28 Nov 2020
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Mermaidens - Gig Review: Mermaidens @ The Cook, Dunedin - 12/10/2019

14 Oct 2019 // A review by Darryl Baser

Soaked Oats took to the stage shortly after 9.30pm, opening with the dreamy tune Don't Chew, which flowed over the half full Captain Cook crowd like a perfect wave, with surfers taking turns dropping into its face.

The band introduced themselves with a calm assurance of a band whose members know they’re destined for greatness.

The band launched into the second song  Perqoat, which is slightly faster than the first, and highlights the band member's proficiency with their instruments. The three piece of guitar, bass drums are clearly influenced by a myriad of sounds. In their set there's hints at the Dunedin sound of the 80's, surf music of the 60's, along with a more contemporary sound.

There's a feeling around Soaked Oats that they have the potential to be the next big thing.

Half way through their set, the Cook's dance floor is awash with people, swaying like wide leaves in a gentle breeze.

Perfect Song follows, it's another ebbing and flowing piece. The band functions well as a unit which can create tension, build anticipation, then release it.

The crowd is encouraged the "woo" in response to the singer's "woo-hoo" .. The band launches into a blistering and playful instrumental, without a ‘woo hoo’ in sight, or earshot.

Next song Houdini, an older tune in the repertoire, which builds up so slowly it practically gathers moss.

The band’s last song is a straight up banger which the band drops like an 80's kid dropping a double happy into a metal pipe to make it bang louder.

Mermaidens come on and are impeccably dressed. The three-piece’s token bloke on drums is in a red two piece suit, and both women are in matching outfits. Light pink or similar and 1970's styled, looking like 100% polyester. I reckon they’ll have a good laundromat bill on the tour, or really sweaty stage clothes.

But this isn’t really a fashion review, although when a band makes an effort, it’s worth noting.

The opening song Undergrowth builds gradually. Like Soaked Oats, Mermaidens has a quiet confidence of a band on its way to greatness. Many bands these days draw from so many influences it's really tough to pin down their sound. Sure, Mermaidens are a ‘pop’ band, but there’s some excellent jazz chops on aural display at The Cook tonight, coming from all three members, but mostly notably with drummer Abe Hollingsworth, who’s got more jazz chops than the mad butcher’s got hogget chops.

Their sound is very current, contemporary pop with really well constructed songs, harking back to a solid grounding in composition.

Tonight in Dunedin they're playing to a half to three quarters full Cook, straight off selling out The Darkroom in Christchurch.

Just before the third song, Wander, singer asks for a guitar pic, saying she’ll really need one for the end of the song. I have no idea if one materialized as I was sitting on my arse on a comfy couch, after a huge day at the city’s annual Vogel Street Party, with a wall of booty shakers in-front of me.

They're a sonically interesting band, with the ability to lift and quell intensity incredibly well.

Fourth song, Cut It Open, is a moody bugger of a tune and the singer, Gussie Larkin, is testing the range of her voice, kicking it right up into the soprano range.

One of their older numbers Bastards follows, and it’s clearly a favourite with some who’ve followed the band longer.

A fruity number called Satsuma followed, it also sounds like an older song of the band... While there is solid kick drum throughout the song, there's a lot of beat displacement. It's really playful, and addictive.

She's Running is the last song in the set list, it has 90% of punters at The Cook bouncing about mostly in time with the song. The band leaves for the green room, the crowd stays, hollering and whooping for more... The band returns....and busted out an encore which they didn’t announce. It was a straight up banger with obliged the crowd’s desire for more, but Mermaidens did leave the crowd wanting more. At a rough head count it looked to my reasonably experienced eyes like about 150 people attended. It was a damn fine night, and an excellent way to cap off a huge day in Dunedin, city of music.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Mermaidens

The earliest sketches of Wellington trio Mermaidens, follows the story arch of how most bands start; through long-term friendship and bonding over music that shaped their salad days. For Mermaidens, it was an eclectic melting pot of PJ Harvey, Warpaint and Fugazi to name a few.

Together, childhood friends Gussie Larkin (guitar/vocals), Lily West (bass/vocals) and Abe Hollingsworth (drums) form a powerful trinity of unwavering creativity and relentless work ethic. Their time together as Mermaidens has been a fruitful one; a timeline consisting of two critically acclaimed albums, being signed to iconic indie label Flying Nun Records, and a wide range of live supports that include Sleater Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie, Lorde, Mac DeMarco and The Veils.

The internationally acclaimed Perfect Body (which drew a 2018 Taite Music Prize nomination) saw their circle of influence expand to a new, global audience. With its progressive and cinematic stylings on angular post-punk and grunge, Gold Flake Paint said the record “should prove to be one of the summer’s most brilliant long-players," while long-time music critic Graham Reid of Elsewhere confirmed it as “a real listening experience.” Clash Magazine praised the record for its “Noisy, scratchy, enigmatic songwriting.” But perhaps it was God Is In The TV that explained the commanding presence of the record best by saying “I can quite believe that some of their tracks have mystical properties.”

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mermaidens

Releases

Look Me In The Eye
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Perfect Body
Year: 2017
Type: Album
O
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Bones
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Demo
Year: 2012
Type: EP

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