Shacklock Meth Party Release Party

Zen Mantra
Zen Mantra

Rhett Copland put together this terrific party at All Plastics studios on saturday night for the album release of his latest project – Shacklock Meth Party.

With performances from the excellent young groups Zen Mantra and Ipswich, Auckland’s former Nevernude vocalist Anthony Drent, debutants Raygun (with Damo Suzuki / Mark E Smith style rhythmic ranting) and the headline act all playing pretty tight sets.

I took a bunch of really cool black and white action shots – which you can see the rest of here.

Ipswich
Ipswich

You can check out a video for Shacklock Meth Party’s ‘This is my Shit, Gwen’ below:

Shacklock Meth Party – This Is My Shit, Gwen

Shacklock Meth Party
Shacklock Meth Party

Pete Swanson (USA) with Gate and IRD

At the Physics Room, Friday August 10th 2012

IRD
IRD
The Physics Room has been at the forefront of Christchurch fringe culture since 1996 – providing a project space for installation artists and performers of various different mediums. Currently located at a temporary site on the corner of Sandyford and Colombo Streets, the space is divided into a light, open gallery and a dark, enclosed performance area with this particular event hosted by Auckland-based ‘Innovative Audio Culture’ organization Altmusic.

Christchurch-based multi-instrumentalist Rory Dalley (aka IRD) opened the evening, creating a clattering maelstrom of sound from broken audio equipment and an assortment of percussive objects. Bending and shaping cassette and turntable noises with traditional maori harakeke (i.e. flax) instruments into a fractured cacophony.

Gate
Gate
Legendary Dunedin underground figure Michael Morley was next – performing under his solo alias Gate. Known for significant New Zealand underground acts the Dead C, Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos and others, Morley is a huge figure in underground circles. A captive audience was enveloped by Morley’s guitar and effects orchestrations – creating a harmonic, slow moving drone that evolved at the speed of molasses.

Pete Swanson
Pete Swanson
Portland, Oregon’s group Yellow Swans were known for creating intriguing, improvised experimental noise built upon Pete Swanson and Gabriel Mindel Saloman’s electronics, guitar, drum machines and vocals. After seven years playing around the globe and releasing a huge catalogue of music, including several collaborative albums with brilliant Australian group Gray Daturas – the duo called it quits in 2008. In a solo capacity Swanson’s performance was heavy on the bassy rhythmic pulses, psychedelic and swirling sounds created a frequency overload in my head, rattled my teeth and even prompted a few audiences members to dance.

Die! Die! Die! ‘Harmony’ album release tour

Andrew Wilson of Die! Die! Die!
Andrew Wilson of Die! Die! Die!
With Opposite Sex and Ipswich at Dux Live. Saturday July 28th 2012.

It’s no secret that Die! Die! Die! are one of my favourite New Zealand bands. Since the group first morphed from the ashes of Smokefree Rockquest champions Carriage H (initially taking the name Rawer), the formative duo of Andrew Wilson (Guitar and Vocals) and Michael Prain (Drums) have been pushed the boundaries and expectations of what a New Zealand group can be. Now supplemented with former Mint Chick Michael Logie on bass guitar (replacing the departed Lachlan Anderson) the group are now very influential in their own right.

You can see an element of Die! Die! Die!’s fury and passion in opening act Ipswich. The trio have made great strides in the last year establishing themselves throughout New Zealand. Ipswich have releases coming out on excellent Auckland-based independent label Muzai Records and recently won the coveted RDU ‘Round-Up’ band competition – a testament to their power in a live setting. Their songs are built on jagged guitar riffs and overdriven bass, invoking the likes of the Skeptics, the Gordons and other Flying Nun era groups.

Lucy Hunter of Opposite Sex
Lucy Hunter of Opposite Sex
Dunedin group Opposite Sex made for an intriguing contrast. With their North Island based guitarist Fergus Taylor sitting out these South Island shows, the duo of Lucy Hunter (Bass and Vocals) and Tim Player (Drums and Vocals) varied between primal drumming and sing-shout songs and melodic, whispered numbers built on Hunter’s extraordinary virtuoso approach to bass guitar. I saw elements of old-school Welsh post-punk group Young Marble Giants in their songs, very cool.

You can tell Die! Die! Die! are a very special group – as soon as the boys hit the stage the audience surged forward, hanging on every word from frontman Andrew Wilson and thrusting back and forth to the military rhythm of exception drummer Michael Prain. Starting their set with a handful of older songs before gradually introducing their new material the trio never relented in intensity. Michael Logie showed he’s no slouch on bass, adding huge crunchy, fuzzy riffs to Prain’s powerful beats and allowing Wilson to freely roam around the stage and into the crowd, leading the audience in anthemic chants ‘A.T.T.I.T.U.D’ and ‘How Ye’. The new album Harmony shows the groups continued evolution and refinement – truly one of New Zealand’s finest bands.

See more photos here.

