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Gig Review: Up Your Alley Festival @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland 20/11/2014

04 Dec 2014 // A review by Andrew Smit

There may have been thousands of cheering so called music lovers at the Vodafone NZ Music Awards, but I was with 20 odd faithful rock lovers at the Ding Dong Lounge, where we experienced an expose of good hard progressive rock from four young bands at the Up Your Alley Festival.

The line-up of acts delivered well the promise of hard-core rock, it was like a relentless battle of distorted guitars and frenetic drumming with respite provided only by band changeovers and fire alarms evacuations. First up was Scared of Girls who played with a much harder edge than when I last saw them, they up’d the anti nicely to fit into the hard core rock the festival promoted. Gone was the surfy stomping pop rock, replaced with distorted guitars and fast rhythms, they sound good but lacked a little bravado, but with continued live gigs they should gain some more “stage” confidence and improve their overall presence.

Next was Skinny Hobos consisting of just 1 guitar and drums, but they had our ears filled with distorted guitar harmonics that defied the lack of bass or a second guitar. These Hobo’s have good chemistry and had fun as they talked, joked and interacted with the gathered faithful. Their sound was heavy with awesome bold slower intro sections that built and crashed into faster rock frenzies, at times the songs were a bit loose, but a casual grunge feel seemed the right fit at the time.

3rd up was Chuck Norris, a four piece who again provided moody preambles that broke into heavy full on rock with crashing cymbals and driving rhythms, they picked and plucked their guitars and provided great extended rock out sessions with drum rolls and booming blow outs. Almost orchestral at times they really filled their slot with dynamic songs full of drama and energy.

Last up was Bad State who were in a very good state, they have been busy gigging and progressing in bands comps around Auckland, and you could hear it, they were tight and fluid, they switched from song to song with no fuss, and didn’t need to be ear splittingly loud. Alex Glučina’s vocal was an impressive mix of vibrant velvet with breakout gothic death spells, and then there is Joseph Macedo’s dazzling lead guitar work, the only thing more active or impressive than his fingers was his growing and flowing hair! Their sound is full on rock guitars with crunching rhythm provided by Tom Hatton on bass and, Shannon Marr Paraha on drums. They have great original songs and they know how to fit a Beatles cover into the mix with suitably inserted profanity.

Well done to the Ding Dong Lounge for making this event happen, helping to support independent hard rock outfits by providing a cool inner city venue to showcase their wares to the faithful. A good night was had by all, if 50 more people were in attendance I am sure the night would have been even more memorable, but I was there and it has now been documented on the line.


Other Reviews By Andrew Smit

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The alternative sound force is strong in this one! With its hypnotic mystical sound Lizard Prom have produced a 3-song EP that is full of compelling transcendent power.
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The latest release from Bingo Fighter, On My Guard, is a very cool song with vivid pulsating guitar which is driven along by stomping drums, that pump through the song with outstanding clarity. The chorus is simple enough with its straightforward repeated phrase "on a far-king train", delivered in a unique singing style from vocalist Hayden, which is strikingly distinct with a clear enunciated style that makes the track sound super sublime.
EJ Barrett - EP Review: Call Me EJ
17 Feb 2021 // by Andrew Smit
EJ Barrett creates a very fresh and vibrant sound thanks mostly to the organically produced backing loops of breaths and whispers, creating a very emotive ambiance, EJ’s voice and style are comparative to other Kiwi artists like Lorde and Gin Wigmore, but is also quite worldly like Adele and Enya. The backing loops that EJ performs provide a unique kind if organic beat that is full of soulful expression.
Phil Stoodley - Single Review: Long Way from Home
26 Sep 2019 // by Andrew Smit
New Zealand singer-songwriter Phil Stoodley is a travelling Kiwi musician of some note and he has created a most beautiful song and video clip for his new single Long Way From Home, which shows off his singing and song writing skill spectacularly. The track sounds so good, the recording is impressively immaculate yet still warm and full of character.
Jam Henderson - Single Review: Rainbow
10 Sep 2019 // by Andrew Smit
Rainbow is a cool little track with a nice funky vibe, the pace is urged along by a bright sparkly guitar that produces a nice upbeat feel. The guitar delivers a splash of spritely sound that provides a nice contrast to the laid-back tuneful vocals that flow effortlessly through the track.
Sonic Delusion - Album Review: Anything Goes
11 Jun 2019 // by Andrew Smit
What a wonderfully positive experience it was to review Sonic Delusion's new album Anything Goes. 10 tracks of splendidly good tunes that make you feel good, with catchy grooves and upbeat rhythms, the music is best described as a kind of funky folk pop but with extra fizz, and sparkle, that is so easy to enjoy.
Kingsland - Single Review: The Motto
30 Apr 2019 // by Andrew Smit
A very groovy pop rock sound is the first thing that strikes you when listening to Kingsland’s latest single The Motto. Driven by a very upbeat vibe that seizes you wholeheartedly, this tuneful track is packed with chunky guitar licks that are wonderfully bluesy and soulful.
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Another smooth and gratifying song by Eyreton Hall, that soothes the senses with its easy flowing style and melodic grace. With steady rhythmic folk music that rolls along so sweetly and is sprinkled with lovely colour spurts dispensed by a flirting electric guitar and keyboards.
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