Blog Roddus

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Monday, December 25, 2017

The Darkroom Holiday Special - The Darkroom - Christchurch - 23 December 2017.

25 Bands in one night, across two stages in a tiny venue. Didn't know about this till the last minute, almost, but there were several bands that I was quite keen to see and some of them I have records of their music. Others I had seen before and was quite impressed, so there was plenty of interest, the rest I had never heard of. I believe all were local bands.

  So things were suppose to kick off about 5:20pm, all the first 8 bands I had never heard of and it wasn't until Motte at 8pm that I was interested in seeing. I had had a very busy day in my garden and didn't leave home until just after 6pm.
Arriving at the venue about 7:30pm, I soon found that already they were just under an hour behind the schedule. I just caught the end of The Teasers, I think, a duo of acoustic guitar and drums and sounded not too bad from what I heard, although I didn't pay too much attention as I was getting a drink and checking out the set up of the venue. The north stage, is the usual stage they use most of the time, the south stage was set up in the back part of the venue. Each band had a 20 minute set while the next band set up on the other stage and there were almost no breaks between sets.
 Next I caught the full set of Butterflies Welcoming Spring, another duo with drums and electric guitar. This band was pretty ferocious with some quite impressive guitar pyrotechnics and the guitarist throwing himself about all over the place while he thrashed away at his axe. I liked it quite a bit. 
 Dave from Galaxy records turned up soon after this and opened his shop, so I really didn't see anything I can remember from the next two bands as I was browsing his shop and chatting with Dave.
 Motte was next and I was very keen to see her preform again. I first saw her at the start of the year supporting Jay Clarkson's Breathing Cage and then purchased her album later on which has been a highlight of the years releases.
 This time she had a dude on drums lightly improvising behind her as she set up her violin loops and played over the top of them. The first piece had quite a drone going which I didn't recognize, although I think the playing over the top sounded familiar, but the rest of the stuff she played sounded unfamiliar to me and also she didn't preform and vocals like she did on her album, so I was slightly disappointed but still enjoyed her set.
  Big  Beach I am a bit vague on but I think they were doing some quite enjoyable surf rock and the crowd was getting into them, but I was back in the record shop for some of their set.
 Dark Matter was the band I most wanted to see this night with Steve Cogle of the Terminals leading this project, I have their lone album which is really good and I really enjoy Steve's distinctive voice. Their music is not all that far removed from The Terminals but with slightly different instruments, one being this very cool electric string instrument that the player bowed, making a wonderful noise that slightly dominated the bands sound. Their set was excellent.
 No Broadcast I had seen before and they played a catchy almost commercial sounding heavy rock and I like their music. I found a seat and sat off to the side to ease the tension in my back from standing for so long. Their set was pretty good but they had it cranked way too loud, probably the loudest of the night.
  Jim Nothing/Wurld series were next and I had seen Wurld Series before and had really enjoyed their Flying Nun pop but this was a different set up with Motte on Violin supporting guitar and drums. Nice acoustic music and an enjoyable set.
 Salad Boys have a new record out soon and although I have their first LP, I haven't had it long and am not yet all that familiar with it. They played a great indie pop set with the bass lines of their songs particularly catchy, another highlight set of the night and I asked the singer/guitarist if all the songs were from their new album which he confirmed they were, so really looking forward to getting that.
 I think Piha Rescue played next instead of the listed band, who played later. They were another kinda surf rock band although I don't recall much about their set.
 Ruling Elite I sat out their set again to relieve my back but their set sounded quite interesting.
 Prodigies were up next and I had never heard of them but it turned out that Dave from Galaxy was playing guitar along with a second guitar, bass and drums backing the singer. They played a fantastic kinda 80's rock and I just loved their set, maybe the best of the night.
 The next band that I really focused on, and I had heard of them, was Opawa 45's. They also played a kinds surf/rockabilly/punk hybrid and had a really cool sound, great dirty bass, really enjoyed their set also.
 Log Horn Breed were the last band I was really interested in seeing this night and it was now well past midnight when they hit the stage. They also have a great record out that I have and had been wanting to see them live for a while. They played a dark industrial electronic noise with this the big bloke screaming into his treated mike, whichy made it pretty difficult to hear anything he sang.
 I was really getting into their noise when this bloke went right up into the singers face and started saying something to him, the singer, who already looked pretty antagonistic, was not impressed and told him to fuck off a couple of times, then not long after in the middle of the piece everything went dead, like the power was cut off and the band just started packing up. It was a pretty short set and I'm not sure if the abrupt termination was actually part of their act, quite probably.
 At 1am, I still had an hours drive to get home and did not know any of the last bands so I hit the road. It was a great night of music and I didn't hear anything all night that I didn't like.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Blazed and Confused - The Great Southern Doom Fest - New City Hotel - Christchurch - 9 December 2017

The title will inform most as to the sort of music presented on this night of noisy mayhem. I was most interested in seeing Triumphs again and hopefully picking up their latest slab of vinyl and Arc Of Ascent of whom I also have a couple of records and was keen to meet their leader, Craig, whom I kinda knew through a Facebook Group, Also Bloodnut was one I had heard a little via Bandcamp and liked enough to bee keen on seeing them live.
 The stage was split into two halves with a band playing on one half of the stage while the next band set up behind curtains on the other half of the stage. Each band played an approx 30 minute set.
 The first three sets were from Old Haven, Shetland and Yarnspinner. I knew nothing about any of them, enjoyed the first with just guitar and drums with some vocals and also enjoyed the second band with a larger line up. A week later as I right this, my memory of their sets is already fading, but I do remember liking what I heard. YarnSpinner seemed to be somewhat louder than the first two bands who I thought played at just the right volume but I was actually struggling with the loudness of Yarnspinner and so went out to get some ear plugs from my car for the rest of their set. I don't recall much about what they played.
 Triumphs were up next and unlike last time I saw them, I believe they played more material from the earlier album than the new one as I seemed to recognize more of the tunes, although I had listened to the new record on Bandcamp a couple of times. Their music is all instrumental, so no vocal melodies to help identify their tunes but I definitely knew all they played. Their set was blood excellent and I would have loved them to play longer. I had removed my earplugs for their set as I didn't enjoy the muffled sound with them in.
  The next two bands, Opium Eater and Enfire, I can't sat too much about as I got distracted by checking out the growing crowd, moving to the back of the room for a drink and a respite from the earsplitting volume and also got into a shot conversation with the guitarist from Triumphs as to what had happened to their new album, which I was intending to buy a copy of while at this gig. Unfortunately the album had been delayed from the pressing plant for an unknown time.
 Next up was Bloodnut and I was pretty close to the stage for this ferocious 3 piece who played some excellent bass lines, some great guitar  and thundering drums, I really enjoyed their high octane set although there was a fair bit of distortion that muddied the sound and I couldn't understand much of what the singer said or sang.
 Then Arc of Ascent hit the stage, their first gig in Christchurch for many years, and perhaps the band I was most looking forward to. I already had their first two records and picked up their latest from the merch table earlier in the night. I also sorta knew the band leader from Facebook so was keen to say hello at some stage. Anyhow their set was as good as I expected, the band was tight and the riffs awesome, with I think a majority coming off the latest record(which I think is their strongest). There was a tall, quite old looking gentleman with a beer in hand and conservatively dressed next ot me as they played their last track. He just stood there looking straight ahead and not moving as the wall of great noise hit us. as they finished, he turned to me, cracked a big and slightly drunken smile and said"that was fucking awesome! What are they called?"
  I managed to catch Craig's attention before he left the stage and introduced myself and he said he will catch me after he packed up. I caught some of the next band, Stonehurst, but spent the rest of their set in conversation with Craig. The last band was from Australia and called Hobo Magic, but it was already 12.30am and I had an hours drive home so I excused myself from Craig and left.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Aldous Harding - Issac Theater Royal - Chriatchurch - 30 November 2017