Sherpa w/ Bang! Bang! Eche!, Dance Asthmatics and Zen Mantra

Tam November of Zen Mantra
Tam November of Zen Mantra
Smashing line-up friday at Dux Live, with a great mix of young, up-and-coming groups from Christchurch, with poppy Auckland group Sherpa headlining.

Youngest of all would be opening trio Zen Mantra. Fronted by the barely 17 year old Sam Perry, Zen Mantra take on a psychedelic approach to clean and concise indie-pop. With swirling guitar, bass and rolling drums their songs are warm, fuzzy and comforting and are simply drenched in melody. A young group absolutely absolutely overflowing with potential.

Dance Asthmatics make for quite a contrast. Brian Feary (drums), Joe Sampson (guitar) and Ben Odering (bass) create a tight, flowing and often groove filled backing with more than a little krautrock style rhythm – but frontman Stephen Nouwens can steer the group in any number of directions. He can take a plaintive but acerbic and poetic approach to singing (like a young Mark E Smith of the Fall), and then the next minute rip into an aggressive rant, gasping for breath between each delivered sentence. Always exciting and always a lot of fun.

T'Nealle Worsely  of Bang! Bang! Eche!
T’Nealle Worsely of Bang! Bang! Eche!
Despite lacking practice since previous shows, Bang! Bang! Eche! lived up to their reputation as one of Christchurch’s finest and slickest live acts – with the best reception of all the groups on the night. Particularly on form was bassist T’Nealle Worsely, though the group lock together like a syncopated, pulsing singularity.

Out-of-towners Sherpa have been making quite a reputation for themselves up in Auckland – their album Lesser Flamingo and stunning new video Turtles are unabashed slices of pure New Zealand power-pop. Gleeful and with great dollops of catchy guitar and keyboards. Frontman Earl Ho is a colourful character – leading the group through a sharp set of songs at blistering pace. A lovely way to end the evening.

See more photos here.

[Published in the Christchurch Press 27/07/2012]

Lawrence Arabia and Andrew Keoghan

St Michael and All Angels Church
At Michael and All Angels Church
At St Michael and All Angels Church, Friday July 13th 2012

With the release of his third album under the Lawrence Arabia pseudonym, Christchurch-native songwriter James Milne decided a special opening show was in order. St Michael and All Angels is one of the most majestic Churches left in our shaky city, the walls strong and comforting and formed from great arches of unbeatable wood. The venue itself had an ethereal vibe which suits both Milne’s music as Lawrence Arabia, but also opening act Andrew Keoghan.

Andrew Keoghan
Andrew Keoghan
Keoghan has been making great strides himself as a songwriter in recent years. His debut album Arctic Tales Divide has received a lot of praise since its release last year, picking up a Taite Music Prize nomination along the way (an award Milne himself won in the inaugural 2010 competition). Keoghan plays guitar, piano and violin – often looping layers of sound to create evocative arrangements that envelop. According to Keoghan the album’s central theme is that of escape and longing for isolation – yet the warmth of his music feels comforting and drew in an appreciative audience.

Lawrence Arabia
Lawrence Arabia
With The Sparrow, Lawrence Arabia has an expanded sound, utilizing a string quartet both on the album and in this enchanting live show. An excellent live band augment Milne’s charming melodies and dynamic musical arrangements. The show was broken up into parts, Milne labelling the first handful of songs ‘Side A’ of the album (performed in order throughout the show), with a handful of oldies bridging the gap before ‘Side B’ finished off the evening. Milne is witty throughout the evening – the somber Bicycle Riding and album highlight The Bisexual standing out as key songs. I hope we see more shows in this terrific venue.

See more photos here.

[Published in the Christchurch Press 20/07/2012]

Opossom and T54 at Darkroom

Joe Sampson of T54
Joe Sampson of T54

There was a great buzz around this show, well before either group had taken to the stage. Rumours of an early sell-out end up filling Darkroom’s limited capacity several hours before the show had the begun. With a bustling trade the venue was humming, the room warm with eager music fans packed wall to wall, downing craft beers and sheltering for a chilly night in Christchurch.

It was left to T54 to get things started, and the slick local 3-piece we’re just the ticket, drowning the audience in volume with thick, rolling bass, rollicking, snappy drumming and the soaring guitar-work of frontman Joe Sampson. I caught bassist Sam Hood next store at Galaxy records before the show and he was picking up a copy of the new box-set of rarities from German group Can – the flowing, organic vibe of the 1970’s Krautrock mainstays gives a pretty good indication of where some of T54’s many influences lay.

Bic Runga of Opossom
Bic Runga of Opossom

Speaking of Influences, it’s pretty tangible the impact the likes of the Zombies and other 60s/70s Psych-rock groups have had on Opossom’s Kody Neilson. The former Mint Chicks frontman now envelops his songs in a sunny West Coast of the USA haze that sounds particularly wonderful when you have the likes of Bic Runga and Mike Logie as your support band. Runga surprised me with her immense talent as a drummer, pulling of slinky rolls and driving the groups opening 3 songs. F in Math / Die! Die! Die! and former Mint Chicks bassist Mike Logie has altered his own sound to fit the retro sound of Opossom, gorgeous plucked bass rhythms that had the room jumping. With Kody and and Bic sharing vocal and instrument duties the group flew through an infectious array of songs which I wish didn’t end – thankfully their debut album is a ripper!

