Japanese noise legend Merzbow, comes to Christchurch.
Opening with an excellent set from Stanier Black-Five (check out her new inner-city listening-post / wine-bar venue The Auricle) producing out-there sounds with a heavy locomotive motif, and US-born Rotorua act Acclimate, who’s approach was more beat orientated and featured some pretty out-there video accompaniment.
Merzbow himself created a cacophony of noise at his requisite thunderous volume utilizing all analogue electronics, custom built for his specific requirements including an electric pseudo-banjo looking device crafted from what looks like a pot and springs.
Headliners Thrill Collins are comprised of Ex-Christchurch folk Jos Van Beek (vocals and discordant, not-really-guitar-at-all guitar) and Nick Robinson (rhythmic, gnarly bass), plus slinky local drummer Ben Dodd. The trio have existed in name-only fashion for quite some time, though eventually the single ‘I eat pretty well for a poor person’ established their sound back in 2010. With Jos and Nick both moving about the North Island, last nights show was essentially a reunion.
The always terrific Log Horn Breed opened the show, toning down the frantic feeling of previous performances to a tight, explosive set of songs. Recalling the grooves and guitar of the Birthday Party with shout-spoken storylike vocals and a bunch of interesting noise thrown in for good measure. Love these guys.
Speaking of Love – local singer-songwriter Brian Feary debuted his new stage persona ‘Brian Luv’, dressed to the nines and performing covers in a swarthy showman type way, even ending the night with a swag of Karaoke favourites, climbing the bar and wooing the ladies. Nice!
In 2001 the then Olympia, Washington based group The Microphones would release what would become their most critically acclaimed release – the phenomenal double-album ‘The Glow Pt. 2’. Receiving rave revues and even topping influential independent taste-making magazine Pitchfork’s end-of-year album list, the album was at the time the best indication of Phil Elverum’s considerable talent as a singer, songwriter and producer.
Elverum was essentially the only core member of the group, and with 2003’s thematically appropriate album ‘Mount Eerie’ (the narrative of the album involves Elverum death, before discovering the face of the Universe) he decided to conclude the group, with subsequent material released under the name Mount Eerie. This new moniker implies a more solitary approach from Elverum, and also emphasises Elverum’s connection to outdoors, evoking scenes of foggy mountain-tops, rustling wind and dark nights.
Touring New Zealand under the Mount Eerie name before concluding at the excellent annual festival Camp A Low Hum – Elverum played a terrific show at Lyttelton’s Wunderbar, ably supported by Wellington-based singer-songwriter Seth Frightening. With audience members attentively crowding around the stage, Elvrum ran through 12 songs of sheer beauty and feeling. Most songs came from the thematically-separated recent albums ‘Clear Moon’ and ‘Ocean Roar’, but a few earlier numbers were thrown in for good measure.
Elverum played shimmery 12-string guitar, occasionally tempered with bursts of loud reverb, whilst his soft, boyish vocals weaved stories on top. From the softer, welcoming sounds of Clear Moon to the dark and tumultuous scenes of Ocean’s Roar – Elverum is a master of evoking imagery and feeling. I had the great pleasure of catching Mount Eerie a further two times on the tour, with Elverum consistently delighting crowds.
Wow it certainly has been a long time since I’ve contributed to thebigcity – sorry about that. It’s been a pretty quiet holiday break in Christchurch, at least musically – however I’m really looking forward to Mount Eerie’s tour and of course the great annual trip to Camp A Low Hum – both in February.
Last week however I had the great privilege to catch the latest line-up of Bill Direen’s might group the Bilders. Direen’s back catalog of fantastic songs (‘Do the Alligator’, ‘Love in the Retail Trade’, ‘Sad But True’ etc) is truly immense and this sharp three piece pulled out all the pieces.
Word has it their drummer (and fantastic film-maker) Stuart Page was in a car accident earlier in the week and shouldn’t have been playing, but he soldiered on anyway. It was also fantastic to see Christchurch legend Mick Elborado back on stage, playing bass the way only Mick can play – he contorted and tore up that ‘Mickenbacker’ on the more excitable numbers. Direen himself was relaxed and demur up front, leading the fellas through-out the night.