Regular readers(if indeed such persons exist) may recall me seeing Aldous back in early February, not long before she released the album for which this tour is supporting. The Album went on to get many positive reviews and much support in certain circles with one song even getting nominated for a Silver Scroll award here in New Zealand. In between times from the previous gig I attended, Aldous had been touring extensively The  USA and Europe and even had an appearance on Later with Jools Holland. The last gig at which I saw Aldous was preformed in an intimate small pub venue at which I have seen several great gigs over the course of the year and so after the year of touring and the fact that the Issac Theater Royal is a much larger venue than Blue Smoke, it was going to be interesting to see how she preformed in such a different venue.
 I had purchased the tickets for this concert way back in July and yet even that far back I was unable to secure seats down on the ground floor, so we had to settle for second row center on the second level of the theater. From what we could see, the gig was a near sell out in the 1300 seat venue, so a great testament to how far Aldous has come this year.
 Support was from Chills front man Martin Philips, who preformed some old and some new Chills songs, mentioning there was a new album out next year. He just played his electric guitar solo and it was nice to hear him doing Pink Frost and the other songs, the later ones I was not familiar with so much. I would prefer to see these preformed with the full Chills lineup, but it was still enjoyable and went down well with the crowd.
 There was a good 40+ minute wait before Aldous quietly took the stage in her white trousers and grey coat, seated herself on a stool center stage and with out a word started in on her first song of the night, singing something from her first LP I think(I should be more familiar with all her stuff by now). She did play a few other tracks from her first album, singing in that pixie/Irish voice she uses and which I think sound actually better on the record than live. Still not having spoken, but now with the rest of her band in support, the third song she did was my favourite, Horizon, from the Party Album, and although it was a good performance of a very good song, it failed to reach the heights of goosebump inducing jawdropping awe which was induced in me the previous time I saw her preform it. Also, I believe it is the sort of song to either open the show with a powerful statement or as the final number like at the previous show I attended.
 She finally spoke to the audience about half way into the show in response to some cat calls from the audience, but she was much more detached and less out spoken to us than the loquaciousness she displayed at the previous gig I mentioned. She played two new songs that she had recently written that were both impressive and aided in building excitement for the next album, bith songs she sung in the lower register voice she uses which recall Joni Mitchell to a drgree and that is not a bad thing.
 Overall, the show didn't have the same impact as the Blue Smoke gig, which didn't surprise me as I think her music and style of preformance suits more intimate venues, but still it was a great show and I love her music and it is great to see her doing so well.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Master Blaster - Darkroom - Christchurch 23 September 2017

As usual, I heard a great track from the new 7" EP on the "Counting The Beat" Podcast and liked what I heard, checked them out via Bandcamp and decided I needed to buy both their available records. Before I got the chance to do that, I found out they were actually playing a gig near me in support of the aforementioned 7" record, pictured above, and it was decided to go and check them out and pick up the records on the night(saving postage costs).
  It was election night as I arrived at the Darkroom just past the 9PM door opening time and so I settled down with a drink and my phone to check up on the vote counting while waiting for the first of the three punk bands to hit the stage.
 First band, Tyrannosaurus Wreck, a three piece, thrashing out their fast punky  songs, creating an enjoyable noise that begs the question where does it stop being punk and become Metal. It can be a fine line. I did enjoy their set.
  Nervous Jerk were next and this three piece was definitely firmly in the punk genre although the vocals were in that pop punk style, the music was a bit heavier. The Guitar in this band didn't really stand out much, so it becomes a bit of a wall of sound making it difficult to actually hear the tunes clearly. I enjoyed them the least of the night.
  Finally Master Blaster hit the stage, a four piece, with the vocalist being the non instrument playing member. Their set was full on punk energy, with the singer all over the place, knocking over mike stands and kicking over one of the monitor speakers before descending into the small audience, where he spent much of the rest of the gig screaming into his mic. They were bloody good and I enjoyed their set plenty but again the guitar was to low down in the mix and so didn't stand out above the thundering drums and bass so it was difficult to actually identify the songs I already knew because the whole was just a super fast wall of noise. It was a bit of a shame really because the guitarist has some great riffs as confirmed on the records. Here are a couple of vids of their recorded songs.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Nudge - The Wunderbar - Lyttelton - 16 September 2017

