Blog Roddus

Blog Roddus
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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.