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Tankapalooza Festival, Palmerston North - 28/09/13

29 Sep 2013 // A review by CEOMong
12 hours, 27 bands, 3 stages, Willow Park tavern. From the start I was intrigued – “how they gonna make that work?” I wondered. Well, make it work they did – and an amazing time was had by all. I witnessed some bands that were new to me (and blew my mind), and saw some that I’ve wanted to see for a while. All in all a damned fine result, and a testament to the bands, the Tankapalooza crew, and the eternally calm and smily staff of the Willow Park Tavern.

Papa was my sidekick for this mission, together we rocked up to the gig about 3ish, which was halfway through one of my all-time favourite swamp bands: The Bing Turkby Ensemble. I was especially stoked when they finished their set with Wanganui – although I’m not a fan of Wanganui I do like Tui and u-turns, so this song has always resounded for me :)

We grabbed a Willow brew (nice drop, that) and then ambled over to the Swamp stage, where we were treated to a new favourite band – one of our favourite three of the whole festival: All The Wrong Reasons. Jam-packed full of drinking, filth, punk and funk, it was a damned fine way to get the ball rolling for me. Favourite tracks were one about banging hot grey-haired teachers, Harry Potter, and the crowd favourite Elemeno P Sucks. More booze.
Back to the Rock stage went we to catch the end of Beneath the Heavens. A promising band of young dudes, I think they borrowed a vocalist though as he spent a lot of time reading words – but he seemed to be having fun and that’s all that really matters. Massive riffs and strong support vocals gave them a solid edge though, these guys could be immense. Favourite track: Eulogy.

Niho Taniwha were next up back at the Swamp stage, where we found our favourite guitarist of the festival – seriously that dude is amazing. He was pulling off some Santana shit, but being oh so casual and effortless about it all. Favourite track: the massive instrumental and solo piece at the end.

Round the bend (no that’s the door for the toilets – seriously it was a bit of a maze) and over to the Rock stage again to catch half a dozen songs from Venus in Transit – the dudes in bowties and a lady upfront in a miniskirt – that’s inspired theming. They ripped out some mint covers and a few original tracks, that chick can wail and they were all having fun even if they couldn’t agree on the set list :)

The Swamp stage is where we found more booze and Turbostill – another of my all-time local faves and the first time I’d seen em. I was not disappointed; I just wish I could have seen more, but I count myself lucky I saw any at all.

We missioned back to the Rock stage to get in front of my first must-see band Gift of Ruin. I missed them the week earlier at the Lamb of God afterparty and by Jeebus I wasn’t gonna miss em again. A very heavy set chocka with thrash vox and power riffs – it was intense and the crowd and myself were primed for it by this stage. A massive and energetic set. Favourite tracks: All of them.

Cephalopod had already started, so we found ourselves back in the Swamp. For such a slight chick she’s got some pipes man! A crazy brutal set, loved it.

Must-see band #2 The Blue Grizzly Band were up next on the Rock stage – the vocalist’s gravelly bluesy voice is built for their sound. Playing a self-proclaimed ‘rockier set’ they ripped out some tracks off their EP, as well as one that’s not, all mixed up with Smoke on the Water, Come Together and finishing with Killing in the Name. Oh, and a fine Hendrix cover in there somewhere. Fine artists, all of them; I can see why so many people voted at the door for them. Papa reckons in a smaller venue they’re a lot smoother and funkier – I’m officially intrigued. Favourite tracks: all of them.

The Freedom stage was now open, so we ventured in to see what the buzz was. I was expecting doof doof so I was surprised when we walked in to barefoot alt rocking Man In Rug. We caught the last track and they sounded pretty damned good just based on that. More booze ...

We drifted through the Rock stage, which was being set up for Dick Tracy, over to the Swamp stage where we caught a track of Truly Made’s set. Nice all over sound, wish I could have given them more time, but ...

Dick Tracy were on the Rock stage, so we hotfooted it – where we were treated to the second surprise of the festival – those dudes kicked arse and made us thank them for it. A hotly energetic and charismatic set, we’d found festival favourite #2. I loved every second of the set – not just for the fine music and crowd engagement but the fact that they obviously love doing what they’re doing. Favourite tracks: all of them.

Dirt Box Charlie were up next over at the Swamp, and despite hearing great things they were a bit too funky for me – maybe it was the Dick that threw me. They sounded great but not right for me right then and there. They had a decent crowd though, a testament to their talents.

Ultimately, a good thing, we found festival favourite three in the Freedom stage – Ceder. We got there as they were setting up, which gave is a chance to rest the tired feet and grab a fresh drink and a bit of a feed.

Ceder were crazy good – these guys are immense, and allegedly the drummer has only been playing for a year! Amazing. A tight set was offered up, big chewy riffs and beautiful bass tones – both Papa and I loved it.

Meanwhile, over on the Rock stage, Roxxlide were having an 80s hair metal party! Mammoth party tunes that had the whole crowd going, it was crazy intense. Best part I think was staying in character the whole time – these dudes rocked the full hair metal regalia and I saw them numerous times after their set getting hit on by the fine mildly intoxicated young ladies that had found their way to the Willow Park ...

We found ourselves back in the Freedom stage just in time for Huf – man that is some crazy arse electronica! It’s good shit though, I really got into it – it’s hypnotic stuff watching a dude in a Lamb of God tee swiping and mixing right in front of you and yet you know he’s in a different place to the rest of us ... magic.

A bit of a boogie and another drink later found us back at the Rock stage, in front of Shamrock. Those dudes rocked – and they know how to party. They had a random collection of younglings and the pissed circle-makers stage centre – some of which found their way on stage (which wasn’t a problem, epic). They ripped out some good as tunes – including a cover of Shihad’s Comfort Me and Rage’s Turn on the Radio, and let’s not forget the stunning rendition of CatDog...

We then caught the last track of Them Dirty Saints over at the Swamp stage – which happened to be Slipknot’s PsychoSocial. EPIC cover.

Last band of the night, who took pains to thank everyone for sticking round, was Depths over on the Rock stage. Nothing like a bit of thrash metal to close out a festival – they cranked out a massive and brutal set which bought all the metalheads up front and centre for the last headbang of the night. A fine way to end a fine festival.

Favourite Bands (in order of viewing):
- All The Wrong Reasons
- Dick Tracy
- Ceder

Cheesy bit:
Thanks to the Tankapalooza and Willow Park crew for having us, all the bands for going hard nuts up there and supporting each other, and all the sponsors for making this happen. Most of all, thanks to everyone for turning up – this shit won’t happen if no-one supports it, so if you didn’t go, and are reading this and thinking ‘man, I shoulda gone, this spoon can’t write coherently but it still sounds like a good time’ then get off your arse and get amongst it next time.

Harry Potter put a spell on meeeeee,

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