I picked up The Nudge's second LP earlier this year and was immediately impressed with their wonderful music and so was very keen to catch them on this tour in support of the same record.
I had been playing Dark Arts in the lead up to the gig and also checked out their first album on Bandcamp, which is also an excellent album. They had supported Midnight Oil earlier in the week but I did not attend that show.
  I arrived at The Wunderbar around 9pm with the support supposed to start at 9:45pm. The place was filling up fast and was almost a sell out in this small venue. They opened the doors to the Backroom eventually and fortunately, as my back was hurting, I got in the room early enough to grab one of the stools and table along the walls of the room. The stool was very high, so I was actually able to sit on it and still see the bands playing on the stage.
  The support was a dude named Fraser Ross with band(The 04's). Never heard of him but his set was OK, enjoyable enough, a kinda folk and country tinged indie pop blend. One song they did had some impressive guitar lines and it was his standout number. Good to see the two women playing Drums and Bass, Kiwi chicks are very prevalent in the local music scene.Fraser wasn't a great singer but passable to my ears.
  The Nudge are a three piece with guitar/vocals supported by a drummer and keyboards. They kicked off the set with three tracks from their earlier record( I assume, not being familiar enough with that album yet) The tracks had a real blues feel with the guitarist really letting loose with some great lines, the keyboardist providing the bass lines, I was a little surprised by the bluseynest of it as the new album is much different.
  The next section of the show was them playing the new album in it's entirety. There are only three numbers on Dark Arts but two of them are rather long drawn out pieces. The first track is the shortest but with a catchy guitar riff and vocals, closest thing to a pop song on the record. The guitarist had swapped guitars and I noticed that the guitar was a bit quieter than it had been on the earlier songs but it sang out when required.This is noticeable on the record too so it is part of the design of the tracks. The highlight of the first of the long pieces was the sustained guitar frenzy towards the end of the piece and the other extended track had a fucking awesome drum solo, the drummer impressed no end.
  They continued playing older stuff after The Dark Arts set and just rocked out awesomely. What a fantastic live band and both records are really great. Another premium NZ act with the guitarist channeling the ghost of Hendrix at times.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bill Direen - Darkroom - Christchurch - 20 August 2017

No sooner had we got back from our trip to Dunedin, unpacked the car, had some dinner and a shower and I'm back out the door and off into the city to catch NZ underground music legend Bill Direen at the Darkroom. There had been a documentary on Bill playing at the NZ film festival(I haven't yet seen it) and he had just had an LP reissue of a 2008 cassette release arrive in the country so I guess this gig was in support of those things. He did have copies of the record for sale at the gig.
 This time he was mostly flying solo playing songs from theatre productions and "operas" that he had written over the years. The night started with a film showing Bill preforming a bunch of songs live at various venues and at various time over the years that was a pretty cool montage. Then after a break he played the Theater Songs for about an hour or so, it was an interesting if idiosyncratic set and I enjoyed seeing this legend at play. Later he had his bass played join him for a few numbers including his most well known song from the mid 80's, The Alligator, and then finally and best of all, he was joined on stage by Steve Cogal from The Terminals for the impassive last song.

Mermaidens - Bennessere Studio - Dunedin - 19 August 2017

Had been keen to get back down to Dunedin for some time for another record shopping expedition and the wife was also keen to head down for the weekend to check out some of the multitude of large secondhand book stores down there, as well as doing the Cadbury tour while there.
 Arrived in town lunchtime Friday and visited a couple of required shops before booking in to our accommodation. Saturday was much of the same after the Cadbury tour with us having a busy day before tea and back to the accommodation. The wife was feeling a bit under the weather by this time, had apparently picked up a bit of a bug during the day so decided to go to bed early.
 I knew The Mermaidens had played Christchurch on Friday night and with Mrs Roddus drifting off to sleep, I decided I would take the opportunity to go check out this band on their Debut album release tour. I had actually listened to their record on Bandcamp a few days before and liked enough of what I heard.
 The gig was advertised door opening at 8pm, so I found a park near the Octagon and walked around to the venue to find a sign on the sidewalk stating that doors wouldn't open till 9pm. Headed over to The Dog With Two Tails cafe for a sit down and a coffee to find that they actually had some live music happening there so filled in the time watching this duo playing bass and ukulele and letting rip with some interesting sounds.
  The Mermaidens gig was on the fifth floor of an old building on Princess St, in a small room with a wooden floor and large glass wall and partial glass roof, there was no stage, with the bands gear just set up on the floor at one end of the room, it was an intimate space and the young folks of Dunedin filled the place pretty full.
  There were three band playing on this evening, the first being a very young local Dunedin band apparently described as a kind of surf band. Koizilla, I thought were a lot more than that, starting off their set with a jangly guitar intro to their first song before the bass and drums kicked in with a very impressive and powerful groove that really got my attention straight off the bat. This three piece had some awesome clout and great songs with the bass player and the awesome bass lines he played knocking my sox off. What an impressive little band and the drummer also impressed as he kept time so well with the bass player even though he was actually a stand in for the sick regular drummer.
 The second band was called Earth Tongue and actually consisted of the Singer/Guitarist from the Mermaidens with just a drummer. They proceeded to make a pretty dark noise that had an almost Swans like feel and a touch of a black metal vibe, although not quite that heavy. The Drummer did quite a bit of the singing which was actually more screaming but I thought their set really interesting and was pretty impressed.
  And so finally Mermaidens kick off their set, mostly playing the songs on their new album and overall playing a pretty enjoyable set. I was getting tired and to be honest lost interest a bit in what they played, it all sort of blurred together a bit. Their music is a good blend of slightly more adventurous indie rock and they played well but after the other bands I wasn't quite so won over. I did pick up their record though and on first listen it is a really good album.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Shayne P Carter and Band - Blue Smoke - Christchurch - 11 August 2017

Mr Carter has hit the road in part to support the vinyl release of his last album which came out very early this year. I had ordered a copy of said LP from Flying Out, and was still waiting for it to be shipped when this gig happened. Carter is a bit of an NZ music legend nowadays having fronted several seminal local band from the late 70's onward, mostly  Board Games, Doublehappys, Straightjacket Fits and Dimmer. I had seen Shayne last year at an excellent gig he did with another NZ legend, Don McGlashan.
  The support act for this gig was Christchurch's Les Baxters, whom I had also seen recently supporting The Terminals. Dave, from Galaxy Records is in this band and I had a chat with him and some of the band just before they went on. I like their sounds, slightly weird, slightly industrial,  slightly Techno, with one member playing a theremin can you believe.  I think about half the audience showed some appreciation of their set but I definitely look forward to hearing their record when they get it out.
  Carter hit the stage with his three piece band, counting himself, and proceeded to play a mostly rock type set of his music, as opposed to last years gig with Don which was more esoteric. Because I am actually not greatly familiar with a lot of his music, I didn't really know a lot of what he played but I certainly enjoyed what I heard, the man is vastly experienced and a great musician, played some mean guitar. He did a couple of songs on the Keys off his latest record that impressed even though it was quite different from his older material and then got back into the more rock stuff. It was a really good show even though I hardly knew any of the music, but for the encore he let rip on an old Doublehappys song that I knew especially from the recent Counting The Beat Podcast that I had been listening to , and they wrapped it all up with a blistering version of the first Dimmer single "Crystalator" a brilliant instrumental track that I knew but didn't know it was a Dimmer track, it was a fantastic finish to a fabulous show. The video below is of the aforementioned song live in 2009.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NZ Trio- -Spiral - Live at The Piano - Christchurch - 9 August 2017

