25 Mar 2019
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Gig Review: Milk & Honey @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 08/03/2019

11 Mar 2019 // A review by Lou Clement

International Women’s Day, in my experience, is often not marked by celebrations other than something official in the news – something with flowers and over-privileged celebrity-like figures at the mic. It’s the first year I’ve lived in Auckland for it though, and to find that celebrations planned for the occasion with music performances taking place as part of a curated event were exciting. I was at the Whammy on Karangahape Road, Auckland, which opened the cross-venue doors to include the Wine Cellar. It was a warren of bars, excellent music and celebratory vibes.

At one point, I was at the bar and Montel Jordan’s 1995 single This Is How We Do It was playing - there was one person dancing and singing her heart out; based on my experience of the evening, I agree. I was out tonight to celebrate the trials, tribulations and successes of women across the world; whether this was my sister working hard to complete her PhD and work two jobs or international media reports of women fighting for justice or just to be safe. I’m an optimist, it was a thumbs up not a thumbs down; a need to look towards better standards and more opportunities in the coming year, I hope.

The Milk & Honey event took place over three cities, in four venues and brought together over twenty artists. It was billed as a festival, albeit one where you can’t get from one ‘tent’ to another, which is a shame in some ways as there were also acts at the sister event at the Powerstation in Auckland, which I would have loved to see.

It was a really excellent almost non-stop evening of great music. One of the first high points for me was unexpected. If International Women’s Day is about something, it might be about giving all types of women a platform to be heard, but also about seeing yourself in those people. There’s an inspirational strength in that. For me Chaii was a fierce, authentic act that brought originality not only through the blend of hip hop and electronica, characteristic of her tracks, and obviously because she was fantastic and fully supported by a large enthusiastic crowd. But also because she is from somewhere different and she wore the traditional dress of her home country. I really needed to hear that voice, I can’t tell you exactly why. Chaii is one to watch, catchy and infectious dance-inspiring music. She has real presence and a sense of performance which was both humble and effortlessly professional.

The night continued with acts overlapping in different rooms, but it was fine to wander from room to room, I’d taken a picture of the poster with the line-up times and between glasses of wine was just about making it to all the acts I wanted to see. I wonder if I missed an event compere, or whether there might have been a chance for other types of women artists to perform, or otherwise get involved. Maybe crafters or Feminist groups could have also been there during the day; or even poets. I might’ve have missed this though – there may have been other events going on.

With Whammy, the artists wander through the crowds though, and having been at a dozen or so gigs at this venue, I realise this is the thing that is sort of magic about the place. Especially when acts are coming on and off stage throughout the night. Dead Little Penny gave a tight and inspiring performance as expected, I just love their guitarist and his skillful performance was great to watch. There were moments during the set when the members of the band looked at each other and smiled, connecting over the tracks, beats and sort of making you feel though you are part of their private warm-up. It’s charming. I love Depression and Honeycomb – although this time they seemed to lack the volume that they needed.

I then made it over to the Whammy stage for Wax Chattels. Wax Chattels are a three-piece who I am a bit hesitant to categorise genre-wise. For me, as I danced away, I was thrilled by some of the industrial influences behind their tracks and it obviously came from a rock background. It was a noise which was different from anything I’ve heard in a long time. It was loud, dark and just my cup of tea. I loved every second of this set and it felt great to see the band in the intimate setting of the Whammy; you simply couldn’t be closer to the performance here. I’d made it to see most of the acts I’d wanted to. My spirit of celebration was wine and the bill of three or so hours of music was continuing.

Next I went to see Wellington duo Hex who took us into the late night hours with their, folk-inspired jangly electronic tracks. This event had enough blood in its veins and gristle in its muscle to inspire the most lukewarm supporters: the patriarchy can be toppled. For women everywhere, I salute you, especially for those bravely moving towards their dreams in oppressed regimes; hampered by cultural conflicts and facing difficulties brought by unfair expectations.

 

Other Reviews By Lou Clement

Gig Review: Cross Street Festival @ Cross Street, Auckland - 02/03/2019
05 Mar 2019 // by Lou Clement
It’s a balmy March day and the sun lit the side streets of central Auckland. I arrived at Cross Street, a road parallel to Karangahape Road.
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Festival Review: St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2019 @ Albert Park, Auckland - 28/01/2019
31 Jan 2019 // by Lou Clement
Laneway was a different kind of festival. It’s an international touring event, taking in Australia and Singapore.
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Gig Review: Dead Little Penny @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 25/01/2019
27 Jan 2019 // 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.
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Gig Review: Soaked Oats @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 19/01/2019
24 Jan 2019 // by Lou Clement
Dunedin-based Soaked Oats took the stage on a warm Saturday evening, as part of their Shuggah Doom tour. The four piece are made up of lead vocalist Oscar Mein, guitarist Henry Francis, Max Holmes on bass and Conor Feehly on drums.
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