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Sunday, August 19, 2018

'Sickest Smashes from Arson City: Legacy Edition' Release Show No.3 - Darkroom Christchurch 18th August 2018

Night three and I'm excited to see Salad Boys and Dark Matter, having records by both groups and having seen both play live before. This final night is at my most visited of local venues, The Darkroom. I arrived just before 9pm and they still have not opened the doors so I wait in my car for several minutes untill doors open and get myself my only drink of the night as I soon find my wallet I left at home and I only had $5 left in my pocket. The first band sets up quickly and soon we are entertained by The Teasers, a drums and guitar duo with the White Stripes set up of female drummer and male guitarist and singer. An enjoyable if somewhat unmemorable set if my tired mind remembers correctly but I liked some of their songs and the added backing vocals from  the drummer.
  Next up is Dark Matter, bass, drums, guitar, violin and electric cello. I really liked their first LP. Some of the line up, especially the legendary lead singer/guitarist, Steve Cogal, also play as The Terminals, another legendary Christchurch underground band. They play with energy and tempo, creating a real dirge/wall of sound with the violinist fiddling madly at the back of the stage and the drummer going full tilt. It is kinda hard to make a lot out from the wall of noise but it is still pretty cool, and I always like Steve Cogal's singing, he has a real distinctive voice. Their songs do tend to blur together and sound the same with so much loudly amplified music going on.
 Third band are Salad Boys, perhaps one of the best known local indie acts with two full albums out and a great live act IMO. The band is the brainchild of  Joe Sampson with a revolving catalog of local musicians playing with him under the Salad Boy Moniker. Their set tonight is perhaps the best and most intense I have seen from them with Joe's guitar playing fantastic and the speed and energy of the three players the best of the three nights. Their cover of Wire's Ex lion Tamer was a surprise and a highlight in amongst the strong self penned songs that I knew from their records. This is one band that although they make great records, live they are even better. Brian Feary was again drumming in this band. 
 Lastly was perhaps the newest band from the three nights, Pavolvs Puss. This time it is our man Joe Sampson on guitar again with bass, drums and lead singer. The singer turns out to be another of those extroverts I had seen in the audience over the last couple of days and he was certainly pretty outspoken. He kinda sings/speaks/shouts his lyrics which sorta reminded of Sleaford Mods. Joe's guitar noodling in this band were not the power cords he played in Salad Boys but much more restrained and clear sounding and were pretty damn cool. This band will sound fucking cool on record I believe and were really enjoyable live. They ended their set but were threatening to play on maybe improvising some stuff as I think they had played all their repertoire, but I chose to opt out at this point as it was past midnight again and I wanted to get home again before I turned into a pumpkin. Last night was the best but all three night were totally enjoyable and worthwhile.

'Sickest Smashes from Arson City: Legacy Edition' Release Show No.2 - Lyttelton Records - Christchurch 17th August 2018

