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