The NZ Trio is a classical music trio on Piano, Violin and Cello. I had got their last CD and their collaboration CD with Mike Nock, both on the excellent Rattle Records. I generally am interested in these type of things only if they are preforming New Zealand composed music, or something more contemporary, that might be familiar to me. This recital had works by two NZ composers, McLeod and Holloway, and Bax was a 20th Century composer. The Beethoven didn't really interest me but I would listen as part of the overall experience.
 The Piano is a brand new Music and arts complex built in the center of the earthquake ravished central city and is a wonderful venue for this sort of thing, the city is starting to get more and more first class auditoriums since the destruction of so many buildings back in 2011.
  Mrs Roddus attended this presentation with me and I was hoping that the modern stuff was not to outlandish for her, although the Beethoven would be more her cup of tea.
 We seated three rows back and center and waited for the show to commence. Just past 7PM the Trio emerged, took their places and proceeded to play the three movements of Arnold Bax's Trio in B flat Major, c.21'. As a fairly modern piece it was fairly melodic and it I find it so much easier to listen to this sort of music in a live setting and watching the musicians playing. I enjoyed the first presentation and was intrigued as to what the NZ section was to be like.
  Jenny McLeod has been around the NZ scene for many many years and I had one of her compositions on an early Kiwi/Pacific record from the 70's and also her latest CD on Rattle Records. Her piece, Seascapes, was composed in 2015 and was an interesting and enjoyable piece of music.
 The third piece was a world Premier commissioned by the NZ Trio and composed buy a young fellow called Samuel Holloway.  They warned us before preforming the piece that it would be a little different. The composition was broken up into three parts with a long pause between each, the piece was a bit avant garde and reminded me of the excellent Besser and Prosser recording I have from Kiwi/Pacific from 1986, but I found it a bit harder to stay with this piece and also struggled to hear the differences between each section, still this more challenging music is what I am into and it was so cool to be at a world premier of a piece of serious music.
  I have quite a collection of older classical music from the 18th and 19th centenary that had been given to us from various sources but I honestly find it difficult to actually sit down and listen to it, but it has been an interesting contradiction in that I noticed that in all the classical/compositional  concerts I have so far been too, it is the oldest pieces that  have enjoyed the most and this presentation of Beethoven's Piano Trio in E flat Opus 70, No.2, c.35' did it again for me. The Trio played the piece with much gusto and it showed me just how effortless it appears for Beethoven to have written music so complex but with so much melody.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Steve Abel - Blue Smoke - Christchurch - 30 July 2017

Steve Abel is another local New Zealand Singer Songwriter whom I had heard via the "Counting The Beat" podcast of New Zealand music. I liked the song I heard on that podcast but hadn't got around to buying his latest album, "Luck/hope" which was released on vinyl last year. He has several other recordings on Bandcamp, dating back to 2006 that I am not familiar with.
 This was another of Blue Smokes Sunday Sitdown gigs with admission being koha(a donation). The stage was bare this time as Steve just played on his own with acoustic guitar and the crowd was small but appreciative. He has a great voice and good stage presence and I enjoyed his craft very much. He played two sets of his modern folksy tunes without me losing interest throughout. Another quality NZ voice to add to the likes of Nadia Reid, Aldous Harding and Delaney Davidson(who was in the audience and knows Steve quite well by the looks). Glad I attended and picked up the LP while there.

All Seeing Hand - The Darkroom - Christchurch - 22 July 2017

The Darkspace III gig was all set to be a pretty impressive night with myself having great records by at least half the artists. Alas the torrential rain that soaked the middle of the South Island, causing quite a lot of flooding, disrupted the travel plans of quite a number of the acts to the point where the organisers cancelled the gig.
 I was resigned to a night at home(at least I could watch the Rugby) but messages on Facebook suggested that at least All Seeing Hand had made it out of Dunedin and were driving up for the gig and local act Fran confirmed they would still play at the Darkroom supporting All Seeing hand when they arrived. All Seeing hand was the band I most wanted to see and so I set off for the city, hoping like hell they could get through the flooding.
 I arrived at the darkroom just past 8:30pm with Fran going through their sound check and not many punters yet arrived. It was quite a long wait before they actually took the stage with All Seeing Hand only just making it to the City. My addled memory is already a bit vague writing this report almost two weeks later but I remember enjoying Fran playing their set with Base, Drums and Keys I think. They had a really fat bass sound and the female bassist was also one of the bar staff.
  All Seeing Pretty much pulled into town and straight away were setting up for their set as soon as they arrived. A three piece with drums, electronics and a Throat singing lead singer, they dressed pretty weird and were bloody full of energy, bouncing round the stage and making a wonderful racket with their almost classifiable music.  They are one of the best bands in NZ at present and although their set was quite short, it was very impressive.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Terminals - New City Hotel - Christchurch - 21 July 2017

The Terminals are another of the legendary Christchurch underground bands and have been around off and on since the mid 80's. They recently released a new LP and this gig was kinda in support of that. I had only recently started listening to The Terminals, although I had heard of them over the years, the recent compilation was pretty cool and the new album I am still getting to grips with it's very lofi sound. Still I didn't want to miss this rare opportunity to see this band in action.
 This was my first gig at the New City Hotel, the last of the original historic hotels still standing in Christchurch, although a place of pretty rough reputation in the past. It had been a recent development of having gigs there.
 With 5 bands playing and a pretty late start, it was going to be a pretty late night. I arrived just after the advertised 9pm start time to find the place pretty empty with just a few musos milling around including Steve Cogan, the leader of the Terminals. There was yet no one on the door collecting the cover charge and I had to sort that later.
 As the place started to fill, I finally got to meet the dude from Coco Muse Records(Regan) who had been sending me copies of the records he was releasing for testing of pressing quality on my hifi gear.
 Also it turns out that the first Band, Les Baxters, included the owner of Galaxy Records, a small record emporium from which I often procure New Zealand records I am after.
 Les Baxters are a four peice with electronics, keys, samplers and a therimin. They produced an electronic industrial techno kinda noise that impressed me and reminded me a little of early Cabaret Voltaire. Not sure if the improvise their music or it is pre constructed but it was an interesting set.
 Next up it was Richard Maybe's Passion for Nature. Two young ladies on keyboards and electronics who created a cool but very lofi bunch of noises and beats with one of the girls singing but the vocals were mixed down into the mix so that they became part of the sound effects. Not sure if this was deliberate of just part of the bad sound system. I certainly enjoyed what they did and it turns out they were the two girls out of The Negative Nancies, along with Mick Elborado from the Terminals, whom I had seen in Dunedin earlier in the year.
 Colt 45 had pulled out of the gig and fortunately for me and the getting lateness of the show, The Terminals played next, possibly because it was getting past their bedtimes as well, aging hipsters that they are. As they kicked into their set we were presented with a real distorted wall of noise, the sound quality of the PA was not that great or set up all that well, confirmed by Dave from The Les Baxters the next night when I saw him at another gig and I struggled to enjoy the noise they were making and being unable to make out all that much out of the muddy mix. I know they are a pretty lofi band and all but it was difficult to make out the differences of each song, although some I did recognize. The last two songs of the set were quite long drawn out dirges with no vocals and I couldn't tell them apart. Mick played his keyboards with much gusto and was one of the few things I could actually make out at times and I always like Steve Cogals voice. All that being said, I'm still really glad i got to catch these guys in action and they play with a lot of energy and all are legends in the NZ music scene. I didn't wait around for the last band as it was now past 1am and i still had the hours drive home.

