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.