Second night of the Melted Ice Cream "Sickest Smashes from Arson City: Legacy Edition" Release Shows, and this time we are at Lyttelton Records in Woolston, a nice but small venue that I have only been to once before.
 We see some of the same faces from the previous nights gig plus some new faces as well as noticing that a good proportion of the small audience are actually members of the bands from tonight, last night and it turns out tomorrow night, just showing how this is a tight knit little scene I have entered into. This I think is the biggest crowd of the three nights.
  PGX are a fairly new band whom I did see play late last year at some gig and was impressed enough with this all Girl four piece then. Playing post punk agit pop with their American? singer, they play some great catchy tunes with well written guitar riffs and tonight they really rip it up with a great energetic set that I think is the highlight of the night for me.
 Next are Les Baxters whom I am still looking forward to their album coming out sometime and I have now seen live at least three times. Dave, who use to run Galaxy Records plays electric keys along with a young lady on electronic beats, I think, john on Theremin, and another gentleman on various pieces of equipment including discmans with pre recorded voice samples. I like their sounds and and reminded a little of early Cabaret Voltaire at some stages of their set. It is interesting and different music from the rest of the indie stuff getting played at these gigs.
  Brian Tamaki And The Kool Aid Kids are a band who's name I had seen come up many times over the last couple of years on various gig listing round town but this was the first time I have seen or heard them. It turns out that the Brian of the group is actually Brian Feary, the man behind the record label and the gigs and in this case behind the drums. Another pretty big band with three guitarists which made for a pretty intense racket and wall of sound as they rocked out their set. Brian set a thunderous beat for them to play to, probably hitting the drums as hard and as enthusiastically as any other over the weekends shows. I did enjoy their set but had reservations about the three guitars and the female vocalist. The male singer I think is the same singer in Wurld Series, and he was great. They did play with great energy and I would see them again.
 Cowboy Machine were a three piece of guitar, bass and drums and their singer/guitarist was one of those extroverts who had stood out in the crowd over the last two nights and I suspect was a little wasted. Their punky power pop started out pretty good but I thought the set deteriorated and the songs got slower and the singer talked a lot and seemed to kinda loose it a bit vocally. I kinda lost interest in them a bit and decided to head home before their set finished as it was now after midnight. Overall another really good and memorable night of music.

'Sickest Smashes from Arson City: Legacy Edition' Release Show No.1 - Space Acadamey - Christchurch 16th August 2018

Melted Ice Cream is an independent music label in Christchurch New Zealand run by Brian Feary, who also announces an NZ indie show on the local alternative radio station RDU(ex university radio station). Melted Ice Cream release mostly cassette releases with some great vinyl issues that I have in my collection and downloads on Bandcamp. They did a download only compilation of local Christchurch bands on Bandcamp back in 2013, "Sickest Smashes From Arson City". Now just over 5 years later the label release the second volume of this compilation and this time on CD (a first for the label)"Sickest Smashes From Arson City:Legacy Edition". In support of the CD release, Brian organized three nights of showcasing 12 bands from the CD at three different venues across the city.
 This first night was held at Space Academy, a venue readers will know I have been to several times before and seen some great local bands there.
  I got there pretty early after popping in to see a record stall at a local boutique brewery where Galaxy Records(recently closed) was trying to sell off the rest of his stock. I found out then that the Opawa 45's were playing across the road from Space Academy first up before the Melted Ice Cream Gig so I popped in for a while and checked them out. I had seen them before but I thought this time they were playing much slower numbers, a lot were covers, in their surf//rockabilly style.
 I did not watch their full set but wandered across the road to Space Academy to see how the gig was shaping up over there. Things were waiting for the gig across the road to finish and then as people trickled in things got off to a much later start than I anticipated.
 First up was Motte with her violin and sound effects and loops doing her usual interesting neo classical soundscapes with some beats backing her on occasion. I really like what she does. On her last number she was joined but some other musicians on drums, bass and guitar and made some interesting drony noise.
  Next Band Adam Hattaway and the Haunters were completely new to me. A big band with something like six members squeezed onto the small stage, I was taken buy the clarity of their sound with so many people playing together, which so often sounds like a big dirge when playing live, so it made it easier to make out what they were playing, especially as I did not know their music. Any how with brass and percussion as well as the usual drums and a couple of guitars etc, I was very impressed with their great poppy rock songs that were most accessible and very catchy. They were actually the highlight of the night for me, although I ended up leaving before I saw Wurld Series(who I do really like) as they were running way behind schedule, it was after midnight and I still had an hours drive home and work in the morning.
  Therefore the last band I did see for this first gig was the Ben Woods Group, another band I knew nothing about. It turned out that this was the same bunch who had joined Motte at the end of her set and indeed she did join them as part of the band. After Adam Hattaway, I though this band sounded quite murky in comparison and a bit louder so it did make it a bit more difficult to make out what they were playing, but it was quite droney and I did think there was some interesting stuff discernible in the murky sound. The cut they have on the CD sounds a lot more poppy than what I heard that night. Still I did enjoy their set and overall it was a fairly enjoyable night of cool music. A good start to my three night of music.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Beastwars - New City Hotel - Christchurch 4th August 2018

