microphones and some electronics and proceeded to present us with a quite intense collage of sound effects and vocalisations looped and doubled up several times. was quite an interesting sound collage.

Next up was Eye, a three piece "Band" with drums, guitar and electronics. The event organiser Peter Porteous was in this group. These guys set up a drone with some vocalisations which built until the drums chimed in with some ferocious intensity and volume. Pretty dam cool.
The Video below is Eye at Chicks Hotel in port Chalmers 2012.

The third act was a lot more quite than the wall of noise we got from Eye, Motoko Kikkawa and Jo Osborne playing Violin(Motoko) and cello (Jo). Jo set up the drone with her cello with Motoko supporting before adding some other embellishments with the violin. The piece did have a classical feel to it and some nice violin sounds and Motoko vocalising in Japanese. I enjoyed the start of the piece but found myself losing concentration on the piece later on.

Act four was the infamous Bruce Russell, main protagonist with legendary sonic noise band The Dead C. Bruce set up some sort of feedback drone with his guitar and effects and spent a very busy half hour moving from one pedal to another and plugging and unplugging cords and some knob fiddling. I couldn't always discern sonic changes when he did something but it was cool to watch him at work and the drone was always interesting. I did catch a short clip of his piece.

While Bruce was still assaulting our ears with that incredible noise, Robbie Yates, the drummer of the next act, BYG, snuck on the stage and started looking round by his kit and slapped his cymbals with his hand a couple of times before sneaking off the stage again. The rest of the members of BYG(Alastair Galbraith/Robbie Yeats/Mick elBorrado/Reg Norris) sauntered on to the stage and started setting up and playing while Bruce was still packing up his gear. I though perhaps things were running behind schedule and they wanted to get on with it before going over the stated finish time(which they did most nights), but I found out later that the intention was for Robbie to start in with his drums while bruce was still making his noise and the rest of BYG would come on and the five of them would play together as they had apparently done in the past at some point under the name A Handful Of Dust. Unfortunately Robbie could not find his drumsticks so that all kinda fell apart. The four members of BYG were playing as Bruce finished packing up and created a bloody heavy wall of noisy rock music(yes, actual music was played by this group in a conventional sense). It was bloody loud and Alastair's singing was pretty hard to discern over the other instruments but I got that there was some pretty good melodies happening in this heavy music and the fellas were getting right into it. Chris was over the moon as it turned out they were doing songs from two of Alastair's earlier  bands, The  Rip, and Plagal Grind, to bands that Chris really liked but I was not really familiar with their music. The set was bloody great though and it was a kind of very heavy rock I had not heard played like that before. Below is a live clip of Plagal Grind some time in the 90's which gives a little taste of what we heard that night.

Day three, Saturday and the festival moved to Port Chalmers and a dingy old hall called The Anteroom. Two shows were to be performed this day with a total of  nine acts.
The first of the afternoon session was LSD Fundraiser a solo dude in a balaclava with a guitar and another guitar like instrument that he used to set up his drones. I think it was for this one that I just closed my eyes and let the drone and it's manipulations wash over me like a meditation, it was quite pleasant.
 Teen Haters are a duo (guy and girl) from my neck of the woods(Christchurch) I think they were interesting but already my memory is fading as to what that actually did. Another drone like piece but like all the others had it's own idiosyncrasies and originality. For some reason though what they did hasn't stuck in my mind like some of the others.
 The next act I will never forget though, Hermione Johnson was back this time with a drummer and she was playing an old casiotone keyboard put through some effects to make it sound like some cheesy 1950's electric organ or something, it was supercool and Hermione played some great little melodies with the drummer playing along like Meg White. An excellent set. I got two shot clips of them.

The last of the afternoon sets was called Fuck Buttons with Michael Morley from The Dead C and another player both sitting on the back of the low stage with towels over their heads manipulating electronic gadgets to create their soundscape. With some of the sounds they were making I kept waiting for them to play the 5 notes from Close Encounters, I also was evoked to remember the early minimal works of Philip Glass while meditating on their sounds.

We had about 2 hours to kill before the last presentation so asconded down to a lovely old pub overlooking the port for a few drinks and a check up on the cricket before fish n' chips for tea.

First act of the evening was a young  Canadian woman going under the performing name of Blanket. She was travelling New Zealand for several weeks and playing the occasional show when she could. She had a show lined up in Dunedin on this weekend but when told that much of her intended audience would probably be at Lines Of Flight, she asked to join the festival. Another act with a box of electronics which she manipulated to create her sound art. I don't quite remember what she actually produce that night now, so many acts getting to be a blur but none of what I saw over the whole weekend had me going that was bloody horrible or anything. All the acts were interesting and engaging.

Rachel Shearer was next and Chris informs me that she has been around quite a while and played in some local groups. She was sitting at a desk with a laptop to create her sonic art. Her piece started of with a static sort of drone which sounded a bit like air escaping from an air compressor but with a static crackley timbre to it. i wonder if it was suppose to approximate rain, especially as she played some waves gently crashing at one point. The static drone went on for quite a while and I was loosing my interest until she started to change things up and the piece morphed into a more industrial sounding soundscape which I enjoyed much more. Below is a clip of Rachel from 2013 from the Audio foundation.

There was a pretty good crowd in the hall this night in anticipation of the next two acts. first up was The Negative Nancies, two girls, one on drums and one on keys joined by Mick elBorrado on guitar as they pumped out a very raw and primitive set of tunes. Pretty up tempo mostly very amaturest bur most enjoyable. My only gripe was the keys were hard to discern over the guitar and drums and the vocals were pretty distorted but they were bloody excellent and great fun. A taste below from this Audio Foundation video from earlier in the year.

The next band could almost be called the headline act of the festival. I think they are one of the best and most creative bands in the country at present. A proper band playing real music(sic) with three full albums under their belt, I had been in anticipation of seeing them all weekend. Orchestra of Spheres are a four piece of two women on Keys and electronics and vocals and  two blokes on drums and Oud? A funky afro inflected dance band, they were almost out of place here but who cares. Their set was short, although the longest of the night, and they stretched out the songs quite a bit and had a real cool groove going. The drummer is fantastic and the guitarist plays his oud like Jimi Hendrix. Best of all they did Sun Ra's Rocket #9. Phenomenal. Below is a live clip from 2013.

