27 May 2018
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Dead Favours - Gig Review: RockEnrol @ Whammy Bar, Auckland 21/09/2017

29 Sep 2017 // A review by butch181

It was a reasonably calm evening as I wandered down Karangahape Road towards St Kevin’s Arcade and the Whammy Bar. The streets were not as busy as they usually would be, but it could mostly be chalked up to the ever-changing weather that kept threatening us with intense rainfall without a moment’s notice. Heading down into the venue once doors opened, I was faced with a nearly empty venue. With the first band set to begin in mere moments, it was a surprise to see such a low turnout for a free rock gig. That being said the show had been put together at very short notice, so I’d have to wait and see how the attendance changes throughout the night.

Ten minutes after doors opened, Royal Jackets took to the stage, and all I could think of was how amazingly clear the sound was; no static, no feedback. Clearly, there was some well-maintained equipment and brilliant work from the sound desk. Despite having such clarity in their sound, they didn’t look like an experienced band; they didn’t look like they were there to do a show. They looked like they were there just jamming and having some fun. Beyond a funky blues-rock sound, I couldn’t confine Royal Jackets to a single category or musical style. Accompanied by what could be considered a Head Like A Hole-esque confident vocal style, their songs swung from slow and sultry, to upbeat and jumpy, with great rhythm. They put forth an amalgamation of influences, with riffs and vocal melodies that are reminiscent of Deja Voodoo, early Incubus, Jet, and even System of a Down. They are exciting to watch, and provide some light-hearted banter around their lyrical choices, whether writing songs about Yo-yo’s, or Speed in the Cat Bowl. The sound was a unique collaboration that caused the crowds to start filtering in from the gig next door as they decided Whammy Bar sounded better.

Kara Gordan and the Wreckage were up next. Removing the trench coat, but keeping the high-crowned, wide-brimmed cowboy hat on, Kara Gordan made use of the low lighting of Whammy bar to create an intimate mood for all that attended. The vocals were on the quiet side, but they were never really the focal point. They brought together the gritty, bluesy guitar riffs until we reached the climax of each track; the incredibly fast-paced and intricate finger-work of the solos. His hands became a blur as he shredded with ease, working the guitar for the audience, and showing off his skills playing one-handed and behind his back. The crowd loved it, and were exceedingly animated between the tracks, applauding and “chahoo-ing”, but were lulled into silence during each performance as the skill, intricacy, and lighting combined to make everyone around you disappear and make you feel like the show was being performed just for you. Ross Larsen was pulling double duty this evening as he was performing with the headliners too, but he made the most of the opportunity on stage and refused to let Kara get all the attention, pulling off riffs that would challenge guitarists from competing bands; there is no simply monotonous rhythm here, it’s all about a swinging beat and belting out harmonic melodies as they go. The vocals were the only drawback of the performance. With the diminished volume, and the occasional peaks of feedback, it vastly contrasted the clarity shown by the Royal Jackets, but it certainly didn’t detract from the audiences’ enjoyment.

By this point in time, Whammy Bar was doing well for a Thursday night with local acts. The Auckland RockEnrol show was drawing in perhaps three-to-four times the attendance of the Christchurch and Hamilton shows combined. Final group to perform for the night were the recent breakout group Dead Favours. With their debut single gaining much traction on the radio, and the subsequent release of their second single, they have been ever increasingly getting out on the road for shows. As soon as they start to play, the crowd starts to swing and dance; a clear sign of the friendly, bluesy atmosphere that has reigned throughout the night. Volume was no issue for the band, and they get a fair amount of activity from the crowd during High Flying, with their Munster-esque riffs. Despite a solid performance, the crowd seemed to be a bit polarised by the performances with the numbers thinning out, while other members of the audience were really getting into it. Their set gradually progressed from bluesy to full-blown rock, and after a proficient cover of Gerry Rafferty’s 1978 track Baker Street, and in what could best be described by a Star Wars quote: they “scare easily but they'll be back... and in greater numbers” the crowd returned. As the songs got heavier, the energy picked up in the venue, and Wrenhall’s long abrasive screams combined with piercing guitar riffs created some great catchy hooks that gets the body moving whether you want to or not.

Overall, the night received a mixed reception from a crowd that couldn’t decide if they wanted to be at Whammy Bar or the Back Room, but alas that is the risk of a free show in such a venue.


Review written by Alex Moulton
Photos courtesy of Alex Moulton

About Dead Favours

Combining a mix of huge fuzzy and sometimes quirky riffs, groove-laden drums, beautiful falsetto vocals mixed with arena commanding screams and a level of songwriting that some say has been missing from rock for some time, Dead Favours have been quick to grab the attention of the New Zealand music scene and are going from strength to strength in a very short time.

Since their formation in early 2016, the band have released a string of singles, the most notable to date being Dig (produced by Shihad’s Tom Larkin), a riff-centric banger that quickly grabbed the attention of both audiences and radio programmers alike, spending an impressive 27 weeks in the charts. The success of this debut single lead to a nationwide tour alongside the already popular Skinny Hobos, Decades and Bakers Eddy which saw the band increase momentum and pick up an army of new fans all around the country.

The band quickly followed with the singles High Flying and Better The Weather (produced again by Tom Larkin) which has seen the band go on to be invited to perform at festivals such as Jim Beam Homegrown, Demon Energy Rock The Park and share the stage with international acts Royal Blood and Rise Against which was received with rave reviews;

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Dead Favours

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