The Penthouse

Also known as: Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, Level 5

Location: 135 Cashel Street, Central Christchurch

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Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, replaced by commerical buildings

Active as a live music venue: 2005 – 2011

Capacity: 250

All-Ages: Yes

The Penthouse (sometimes just referred to as ‘Level 5’) was a venue name given to the 5th floor of Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti School in Central Christchurch, above the old Hallensteins building in Cashel Plaza.

The school was originally used as a venue for All-Age shows promoted by Unlimited Paenga student Jeremy Barribeau, and was quickly established as a suitable spot for shows for AA community group Red Panda, plus several others associated the school such as Will EdmondsOut of Kilter and a series of Raves organized by teacher and DJ Brent Silby.

We started with a couple gigs called Citizen Jam. The Glasson family owned it and leased it to the school – so getting permission for an alternate usage was not the easiest. Lots of planning with the fire department and security/risk analysis plans – Rose Jenson Banner helped a lot with that stuff.

– Jeremy Barribeau

Funding initially came from the city counsel and school board in the form of seed capital to start a radio station (Metropolis Radio) with the intent of fostering a local all ages community. (Early headliner) The Shocking Pinks charged what we all thought at the time was an exorbitant NZ$1000 to play haha!

– Jeremy Barribeau

The Shocking Pinks at the 1st Citizen Jam show, June 2005

 I organized several alcohol-free raves up there under the Audiodreams brand. We called the venue “Level 5” for our raves.

Audiodreams was a company started by myself with some students. White Elephant helped with supervision and marketing of the raves.

– Brent Silby

Every show had a strictly no-alcohol policy and security was provided at the ground floor.

The floor was a large, open plan space, and Red Panda shows utilized a decent PA (provided by the White Elephant parent group), plus the schools facilities such as a film projection screen.

Red Panda had connections to A Low Hum and as such a handful of A Low Hum’s touring parties put on AA shows at the venue – the highlights including So So Modern‘s show in September 2006 with Australian act Alps, popular Christchurch electro-pop duo Frase+Bri and youthful indie-pop trio Black Market Art.

Another fun event put on by the group was the Red Panda Prom, held at the Penthouse in both 2008 and 2009. I had the pleasure of playing in a couple bands (including a ‘super-group’ made up just for the event) and dressing up for the occasion.

Last AA show we did was the weekend before the quakes with Parking Lot Experiments in the basement of Unlimited (under the Crossing). I remember it vividly – was 48 hours before the Feb shake. Last normal weekend in old Chch. It was a WE show I think as RP was officially wound up into WE and I was working at WE. A local AA band supported (Die Robotor).

– Netta Egoz (Red Panda / White Elephant)

The venue was in heavy use right up until the 2011 Earthquake – in fact AudioDreams had a rave planned for March 2011 that was cancelled due to the February Quakes:

Poster for Earthquake-cancelled rave

However the Earthquakes unfortunately brought a particularly active period in Christchurch All-Age shows to a close, with the Hallensteins building eventually demolished and the school moved.

History

  • 2005: Students from Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti move into the Northern Tower – i.e. the Hallensteins building, after 2 years in the smaller Southern Star Building. In June the first Citizen Jam gig is held.
  • 2010: Building is damaged in September earthquakes, however it remains open until February 2011 Earthquakes.
  • 2011: US group Parking Lot Experiments are the last headline act to play with a show in the basement, an AudioDreams rave planned for March is cancelled after the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2011 close the venue for good.

Links

Shocking Pinks

Formed by Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson in mid-2003, The Shocking Pinks are one of the most exciting and memorable bands to spring out of Christchurch in the last 5 years. New Zealand’s exponent of the dance-punk revitalisation – The Shocking Pinks encompass a vast variety of styles into their (utterly original) sound, blending disco, shoegazer guitar, new wave keys and vocals and punky rhythms into a mish-mash of undeniably danceable funk.

Valentines day 2004 sees The Pinks release their debut full-length ‘Dance The Dance Electric’ on Tim Baird’s Christchurch-based and usually house-orientated Pinacolada label. Reduced down to a four-piece (though their stylist Antonia De Bere gets a credit) of Harte, Tim McDonald (keys / percussion), Johnno Smith (bass / vocals) and Danny Bare (guitar – Ex-Substandard), the debut is startling different from their early 4-track attempts (though most of the recordings were done in such a lo-fi manner), with their heavy A Certain Ratio influence shining through on a number of tracks, which are now very varied and dynamic.

Though now somewhat missing a front-person (the album features vocal cameos by the Brunettes Heather Mansfield and original vocalist Mel Smith (Emerald Green, The Greenmatics) their sound has indeed fleshed out, and the band intends to sort out a relationship with the American DFA label.