The night and the festival finished with Jeff Henderson, I know very little of Henderson or what to expect. Here is what happened. After OOS the crowd thinned a bit, Jeff then went round handing out clacking spoons and recorders to random people and told everyone to do what ever they wanted with them but not to stop until it was over. He then wandered round the hall with his sax blowing quietly and freely along with the noise created bu the audience. There was some nice freeform recorder playing from one of the other musicians in the audience and some were getting quite creative with their clackers. Jeff's blowing really didn't do much for me and because he wasn't miked he was hard to hear a lot of the time. Not really the John Gilmore free blowing I was hoping for. I said to Chris after it could have been pretty interesting if the participants had of kinda synched together and maybe created a recorder drone against the clackers or something, I could imagine this happening but it didn't this night.

Overall, I had a fantastic festival and learned a considerable amount about this form of sound art and how to appreciate it better. Looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Salmonella Dub - Speights Ale House - Christchurch 17th February 2017

Salmonella Dub are one of the original bands of the New Zealand Roots Music scene as it is sometimes referred to. That is a music style that encompassed Reggae, dub, drum n' bass and electronica and has been a very productive scene here for the last 20+ years producing some excellent music and makes up a considerable part of my NZ music collection. The Dub formed in Christchurch in about 1992 and after releasing several albums, really hit the big time in NZ with two great No.1 albums around 2001-2004. That was the time that I first saw them live at an old hall in central Christchurch. I remember at that gig that the sound system was up way too loud(as so often happens) and the Bass, (the main driver behind their music) was horribly distorted, which spoilt an otherwise good gig.
  I was still dithering about whether to go see them at this gig when I got a message from a friend asking if I was going and that she wanted to surprise her partner with a ticket, so I said I would be keen and Andy had recently moved to NZ last year and this was to be his first live gig in Aotearoa.
  The Speights Ale House in Ferrymead, Christchurch is another first time venue for me. It is a little larger than the other venues I have been frequenting of late, with a capacity of about 500. We arrived there around 8:30pm while the place was still fairly empty and settled in to listen to the DJ Skew Wiff Mo. who was plying his vinyl at the back of the stage. Soulsystem were on next, a funky dubby/reggae sort of band who were pretty enjoyable and got better as their set went on although their final number was a medley mash of The White Stripes and The Eurythmics that didn't really work for me.
  It was after 11:00pm by the time the Dub hit the stage, a large band with like 7 members on the stage, blasting out their boisterous music to the sold out crowd. Sound quality this time was much better and wasn't as loud as I was expecting, although with so many musicians in the mix, some stuff still gets lost in translation.
 The songs that they played that I did know from their reasonably large catalog, were played quite differently from the recorded versions I am familiar with and I didn't find them quite as enjoyable as I usually do, also the bass, that is so important to their music was not as pronounced as I would have liked. They played some slower grooves that would be fine on a nice summers day at and outdoor gig, but I thought keeping things more uptempo would have been better for this night where the punters looked keen to dance their asses off. The lead singers scatting or what ever you call it also got on my nerves a bit and I did find myself getting a little bored at times during the extended slow jams. Overall the music still had me grooving and was mostly enjoyable but I felt something was missing, there wasn't quite that spark that makes some gigs just so much more memorable. The last song they did was the best of the night with a real motorik bass line that sounded really cool. Andy said he enjoyed it all thoroughly, although he is probably not as much as a fussy bugger as I am. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Aldous Harding - Blue Smoke - Christchurch 8th February 2017

Aldous is a young folk singer originally from Lyttelton, just over the hill from Christchurch. Her debut album came out in 2014 but I didn't come across it till last year. It is a solo acoustic record and Aldous(real name Hanna apparently) sings with a different sort of phrasing which makes her singing sound almost Irish. The Album is enjoyable but needs focused listening to appreciate it fully. I certainly had been enjoying her music to a certain extent but after watching some videos of her on YouTube I was starting to get a feel for how intense and committed to her art she is, so the opportunity to see her play live might prove to be a rewarding experience. This was the first night of a short New Zealand tour preceding her forthcoming second album and for the first time ever she was to have a band playing with her.
  Friend Bryce, who attended the Veils Concert with me the previous week, was back on board to check out this singer he had never heard of before, trusting my knowledge and tastes to lead him to something enjoyable. He was not disappointed.
  We arrived just minutes before the support act hit the stage to a mostly full venue. The support act, Oscar Dowling, was a young three piece playing fairly nondescript indie pop or something, they were not particularly tight and the sound was pretty muddy. I thought the guitarist did play some interesting stuff and some tempo/timing changes in a couple of songs impressed but overall they weren't particularly memorable.
  Aldous hit the stage around 10pm, dressed all in white, alone with her acoustic and proceeded to  play us three or four songs, some from her debut album and one I'm not sure. We were someway back in the room and she was sitting down so it was difficult to see her but the sound was really good and she sounded wonderful, her guitar picking is also impressive. The rest of the band soon joined her on stage and she introduced us to a bit of what was going to happen in the show. They played several new songs from the forthcoming album, all of which sounded impressive with her singing voice going to so many different places and sounding pretty powerful at times. Some of the stuff they had never played live in concert before so we were getting a real treat. She also did a Paul McCartney song and towards the end of the show, did something she said they she had never done before, rock out with her song "Hunter" and they pulled it of wonderfully. She was having a great time playing with the band and because they were playing in a subtle and intensely subdued way, the sound was very good.She came back on for an encore and played another solo song and said, as the band came back on, that they would play one more. I had been hoping like hell she would play "Horizon", A song not yet on record but I had seen a video of her performing it live last year, it was a powerful song and her performance of it in that video impressed me greatly. I was thrilled, along with many others in the audience, when she announced that that was the last song of the night, Bryce had no idea of the magic he was about to witness. With the band backing her quietly in the background her vocals on this powerful song erupted to a completely other level and just about blew us out of the room, it was far better even that the video version that I had seen, I had goosebumps and Bryce was just gobsmacked.  Her performance of it was just sublime and absolutely moved me to tears, one of the most outstanding live musical moments I have ever experienced. A gig never to be forgotten.