The Bads - Bluesmoke - Christchurch 20 July 2017

Another New Zealand band that have been around for quite a while but I was not familiar with them until the release of their new album which was posted in some Facebook group I frequent and looked interesting. I did some quick listening on Bandcamp, liked what I heard enough to take a punt and go see them on this album release tour and hopefully pick up the aforementioned LP while there.
 The Bads are lead buy the couple Dianne Swann and Brett Adams, both have been around the NZ scene for more than 30 years and had been in high profile local bands in their early careers.
 They were supported buy two other local acts as I arrived at an only half full Blue Smoke, secured a beverage and found a spot to enjoy the show.
 First up was Flip Grater, a solo woman on acoustic guitar who did a pleasant set of nice songs that I enjoyed but didn't leave a lasting impression for me to say much more four days and three gigs later.
 The next act was a husband and duo going under the moniker Terrible Sons with him on acoustic guitar and her on keys. Nice vocal harmonies and a very quiet laid back sound. She had a nice voice and really caught my attention on the last piece of their set when she let loose with some cool vocalisations at the end of the song. Again a nice support act but nothing to really stick in my memory apart from the very laid back vibe of their music.
 The Bads hit the stage with their backing band making for five musicians on stage. They ripped straight into it with a fabulous sound from the PA and played a set of great and catchy Alt-Country pop, with some slower numbers as well. They played several off the new album, of course and some older tracks and considering I really was not at all familiar with their music, I was totally impressed with their music and vibe and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Brett Adams proved to be a very impressive Guitar player and the band was tight and having a great time. I walked away at the end totally impressed and would love to see them play again. Listening to the album next day was a bit disappointing after the energy of their live show but it is a well crafted and well recorded album which I am growing to enjoy a lot.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Miltones - Blue Smoke - Christchurch - 16 July 2017

I recently picked up a copy of a most excellent debut album from the above combo and so liked their brilliant take on light Americana and Fleetwood Mac. My wife was also impressed enough to want to come along with me to see this five piece in a Sunday sit down gig at Blue smoke.
 After lunching in the city and doing several chores we ascended on Blue Smoke about 15 minutes after the advertised door opening hour and after procuring drinks found a good table in the center of the room.
 The support act was a fella by the name of Nick Dow who played an electric piano/keyboard and was backed by a drummer and another fella on guitar. The music he presented was very laid back pop, almost jazz-like and certainly did have some Jazz flourishes at times. It was really nice music and Nick was a good singer. Perfect Sunday music and I really enjoyed their set. I was reminded of another NZ artist called Gramsci while listening to this music. 
 It was a surprisingly quick turnaround between sets as The Miltones hit the stage and got stuck into the songs off their album. Their sound was clean and clear, the singer is really great and the band was tight and professional and having a ball playing their songs. They played at least one song not on the album and also during one of the later songs in their set the keyboard player let loose a very cool trumpet solo giving the track an afrobeat feel and showing the versatility of this band. They had several people up dancing by the second half of  their show and I was even more impressed with them in a live context, as much as I like their album. Their sound is pretty commercial but I thing their songs are strong and they sound very confident. I think they could go far. Brilliant gig.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Glass vaults - Space Academy - Christchurch - 7th July 2017

Glass Vaults hail from Wellington and play a sort of electronic indie pop with their first album being more experimental than their latest, of which this tour is supporting, which is more poppy on first listen.
  They had two acts in support, the first being a young lady also from Wellington who preforms under the name Womb. Listening to her very small output on bandcamp reveals electronic ambient drones with airy vocals. Live though, she just had her guitar and loop generator and set up some very simple loops and sometimes didn't touch her strings for the most part of the song after initial setting up of her sounds. She had a nice voice and sung with quite an intensity(reminding me of Aldous Harding slightly) in places with lyrics also sounding a bit more deep(when I could make them out). I enjoyed her set and it was a shame that so many of the audience chose to talk loudly throughout her set.
  Next up were a Christchurch band called Pickle Darling, a 6 piece jammed into the small corner allotted to the bands at Space Academy. For a large band their sound was very restrained, they had keys, trumpet, two guitars and bass backed with drum machine. They were very quaint pop with some interesting sounds, very twee, reasonably interesting although the singer was so restrained that he was difficult to hear, but not something I would buy if they had any music to sell.
Still, I enjoyed their set enough, quiet as it was and a large slice of the audience still talked loudly throughout the set.
  I had been on Facebook between sets and a friend said he had seen Glass Vaults a couple of years back and thought the gig was terrible, so I was hoping this would not be the case again. The sold out crowd paid a lot more attention now and the increased volume made talking more difficult. Glass Vaults live were more bouncy and up tempo than their records and nearly everyone was dancing and grooving to their sounds. They reminded me a lot of Primal Scream's Screamadelica period actually and I really enjoyed their set.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tiny Ruins - Blue Smoke - Christchurch 23 June 2017

