Christchurch-based pop-group, The Insurgents were the darlings of the all-ages scene courtesy of their involvement with Will Edmonds’ Out of Kilter. The original line-up of Young, Coffey and Ellis displayed a strong Brit-pop influence on Chris Young’s songs, whilst Mike Ellis added an element of US Indie-Pop to proceedings.
Ellis and Young have tremendous chemistry together, shaping their songs with perfect harmonies and huge hooks, whilst Coffey keeps things nice and tight.
The band spent a year on hiatus courtesy of guitarist/vocalist Chris Young’s other pop-tastic band Neil Robinson winning the Smoke-Free Rock-Quest in 2006, and eventually succumbed to the big OE, with all 4 members leaving Christchurch for an overseas experience.
Along the way the group recorded an EP with Jo Veale, added Will Edmonds on guitar and recorded what was essentially a post-breakup album for Rob Mayes Failsafe Records.
This release eventually saw them frequent New Zealand television with their song ‘Rather Be Dead’ in adverts for Canterbury University.
With the albums release the group hastily shot and released a handful of music video’s with director Peter Bannan, each filmed as largely continuous shots at the groups established suburban Sockburn House-Party flat with a huge number of Friends and fans.
Chris Young (Guitar/Vocals, 2004 – 2009)
David Coffey (Drums, 2004 – 2009)
Mike Ellis (Bass/Keyboards/Vocals, 2004 – 2009)
Will Edmonds (Guitar/Vocals/Keyboards/Bass, 2007 – 2008)
Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, replaced by commerical buildings
Active as a live music venue: 2005 – 2011
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 Edmonds‘ Out 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
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:
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.
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.
Excellent instrumentalist trio from the garden city formed by Matt Craw (Guitar), James Musgrave (Bass), and Jared Kelly (Drums) in early 2005. Taking cues from a variety of informed directions, the group were prolific features of the local live scene, and attached themselves to both R18 and all-age crowds with varying success. Playing an involved instrumental sound heavy on dynamics, the group enlisted ex-Substandard bassist Gareth Heta as a 2nd guitarist for a short period before reverting back to their original configuration. However, this was soon broken when Kelly left to play with the Pickups full-time, so Cam Walker was recruited to carry on where Jared left off.
Throughout later 2005 and early 2006 the group had a strong association with fellow garden city instrumentalists Coal, with Walker sitting at the throne for both groups for a period – however this was halted by problems with the tendons in Walker’s wrist, which caused him a great deal of pain during a show with the touring groups Jakob and American outfit No Funeral.
After losing Walker, Craw and Musgrave added Thomas Lambert (synth/guitar – aka i.Ryoko) in order to create a fuller sound than the rock trio lineup. Through him they found a great replacement drummer in Adam Jack, who picked up the groove of the songs quickly and added his own heavy hitting style. At this time, Gareth Heta again showed an interest in being part of the band, so he was recruited on guitar (and bass when James swaps to guitar). These changes have lead to further creativity within the group, with new songs eventuating at the start of 2007 (including for the first time, a song with vocals provided by Musgrave).
More live shows followed, a highlight being a gig with The Enright House, Pandora’s Bucket, and Wellingtonians Donatello. Towards the end of 2007, A Flight To Blackout entered the RDU Roundup band competition without any expectations of success, and came away with 2nd place, pipped by the more RDU-friendly (but by no means lesser) Bang! Bang! Eche!
As seemed to be the rule by now, Jack left the group at the end of 2007 to travel to Canada, and Lambert left for Wellington. This allowed the remaining members to focus on the tracking of their debut release, which is currently being mixed and produced by Thomas for release on his and partner Matt Faisander’s Sonorous Circle label before the end of 2008.
In early 2008 Hayden Williams and Josh Black (both also of Neil Robinson) made fine replacements on drums and synth respectively, their first show with the band being the farewell/fundraiser of friends The O’Lovelys.
Neil Robinson was formed in March of 2006 by Chris Young (The Insurgents), Josh Black (The Blow Charlie) and Hayden Williams (Hype!) – all 3 known within the Christchurch All-Ages music scene thanks to their previous groups.
The band display a tight, upbeat indie pop sound based around Young’s quirky lyrics.
Taking their name from a local graphic artist and former band-mate of all three members, the trio found immediate success, winning the 2006 Smoke-Free Rock-Quest finals within 6 months of forming. The trio picked up $10,000 worth of gear, a single recorded at York Street Studios, and a video courtesy of New Zealand On Air.
Christchurch-based former Rockquest winners and all-round fun-time band Neil Robinson play their last show with the departure of frontman Chris Young for England. Supported by Bang! Bang! Eche! at a well-known Sockburn flat, this was a damn epic (and messy) party.