The video below is the original one i had seen before this gig just to give you an Idea how good this song is.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Veils - Blue Smoke - Christchurch - 2nd February 2017

Hard to say if The Veils could be called a New Zealand band or an English band. Based in London and the brainchild of Finn Andrew, who was England born but spent some of his growing up time in NZ, the original lineup was formed in the UK but later he did go back to NZ and recruit some locals he had known there earlier. This indie pop/rock band has now released 5 albums since 2002 and I had never heard of them until Chris Walker played one of their recent songs on his NZ radio show/podcast and had mentioned their latest album several times over the past several months. I had seen that they were playing two gigs in Christchurch and I thought about going but hadn't really made up my mind until I saw a short conversation between two hiking friends on Facebook, one of whom I knew was a keen music fan and he expressed a great admiration for The Veils and his disappointment that their gig was sold out. I duly informed him that the earlier gig they were to play still had tickets available and I would go if he did. He duly emailed me the next morning informing me he had two tickets to the Thursday night gig and did I want to come to dinner before the concert.
 I managed to have a quick listen to their latest album on TIDAL before I left home and was quite impressed with the more experimental aspects of their Indie music. We arrived just after doors opened and it was very pleasant to have someone with me to chat with for a change at these concerts and it made the time go faster while waiting for the music to start. One big surprise was I had failed to notice who was the support act for this gig and I was very pleasantly surprised  to see Delaney Davidson's name on the blackboard outside the venue. I had wanted to see him play for a while but had missed his last gigs here
 Delany hit the stage around 9pm with his checked shirt and short brimmed hat and his acoustic guitar which was massively distorted through his effects pedals, singing into a mic that also treated his vocals and proceeded to  give us an intense blues soaked, rocking show of  stunning moanes, loops, bangs on the guitar wood, one man grunge blues show. It was fucking impressive and Bryce, who had no Idea who Delany was was extremely impressed as well. I was ecstatic.
  Finn and the band then hit the stage after the interval and straight away I could see here was a powerful and charismatic front man, with his wide brimmed hat, his unshaven face and his hand movements as he sang with gusto the songs that have made them quite popular. The volume was pretty loud for this gig  and as usual when all hell was breaking loose, it sounded like a wall of squalling noise, but even though I had almost no familiarity with their music I got a pretty good idea of their quality, I have enjoyed unknown bands in a live setting more than this gig but I still really enjoyed their energy and music. I also think that Bono had a bit of an influence on our man Finn. If I had known their music better I think I would have enjoyed this gig as much as Bryce did and now that I have vinyl copies of their two latest albums, next time will be even better.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Bats - Space Academy - Christchurch 26th January 2017

The Bats are a longstay of the NZ music scene forming in my hometown of Christchurch in 1982 and releasing their music on the legendary Flying Nun Records. Their quirky pop sound typifies the Flying Nun/Dunedin sound of the early 80's to a tee. I was familiar with some of their very early songs via student radio back in the day but never really owned any of their music and sometimes found their sound to be a bit too lightweight for my tastes. They have been touring and releasing music sporadically for the last 35 years now but I am not familiar with their latest music. 
 This gig was a kinda hometown warmup for a couple of upcoming gigs across the ditch in Australia in support of their new album which was released the following day after this gig. I thought it would be interesting to see them live again, the last time being when they supported the Violent Femmes here in 1992. 
  Space Academy is a small warehouse venue, just across the road from The Darkroom( where I have been seeing a lot of Bands lately), which doubles as a cafe during the day and hosts other arty events also. It was my first visit there.
  The gig was sold out but with modern fire regulations in a small venue like this there was probably less than 100 people there in all and there was certainly room for more.
  I took my place near the front of the audience for the first set as they kicked off about 9pm with a couple of songs from their previous album"Free All The Monsters" from 2011. I was impressed with the sound of the music and although their sound has altered little over time their song construction has matured  and I enjoyed the material even though I was unfamiliar with it. The next bracket of the first set was dedicated to their new album "The Deep Set" and I was even more impressed with the songs they played. Some pretty catchy songs which look like making for a pretty good new record. The sound quality was ok but slightly too loud and distorted to really get a strong feel for the material and unfortunately when they added in a couple of additional musicians on strings for a couple of tracks the sound got a lot more muddled and the strings were pretty hard to hear in the mix.
  A short break was had before they got stuck into their past catalog of songs for the second set. I decided to try standing nearer the back of the room near the mixing desk to see if the sound improved back there but it didn't really and now I couldn't see the band at all as there was no stage, with the band on the floor with us and they are all kinda short. Although I was not familiar with most of what they played in this set, I think they kinda worked their way back through their catalog, finishing the set with ":North By North" From their 1987 album "Daddy's Highway", which was the only song I really knew. Apart from the slight issues with the sound(usual for rock gigs) I really enjoyed their playing and also their music more so than I thought I would. A great little live band.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Jay Clarkson and Breathing Cage - Blue Smoke - Christchurch 21 January 2017

Jay Clarkson is a bit of an underground music legend in New Zealand, a bit like Bill Direen who I saw play live late last year. She started off in a post punk group called The Playthings, who released two fantastic singles in the very early 80s before going on to record EP's and a single with her next two bands, They Were Expendable and The Expendables, who put out some absolutely wonderful uncategorizable haunting pop music in the mid 80's. She then went on to form The Breathing Cage who released one LP before she went off to have a sporadic solo career. Most of these early bands recordings are pretty hard to come by nowadays and as usual I regret selling off the stuff I did have back in the day. I did recently pick up a CD compilation of The Breathing Cage recordings of whom I was not all that familiar. It's is a good CD and the music is slowing growing on me as I get more familiar with it.
  The gig was held at another cool venue that I have not been to before, Blue Smoke. A bar attached to The Tannery shopping center in Woolston, Christchurch.
  The crowd was not too bad for this musical legend, fairly gray haired and I suspect, like the Bill Direen Gig, pleny of the audience were themselves musicians. It is a quite small venue and I guess there were about 100 people there.
  I had an appointment in the City earlier in the evening and with a couple of hours to fill in before doors opened at  8pm, I had dinner and went browsing records in another mall nearby. I arrived at the venue before doors opened and wandered around The Tannery checking out the closed shops while waiting.
 After an hour of sipping orange juices the support act mounted the stage. Motte is a lone young lady with a violin and a bunch of effects equipment where she played shot pieces on her violin and set then into playback loops building on each other and then playing on top of the loops. It was quite ambient and haunting and on two pieces she sang some lovely melodies with a very good voice. From reading on her Facebook Page some of it might have been improvised. She created a lovely sounds collage  which the audience seem to appreciate well.
  Jay hit the stage alone for the first part of her show, armed with an acoustic guitar, she kicked things off with a song off her recent album "Spur" which was released last year. Her current music is quite folky from what I have heard of it. She was having some sound issues with the acoustic and swapped to electric for the rest of her solo slot, playing more recent songs I am not familiar with and a quite grimm Chris Knox song as well.
  The next slot She had bass and drums backing her as she played several songs from her earlier material including the fantastic " Boy With The Sad Hands" Which I think was her first Solo single way back.  This showed she was going to play some of the other stuff she had done in the 80's, not just The Breathing cage stuff. This set was great, really got my toes tapping and although I don't know all of the material played it was bloody good.
 The last set She swapped bassists and added another guitar for what was almost the full Breathing Cage lineup I believe except for the new bassist as the original guy had broken his finger or something. The Breathing cage material sounded fantastic live, better than the CD and I was just lapping it up. Stand outs were "Big Life" and the old Expendables Track " The Man With No Desire" which I was just so chuffed that they played. as well as a couple of others I recognised but don't know the names of.
 Jay said they hadn't played this stuff  together for 25 years and there was a couple of times things went slightly off the rails but  I left the venue with a very big grin on my face and the knowledge that I had just witnessed a very good gig.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Prophet Hens - The Darkroom - Christchurch January 12 2017