More news came about with their January 2004 pre-release tour – after internal squabbles, the returning news was that the band had called it quits – though the album was still to be released on valentines day. After a couple of weeks, Harte re-appeared, announcing the band would march on – now with a completely new line-up featuring Harte taking both drum and bass roles, with newcomers Kit on guitar, and Marie on synthesizers (while advertising for a new drummer).

Things turned a little bizarre from this point on, with members of the original line-up reinstated for one-off gigs, then yet another new line-up and an eventual New Zealand tour (which ended unceremoniously with yet more departures). Finally, with The Pinks profile rising substantially both nationally and internationally, Harte took over sole responsibility of the group, signing a contract with Festival Mushroom (through Flying Nun), with plans for an EP and sophmoric EP in the works.

Circa 2004-5 The Shocking Pinks are a one-man recording project, though he has a new and established live band of Herbert Palmer (guitar – also of the Leper Ballet), Gareth (synth, vocals, percussion), and Tom (bass). In September 2004 Harte formed a new duo as a sideline to The Pinks, Black Albino – making their debut supporting touring US troop Hawnay Troof and high-flying Aucklanders Die! Die! Die!. Black Albino are somewhat closer to Harte’s previous outfit the Incisions, and featured former Pink and Incision Tim McDonald.

The Pinks gradually spaced out their live performances during 2005 and early 2006, after Herbert Palmer left the group for foreign shores. However in mid 2006 Harte finally got word of his impending US record deal, signing to DFA records in New York City. The group played a supposed final Christchurch show in August 2006, with Harte heading stateside for the re-release of Infinityland under DFA, with a four-record deal in the wings.

However it took almost a year for the DFA to actually release their first stateside material – a white-label 12″ record; whilst Nick was actually still in Christchurch, and even continued to play shows and house party’s before eventually leaving mid 2007. By the end of the Pinks New Zealand lifetime the group was essentially Nick fronting (on guitar) the Tiger Tones (less bassist Ashlin Raymond) – a local group the Pinks have had a strong influence on.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Dance The Dance Electric [2004 Pinacolada Pinacd02]
  • Sway [2005 Self-Released]
  • Mathematical Warfare [2005 Flying Nun Fncd494]
  • Infinityland [2005 Flying Nun Fncd497]
  • Smokescreen 12″ [2007 DFA]
  • Shocking Pinks [2007 DFA]

See-Also

Will Edmonds / Out Of Kilter [October 2006]

[Originally published in A Low Hum October 2006]

Will Edmonds is eager, passionate and luckily for Christchurch, one of the founders of Out of Kilter, an all ages orientated community that focuses on promoting bands and events. Out of Kilter is just about to put out their first proper release- by Wellington band The Henderson, so I asked Will how Out of Kilter came about:

A few years ago I started a website where I could host the reviews I was writing about local shows and CD’s as well as have and interviews with bands I liked. A year or so after I began the webzine, a friend of mine, Josh, asked me if I wanted to start a record label with him to help put out the music of some of the local bands that were beginning to flourish here in Christchurch. We decided to take the name from the webzine just because it was easier and we thought it sounded cool.

About a month after getting together to start up the label we started putting on all ages shows. I think it was mainly because there was nobody else was putting on the type of rock shows we wanted in Christchurch…we were pretty much just filling the gap.

Will recalled the start of Out of Kilter’s foray into putting on events as being a huge learning curve for the enthusiastic pair.

The first shows we organized through Out of Kilter were kind of hit-or-miss. The very first one was awesome – there was a big turnout, the bands were cool, and costs were easily covered. The second gig though, was a bit of a shambles.

We were bringing down our friends from Wellington- [the] band The Red Carpet Murder to play a show here in Christchurch. In the end we lost a few hundred dollars, and had a small turnout. That show was probably one of the most important for me though, because it taught me a lot about how NOT to run a show!

When asked about what Out of Kilter really does he admits it’s a bit ambiguous, now days Will spreads what OOK does much beyond the initial idea for a record label.

It started with the intent of being a record label but kind of morphed into a bit of an all ages community. At first we started putting on AA shows with bands that we were friends with, but word kind of spread that there was this burgeoning all ages scene happening in Christchurch and we had quite a few bands from up north asking for help with all ages gigs.

Out of Kilter may have become seasoned pros at putting on live shows now, but they’re about to embark on a new adventure by putting out The Henderson’s In Miracle World EP. But the question begs how did a guy from Christchurch hook up with a band from Wellington and eventually agree to put out and promote an EP for them?

I met Mark (the Henderson’s front man) over the internet ages ago when I was like 14 and posting on NZMusic.com as DJ Will. We didn’t really talk all that much until he sent me some mp3s of his band via email a year or two ago and which I ended up loving. It pretty much just developed from there.

