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Gig Review: The Winter Party 2018 @ Embankment Tavern, Christchurch - 23/06/2018

05 Jul 2018 // A review by ivyxenaxxe

The Winter Party was an astounding Rock gig held at The Embankment Christchurch 23 June 2018 and it was organised by the band Streakers. The line-up was: Sex Beard, A Doubtful Sound, Streakers, Pieces of Molly, Skinny Hobos, No Broadcast and Enfire.

The MC for the evening was Duncan Sole, who kept everything running smoothly and, as always, was professional and engaging. Mothman was on lights for the night, and his services always take the stage and atmosphere to the next level. We had Sam from The Embankment on sound, and the added benefit all of the new infrastructure that has been added there recently, including heaters, a bar in the gig area, and cover from any rain.

Gracing the stage first and kicking off the night with an exemplary set, was Sex Beard. I had seen this band play in the past, but boy do these guys just keep getting better and better! Their riffs are meaty and punchy but still groove really hard, and their beats are near impossible not to move to. The chemistry between the bassist and drummer is brilliant on stage and keeps the rhythm super tight as the guitar riffs dance over the top and complement the punchy vocal melodies. This band has a real talent for song writing with interesting structures and plenty of dynamic movement. It shows that even though Sex Beard clearly have a tremendous sense of humour, they take their craft very seriously and great songs are the result of that. The stand-out song of the evening from Sex Beard was Fingerbang which you can find on YouTube, along with their EP, and I suggest you have a listen.

Second up for the evening was the three-piece band A Doubtful Sound who were endlessly entertaining to watch. Each band member was well synchronised and was clearly having a lot of fun, which resonated with the audience which was starting to grow larger at this stage of the evening. A Doubtful Sound’s set was full of high octane riffs and commanding breakdowns which the crowd response to was huge. The lead vocalist has an excellent tone which is clean and clear, with some grit and dirt sprinkled over the top, which is just the way I like it. The bass and guitar had an overdriven tone that was reminiscent of Royal Blood’s sound but made different with the drum beats and general energy of the band members. I very much enjoyed the vocal harmonies within this set, where the lead singer and bassist’s backing vocals blended perfectly and sounded rather sweet in comparison to the dirty riffs, which was a contrast I liked a lot. The stand-out song from A Doubtful Sound’s set was Tastes So Good because of the groovy bass intro, and you can check that out on YouTube as well.

The third band to take on the stage for the Winter Party was Streakers, who had put the whole event together and did an absolutely incredible job of it. Streakers are National Champions of the Battle of the Bands and it showed on stage. They have a very well-constructed sound, which has clearly had a lot of thought put into it, and their dynamic range is well utilised with perfectly timed builds and drop-outs. Streakers songs can often take you on a bit of a journey as they don’t take the path you expect them to, but instead they can change up the feel from heavier guttural riffs to dancy grooving breakdowns with the flip of a coin, and I loved that. I was fascinated watching the drummer during this set as he plays with the accuracy of a metronome but still with a human feel. His drum fills were some of the best of the night, and the groovy syncopation held the riffs together like superglue. Accompanying this was a delightfully dirty bass tone, and gritty and punchy guitar rhythms. Streaker’s frontman has incredible energy and held some especially long vocal notes with perfectly precise pitching, which was very impressive. One of many stand-out songs from their set of the night was BDSM which you’ll also find on YouTube.

Pieces of Molly were up fourth on the night, and started hard and fast, kicking straight in with their signature overdriven and unmistakably groovy sound, reminiscent of 80's stadium rock which has been injected with some soul. There was synchronised headbanging which I can’t get enough of, and stunning showmanship by the frontman who would often be playing his guitar behind his head. Pieces of Molly’s drummer is powerful and precise, and the guitar riffs are strong and commanding with some extremely impressive solos, while the bass ties everything together firmly and playfully like glitter coated barbed wire. The lead vocals are impeccable and have an incredibly huge sound which drives the songs along and gets the crowd dancing. It is clear that each member of this band is very talented at what they do, and when those individual forces come together, the sound is faultless. The stand-out song of the evening for me was Down a Hole, which, you guessed it, can be found on YouTube as well.