Been a few months since my last gig and seeing as I had picked up both of the Prophet Hens albums not that long ago and was getting to enjoy their Flying Nun/Dunedin brand of jangly indie pop more and more with each listen, I thought I should also go and check them out live while I had the opportunity. Regular readers(If such a thing exists) will now be familiar with The Darkroom in Christchurch after I saw several local bands there last year ( see previous posts). It is a tiny venue but I like it a lot and the sound is pretty good and not too loud.
   An all to familiar tale in Christchurch, a quality young band with two good records under their belt and some pretty catchy well constructed pop songs coming up from their home of Dunedin to play for us and only about 20 people come to see them play and it wasn't exactly an overly enthusiastic audience either. It is probably because of playing to audiences this small that the band announced during their show that this was probably going to be their last tour. That being said, they put on a good show and looked to be enjoying themselves as they played a good selection of their album tracks. They don't sound too much different from their records and the band gell together well as I was tapping my feet throughout the whole set. Really glad I saw them and the gig just deepened my appreciation of their music.
  They actually supplied their own support, as the opening act, Grawlixies, is actually The Bass player(Robin Cederman) and singer/keyboardist (Penelope Esplin) from The Prophet Hens. A nice folky duo with Robin on acoustic guitar and Penelope playing accordian. They played some lovely folk pop with interesting song lyrics/subjects and great vocal harmonies. Again I enjoyed their set a lot. A good night.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Don McGlashan & Shayne Carter - Aurora Center - Christchurch 20 October 2016

Two of the Godfathers of New Zealand Indie rock/pop have teamed up for some live gigs around New Zealand in October 2016 and because I admire McGlashan so much I really needed to attend this, as I missed him last time he played here.
 Don has been in several legendary New Zealand bands over the last 35+ years, including  BlamBlamBlam, The Front lawn and The Muttonbirds, as well as putting out solo stuff as of late. I think his song writing is second to none in NZ and he is a most versatile musician and a great singer.
 Shayne, likewise is very well known in post-punk indie circles, also fronting several near legendary NZ bands such as, Bored Games, Double Happys, Straightjacket Fits and Dimmer, he also releases solo music of late.
 The Aurora center is a great venue at Burnside High School with a capacity of about 700 punters, the place was almost 3/4 full and surprisingly we were feeling reasonably young, looking at all the gray hairs milling about in the foyer before the gig.
 The lads hit the stage about 8pm, just the two of them and went straight into the first song, with Don on amplified acoustic guitar and Shayne on electric guitar. I think, from memory the first track was a McGlashen song and as Don explained they would alternately be playing Don's songs and Shayne's songs. He also explained later in the show that they picked the songs from each others catalogue, i.e.Don picked all the Shayne songs and Shayne picked all the Don songs. Of course I knew a fair number of Don's songs that they played even though it was far from a "greatest hits" show, where as I was not so familiar with Shayne's songs and indeed it appears Don picked several of Shayne's more experimental songs which made for some really interesting pieces. Don played drums on a couple of songs and also some sort of Trombone thing  where he played a bit and then put what he played into a repeating loop on a couple of numbers. The whole thing was very informal and laid back with plenty of banter from Shayne and some really great music, they played for a little over 2 hours and I was just so impressed, thinking what a couple of great old hands entertaining with so much fantastic music. Overall an awesome gig. If they are playing near you go and see them.
I didn't do any videos at this gig but below is one of the songs that they played recorded live in the studio for a CD they are releasing of the music they played us this night. 


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Bill Direen & the Bilders - Darkroom - Christchurch - 8 October 2016

 Bill Direen has been around forever, it seems, an original in the Christchurch punk scene, as I have just found out, he was in an early Christchurch Punk Band called Vacuum before moving on to front The Builders among many other collaborations over the last 40 years. Bill is a bit of an underground legend in New Zealand, playing with many other semi underground figures in the local scene and some overseas artists as well, he now has a quite extensive discography, albeit, one that it is difficult to track down many of the releases.  
 I'm not familiar with all that much of Bill's output over the years but I do remember hearing some of his stuff on Student Radio back in the early 80's and I have just discovered, through checking out his discography, that I actually had a copy of The Bilders second album, "Lets Play" from 1985, which I had completely forgotten about. With my current obsession of collecting NZ music, both old and new, I had recently picked up The Builders 4th album "We Are The Coolest Cats In The World" from 1989, a fantastic record and listening to that inspired me to go see this gig when I saw it was coming up.
 I arrived at The Darkroom about 15 Minutes before the advertised start time and already there was a reasonable number of punters there and it turned out to be the biggest crowd I had seen for a gig at The Darkroom so far, not full, but close.
 I was in the toilet when someone got on the stage and started talking to the audience, and when I came out there was a lone figure on the small stage with a guitar about to start his first song. The concert was advertised as Bill Direen, Builders and Guests, I didn't know if that meant guests doing their own thing or guests playing with the band. I had never seen Bill Direen in person before so I wasn't sure who I was seeing on stage playing these short intense, very locally themed songs and I was thinking how amature this sounded as It started to dawn on me that this might actually BE Bill Direen. It took a bit of getting use to Bills singing for this portion of the show and his guitar playing was very minimal and staccato like, but he wasn't alone for long as he invited the first of his guests to join him on bass for some better sounding songs in this, what Bill called, "bracket" of the show. The gig was fairly chaotic or disorganised looking as each "bracket" started and stopped as other guests came and went for numbers throughout Bills career. The guests turned out to be various locals that Bill had played with over the last 40 years, including Steve Cogle, who played in the original Vacuum as well as other local bands like The Terminals and The Victor Dimisich Band and has a current band called Dark Matter. He also had another original acquaintance from those early punk days, the writer Grant McDonagh, who gave a reading from a manuscript he is writing, describing how he met Bill Direen back in the late 70's. His memoirs could be quite interesting for people interested in the local scene back then.
 As the evening progressed with each "bracket" I thought it got better and better until the final bracket that was the longest and included the current 3 piece line up of the Builders where they really rocked out the best, playing for me the songs i new the best including their "hit" The Alligator Song" which got a lot of air play on student radio back in the day.(see Video below)
 Bill Direen is a great song writer and social commentator, and although what I have heard of his studio recordings are far more complex than what they were able to play live in this situation, it was a great set that I enjoyed a lot.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Antipodes - Orange Studios - Christchurch - 6 October 2016