Tiny Ruins is another of our local female singer/songwriters, along the lines of Nadia Reid and Aldous Harding. I had heard of her, again via the Counting The Beat Podcast, but hadn't really heard her music. She did come fairly well recommended and so I though I'd head along to Blue Smoke and check her out. The tour was kinda in support of a new album that is still being finished as we speak and several new songs were played this night, not that I would tell as I was not at all familiar with her work. I did have a listen to some of her more recent stuff on Bandcamp before I left the house and to be honest I wasn't all that taken with her music on first listen and started to have doubts about going, but I already had purchased a ticket so didn't want to waste it.
  Got to Blue Smoke about a half hour before the support act and the place was already mostly full. Unfortunately for these more laid back gigs, the venue leaves the tables spread around the floor and have a couch up near the front of the stage, I don't like this for gigs as it places too many objects in the way of standing space. It would be better if they either made it a sit down gig with more tables and seats for all or (for bigger numbers) just remove all the tables and seating near the stage end of the venue.
 My back, for some reason this night, decided to start making me uncomfortable as I stood with my drink and waited for the support act. There was no familiar faces at this gig for me tonight.
  The support act was going under the name Reb Fountain. She was solo with acoustic guitar playing a  folksy type of music as you do with that setup. She had a nice voice and the songs were enjoyable enough. It also turns out that She was a member of The Ravens and also The Eastern, both of whom I had seen at Blue Smoke several weeks back. I didn't recognize her though being back in the crowd a bit.
  My back was becoming less comfortable as I waited for Tiny Ruins to hit the stage and the wait wasn't too long as she kicked off her set with a solo acoustic number before adding a bass player and drummer for the next song and finally an electric guitarist for the third number, thus completing the band. It's kinda hard to describe the music but it was soft and laid back and I liked the occasional combination of the twin vocal melodies of Tiny and her female bass player, but overall I was really uninspired buy her set and got quite bored. The songs all sounded a bit the same and the band didn't sound all that tight, especially the electric guitar which seemed out of place at times. The gig was supposed to finish at 10:30pm but as usual the acts started a bit later than advertised and so were going to go over that time a bit but as 10:30 chimed, I had had enough, the physical discomfort and just not at all getting into the music I was hearing was enough to force me to leave the venue early.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

An Audacious Decade Festival - Live 1 & 2 The Auricle - Christchurch June 1-2 2017

Now something a lot different. Some may remember, earlier in the year I traveled down to Dunedin for a festival of sonic art "music" call Lines of Flight. Four events of soundscapes, drones, free jazz, experimental sounds and other unclassifiable noise and even music. It was something very new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. After doing some reading of a book about the local sonic arts scene in New Zealand, I discovered that there is an organization in Christchurch called The Cantabrian Society of Sonic Artists, incorporating the Borderline Ballroom managing committee, and they have a small venue in part of the same building as The Darkroom, where I see lots of gigs, and hold sonic events there. The society is a little past it's apparent peak at present, losing their last venue after funding cuts from the city council and events being a little less frequent than they had been, but I had found their Facebook page and so was able to discover that they were to be holding the Audacious Decade Festival to celebrate ten years since the formation of the society. Looking at the performers list I saw a couple of names from The lines of Fight festival and one artist of whom I have a vinyl record that I really like, as well as the legendary Roy Montgomery.
  Unfortunately the first night the two live events of the festival occurred on the same night that another band I really like was playing with a couple of others across the road and I already had tickets (see last post). The fortunate side of all this was that the Audacious Decade event started a couple of hours earlier that the other event so I got to see the first three acts, including the one I most wanted to see that night.
  So first night starts with Adam Willetts. The Auricle is a pretty small room and on the first night there was very little seating and not much room for an audience with all the electronic equipment spread round the room waiting for each performer and so performers and listeners milled about around the door and hung out in the foyer as Adam stood near the center of the end of the room and proceeded to blow gently on some sort of flute. This was pretty esoteric and minimal and really didn't get my attention all that much and I was quite relieved when he finished. My memory, with so much on in two nights, is already getting vague as to what I saw in what order, but I think next was Motoko Kikkawa and Joanna Osborne, on violin and Cello respectively. I had seen them at Lines of Flight and so knew what to expect and I think I enjoyed their performance even more this time although  I believe it was a bit shorter. Joanna provides the backing drone and other plucking over which Motoko played her violin in a semi classical avant garde style and intones some Japanese speaking quietly into a mic. Nice set.
 Already Alzheimer's must be setting in as I don't seem to remember much about what I saw next, but I think it was Moths +. I do remember someone bashing away on a drum kit semi randomly and a couple of others on electronics and was there some Brass? Why can't I remember, sorry to the artists, I do remember enjoying somewhat what I heard so It can't have been bad, but I may have been thinking about my other gig across the road and weather I was gonna get to see Bruce Russell do his thing as that was the highlight of the night for me. Between sets, I checked in across the road to see what time the first band was to play and figured I'd be OK as the sets at the Auricle were pretty short this night and so headed back over in time to catch Bruce's set. I also had seen Bruce Russel(leader of the legendary Dead C) at the lines of flight and I definitely enjoyed this performance better. Bruce is a very busy performer as he is constantly pushing buttons and plugging in cables and moving his guitar to and throw towards his amp to effect the feedback of the drone he set up. I noticed more sonic variations to the drone this time and he did some interesting things like rolling a small steed tube along his guitar strings and tapping the neck end of his guitar in the floor among other things. Great sounds and a nice way to finish my evening there before heading over the road for the other gig.
  The next night and they had my attention for the whole evening. I arrived at the 7:30 start time and found a lot more seating had been installed for this evenings festivities. The first presentation was to be at 8:00PM. On this night, I had not seen any of the artists before but I knew of two of them. Kraus has a couple of records on vinyl one of which resides in my collection and I really like it's fried version of krautrock and Roy Montgomery was known to me but not all that well.
   First up for the night was Poltroon, Drums and sax, at Lines for flight there was a similar set up called Sewage who played a great set of free jazz, this wasn't as wild as that and I didn't think this performance had a jazz feel to it but it was entertaining, especially watching the drummer when he was banging his cymbals upside down gently on his drums while his mate was wondering amongst the audience with some sort of ghoul mask over the end of his sax.
  Kraus up next and for this set he just played a very accomplished guitar piece with interesting tones and sounds and without all the electronic accompaniment he has on his record. Very talented young bloke and I had a nice chat with him after. Looking forward to his next record he said he was working on. He has a lot of recording out but most are only on cassette.
  Roy Montgomery holds a very important place in NZ music history as one of the members of  The Pin Group, the very first band to release the very first single on the now famous Flying Nun Records. The Pin Group was fairly short lived but Roy has gone on to a long career as an underground musical legend in New Zealand. I don't yet own any of his music but that must soon change. Roy, sitting on a low stool in the middle of the room, his guitar almost facing directly my chair where I'm sitting against the wall, gives a short introduction about how he usually creates his music at home with his guitar plugged direct into an 8 track consul and using headphones to hear the sounds he creates. He says he doesn't usually use an amplifier and the piece he is about to play is a work in progress. He also points out that Pat(Kraus) is a much better player than himself and modestly states he is a fucking useless guitarist. From my perspective this proves to be false as he sets up one of the most wonderful guitar drones I have heard and throughout the piece embellished it with wonderfully subtle variations that kept me enthralled throughout. Just like Bruce Russell the previous evening, a master at his art.
 Omit was next with quite a large table of electronics feed into the multiple small wall speakers dotted evenly around the room, he proceeded to present a most interesting and enjoyable collage of electronic sounds quite often accompanied with a regular pulse or beat or other regular electronic sound. I really enjoyed his presentation.
 Regressor was the last act of the night, a younger fella, who apparently is active in the management of the venue or something, he gave a small speech with a lot of aggressive swearing as he introduced his girlfriend who did a short sound piece before his own set in which he produced some interesting and somewhat aggressive electronic sounds while throwing pieces of furniture and things then stripping down to his waist before finishing his set but tipping up the table with his gear on it and ending with an exclamation of "Fuck It". The sounds he made were fine but I'm way too old now to be impressed with the rest of the shit. The applause for his set was somewhat muted compared to earlier in the night.
  Overall I had a most enjoyable couple of nights and heard some really interesting sound art and was pretty impressed with the number of people there, especially on the second night.

