Kittentank w/ Sandfly Bay at Darkroom, April 21st 2012

Sandfly Bay
Sandfly Bay

With local instrumental trio Sandfly Bay delaying the start of the show due to equipment issues; I took the time to soak in Darkroom’s ambience. As one of our newest venues, Darkroom has really found a place as Christchurch’s key intimate spots to hear live music – however they also provide a fantastic menu of home-made vegetarian snacks, and they have an ever-growing array of boutique Wines, Beers and Liquors. I tend to favour Ciders, and with the Darkroom now stocking Peckham’s Moutere Cider Kir I had to give it a try. This is a fine, dry Cider with quite a significant dose of blackcurrant. A simply fantastic drink, and far removed from the mass-produced stuff you find in supermarkets.

Sandfly Bay have gone through numerous variations, both in line-up and style since they originally emerged as a high school band a few years back. Now without a vocalist, the current line-up produces a blues-inflected brand of alternative rock. Heavy on the rhythm and with particularly prevalent bass from Ben Ordering – who seems to be in quite a few local bands these days! Their sound is quite danceable and upbeat, and they certainly seem to have a fan base for their infectious, groove-filled songs.

Kittentank
Kittentank

Although Wellington-based group Kittentank started life as guitarist / keyboardist / vocalist Frank Eggleton’s own solo project, their current existence now revolves around a troop of some 9 members, though thankfully not all at the same time! Playing as a more-conventional 5-piece on a fairly small stage, the group through together an amalgam of styles, driven by some truly excellent drumming and driving grooves that I reckon evoke the feeling of early Stereolab recordings. With a classic keyboard sound and guitar used both as texture and lead, their indie-pop-garage-punk pastiche really appeals to my tastes. Track them down on BandCamp for a taste of one of the best new groups out of Wellington.

 

[Published in the Press 27-04-2012]

Peter Gutteridge (and Brother Love) at the Darkroom

Apologies to Brother Love for missing their set – though I did talk to ‘the Brother (aka Martin Henderson) and the long-time ex-Christchurch sludge-rockers are back in the garden city again, with more shows on the horizon. You might remember Brother Love and the Homebacon Gang, playing shows with the likes of Space Dust, Ape Management and King Loser throughout the 1990s.

Peter Gutteridge at the Darkroom
Peter Gutteridge at the Darkroom

It was a rare treat to see legendary Dunedin-based songwriter Peter Gutteridge too; It’s been ‘more than a decade’ since the Snapper frontman last played a show in Christchurch, and according to Gutteridge he hasn’t been playing live in Dunedin either, although he still continues to write and plans to record new songs.

With Snapper known for pulsating Synth and Heavy Guitar drones adding a hypnotic rhythm to essentially dark pop songs, Gutteridge surprised the ample Darkroom crowd by starting his set with folky acoustic versions of his songs. The set began with a sober, melancholy performance of ‘Born in the Wrong Time’ (a song Gutteridge had written whilst in the Great Unwashed) played in a very minimal, stripped back acoustic style, ringing out repetitive individual notes on his guitar akin to the droney sound of his Snapper recordings.

As a founding member of several of New Zealand’s finest bands (The Chills, The Clean, The Great Unwashed and Snapper), Gutteridge’s back catalogue is full of involving, heady and evocative songs, but Snapper’s signature pseudo-hit ‘Buddy’ seemed to be the most recognized by the crowd, enticing a few upfront to sing-a-long.

He finally switched up a gear with the last handful of songs – playing with ear-piercing electric guitar and pulsing synth and understated bass from Henderson in support. I was transfixed by the duo’s sound in this configuration, much akin to the solo Gutteridge recordings I’ve heard (there’s an Xpressway tape from the 1980’s called ‘Pure’), which makes sense as he opened this 2nd set with ‘Dry Spot’, a song he’d released on a 7” for Crawlspace Records in 2000, culled from a live recording.

Great to see one of New Zealand’s best underground musicians back and playing music again, and I would definitely look out for future recordings.

[Published in the Press 5/4/2012]

WAOTS, Fauxhound and $noregazZzm at darkroom

WAOTS at darkroom
WAOTS at darkroom

 

Another excellent show at the darkroom this weekend, with New Zealand’s most party-orientated eletronic, eletro and chip-tune artists playing to a fairly crowded room on a lovely night in the garden city.

 

WAOTS (aka We Aeronauts of the Spirit / aka Max Lequeux) was the most downbeat on the night warming up the crowd with tracks comprised of Nintendo DS chip-tunes augmented with keyboards and vocals.

 

 

$noregazZzm at darkroom
$noregazZzm at darkroom
Fauxhound at darkroom
Fauxhound at darkroom

Favourite Ex-son of Christchurch Jos van Beek was next, playing his GameBoy augmented electro chip-tune tracks with great gusto, dancing around the stage and getting the crowd pumped up.

 

$noregazZzm ended the night with their own brand oh hip-hop fueled electro electronica – great fun, and a shame the lads aren’t going to be around much longer; with Dave Currie heading overseas at the conclusion of the tour.

With Lisandru showing his usual bravado on the mic the duo put on a great show.

 

Click here for the rest of the photos.

Dance Asthmatics and God Destroyer

Dance Asthmatics
Dance Asthmatics

Dance Asthmatics played a great varied set at Darkroom; mixing up a bit of melodic jangle guitar rock with some Fall-esque posturing and swagger, and even some straight ahead punk. Nice.

God Destroyer are made for a different night all together, varying between ambient drone and *almost* atonal noise. I like their melodic, quieter moments best…

Click here for more photos

God Destroyer
God Destroyer
Dance Asthmatics
Dance Asthmatics

Zinefest Afterparty: St Eden, Shark Street and Piha Rescue

Shark Street
Shark Street

Christchurch’s first Zinefest was a big success – great work to Eamonn, Timmy and the rest of the crew that put on an excellent gathering and after-party at Darkroom.

Crowd at Darkroom
Crowd at Darkroom

After-party entertainment came from the up-and-coming beats of St Eden, who’s got a cool sound going on with his electronic groove, the rock-a-billy 3-piece Shark Street, who got the crowd absolutely pumping, and the excellent surf-instrumental act Piha Rescue.

Piha Rescue
Piha Rescue

Great party vibe all night, great to see the fun returning to our broken city.

Check out the rest of the photos here.

BnP and Magic Eye at the Darkroom

BnP
BnP

BnP (formerly Bits and Pieces) and Magic Eye have both been a bit invisible this last year, and so this show at the Darkroom marked both bands return to live shows (outside of the odd house-party) since the September 2010 earthquake.

Magic Eye
Magic Eye

Check out the rest of my photos from the night here.

Borderline Ballroom: C Spencer Yeh, David Khan, Rainbow Beast

C Spencer Yeh at Darkroom
C Spencer Yeh at Darkroom

Launching the debut of new Christchurch music venue (and top-notch bar, stocking only local beers, wines, liquors and home-made food) Darkroom was a great dose of acerbic synthesized noise – from the controls of Rainbow Beast. The place was packed, and not with the usual Borderline Ballroom audience, a few of whom didn’t really seem to get what was going on.

Dave Khan played a more tranquil set, utilizing his sampling keyboard to flesh out layers of sound. Dave’s set was a very calming, melodic performance; a shame a few patrons didn’t seem to appreciate it…

C Spencer Yeh took two different approaches – firstly a frantic performance on violin, producing often atonal, but frantic sounds. He then followed this with one of the more unusual human beatbox performances i’ve seen; with 2 microphones in hand he bounced sounds around this lovely, but crowded space.

More photos can be found here.