Another cool Jazz gig at the Orange Studio. Antipodes are a composite group of Australian and New Zealand Jazz Players with a couple of members being in NZ band The Jac, of whom I have on CD from Rattle Records. This Line up consisted of Bass, Guitar, Sax, Drums and Piano.
 Playing to an audience of about 30 people, the group were recording this gig for what ever reason. They played all original compositions and were a fairly young band. The first set went for about 45 minutes and although I enjoyed it I didn't think it was a good as the previous concert  we attended at Orange about a month before by Reuben Bradley trio . The second set was much better, perhaps because the material was better and also seemed more challenging to play as they lifted their game to suit. There were certainly some strong compositions being played. The Pianist was most impressive and was playing some pretty wild stuff in amongst it all but was often drowned out by the volume of the other players. The guitar suffered a similar fate when not soloing and one of his own compositions contained some most impressive ECM like playing.
 Still a most enjoyable gig and looking forward to some more jazz at Orange Studio in the future.
The video below is from a show in Auckland last year and has a slightly different lineup.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra - Bold New Worlds - Christchurch 4 October 2016

Keeping things far more cultured again, we attended this, our second only classical music concert by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Like the previous concert, I was attracted to this particular concert by the inclusion of the piece "Three Movements" by Steve Reich. I have a soft spot for Minimalist music and have several Steve Reich CD's in my collection, including one with the above piece. Other pieces preformed this night were Mason bates "Violin Concerto" and  Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No.9 "From the New World"
  The concert was preformed at Christchurch's Horncastle Arena, and although I have been to quite a number of concerts there, this was the first of this type. Normally something like this would have been held at the Christchurch Town Hall but that venue is still closed from the 2011 earthquakes. Unfortunately, I felt the Horncastle arena isn't quite the ideal venue acoustically for this type of music, it is a sports arena and has a concrete floor and very high roof and also our seats were much further away form the orchestra than I would have liked. The ticket allocation, when I was purchasing the tickets suggested all the closer seats were sold and ye there were many empty seats below us on the night, go figure? The Charles Lumley Auditorium, where we saw the recent CSO concert was far superior to this sort of music, although may be a bit small to house the NZSO on it preforming area. I thought maybe the Aurora Center at Burnside High School might have been a better venue, but I'm not sure if their staging area is big enough.
  We took our seats about 10 minutes before the show, along with about 300 other patrons. It was more of a mix of ages this time, as the last show we were almost the youngest there, and although the very grey did predominate, many other age groups were present in numbers.
  They opened the concert with the Steve Reich piece, it's inclusion in the concert was in celebration of his 80th birthday, and in live performance I found it much more interesting and enjoyable than listening on CD. It is a great piece of music and it is gratifying to see this "Modern" music getting played here.
  After a big stage reshuffle, during witch the composer, Fawzi Haimor, gave a talk on the three pieces to be played this night, they then presented Mason Bates "Violin Concerto". Batede is a much younger composer and this piece was written specifically for Anne Akiko Meyers, whom we had the privilege to see actually preform this piece herself here in Christchurch. This modern piece is a very enjoyable composition with some great melodies and some outstanding violin from Anne Akiko Meyers. It also had some cool percussive moments and the orchestra did a great job of presenting this piece. Below is a video of the same piece played in 2013 by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

 The final piece, after intermission, was Dvorak's "From the New World" Symphony. I  had no idea what this would be like, I know Dvorak's name but couldn't tell you if I knew of his music. It turns out this Symphony is very well known and I certainly recognised the Melodies presented in both the first movement and especially the fourth movement. A great piece of music that, like the Copeland piece we heard at the earlier concert we attended by the CSO, evoked images of western movies ( the first movement) and surprisingly, the Star Wars movies. I wonder if John Williams borrowed from this music when composing the Star Wars music. The violins in the third movement reminded me strongly of the music to the fight scene with the Sith and the Jedi in the Phantom Menace. The forth movement evoked vision of Luke Skywalker on Tatooine in the very first Star Wars Movie. A robust and vigorous Symphony, full of great melodies and preformed with much gusto by the NZSO, it turned out to be the highlight of the night. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Connie Benson - The Darkroom - Christchurch 30 September 2016

Who the hell is Connie Benson. I had never heard of her, was in complete ignorance of her and her music. Still am to a certain extent. First she was just another unknown name playing a gig at The Darkroom in Christchurch. Lots of small time Local bands play there and I seldom know who they are. Then I saw a video of her playing outside Death Ray Records in Wellington that The Darkroom posted on their facebook page and I was so impressed that I thought I had better go and see her play.

I showed the Mrs. the above video and asked if she wanted to come along also. She was keen.
We arrived at The Darkroom just on Nine, Connie was suppose to hit the stage around ten and there was supposed to be a guest playing first I thought. There was a pair of turntables on stage when we arrived but the doors don't usually open till 8 or 8:30pm and there were bugger all people there when we arrived, so if something happened before we arrived then no one saw it.
 We grabbed some drinks and found the most comfortable seating and chatted while waiting for the lass to come onstage.
 This girl is very young, she looks barely 20 or even younger, although playing in a licensed venue, she was probably over 18. She plays a great style of Rockabilly, and is a very very cool guitarist. I just loved her sound and playing. With just drums and guitar, the sound was pretty clear and so was easy to hear the great stuff she was playing. I am not all that familiar with this archaic style of music so I have no idea if any of the songs she played were originals, although I did recognise one song she covered but couldn't tell you the name. I thought, from the videos I watched before the gig, that it would be all instrumental songs but the lass does sing, although I wasn't all that taken with her style or her voice. I don't know if she was trying to sing in a weird American country accent of if that was just how her young voice really sounds. The vocals weren't mixed very well so got a bit overpowered buy her guitar playing.
They only played for just a tad over 40 minutes which I thought was a bit short seeing as they were the only band on for the night and the punters were keen hear more but maybe they didn't have any more songs to play. Don't know! They were quick to start dismantling their gear so we headed home. Definitely worth going to see, she plays so well, really gets into it. Great gig.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra - Appalachian to Zappa - St Margaret's Collage, Christchurch 10 September 2016

