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  • Hollywoodfun Downstairs - Gig Review: Hollywoodfun Downstairs @ The Wine Cellar, Auckland 23/03/2018

Hollywoodfun Downstairs - Gig Review: Hollywoodfun Downstairs @ The Wine Cellar, Auckland 23/03/2018

30 Mar 2018 // A review by butch181

On a brisk Friday night at the Wine Cellar, a small crowd milled around the bar awaiting the opening band to set up and complete their soundcheck. Slightly after they were due to begin, the doors were opened and Old Loaves started their set. Due in part to the shape of the stage, the trio were set up with drummer Cameron Reid to the far left, with vocalist and guitarist Benjamin Ward on the far right, and bassist, John Strange taking up the central position. With their own hybrid of heavy post-grunge rock, their style incorporates a slow-paced set with heavily distorted guitars, and some rolling droning gruff vocals. 

Despite the heaviness of the tracks, there is sharpness, with some beautiful cleaner lead guitar riffs, and a very snare-heavy drum style. Overall, the Old Loaves are well practised; checking their tuning between each track, and very tight timing with the start and ends of their songs, they all start at the same time, like a well synchronised machine. With a Beastwars vibe, their particular instrumental style is almost reminiscent to that of French Blackgaze outfit, Alcest. It was announced during the set that their drummer had had a stroke a year prior, and it was unknown whether he would survive, let alone ever play again, but there he was on stage, giving it his all. A brilliant performance for an opener.   

Next on the bill were an international act, the LA-based punk noise experimental rock group known as Qui (pronounced ‘kwee’). This duo are an odd pair, with Matt Cronk taking on guitar and vocals, while Paul Christensen also contributes vocals and splits himself between keys and drums. Christensen starting the set with some church organs in an early video game style, Cronk starts vocals for their 2015 track Shame On You, yelling out the title name like a faux-religious service, followed by several “hwahhwah whoo” fighting noises, before talking about a “dirty little piglet”. 

I would say they started with an unconventional bang, but unconventional is an understatement. Almost coming across like they are taking the piss to see how far they can take their musical “style” before people will stop following them. They performed several tracks with small portions that had an early-Incubus (think Fungus Amongus and S.C.I.E.N.C.E era) or Weezer influences, but while clearly talented musicians, and actually having great vocals and harmonies when not yelling and cawing like a bird, their experimental style throws out the rule book on song structures and flow, instead choosing to create and perform pieces that sound like multiple demos stapled together. 

Interesting to observe and could be considered a musical version of interpretive dance, but difficult to determine when a song ends and when another begins, unless you know their entire 18-year back catalogue. One of their tracks started with some tambourine while vocals included umm’s, mmm’s, and moans like a porno was being filmed, before transitioning into some version of a Christmas hymn, then into a rock track from there; no consistent cohesive style persists in a Qui song. Perhaps best described as an artistic “shock” musical outfit, they pride themselves on their weirdness, but it’s not for me, and neither the crowd, which whittled down in size by 90%, giving a wide berth to the stage. They finished their set with Ashtray Heart.

Half an hour until midnight and the headliners have finally hit the stage. Between each act, the crowd dispersed and heads into the bar in the neighbouring room. Not waiting for the crowd to reappear, Hollywoodfun Downstairs get straight into their set with some high-paced, high-noise, thrash punk. Almost sounding like Deftones on crack, with a guitar tone that has a level of clarity and punch to it, while also having enough fuzz to fill the instrumental void on stage. 

The group being a duo, Kurt Williams takes on both guitar and vocals, a high-intensity and a high-focused role that has him glued to the microphone in a single static stance for long periods. On the other hand, you have Joel Wright manning the drumkit, dressed in singlet stubbies and a sweatband, he looks ready to play tennis in the 1970’s (compared to Williams dressed in all-black formal wear), and is going manic with the speed and double-kick, limbs flying in all directions. 

For a duo, their sound is a solid punch to the face, and could be compared to Marilyn Manson if he decided to go into speed metal, or New Zealand’s own Villainy is they had taken Syria further into the alt-metal genre. Williams vocal style varies from track to track with similar nuances to At the Drive-In’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger, and Dead Favours Jared Wrennall. Their speed and intensity are impressive and Wright does incredibly well to maintain a semblance of rhythm with his snare through the cacophony of noise. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to bring out all the crowd that had been present for Old Loaves, but they definitely managed to gain back some of the crowd that Qui had pushed away.   

Review written by Alex Moulton


About Hollywoodfun Downstairs

Hollywoodfun Downstairs was founded in London, England in the early months of 2008, ending up in Wellington in 2011.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Hollywoodfun Downstairs


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