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.
Old and dilapidated wooden villa on Madras Street that functioned as a rather excellent venue for house parties and all-age events for a few years prior to the Canterbury Earthquakes in 2010 / 2011.
Occupied by a variety of individuals connected to Christchurch live music, student radio (RDU) and all-ages (Red Panda) scenes, the house was opened up for day time shows on the front-lawn or in the living room.
The occupants lived through the 2010 / 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes, but eventually moved out – the owners then discovering how extensively damaged the building was – though the original building still stands as of 2017.
Former tenant, Red Panda member and RDU Sheep Technique DJ Eamonn Marra provided a (presumed) complete list of the acts that played the Log Cabin over the years:
Thankfully the FANTASTIC Old Loaves from Wellington were then playing in the Barn. Hot damn these guys are great. i described them at the time as kinda like the Gordons, but I guess maybe more straight forward and with a pretty brutal edge. Really really dug these guys, and they got a great crowd response from the fellow Christchurch lads in the crowd.Next up Wet Wings had a go at the full line-up, with Matt scobie joining Darian, Lucy and Jon in the Pool. there was even time for a little dancing this time around.
Saw a little of Mothers of Darkness – a pretty straight forward band; but headed off pretty early, I think this time around catching a renegade room double of No Aloha and new outfit Etiquette. Although No Aloha will be faimilar to Christchurch and Wellington audience (and features basically the Insurgents performing new songs). Etiquette are a brand new band with a few familiar faces; and I must admit I took a shine to this new band immediately. Mark turners a pretty great front-man, and with catchy call-and-response vocals I was an instant fan.
Teen Hygiene seem to have a gimmick – their drummer likes playing ‘high’; though not in the typicalsense; he’d stacked up a giant drum riser in the barn, and later better that by playing on the roof of the bike sheds (in scorching sunlight). Seem like a pretty straight ahead rock band out of Wellington.
I missed Alphabethead, though I believe I did later see him (along with James Dansey of the Sneaks) clean up in the 3-on-3 b-ball competition. Next band I didn’t catch were Lowtide – and Aussie shoegazey outfit notable for their use of twin bassists. Good stuff; with cool twin vocals too.
After a painfully sunny day though, the beast was to come once the sun came down…
Eclectic pop-rock 5-piece based in the Garden City of Christchurch. Formed as a group of friends by former Bang! Bang! Eche! vocalist Ross Heath (keys/vox), the group was fronted by the OLovelys Laura-Lee Watson (vox/synth), with Will MacFarlane (guitar/bass – Shocking Pinks / Overdrive) and Chris Andrews (bass/keys – Palace of Wisdom / Leper Ballet).
Originally backed by Insurgents front-man Chris Young on the kit – but due to other heavy commitments Young fell away; the group initially continuing with drum-machine backing, before Shocking Pinks‘ Nick Harte stepped in. Harte relocated to Auckland in early 2008, and MacFarlane’s former Overdrive band-mate Tim Woods quickly fell into place.
In mid-2008 the group quickly assembled a selection of songs which Andrews recorded in his own home environment – the group intends to release these songs before Watson departs for Europe with her group the OLovelys.
Simply amazing leaving party for the Insurgents boys; off up north and to London, ending a chapter in Christchurch music. I missed the transistors but caught half of Bang! Bang! Eche! – just a totally manic, crazy show at the wonderful Christchurch Media Club; the Hot Pants theme worked great!
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.