Classical music is a branch of music I have struggled with over the years. I have made many attempts to learn  to enjoy it more than I do and I think it deserves more of my intention than it gets but I do struggle to stay interested in the extended pieces of romantic symphonies or the more primitive Baroque styles. Sure there are many hugely famous pieces of classical music that are so well known and are very good and I do enjoy in small doses, like Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Beethoven's 5th or Bolero by Ravel, but to be honest I really prefer late 20th century and early 21st  century composers like Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Zorn.
 I was browsing the gig guides for local events recently when somehow I came across some information in regards to the event depicted by the above promo graphic. What really caught my attention was the fact that the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra was going to present Frank Zappa's G-Spot Tornado as part of their concert. This was more than enough to catch my attention in regards to an event that I would normally just pass by. After checking dates and ticket prices etc, I discussed it with the Mrs and it was decided to check it out. She enjoys Classical music in general more than I do.
  We dressed appropriately for the evening and arrived at St Margaret's collage just under 30 minutes before the scheduled starting time. It was being held in the Charles Luney Auditorium, a very impressive new building built after the earthquakes trashed most of the original school.

We settled into our seats on the far right of the Auditorium and waited as the orchestra tuned them selves up and the rest of the audience took their seats.The place was almost full and we felt quite young amongst all the rather grey haired punters sitting around us, although there were some quite young people there also.
 The Orchestra Leader soon came in and settled the orchestra down just before the guest conductor entered and took his position on his rostrum.
 The first piece they played was Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring Suit. This is a reasonably modern composition and I could tell that by the style even though I kinda knew already. It was an enjoyable piece and at one point I imagined a scene out of a western movie as the music was playing, which I think is what it was supposed to invoke. I spent a lot of the piece marvelling at how much easier it was to hear all what was going on in a live setting as opposed to recorded classical music, even though classical music is recorded so well compared to a lot of other music, especially rock. Mrs Roddus and I both enjoyed the piece a lot.
 Next up was some Mozart, piano Concerto No.20 K466 in D minor to be precise. I was not familiar with any of the melodies of this piece but enjoyed it in a live setting to a certain extent, the novelty of seeing this stuff live and the quality of the sound helped a lot but both of us agreed we didn't like it as much as the first piece.
 After intermission, the Conductor gave a short spiel, especially on the next piece, which was  the one I had been waiting for, Zappa's G-Spot Tornado. The orchestra was a lot smaller for this piece with only four or five violinists. I was a little disappointed with the piece to be honest, the violins were getting drowned out a bit by the other louder horns and percussion and I wondered how much better they would have sounded with more of them. The whole thing did sound a little flat though. It is certainly something a little different perhaps for this orchestra, but I don't know enough about their usual repertoire.
 Last piece was another Mozart piece, this time Symphony No. 41, K551 in Cminor, known as Jupiter. Another piece where I did not recognise any of the melodies and although I was enjoying the experience as a whole, this piece I struggled with a bit, although being really tired at the time didn't help. There were some interesting moments I found but I was glad when it finally finished. 
 Overall it was great experience which we both really enjoyed  and i 'll be keeping my eye open to future concerts where they play something I might be interested in.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Street Chant, Wurld Series, Best Bets - The Darkroom, Christchurch - 8 September 2016

My second gig this week and my second at The Darkroom and one thing I am noticing about The Darkroom is that there is no security there. The staff consists of two ladies on the bar and one tall lanky dude, who looks a bit like one of the recent Dr Who's, on sound and whatever else is needed. This is a good thing and it is great to see that after being in operation for several years they still don't feel the need to employ bouncers. The place has a good vibe and it looks like the riff raff stay away.
  Anyhow, I arrive just before the 8:30 door opening time in the belief that tonight might be a packed house, considering the kinda high profile Street Chant have and it was door sales only. My fears were unfounded though as by the time Street Chant hit the stage later that night there were only about 50 or 60 people there, just slightly more than the last gig I went to here. Although a tiny venue, this is still a little disappointing for such a great little band but is the usual way for NZ bands it appears.
 When I arrived, the guy on the door mentioned that the band had been a bit delayed due to their flight from Auckland arriving later than expected, the weather here had been pretty bad, so the first act of the night, which was to be Slenderman( an Emily Edrosa, from Street Chant, side project apparently) didn't play, which meant a hours wait for the first band due on at 9:30pm. With an hour to kill, I scored a drink and settled in on the most comfy couch in the place and was soon joined by a fella who introduced himself as Chris. We chatted awhile about music, as you do at a gig and eventually he revealed that he was a musician and operated under the name The Transcendents. I had heard of them as I told him and that I had possibly heard his music on Chris Walker's "Counting the Beat" radio podcasts. He confirmed that Chris was indeed a supporter of his music on the aforementioned radio show and that I could check out his music on Bandcamp. I will.
 Best Bets hit the stage soon after their allotted time and this three piece impressed me with their thrashy punk/new wavy sound, which reminded me of The Sex Pistols sometimes but a little more poppy. They also played a great cover of Gang Of Four's "I found That Essence Rare" and a surprise Neil Young song that I know well but can't remember the title of right now. A great start to the night though.
  Wurld Series were next and right off  I was super impressed with their songs, a great singer with catchy tunes and a sound totally enthralled to early Pavement and of course the Flying Nun sound of the early 80's Their short set was end to end great songs and it is a real pity that they don't have any music released on any physical media. They do have a bandcamp page though. Worth checking out.
  I am pretty new to Street Chant. They have been around for about 8 years apparently but I first heard of them through "Counting the Beat" and I had seen some people I know on Facebook, flashing about the last album they released earlier this year(a copy of which I finally picked up at this gig). I checked out that album on Tidal and although it was good I personally wasn't overly impressed. Over time I gave it occasional listens and eventually it grew on me as I became more familiar with it's catchy tunes. Street Chant consist of two women on bass and guitar and a bloke on drums and they play a great brand of catchy indie rock. Considering that the band have been nominated for songwriting awards in NZ and seem to have a higher profile than any of the other local bands I have been checking out lately, the numbers at this gig were lower than I expected. This seems to be the case with NZ music, apathy from the punters towards quality homegrown music and lack of air play for this kind of music, even thought it is quite poppy and catchy in places.
 Live, these three rock out pretty big and Emily Edrosa really gets into some great guitar shredding during this short set. Unfortunately she was having some technical issues with one guitar cord giving out and feedback problems throughout the gig. She handled it pretty well and their set was most enjoyable as they rocked through their brand of great catchy guitar riffs, which many may become NZ classics over time. Their set was short but they were talked into doing a one song Encore, where they played one of their best songs that I now knew quite well. This is their last tour as they are now disbanding for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Reuben Bradley Trio - Orange Studio, Christchurch - 6th September 2016

