20 Dec 2018
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No Sky - Gig Review: No Sky @ The Wine Cellar, Auckland 24/05/2017

30 May 2017 // A review by Alex Moulton
On a Wednesday evening I was invited along to an EP release at St Kevin’s Arcade, in the Wine Cellar; one of Auckland’s Karangahape road music venues. The release was an intimate affair, with the audience composed of the musicians, family and friends, and myself.

Taking a seat on a couch that lined the wall of the stage room, I waited for the first act to take to the stage. The opening artist was known as April’s Fool, a solo project belonging to Danny Ebdale. Standing on stage he was rather unassuming in appearance, and rather static in his routine, preferring to remain in the same position for most of his set.

But Ebdale is a master of tuning. Making great use of the capo and irregular tuning, he is able to carve out a multitude of songs with a very unique sound. With a strong comprehension of his pedals, Ebdale proved to be very capable, and knowledgeable of his own songs.

Despite the different tuning between nearly every track in his set (a set that spanned his musical creations of the last 7-8 years), he was able to expertly transition from one track to another with barely a pause.

The music of April’s Fool is alternative, with an evolution in style. Earlier tracks focus more on intricate finger picking, while later tracks get louder with more use of looping effects, and have a greater emphasis on the vocals. Ebdale has a rather svelte voice, and is very soft spoken. A relaxing start to the evening, to say the least.

The second act to come up on stage was unexpected. A six-piece band, with a multitude of instruments at their disposal. With three guitars, a bass, two keyboards, four microphones, and a drumkit, Galaxy Bear are clearly the masters of multi-tasking. The most memorable member of the group however comes in the form of the drummer; wearing nothing more than his underwear, a large head of a teddy bear, and a face apparently sharpied onto his chest.

As they play through their set, the music comes across slow and reserved, almost lackadaisical in manner. In a style that seems to combine influences from Pink Floyd, with the enthusiasm of Iggy Pop, their numbers and multiple instruments help them create a layered sound that allows every member to contribute, without anyone taking the spotlight. Alex Schuck tends to lead the melodies of each track on bass, with Michael Gianan doing a brilliant job on lead guitar, playing intricate finger-work throughout each track despite having some issues getting his sound right. This will be the second time I have seen Joshua Worthington-Church perform (last time on bass with Being., this time on guitar and keys) and he still maintains a level of unbounding enthusiasm that cannot be matched. Vocally, Galaxy Bear’s songs are rather muted and refrained, but instrumentally, they were a pleasant surprise to the ears.

The reason I was there that night, was for the EP release of No Sky. Oddly enough, they were not headlining the night; that privilege fell to the group, Bad for Education. No Sky took a little bit longer to set up, purely because of a few technical issues with the equipment. With very little fanfare, they got into their set. A lot of the focus on the performing stage was pointing towards vocalist and guitarist Joel Thomas. With most of the monitors moved to surround him, and his multiple microphones, you would think that he was the focal point, but the member that got my attention the most was bassist, Shane Warbrooke. The man clearly loved playing, and he lunged from side to side passionately. Joshua Worthington-Church made another appearance, this time behind the drumkit (what instrument can’t he play?).

No Sky is very much an alternative band, with a wide range of sound, from soft to heavy, melodic, to purposeful discord. Vocally, Thomas is very adventurous; transitioning from soft croons, to a style that could be best described as a frustrated David Bowie. The music itself, feels like lounge music; something that I would be best listened to when sitting comfortably with friends. Nothing to make me jump up and down, but something musically exploratory that elicits a polite applause at the conclusion. Final track from the EP Walk to the Ocean would be the stand out track, simply because that was when Thomas went full strength on his vocals and didn’t hold back, though The Moon seemed to be more of a crowd favourite, most likely due to the more upbeat tempo and pop style.

Final group for the night was Bad for Education, who I feel I overheard mention that it was their first live gig. The four-piece band had the happiest sound of the night, with the first few tracks having a Weezer or Smash Mouth energy to it. Very spunky, and much louder than the other acts. The original tracks performed were very basic, especially on the drums, which seemed to lack any change in beat or fills, but they certainly had a better relationship with the audience, putting forward some good banter, and explaining the meaning behind each track.

They did however run out of original songs pretty quickly, and the show regressed to a jam session, allowing the guitarist to try out some solo material, before breaking into a series of cover songs including Lou Reed, The Strokes, Johnny Cash, Steve Miller Band, and Nirvana. But the crowd loved it, those that had had a few too many to drink were up front dancing pulling the rest of the crowd in, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Can you ask for more than that?
 

About No Sky

No Sky is a three-piece grunge band emerging from central Auckland.

Current members are Joel Thomas (Garden Burger) on guitar and vocals, Shane Warbrooke (Bemsha Swing, Climate Change) on bass, and Joshua Worthington-Church (Being., Galaxy Bear).

No Sky began after the disbandment of Garden Burger in November of 2016 after our drummer, James Scott-Nicholson left Auckland.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for No Sky

Releases

i
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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