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Gig Review: Music is Dead @ The Kings Arms, Auckland 15/01/2015

23 Jan 2015 // A review by Andrew Smit

The resplendent Kings Arms hosted the Music is Dead rock festival, a two night event with $4 of every ticket going to charity. A good crowd for a Thursday night filed in to take in the first show with four hot rock bands on the bill. Staged by Seb Mackay, who with help from Halogen Audio, organised a set of QSC speaker stacks to provide extra oomph to the existing sound system and it did provide a tremendous amount of extra kick, but most impressively was the high quality of sound it delivered, the best I have heard at the Arms or any live gig in a long time.

First up, Braves hit the stage and pounded out their progressive thrashing rock numbers with vigour and startling clarity, a potent blend of punk with a little pop! While some light hearted humour didn’t quite have us in raptures it did lift the vibe and made the audience feel like they’re at a private party. Nico Batenburg's vibrant vocals was powerfully delivered as he jumped around with two distorted guitars twisting around solid drums and bass. The four guys up front may have been in matching grey shirts but they were not a synchronised pop dance boy band, oh no, they were punk rockers but with nice harmonies and friendly attitudes. In true punk style the guitarists, Danny Fanny and Michael Smith, generally kept their back to us except for when providing some great harmonic backing vocals. Overall the guys showcased their hot originals which all sounded strong and impressive. The drumming from Keiran Walsh was solid throughout and was in fine sync with bass man David Newman, who we were informed was leaving the band, hopefully the guys have found a replacement as good bass men are a rare breed indeed.

Thin White Lines kicked off with their super rhythmic blues funk rock mashup that grabbed you by the throat and the pants, their high energy upbeat songs are very driving and attention grabbing. Most tracks had great funked up rhythmic sections and tempo changes that kept you interested and wanting to dance. Lead vox from Alex Ward was cool and dynamic throughout, they did an impressive slower rock number, a smooth bluesy ballad that built with energy and feeling very nicely. I have seen these guys perform before and tonight they showed they are improving with each show in spades, they are a tight unit and have formulated a high energy sound that will continue to win them new fans like me.

Silence The City performed their high energy rock in relentless style, this was chunky hard rock with Justin Pitt up front supplying punk energy with a strikingly melodic vocal. Great songs were continuously peeled off, each with a stirring rock strength, their rocked up version of Ellie Goulding’s Burn hit a unique spot, with Justin not holding back on the high vocal sections before the chorus. They enjoyed their work and never took the pedal off from delivering driving powerful energetic rock numbers. Silence The City are a tremendous group to look out for.

Ekko Park slotted in to fine form, with Joe Walsh looking and sounding in good shape, the band sounded fresh and in fine rhythmic sync. An awesome light show was provided that helped create a blistering atmosphere that felt incredible. The band clearly know and enjoy their songs and it was with a familiarity and ease that they delivered their upbeat sound to the night. They put to great use Seb’s great speaker stack with dynamic songs full of melody and feeling, with softer blues numbers like Simpatico punctuating the more heavy songs beautifully. We were able to jointly celebrate when Joe announced with his lovely Irish accent that he will receive on the 20th of Jan a prized NZ passport!

Their cracking rock song My Crime sounded fantastic and reminded us why they were in the running for Rock Album of the year. Joel Halstead provided magnificent guitar work throughout the show and was moving confidently around the stage with his sweet black Gibson in tow. The machine room was a very sturdy ship with Callum Tong on Bass and Nick Douch on Drums consistently providing sweet fat rhythm throughout the show. A new song Evolution Revolution was performed for the second time ever and it was full of lovely harmonies and melody that built nicely with strong rhythm and power. A cover of Bowie’s Suffragette City was superbly performed and acknowledged by the rock devotees who had moved up close and personal to the stage.

Everyone enjoyed the whole evening, an expertly arranged event with four hot bands let loose on a big stage with an awesome sound system and dynamic lightshow! It was a sustained assault on the senses and it made you feel alive, who said music is dead?


Other Reviews By Andrew Smit

Lizard Prom - EP Review: Unusual Pain
22 Jul 2021 // by Andrew Smit
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.
Bingo Fighter - Single Review: On My Guard
02 Jul 2021 // by Andrew Smit
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.
Eyreton Hall - Single Review: Weekend
26 Mar 2019 // by Andrew Smit
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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