I have been thinking about how little live Jazz music is presented in Christchurch, especially considering that we have a Jazz school attached to out local Polytechnic. Looking through the gig listings on several web sites for the area seldom throws up much Jazz, occasionally some small time local band doing a residency at some bar and we recently had a Jazz and Blues festival earlier in the year, but there wasn't all that much that enticed me to attend. Maybe I just don't quite know where to look or the stuff is too underground. When I see something like this advertised, I investigate closer to see if it would be something that would interest me and I soon discovered that Reuben had several releases out on Rattle Records, a great NZ Jazz and contemporary music label that I have been exploring their catalog of late. I checked out some of the videos on his website and decided this was just the thing I would be into.
 The gig was held at a place called Orange Studio, which turns out to be an actual recording studio but puts on small gigs and other events in their main recording room, a very cool venue, with a bar and all. I was most impressed an am looking forward to attending more gigs there in future.
 This concert was also something that my partner could hopefully enjoy and so we both arrived at the venue about 15 minutes before the due start time and settled in to a couple of seats on the end of the front row.
 It was good to see the place pretty much full to capacity with maybe 40 odd people taking all available seating and a few standing at the back. The Trio of Bradley, Drums, Rodger Manins, Sax and Brett Hirst, Bass, wandered in about 10 minutes after the advertised start time and after a quick spiel from Reuben, started in on a John Coltrane piece. The sound was excellent and louder than I expected and the bass did get a little drowned out when the group was in full noise, but what a great room for live Jazz. They played several original compositions from Reuben and one from Rodger, all impressing me very much, as well  a Joe Henderson piece and also Tami Neilson's "Don't be Afraid". They played mostly up tempo Bop like stuff and were really getting into it, all three played some great solos as they do. They were having a great time playing with some great banter between them and presented two most enthralling sets. I also managed to pick up two of Reuben's Rattle CDs that he had for sale for a very goo price, so i'm really looking forward to listening to them as he did play several pieces off both CDs and I was most impressed. A great gig and My partner enjoyed it even more than I thought she would. I didn't attempt to record ant video for this gig so here is a clip from Reuben's website. A slightly different band but still with Rodger and Reuben.

Check out Reuben's website,
And also check out Rattle Records for some great NZ Jazz and other music.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Via Kaleidoscope, Hawaiian Maiden, Dead in a Year - The Darkroom, Christchurch 2 September 2016

I had been keeping an eye on the Darkroom's website and gig listings for quite some time as they had been listing some interesting looking gigs from both local, and occasionally, overseas artists. Unfortunately I hadn't got it together to actually attend any of these gigs but finally I took the plunge on the three Christchurch groups listed above. The lateness of the gigs also put me off a bit, especially the mid week gigs as I have to drive an hour to the city to attend.
 Anyhow, I duly arrived at The Darkroom just on 8:30pm which was the listed time the doors opened. I got there early as it was door sales only and incase there was a large crowd turning up and the venue was going to be full and I drive all that way for nothing. This was not to be the case, as I expected, for a bunch of pretty unknown groups like this and the tiny venue really only had about 50 odd people there on this night. The place certainly is a tiny venue and would be pretty well jammed with 100 people in it, the stage is also miniscule and the two 4 piece bands that played were well cramped up with little room to move about. In saying that though it is a great little rock venue and so suits the raw roots rock n roll of the local groups playing there, I imagined it would be similar to some of the small DIY venues the original US punks played in LA in the late 70's.
 The first band, Dead in a Year, hit the stage about 9:15pm, a duo of girl singer and guitar player and bloke drumming, like the White Stripes in reverse, but there the similarities ended. It was only their second ever gig and their indie pop songs were ok but nothing to get excited about. The girl wasn't a particularly great singer and her guitar playing was difficult to make out much in the way of melodies. Their set was short and the punters didn't really take much notice.
 The second act, Hawaiian Maiden, were a four piece surf rock group and hit the stage in shorts and Hawaiian shirts. A fair chunk of the punters were now in front of the stage as they ripped into their first instrumental song, and what a blast they were. The first two tracks they played were full on rockin' surf punk and had me poppin' and grooving to the max. They were tight and fast and intense and having a lot of fun and just rocked our socks off. I was blown away. What a great little band.  The rest of the set didn't quite match the intensity of the first two songs and this type of music can be quite limited, although they did have a trumpet player join them for the rest of their set. Overall a great 30 odd minutes of  Hi-NRG rockin' music.
 Band three, Via Kaleidoscope,are the "headline" act and again are a four piece. They play what seems to be Termed Post Rock, an instrumental band with quiet atmospheric parts to their songs followed buy some bone crushingly heavy riffing, not quite Metal in nature but pretty close. Doomy, stoner post rock. A common if not hugely popular form of music round here at present judging by the number of bands cropping up playing variations of it. I enjoyed these guys to a degree although they were a bit short of soloing which could have made them more interesting and of course it was very loud, creating the usual wall of noise that makes it difficult to hear all of what they were playing, as is usually the case with heavy rock music. Their songs are quite long and all sounded much the same but overall they were worth checking out for a bit of live entertainment.

Being in such a small venue and so close to the action, my poor phone camera struggled to capture the sound in these videos but they are all I got.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Into Orbit With Trioka and Samsara - Churchills Tavern - Christchurch 22 July 2016