Hiboux - Triumphs - No Broardcast - Space Academy - Christchurch June 1 2017

Ended up attending two gigs this night, susch is the number of interesting events happening lately. I missed several other gigs recently through them either being sold out, clashing with other gigs or just too many for me to travel all the way to the city for every night.
  This gig attracted me because of Triumphs, of whom I have had their first LP for some time and I really liked it. Hiboux were the headlining act as it was their tour supporting their new CD and No Broadcast were also a local band who had been around a while and have a couple of CDs out.
 After watching half of the other gig I was attending across the road, I wandered into Space Academy around 9:30PM just as No Broardcast hit the stage. A three peice, they had a great heavy sound with the lead singer and guitarist coaxing out some more experimental walls of sound in amongst their Muse inspired rock songs. I thought the singer wasn't to bad although with all the reverb and echo it was hard to hear much clearly. I enjoyed the set and also the CD EP they gave me which I listened to the next afternoon.
 Triumphs are a two peice heavy instrumental rock band hailing from the southern metropolis of Dunedin. I waas excited to see them as I have really enjoyed their debut LP, which came out on the fabulos Monkey Killer Records in a limited edition of 100. Therefor it was surprising to see they still had some copies for sale after 18 months since it's release. Just shows how low key these great bands are. They were the loudest band of the night but with just guitar and drums it made it much easier to hear what was being played buy each member with just the two instruments, of course the guitarest had a plethora of effect pedals at his feet and created an excellent wall of noise. I think most of their set was from their upcoming new album as I didn't recognise any of the tunes but they were great numbers with some impressive riffs and I definatly enjoyed them the most this night.
  Hiboux  were a five peice, two guitars, bass, keys and drums that played an instrumental form of "Post Rock". Their set was OK but I wasn't particulary moved or electrified by their music and with so many instruments through the small PA it became all a bit murky. The Music was OK but not really all that inspiring for me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pieces of Molly, Brainface and Psych Emergency - Space Academy, Christchurch - 27th May 2017

Gig time again with one of my local favourites, Psych Emergency playing with another couple of bands of which I was not familiar. As usual, if I don't know the bands, I'll do a little digging before the gig to ensure I'm not making the long trek into the city in vain. Two of the bands have recordings on Bandcamp and I wasn't disappointed from the quick reviews I undertook.
 Sporting a bout of man-flu, I headed off to the city earlier than necessary, just to make sure I didn't miss out due to the venue being full, of course this is hardly ever the case for these type of bands and so I had to wait nearly an hour and a half before Psych Emergency hit the stage in front of the small crowd. As before when I saw then a coupe of weeks earlier, their heavy psych rock kicks ass and is chock full of great guitar pyrotechnics. They are full of energy and I so wish they would get something out on vinyl.
  Brainface are a four piece and their singer/guitarist was a bit better singer than Psych Emergency. As I had only given them a quick listen via a YouTube clip, I wasn't familiar with their music. They play in a more 90's Alt Rock style and again had some bloody good riffs and strong material and really rocked out. Bloody impressed. They did a pretty heavy cover of the Beatles "Day Tripper" which went down well and a tribute to Chris Cornell with a cover of "Black Hole Sun", which didn't gel for me, but I really enjoyed their set.
  Pieces Of Molly were the last act, 3 long haired rockers as well as the leader from Psych Emergency on drums, these fellas played a great style of heavy classic rock with strong metal inclinations. The singer was the best of the night and the riffs were monstrous and fucking awesome. They had the small audience rocking out big time with the long hairs at the front flaying their mops vigorously. Again, I was unfamiliar with their music but they totally impressed me with their strong material and great noise.
  Three totally amateur part time bands but they all played so magnificently and are deserving of a much bigger audience. I had a great night.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Eastern - Blue Smoke - Christchurch, 25th May 2017

I picked up one of The Eastern's Lps last year and have enjoyed the few times I managed to listen to it. A folk country band who would comfortably sit in the Americana idiom, Richmond Fontain comes to mind as a good reference. Their reputation as live act was strong but it appeared that they hadn't played locally for a while from my understanding.
  Blue Smoke was pretty full as I waited near the stage for the first act and got talking to an older lady whom I had seen at several gigs over the last year or so before Ravens hit the stage at about 8:15pm.
Ravens were three ladies playing electric, guitar, acoustic guitar and violin, as well as singing. They played a great folksy country type of music and did it very well and looked to be enjoying themselves very much. Wasn't familiar with them, don't think they have any recordings but I enjoyed their set. Turns out all three of them were also part of The Eastern.
 Luckless is a young lass originally from Auckland but now resident in Germany. She played solo with guitar and effects which she used to set up loops and rhythms to flesh out her music and presented up with an enjoyable set of angst ridden indie type pop. She had a good singing voice and coaxed some interesting sounds from her guitar and sang with some intensity on some of her songs. I was intrigued enough to buy a copy of her LP at the merch table.
 The Eastern then filled the small stage with the seven members jammed together with not a lot of room to move. Their instrumentation consisted of electric guitar, mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo, violin and drums and additional female vocal backing up the band leader and singer, Adam. Their energy and ability was excellent and had the place enthralled as they poured out their alt-country stories to the enjoyment of us all. Adam had plenty to say and spent a lot of time telling stories and making jokes and interacting with his band. They certainly lived up to the reputation and expectations I had and played for quite a long time. The last song of the night entailed the band unpluging their instruments and wading through the crowd to the center of the venue and finishing the set with an audience singalong. Excellent gig and the quality of the local live music scene is very strong indeed.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Tape Wolves - Esoteric Surf Trash LP release show - The Darkroom, Christchurch - 19th may 2017