What a contrast from the previous night's indie pop gig at the same venue. This was the biggest crowd at the New City I have yet seen, pretty much sold out and confirming Berastwars as one of the country's top heavy metal/hard rock bands. First time I have seen this band, bought their last LP but have not any of their earlier stuff. This band have been around a few years but they are certainly not young men with plenty of grey hair and beards in evidence and looking older than I am.
  I haven't played their album a lot and although it is pretty good, it is not fantastic, but they are highly regarded and I decided I did not want to miss them live. The band have been out of action lately, with the singer battling cancer, which is now in remission and so the band are back out on the road and spoke of a new record in the new year.
  Three other bands were supporting Beastwars this night, but due to watching the first half of the Super Rugby Final, I missed the first band, just catching the last song of their set.
 The place was packed as Yarnspinner played next, doomy heavy rock with growely vocals, they played some cool riffs and longish numbers, slow and fast., long haired guitarist riffing intensely, a dark Gothic chick on Bass and massive beard on vocals. Enjoyable set and I think I saw them at the Doomfest at the same venue last December.
 Pieces Of Molly were next, a great hard rock/classic rock band with some great riffs and classic rock style guitar playing. Probably the most commercial sounding band of the night but definitely rocked out, and I definatlky enjoyed their melodies and was thinking how goos their music might sound on record. The live sound did get a little samey and I was glad when they finished but I would buy their music on record. Reminded me a bit of Wolfmother. Singer was the best of the night.
  Beastwars hit the stage just past 11:30pm, to a great roar from the crowd. As they hit their heavy grooves the mosh pit was heaving and it was fucking hot in this barn, so I stayed near the back by the sound desk. The band certainly are good live and I think they had their own PA instead of the usual venue PA, which sounded much better. I think they were pretty good live although this is another gig that won't stick in my memory as unforgettable or awesome but I did really enjoy their set and was tapping my foot and nodding my head along to the heavy groove. The crowd were pretty into it though and there was plenty of moshing at the front and some stage diving a couple of times. It was definitely worth going to see them.

Ha The Unclear - New City Hotel - Christchurch 3rd August 2018

Dunedin band Ha The Unclear's name had been on my radar for a little while but I really knew little about them or their music. Information about their new record had filtered through the vine a few weeks back and it became known to me that there was to be a vinyl version as well as CD and download. I am always partial to vinyl copies of NZ albums when I can get them and so hopped onto their Bandcamp site and sampled the wares therein. I was not immediately taken with the music but after a couple of goes I decided it was good enough to get hold of their record, and seeing as they were playing near me in support of that record, after a lot of procrastination, I finally decided at the last minute on Friday nigh,t to go check them out.
 I was expecting a bigger crowd after the early bird tickets had all been sold but it was actually a modest turnout of less than 100 people I think. I got there pretty early, just after doors opened at 8pm, as online ticket sales had finished just before I decided to go, and I wanted to make sure I got in via door sales.
  The support act was a solo lass named Laura Lee Lovely, She basically had pre programmed disco/techno type pop tracks to which she sung along in that that plays on commercial radio. It was horrible, She did have a good voice and perhaps the tunes were original but it was the sort of act I'd expect to see in some low class nightclub or perhaps a young persons evening at a local Workingmans club. I hope I never see the likes again.
  Ha The Unclear finally hit the stage and entertained up with their quaint indie pop, the first songs or two was not the best sounding from the PA as their soundman was in the audience with his laptop adjusting things as they played(as he did with their support act), but the sound improved and was pretty acceptable for the rest of their set. Live, the band were a bit more energetic sounding that their recording and I enjoyed the bass players lines on many of the songs. It was an enjoyable set and the songs were pretty good but it is not a gig that will stick firmly in my memory I think but I am still glad I went.