So I was just checking out the live gig listings on Under the Radar when this gig caught my eye at Churchills Tavern, where I had been on a couple of other occasions recently, and after doing some research into the bands and listening to some online music from each group, I decided I would be keen to go check it out. Into Orbit have a record out on vinyl from 2014 and so I ordered it from their Bandcamp page. I received an email the next day where one of the band suggested they could bring the record down with them from Wellington and they could drop it off to me but he soon realised that I don't actually live all that close to the city and so the other suggestion was they would bring the record to the gig and put my name on the door in lieu of the postage I paid and I could pick up the record then. This was agreeable to me as i was already intending to attend. The other two bands on that night were Samsara and Trioka, both local bands I think.
Doors opened at 9pm and I soon checked in that my name was on the door(it was) and the record was there(it was) and I stashed it in my car and went back into enjoy the night. As is typical of Christchurch the venue capable of holding around 300 people was mostly empty with probably about 50 people in attendance, that number including the members of each band.
 Samsara hit the stage about 9:30pm, a four piece of twin guitar, bass and drums, they played pretty straight ahead post rock, grungy stoner shit, or whatever you want to call it and they were really good and I enjoyed all of their short set of just over 30 minutes. Certainly had my toes tapping and head nodding as I was propped up by the bar near the mixing desk in this small venue. Nice reasonably clean sound and I do like their sound system at this venue.
 Inevitably, there is a lot of down time between bands as each group disbands their equipment before the second group starts to set up theirs. It must of been around 10:45pm that Troika hit the stage and this lot were a three piece, Bass, Guitar, Drums. Stylistically similar to the first group, As they all were this night, although these guys had a bit more of an experimental edge than the first band and the guitarist really attacked his guitar producing some real walls of noise with his fast high fret board riffing plus some nice soloing thrown in as well. There were some technical problems with his sound board of  effect pedals and he ended up disconnecting some of them during the first song. The drummer was also outstanding in this group and I was so impressed that I went and purchased one of their CDs after their set. They have two CDs out and are currently working on another, of which they played a couple of tracks, that really impressed, so i might have to keep an eye out for that later.
 The first two bands impressed me so much that I was thinking that Into Orbit are gonna have to be blood good to keep pace with their support acts. They hail from Wellington and as they hit the stage things were looking a little bare up there as they are only a two piece, guitars and drums. They were straight into it with some spacey jangly guitars that remind me of Explosions in the Sky and they were definitely the most experimental band of the night with their atmospherics interspersed with some pretty heavy guitar thrashing. They also had some second guitar tracks or loops or something playing along with the guitarist as several times he stopped playing and was bent down playing with his effects pedals while there was still plenty of sounds coming through the PA. Their set was intense and seemed quite short, was over before I knew it and although enjoyable, I was a little underwhelmed compared to the other two bands. I also thought there was a bit too much distortion with much of the more intense guitar playing so it came across a bit dronie. The drummer was very good though, I enjoyed his playing. I have since listened to the record and am enjoying that more than the live experience, far less distortion and even more experimentalism. Overall though I had a thoroughly enjoyable gig and it is impressive to see the quality of these local bands even though this is seemingly not a highly popular form of rock music here. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

J G Thirwell - Christchurch Art Gallery 30 June 2016

J G Thirwell, the brains trust behind the Foetus group of releases, i.e You Got Foetus On Your Breath, Scraping Foetus Of The Wheel and Foetus Interruptus, just to name a few, as well as other collaborations like Wiseblood and the Flesh Volcano, and other musical projects like Steroid Maximus and Manorexia, has been a musical hero of mine for over 30 years, although I don't possess as much of his recorded music as I should nowadays. I was surprised to find that he was finally coming to New Zealand to do something for us here.
The contents of the show were pretty vague when I bought my very cheap $15 ticket a couple of months back and being held at the art gallery and being billed under his own name instead of any of the other musical names he has used over the years, suggested maybe a non musical presentation, i.e, a talk or lecture or something.
I arrived at the Gallery just on the 8PM advertised start time and was ushered into a small auditorium/lecture theater. Taking a seat three rows back and near center I settled in and started wondering what was going to be presented. There were two small speakers either end of the "stage", a big projector screen on the wall in front of us and a small collection of electronic equipment on a table in center with a laptop and some bells and triangle in front of a microphone, which suggested were were in for some music even though it looked more like a lecture.
JG, appeared briefly a couple of times not taking any notice of us and doing things on the Laptop and other equipment and making notes before disappearing again.
Apparently the show was suppose to start at 8:30pm but it was nearer 8:45 when Jim finally cam out just after the projector kicked into life with a film taken from the front of a vehicle travelling down various large highways probably in New York, where Jim has been residing since 1983.
With his head down focused on the manipulation of his electronics, Jim presented us with an approximately 45-50 minute electronic pulsating soundscape of pretty cool sounds. Very experimental/avant-garde and a different and unique live musical experience for this scribe. I was trying to figure whether this was an improvised piece or more pre-constructed and the notes he had spread on the table suggested the later. This was confirmed after in a short conversation with the man himself at the end of the show.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mt Catley 25 June 2016

Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary: Tramp No.162
Mt Catley 25 June 2016

Nine months since my last outing in the mountains and more than 12 months since my last Club tramp. My motivation in this area had been pretty low, for several reasons, but mainly due to my purchase last year of a fancy new turntable to go with my expensive new stereo and the subsequent spending of all my spare money on buying vinyl records and spending all my spare time listening to them.
Again Harley had emailed me several times trying to tempt me out on some trips and I finally succumbed to one of his invitations. The trip up Mt Catley in the St James Conservation area behind Hanmer Springs looked like just the ticket for a mid winters trip and easy enough to make it still doable if there happened to be any snow involved.
Just the two of us headed off from home around 7:30am on a frosty but clear Saturday morning for the 2 hour + drive to Fowlers Hut, on the Tophouse Rd, the start of our days adventure. The weather forecast was for fine but cool conditions with cloud developing later in the day and possible showers at night, we hoped to be well gone by then.
It was certainly cool and frosty at Fowlers Hut as we set off up the Fowlers Pass track at about 9:50am, under a clear blue sky. The track to Fowlers Pass is a well used track and we both had been on it before. We reached the pass in about an hour to be warmed by the lovely warm sunshine that had been denied us bu the hill side upon which the track sidled. I made the comment near the pass, that we would soon be in sunlight for the rest of the day walk. This, of course, was the wrong thing to say and no sooner had we started up the ridge to point 1435, than the sun disappeared behind some extensive high cloud and elected to stay there for the rest of the day. The access to point 1435 was relatively easy but the ascent onto Mount Picket was a bit more challenging in that the smooth looking shingle the had to negotiate looked quite soft and could make out ascent quite hard work for these unfit legs. The terrain turned out to be firmer than it looked and steady progress was made with thinks slowing down over the last 50 or so meters as the shingle did indeed get somewhat softer. We made Mount Picket around 12:30PM, took the usual photos and headed along the ridge towards mount Catley to find somewhere to hunker down out of the cold wind and have some lunch. 
After lunching behind some rocks, we looks suspiciously at the shingle for the last 90 odd meters up to mount Catley and as we started that last ascent it look likely that this was going to be a real slog through softer and softer shingle, but it sooned firmed up and we made the summit in quick time. The wind was bitter and so quick photos were taken before heading off the top quick smart to descend to the spur that would take us back to the car. The first 400m of descent was through similar semi soft scree through which we ascended and although the travel was fairly quick it was far too hard underneath to fully abandon ones self to a full flight scree run.
We finally arrived at the cat almost dead on 3PM, after 5 hours, 11.6KM and about 1000M of climbing. That was just enough for my legs.