The dynamic duo of T’Nealle Joie (Bang! Bang! Eche!) and Jasper Bryant-Greene (who ran the Gold Sounds record label, releasing T54’s first recordings) saw a hole in the Christchurch Music and entertainment market after the earthquakes of February 2011. With virtually no live music venues in the city and very little night-life to speak of, the pair leased ‘The Archive’, a multi-use venue on St Asaph Street, initially with a warehouse all-ages event that featured the Transistors, Bang! Bang! Eche! and Valdera. After a refit the Archive would go on to encompass the venerable Galaxy Records, a studio for the RDU radio station, the art space Room 4, and perhaps most importantly, the Darkroom.
Back in October 2011 the new bar opened with the experimental sounds of US sound artist C Spencer Yeh and a very special sell out show from Christchurch’s own Bachelorette. Over the course of the last year the venue has not only grown in reputation as Christchurch’s finest local venue for independent music, but also in stature, with additional seating area, a huge array of drinks and an ever-increasing clientele. Saturday marked the Darkroom’s 1st birthday, and as a tribute to the early history of the venue, the same key groups were present to celebrate.
Brown Leaves are a rebirth of prior group Valdera, featuring the same duo of James Musgrave (guitar, vocals and pedals) and Matt Scobie (drums), though in a punkier, more straight-forward style. These days Musgrave seems more comfortable as a front-man and the duo ripped through a short set of sharp, jagged rock numbers with gusto.
Speaking of gusto – the Transistors have recently returned from the United States, touring alongside Japanese Rock n Roll icons Guitar Wolf. Lead singer James Harding was a live-wire, bouncing around the stage but still hitting ever mark in their blistering, non-stop show. The trio showed the well-honed chops of a group that’s spent months on the road together, not stopping for a breath during their opening handful of songs.
Lastly Bang! Bang! Eche! took to the stage, building up the tempo of their performance as the night came to a close. With Joie and Charlie Ryder exchanging bass, guitar and keyboard parts, vocalist Zach Doney triggering electronic effects and climbing around the audience, and drummer James Sullivan as energetic as ever behind the kit – it’s hard not to have fun at a Bang! Bang! Eche! show. What a great way to cap a terrific 1s year as a venue.
Carb on Carb are the Auckland-based Indie-pop duo of Nicole Gaffney (Guitar and Vocals) and James Stuteley (Drums) – an outgrowth of former group Mammal Airlines (which also featured Giles Thompson). Friday’s show at the Darkroom featured the group supported by top-notch local emo group Coate and Dunedin trio Males.
Coate have settled in to regular performances at the Darkroom, their intricate songs catching many a keen ear. With front-man Will Roud delivering melodic, driving vocals and exchanging guitar lines with 2nd guitarist Taylor Welsh, the 4-piece are one of the most technically accomplished groups in New Zealand.
2nd group Males are new to Christchurch, the poppy trio wearing their hearts on their sleeves as they flew through a selection of indie-rock numbers. Bassist Sam Valentine caught some flack for his haircut, one particular punter pointing out the young guy’s resemblance to Blur bassist Alex James. Their songs push the low-frequencies to the front, and the trio displayed an infectious enthusiasm throughout their set.
Both Carb on Carb members have been heavily involved in the Auckland all-age music scene – Gaffney’s previously played guitar, synth and sang with popular Auckland teen group Moron Says What?!, whilst Stuteley is partly responsible for Papaiti Records, an independent record label that compiled and released the excellent ‘Pressure to be’ album (distributed in the United States by Calvin Johnson’s legendary K Records). I was impressed by the groups catchy, shuffling songs, noisy guitar and Gaffney’s subdued vocals – they’re well worth tracking down on BandCamp.
Sorry this has been a long time coming. Epic 5 band night on a Thursday night at darkroom. Coate have to be one of my favorite local groups these days, and Winter were a lot of fun too. Opening act Steven was an uncompromising, impassioned guy, Teke and Craig were as slick as ever and debutant Half Mountain show a lot of promise.