For Will, being involved with putting out The Henderson’s EP has been a bit of a waiting game, and as he knows, good things come to those who wait, and by the sounds of things good things are what he’s got.

Originally the Henderson EP was actually meant to be released in April this year. The artwork was completed ages ago by Hadley [AKA Wellington graphic artist, Autistk] and we were all pretty excited to be getting the EP out as fast as possible…

I loved the recordings and was looking forward to releasing them, but with the band’s line-up changing [and with] their style of music evolving quite drastically, they decided to completely re-recorded the EP as a three piece with Tim Shann – who had recorded the original EP – taking over on bass.

The new EP took about two months to be recorded [again by Tim] and at first I was slightly wary about a whole new EP [Because] I lived in a different city to the band and hadn’t had a chance to check them out live as a three-piece.

However, I did get a chance to hear some recorded band practices and was stoked! The new material and dynamics in the band was incredible.

Once the final version of the EP arrived in my mailbox to be sent off to the printers I was fully in love with the band. The new recordings were more powerful, more interesting and just generally in a completely different league to the original recordings and I was over the moon.’

So, Out of Kilter’s first big release will be from a Wellington band, but what does Will, think of the scene in his hometown?

The level of talent in Christchurch in terms of high school bands is fucking incredible! There has always been something in the water down here – I think Out of Kilter has probably helped bring kids out to shows that normally wouldn’t go – but in terms of great bands – they’ve always been here, although right now does seem like a bit of an AA revolution with cool new bands appearing out of the woodwork pretty frequently.

I’d say the best part for me as far as all ages shows go is the feeling of community at the gigs and on the Out of Kilter web forum…and getting to see great bands so early in their career is definitely exciting too.

Out of Kilter has been treated well by the all age’s scene but what about the R 18 crowd?

It’s almost like a 50/50 split between R18 cats who think what we’re doing is stupid or ‘cute’, and people who are genuinely excited about what’s going on.

When I first started putting on shows it definitely seemed like a LOT of the R18 bands weren’t interested at all in being involved with us. I remember approaching a couple of bands early on and getting some pretty rude responses which turned out to be good for me because it gave me the resolve to show them up.

On the other hand there have been some R18 bands who have been really involved in all ages shows. The first show we ever put on had The Leper Ballet onboard which was excellent. There are also bands like House of Dolls, A Flight to Blackout and Frase+Bri who are really active in the AA scene.

This experience has allowed Will to also connect with people who are involved with the Christchurch live scene outside of All Ages events, proving themselves to be worthy allies for Out of Kilter. He cites Joe Veale [of the defunct Creation, now manager of the Jetset Lounge] and Chris Andrews [thebigcity.co.nz] as driving influences.

I met them at the first and second [Out of Kilter] shows I put on respectively…and they’ve both been really instrumental in making Out of Kilter a success, and getting more good shows happening here. I’d say that the best part of all of this for me has definitely been meeting great people. That’s what keeps me going most of the time.

Although Will has been a focused on the all age’s scene, essentially his peer group, he’s about to come of age, could this mean Out of Kilter will change its direction, and move away from putting on shows for kids at high school?
“I’m hoping to keep doing what I’m doing. I might put on more R18 shows since I’ll be spending most of my time at uni and going to gigs but I’ll definitely keep up the all ages thing. I know how boring it is to be a kid in Christchurch, and to deny kids the chance to see amazing bands play just because I’m like a year older than them would be ridiculous.

The one thing that I think will drastically change will be releasing records! We’ve been very slow putting out stuff, so I think I want to do 2 or 3 releases next year!

The Henderson EP will be out in Christchurch at the end of the month with a couple of release shows, but should be in stores around the country very soon. If you want to see what goes on in the world of OOK check out www.outofkilter.net

Pig Out

live electro-house-rave band founded as a side-project by house of dolls‘ marie celeste (keyboards) and kit clayton (vocals, drum programming); with the original intent of being joined by the enigmatic nick harte (shocking pinks) – though he essentially exists as a part time member. soon pig out had an identical lineup to the dolls with bassist frase and drummer kris soon joining; though eventually frase left both groups to vocals on his expanding frase+bri project.

pig out live at happy, filmed by neonsleep

pig out songs are essentially long rambling jams based around marie’s synth and huge percussionary involvement, though with kris now on drums this has taken a more polished, complete feeling. the group quickly grew in popularity across the country, being a fore-runner in the rave-rivivalism scene that emerged in 2006. hugely fun and tongue-n-cheek; the group are hard at work getting their debut ‘club poems’ ready for release on pinacolada records.
July 2007 saw the group embark to Europe, playing the Midi festival on the French Riviera, along with further shows in France, England, and Continental Europe.

discography
picks in bold

  • Club Poems [2006 Pinacolada]