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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.