Up next was Skinny Hobos who I had heard a lot about - and for good reason, this two-piece band sounded huge on stage. Their classic rock riffs groove super hard and blend into bluesy sections which take you by surprise. The dynamic changes in these songs were unexpected but it is expertly executed and kept the audience very engaged. With the use of a loop pedal on the guitar, some effects to bring in the bass frequencies, and vocals drenched in reverb, these guys easily sounded as full as a five-piece band. One of my favourite elements of Skinny Hobo’s sound was the cowbell hits from the drummer, who placed them mindfully and with impact throughout the songs, all the while, their frontman was often standing on the foldbacks shredding enticingly engaging guitar solos. The stand-out song of the set for me was an incredible cover of Led-Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song which the entire crowd (and staff) were immediately captivated by. Skinny Hobos released their debut album six weeks ago, and you can find it on all major online music retailers and streaming services. Definitely have a proper listen to that because I guarantee you won’t regret it.

No Broadcast graced the stage next and were another enormous sounding two-piece band. I believe this band has recently included a bassist, but it was only guitar/vocals and drums on the night. Their sound had a wide range of differences, moving between slower ambient sections, droning and atmospheric sections, and thrashing fast-paced choruses, these guys definitely understand the importance of dynamic range within songs. No Broadcast’s drummer was incredibly energetic, smashing the heck out of his drum kit with precision and intent, but notably he knew just when to hold back, and exactly when to smack you in the face with a delightfully gutsy wall of drums. The lead vocals were used sparingly in this set, however this added further to their effect as it cut deeper through their sound when vocals were utilised. There were plenty of effects used on the guitar which helped to round out the sound of No Broadcast and keep it three dimensional. The stand-out song of the set was the act's closer, which I unfortunately didn’t catch the name of, but was engaging and changed pace many times. This band has a large number of recordings available to watch on their Facebook page, which you’d be silly not to investigate.

The final band for the night, tying up the Winter Party with a blissfully doomy set was Enfire, who I have had the pleasure of watching over the last couple of years. These guys are brilliant at what they do, often busting out the synchronized headbanging, interesting time signatures, and shredding epic guitar solos that stop you in your tracks and insist you pay attention. There are minimal vocals used in Enfire’s songs, but the perfectly controlled deep growls and melodic lines are placed mindfully throughout for maximum impact. Enfire’s drummer has a wide array of different cymbals and used almost all of them within the set but let me make it clear that these were all placed brilliantly within the songs and were not over-utilised. Their bassist had amazing stage presence and ensured that the attention of the crowd was focused on the stage at all times. It became clear to me during Enfire’s set that each member of the band has a large arsenal of skills and equipment at their disposal, however not one of them is fighting for attention over the others. These guys know exactly when to give you all they have, and exactly when to hold back and keep the crowd in suspense. Their final song was my stand-out, but I sadly didn’t catch the title of it. It was an incredible closer to a powerhouse of a gig with a line-up that’s hard to beat. Enfire have over twenty songs available on YouTube for you to stream, and I strongly suggest that you do.

I had an incredible time at the Winter Party, and the whole evening ran very smoothly. I was impressed by every band, and though each band’s sound was different enough to stand apart from each other, they were similar enough to fit effortlessly in the line-up together. There were uncountable moments where I was in awe of the talent on the stage, and I spent most of the night unable to stop myself from dancing along. It goes to show that there is an unquantifiable level of professionalism and talent in the music scene in New Zealand, and a sense of camaraderie between bands and band members.

The Winter Party was a gig that you’d be kicking yourself if you missed. Just in case you did though, I have heard rumours of a Summer Party being in the works, and I sincerely hope that it’s more than just a rumour. If the last show was anything to go by, these gigs could be the beginning of something permanent for the Christchurch music scene which brings together the passion and dedication of hardworking musicians, and the insatiable appetite of the fans who can’t get enough of the outstanding talent within our local and national bands.

Review written by Sam Grueber


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18 Jul 2018 // by ivyxenaxxe
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