31 Oct 2020

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Gig Review: PRINS & Vikae @ Dive Bar, Dunedin - 26/09/2020

27 Sep 2020 // A review by Darryl Baser

With most of New Zealand at Covid alert level 1, dancing is allowed at bars and clubs, and a good number of those who came along to see Auckland-based musicians PRINS and Vikae with local support from Molly Devine and Bryn Massey.

Bryn Massey is the first of four women with amazing voices for the evening.

Bryn opens up with a great version of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire, and it’s the first song in her set which showcases her great voice. She follows with an original which she says was "written out of spite when I was 15 years old, it was the first song I wrote that I was proud of".

On stage, she’s alone with a guitar and she is the only performer of the evening without backing or click tracks, making for a gentle way to open the evening.

One part of her set which wasn’t gentle was her excellent new song Caesar, which she described as, "the first song I’ve written in two years, I used to have shitty friends, I’ve got great friends now, but this is just written", she said.

It’s lyrically more skillful and clever, one line which grabbed my attention was; "did my back hurt your knife."

Molly Devine follows with Maddy Parkins-Craig on drums, the latter locking into the drum throne behind the kit, while Molly Devine straps on a headset mic and a battery pack freeing her up to dance as she sings, which she does throughout the set.

The pair open with The Sculptor.

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Molly Devine with an orchestra in the Tally Ho series of concerts, and hearing her acoustic on a piano in a cafe to a handful of people, but this combination of her music mostly on backing with Maddy Parkins-Craig on drums works so well.

As their set progresses the sparse (around 100 people at a rough head count) begin venturing onto the dance floor and by the time they play Rain it seems there’s something in the air tonight, people have brought their 'A game'.

Later in the set Molly gives a demonstration of the dance moves filmed for the chorus of her song Call Me Up. Maddy gives her a beat and the dancing crowd learn the moves before the launch into the song. It really works, especially as the chorus has a real Bhangra vibe, straight out of Bollywood.

They close with Molly’s brand new single Wanderer, which is a wonderful way to transition, like a warm-down after vigorous exercise.

Vikae is next, she takes the stage behind her keyboard, with MacBook on the side. She opens up with Truth, beginning with a freestyle version, before taking wireless mic in hand to own the stage strutting in the second coolest pair of boots on display tonight (Vikae’s are a suede high-heeled knee boot, but PRINS’ sparkly silver ankle boots are way cool). The recorded version of Truth is a great way to start her set. Her second tune is a darker more subdued number, but it’s a demonstration of how much she’s in fine voice. Vikae has had a great voice for years, but as well as coaching others she’s clearly been working on her technique and range.

Liar is her third song, it's a slow jam banger with a huge chorus and most of the crowd is dancing.

She slows it down at the piano, and says; "I'm taking a page out of Bryn’s book, this is an acoustic song, all my songs begin on a piano with a fuck tonne of feelings." She says, "this is a song for anyone who thinks they're not good enough". It's a great song, piano and voice, featuring the line "silence make me feel alive".

When she begins Rumours, she gets the crowd to all raise a middle finger and say, "fuck all these rumours".. It's a great pop tune, very on point.

Landline follows - it’s another new tune of hers; it's darker and angrier than others. She spits the words as she struts the stage, holding nothing back.

Virus is next, which she introduces as; "disclaimer I have bipolar, this is about that, not about coronavirus" and with such a personal song as she describes herself as a virus, she takes the performance up another level.

She gives a shout out to Dunedin’s B-net station, Radio One, before launching into Finelines. Vikae is on form. If you get a chance to see her live you should.

Team PRINS assembles, Alannah Prins the frontwoman is joined by great musicians; the band members are Sam Lane (drums), Emily Farrel (bass) and Caleb Waiari (guitar).

The group hits the stage running on stage, and are taking the 'bring you're a game' vibe, and the first two songs are dead set bangers.

The title song from the Magnetic EP is third song in, and it attracts dancers to the floor.

PRINS drummer Sam Lane is the second drummer this evening to take my head off, and the band has the crowd bouncing, he's triggering samples as he's completely monstering the kit, and I'd wager he's a stick breaker.

With 100 people tops, and a few leaving after Vikae, there should be way more people here. Those who are here are having a ball.

The music of PRINS is real party music, up-tempo, with its roots firmly in disco (that’s house to you younger people) and if time travel gets invented you could take PRINS and put them on stage at any of the classic gay clubs where disco began, or on Soul Train, and they’d fit right in.

Stay Away is the second single from the Magnetic EP it’s another unashamedly funky tune. Alannah Prins announces the next, and it’s a trip down memory lane for the band.

"This is the first song I ever released about two years ago, it's called Tell Me", she says. It's a little slower than newer tunes, still bloody solid though.

3am follows. This is a ballad by comparison and all the layers in the backing are fabulous, as is the band's ability to nail playing to a click track.

One of the great tools to get people dancing is syncopation, and Sam Lane’s use of the open hi-hat on the 'and' or off beat throughout the evening is a thing of beauty.

Little Too Late is described by PRINS as "a bit funky" and she’s not lying. You and I is "a very special song about a very special person." It sounds as perfect a love song as is possible to write.

By the end of the night PRINS voice is tired after a few shows in a row, but still she’s not holding anything back, and has exemplary mic technique. A cover of The Weekend’s tune Blinding Lights finishes the evening and it's a crowd favourite during which Sam takes an epic drum solo, it’s a hell of a way to close the night.

Photos courtesy of Andrew MacKay / Keaphotos.com


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