Stink Magnetic are a Wellington based record label that releases wild surf punk and crazy rockabilly type music and have been doing so since 1998. Like a lot of these low profile record labels, I had no knowledge of their existence until recently via a track I heard on a podcast and also the Esoteric Surf Trash record was posted several times by members on a Facebook group I frequent. I was interested and was glad to find out that Stink Magnetic were to bring the band down south for the only South Island show and would have copies of the said record(among others) for sale at the gig. This would be the easiest way to get my hands on a copy, as the shops were unlikely to have it and there wasn't any obvious way to get it online and anyway, it looked like being a pretty interesting gig.
  I also found out later that Connie Benson had been added to the lineup for the night. I had recently picked up a copy of her 45 and had seen her live last year and was keen to see her in action again.
  I arrived pretty early as the first act wasn't due onstage until 10 PM, I got talking to the barman and then found a comfortable seat and waited until Connie took the stage about 10:15 PM. She was again only accompanied buy a drummer(different from the one she played with last time) who actually turned out to be Bad Evil, another act on the bill for the night. Unfortunately I don't think they had played together before and didn't gel all that well, with songs finishing badly and the whole set not really coming together very well, I was quite disappointed. 
  Next up was a solo dude going under the moniker of Tender Moonlight. The guy had on a jacket with no shirt, tight track pants and flowers round his neck as well as dark shades, black finger-less gloves and a wild looking surfie blond wig(I suspect). He played guitar backed by some cheesy sounding electro disco beats and some other electronic sounds and drones and proceeded to pout outrageously as he sang his songs in an excellent piss take on the oversexed rock god. His guitar playing was actually bloody good and he coaxed out some really great melodies in amongst his pouting and thanking the ladies continuously.
  At one stage he put down his guitar and joined the young ladies on the floor at the front of the low stage and danced with then as he sang, this went on a little too long as his guitar playing was really the highlight of the set. Also by this stage he had removed his track pants to reveal a pair of very tight leather jocks that looked suspiciously like they had something stuffed down the front to add to the bulge. It was a great set and bloody funny and some very impressive guitar playing.
  Next was Bad Evil and the Dirty Germs. Bad Evil was the bloke who drummed for Connie earlier but now he was on guitar and vocals, playing with two others on drums and bass who were wearing bike helmets. Trashy surf type rock with loads of distortion, they were pretty OK but didn't like really impress me enough to remember much about their set, although they certainly did rock out pretty well. There was plenty of commentary from Bad Evil and some mechanical issues with the drum kit as well as plenty of beer guzzling from the group.
  Finally The Tape Wolves hit the stage, another three piece, these guys had capes of sorts and black masks and hats to represent wolves. Again plenty of beer was consumed during their set which was also pretty high NRG trashy surf rock, or Esoteric Surf Trash if you prefer. This band was pretty full on and intense and their energy was palatable as they rocked the Darkroom unlike anyone else I had seen there so far. The place was heaving at the front and I was unable to keep my body still as they rocked out to the max. I was blown away and most impressed. Listening to the actual LP the next day was a bit of a let down after seeing them live(although it is a bloody good record)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Christchurch Rock City Show Case - Psych Emergency, Thunder Wolf, Smokin' Voodoo, Skelter - The Darkroom - Christchurch - 12 May 2017

Gig time again. I had checked out both Psych Emergency on their Bandcamp page and had seen a video of Thunderwolf and was impressed with both enough to want to check them out the next time they played. That time took quite a while with Thunderwolf canning a previous gig and Psych Emergency not playing locally since I discovered them, as far as I know, so it was a bonus that I get to check both bands out on the same night, two birds with one stone so to speak. None of these bands have physical recordings issued but I did check out some online stuff from the other two bands before I headed off to town on Friday night. This was a ticketed event and when I got there, about a half hour before the first band, there was a sold out sign on the door, so a good result for the bands, although sold out in the Darkroom means about 100 bodies I think.
 As the poster states, this was a rock showcase, so it was gonna be loud. I'm not all that much into straight ahead rock as much as I use to be, I do like my music a bit more adventurist nowadays but still I enjoy good rock.
 I wasn't sure of the band order for the night and with local amature bands like these lot, there is no "Headline act" so to speak so I kinda expected the running order to be from top to bottom as in the poster above. This was not the case and it turned out that the band at the top of my list was the first to play, Psych Emergency is a good name for this group and hard psych rock is an apt description of what I heard them play this night. A three piece band with the guitarist fulfilling the singing duties.
 These guys were awesome, some quiet parts to some of their songs before they ripped into some pretty titanic riffs and inspiring guitar pyrotechnics, their energy was palatable and I was really taken with their music and playing. The vocals were the weakness with the singer saying at one point that he really liked the next song they were going to play because he didn't have to sing. For me, they turned out to be the best band of the night and I hope to catch them again soon.
 Thunderwolf, another three piece and slightly older blokes, were a more hard rock outfit, kinda like in the Wolfmother mode so to speak. They rocked out really well and had some great riffs and good melodies. Both Guitarist and Bass player sang, although the Bass player was the lead vocalist. Their vocals though, were pretty shouty and mostly unintelligible, with neither being particularly strong singers. I did enjoy their set a lot.
  The third band, Smokin' Voodoo,  when they started in on their first song, were sounding to me to be the most experimental of the night, but that though quickly evaporated as what looked like Twin Brothers on guitars and vocals, started in on a pretty sloppy set of heavy music whose set was a little more difficult for me to pin down as to the exact style they were playing. I didn't really connect with their sound much and again neither were particularly good singers and were pretty shouty in their delivery. The audience reaction, although still enthusiastic, was fairy muted compared to the rest of the bands, giving credence to my feeling that they were the least enjoyable act of the night.
  Final act was the four piece Skelter. The longest haired act of the night, led but a tall lanky stick of a man with an impressive long mop of very red hair that would have most woman in fits of jealousy and man he could sing. Best singer of the night by a country mile, and one of the better ones i have yet seen at the Darkroom. They played a most enjoyable set of what could only be called classic rock. Think Black Crows perhaps as a rough comparison. They rocked out really well and had some really catchy riffs and were the most commercial sounding act of the night.
  Overall, I had a great night and saw three bands that rocked my world for a few hours. Psych Emergency were my fave of the night as the band that I thought had the most palatable energy and the best music.

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.