Check out more photos here

[Published in the Christchurch Press 06/07/2012]

Goodshirt, Sleepy Age and RDU Round Up Winners: Ipswich

Sleepy Age at Dux Live
Sleepy Age at Dux Live
Goodshirt at Dux Live
Goodshirt at Dux Live

 

 

Ok, a couple of big shows at Dux Live this weekend; firstly Goodshirt returned after what seems like a decade, playing material from their to-be-released comeback EP plus a string of their catchy earlier singles.

 

Sleepy Age we’re just phenomenal in support, playing in a new line-up with three (sassy) backup singers. Check out the photos here.

 

 

 

Ipswich at Dux Live
Ipswich at Dux Live

 

 

The 2nd show was saturdays final of the RDU 2012 Round-Up band competition, won by the talented up-n-coming lads Ipswich.

Only got the chance to see Ipswich, but they were a lot of fun, with the crowd moshing around to ‘Alien vs. Sexual Predator’. Choice. Photos here.

Steffan van Soest Hit-Machine w/ Ed Muzik and the Burning Sensations, Flying Sorcerers

Flying Sorcerers
Flying Sorcerers

The evening began with the debut Christchurch performance of Flying Sorcerers – a Wellington-based trio of displaced Christchurch-natives, augmented by local musician extraordinaire Simon Nunn.

Playing a brand of country-inflected Indie-Rock, they rushed through a swag of brief, catchy numbers at lightening speed.

Formed by Hit-Machine members William Daymond and Paul Glub and with Margaret Gordon on drums, the 4-piece created a great rapport with the audience.

Ed Muzik
Ed Muzik

Ed Muzik (and his ‘Burning Sensations’) have a habit of polarizing his audiences. With lyrics heavy on sarcastic witticisms and a level of irony in his music, he’s found it hard to gather a strong following over the past few years and not without trying.

This would be his last performance (at least, with the current backing band), and so he attempted to pull out all the stops.

Unfortunately his rather skillful bassist and drummer were drowned out behind his own electronic rhythms, and I felt the duet performance of a certain Ace of Base hit single (with Icelandic-born vocalist Hera) fell a little flat.

Steffan van Soest
Steffan van Soest

Steffan van Soest’s eponymous group are more of a semi-regular event than an actual gigging band these days.

With only the front-man and drummer ‘Heavy-Metal’ Simon McKenzie usually available for local shows the group tends to play when their various out-of-town members are around. With Nunn, Glubb and Daymond well warmed up from their opening slot, the 5-piece hammered out a loud and brash set, lacking a bit of finesse but certainly high on fun – a cornerstone of most Hit-Machine shows.

Published in the Christchurch Press [25-05-2012]

Spring Break, Bang! Bang! Eche! and Tommy Ill

Spring Break
Spring Break

Phenomenal show at Dux Live. Check out all of my photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fraew/sets/72157629697885704/

Bang! Bang! Eche!
Bang! Bang! Eche!
Tommy Ill
Tommy Ill

Tono and the Finance Company with T54, Brown and Miniatures at Dux Live, May 4th 2012

I started the evening checking out the newly opened and somewhat controversial ‘Smash Palace’ bar on the corner of Victoria and Bealey Avenue. Run by Johnny Moore (former proprietor of the red-zoned ‘Goodbye Blue Monday’), Smash Palace is an outdoor bar with a focus on the social environment. Those familiar with Moore’s previous bars will feel right at home at Smash Palace, with plenty of seating and a good selection of Beer and Wine.

Opening the show at Dux Live was the low-key 3-piece shoe-gaze band Miniatures. I’d recommend checking out their BandCamp recordings as they’re about to relocate to Melbourne. With shimmering, glacial guitar, simple electronic drumming, groove-heavy bass and ethereal vocals reminiscent of Scottish shoe-gaze cornerstones the Cocteau Twins – they are an immersive experience.

Dunedin 3-piece Brown took things in a more conventional direction, with poppy songs that focused on tight performances and snappy lyrics. Garnishing a good response from what was now a decent Dux Live crowd, they set the scene for Tono, who was up next.

After recently hitting the New Zealand album charts with their terrific album ‘Up here for Dancing’, Tono and the Finance Company have been on the up and up, and it’s easy to see why. With songs full of catchy melodies and deadpan lyrical platitudes, the group relive the prime pop groups of the britpop era – the influence of Morrissey is particularly prominent in the style of Tono’s vocals. With the support of a top-notch touring band behind him, Tono commands the stage with the authority of a slick professional frontman.

The night concluded with bombastic 3-piece T54 – a common site at the Dux these days, the boys have been trying out new material and of course performing with as must gusto and technical skill as any local group.