25 Mar 2019
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Dead Little Penny - Gig Review: Dead Little Penny @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 25/01/2019

27 Jan 2019 // A review by Lou Clement

Three-piece Dead Little Penny were the second act on stage and headlining at the Whammy Bar on Friday evening, launching their new single Depression. The venue was packed out and the fans did little to reduce the temperature of the basement venue. Despite this, the three bands billed for the evening’s line-up showed little sign of tiring of the heat as they faithfully, energetically and joyfully played through their sets. All three acts were clearly enjoying being on stage.

First up were Lexxa, fronted by twins Julia and Maude Morris. They played through some sweet and catchy pop tracks. Their delicate and yet strong female vocals were overlaid with light-hearted synth sounds and drums. The third act were Two Cartoons who played a late set ending around 12:30pm; they were raucous and delivered strumming guitar melodies with vibrant and punk-infused vocals guiding every track.

Dead Little Penny began playing, unannounced, on stage. The band are Hayley Smith, Simon Buxton and Sean Martin-Buss. I didn’t know what the band looked like so spent a few minutes transfixed wondering who was on guitar, and in ignorance thinking whether this was in fact DLP. The volume seemed off on the vocals for the first track and then it was sorted out. It was the gig I was hoping for. I love this band. All of it - their melodies, grunge inflections and studious guitar solos with drum accompaniment. They are my idea of easy listening. It’s post rock, ambient at times and it’s influenced by bands like Portishead. The female vocals give it an ethereal hinge which leads to a dark, thoughtful musical tone. Their current oeuvre hints that Smith’s voice could be used more experimentally in future tracks.

Although the vocals were not taking centre stage in songs like Honeycomb, which was fantastic to hear live, the melding of guitar, drum and voice was inspired and interesting. It’s not sing-along music, but that’s ok with me. Almost theatrical with their song titles like Depression; there’s also a confessional aspect to the lyrics. I felt like it was a flawless set, there wasn’t enough of it, the set was too short. An authentic talent, I can’t wait to see Dead Little Penny again and I’m looking forward to the band’s first album, Urge Surfing, reportedly due out in the first half of this year.

 

About Dead Little Penny

Dead Little Penny is the coming together of guitar-slinging vocalist and songwriter Hayley Smith, and drummer/synth player Simon Buxton, who create a soundscape of noisy textures, fizzing guitars and ambient synth, paired with catchy fuzz-pop melodies.

What originally began as a dreamy alt-country project, tracks from their self-titled EP received radio play, with the band fast becoming popular amongst musicians in Auckland’s underground country scene.

What seems like an unlikely change of genre, Hayley feels more at home writing with a broken drum machine and an electric guitar. As a teenager, she began making pop- punk and wall-of-sound music in her bedroom with a guitar gifted to her on her 13th birthday. Playing at beer-fuelled house parties in Central Auckland, Hayley became a regular gig-goer, fast drawn to favourites The Mint Chicks and Die! Die! Die!

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