9 Mar 2021

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  • Gig Review: Ding Dong Lounge Bands Competition Heat 2 @ Ding Dong, Auckland - 28/10/2020

Gig Review: Ding Dong Lounge Bands Competition Heat 2 @ Ding Dong, Auckland - 28/10/2020

30 Oct 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland

Midweek saw me back at the Ding Dong Lounge, this time for the second heat of the Bands competition, which is being sponsored by Dave Rhodes Productions, SIS Studios, Real Groovy Auckland & Muzic.net.nz. I was aware there had been some problems with bands committing to dates after winning though, which had caused quite a few problems for tonight, so although we did have four bands, only three of them were taking part in the competition, with the fourth being a special guest. With Channeled needing to go on later, this meant the special guests opened the night to get everyone in the mood.

Halo of Ashes comprise Matt Perry (vocals), Hayden Sharples (guitar), Barco Zaleta (bass) and Luke Vesly (drums). They kicked off with Revolve and immediately we were into groove-driven metal with strong vocals over the top. The use of double bass drum pedals were used sparingly but to good effect, and the audience started paying real attention. Kein Herz was quite syncopated at times, but it was with Loaded that they really came to life: this song has an incredibly effective chorus which makes it stand out quite dramatically. Matt is a consummate performer, and he lives and breathes everything, putting his very soul into the performance, acting as if he was in front of a massive crowd instead of a midweek gig in Auckland. After a few more numbers they finished with Meat Glue where they slowed it down to almost doom speed, and even when they speeded it up there was no doubt they have been influenced by Sabbath, with the result being a very good opener indeed.

Before the gig I had been drinking a very nice porter downstairs and made myself known to one of the bands who were there, who turned out to be Café Fistfight. I asked what style of music they played, and when they said progressive rock inspired by Karnivool and Porcupine Tree I immediately started paying close attention and was intrigued as to how they would come across. The line-up is Chris Moutter (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Josh Barker (7-string electric guitar), Jesse Hudson (bass, backing vocals) and Daniel Barker (drums), and straight from the off everyone was paying attention to what they were doing. Chris has a very strong melodic voice and is also a very good guitarist providing most of the melody, while Josh adds all the nuances and flourishes over the top and Jesse and Daniel keep the bottom end tight. King Hit Quiche is musically all over the place, but they have a very strong idea of the need for both dynamics and space and it worked incredibly well as they even brought in some shredding and finger tapping. When Chris brought out a capo for Take Two I just had to smile as here are guys who really know what they are doing, and the whole set just flew by. Being a prog act, they of course finished with a two-parter which was ten minutes long, and when they finished with some acapella vocals I was just blown away. They made a massive impact on me, and I can guarantee this is not the last time I will see them play.

Forty Bucks Till Tuesday were next up and were going to treat us to some more metal. They describe themselves as a Yakushima Assassin Clan Metal band from the distinguished Ghetto Streets and suburbs of West and South Auckland, and comprise Shinobi Mishinoku (vocals), Andrew 'Spoon' Wanhill (guitar), Hayley Nessia (guitar), Carl Brannagan (bass) and Dean Brannagan (drums). Even before they started playing they were striking in that the two guitarists were stage left and right, and they could not be more different in looks with one nice and sweet and the other a Mohican-haired punk, but they both riff hard. Musically they immediately made me think of the New York crossover scene of the Eighties when Anthrax were messing with S.O.D. along with elements of Life of Agony. They groove when they want to, but are always really heavy, with lots of different styles and plenty of aggression. Shinobi is a powerful singer who uses spoken words when the time is right, bringing it in as an effect and comes across as a solid presence with the rest of the band banging hard behind him. Highlight of the set was Murder Thy Art with Welcome to Purgatory a close second. Incredibly intense, here is a band who are always in your face, and quite prepared to rip it off.

So, then it was time for Channeled, the only band in the competition I had previously come across as I was here when they stepped up to support Coridian recently when Outside In had to drop out when their singer was sick. Prior to that gig I spent quite a time chatting with Ben Ruegg (vocals, guitar), Matt Garratt (guitar), Michelle Anderton (bass) and Branden Pritchard (drums), and I was looking forward to seeing them again tonight. I am not quite sure what happened in the few short weeks since the last gig as during that time they had changed immeasurably, with the band being far tighter and Ben performing like a man possessed. They started with the slowie A Conversation With You which moved into power pop and then rock, before ending as if it was U2, and then they just increased the passion and intensity with Is That Glass again being a real showstopper. All their songs are melodic, with lots of different styles across them, and there were times when Ben reminded me of Elvis Costello when he was with The Attractions. Another highlight tonight had to be When We’re Gone, which commences with some great bass and feedback before building to a climax.

The judges and I were in full agreement tonight, with Café Fistfight and Channeled going through to the semi-finals, truly deserved, but yet again there were four really good bands playing tonight, all worth checking out.

Photo Credit: Abner Cestari


Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Elmo Strauss - Album Review: Light and Dark
02 Mar 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Elmo Strauss began his musical career on Waiheke Island with the B Squared Blues Band which he formed with Louie Bo Charles IV. Eventually they morphed into Vessel, making the Battle of the Bands final in 2012.
Polaroids of Polarbears - EP Review: This Is What I Heard
02 Mar 2021 // by Kev Rowland
This 22-minute-long 5-track EP is the latest release from Daniel Brown, proudly recorded in his shed, in Feilding with Daniel providing guitars, drums and vocals. For those who have previously not come across Polaroids of Polarbears, this is lo-fi which combines shoegaze, post punk, Simple Minds and ambient styles in a way that is naively engaging.
Gig Review: Primacy @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 27/02/2021
28 Feb 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Saturday at the Ding Dong is always guaranteed to be a good night, and tonight was to be no exception with Primacy finally launching their album Seeds of Change. I say “finally” as previous gigs had been cancelled due to lockdown, and in fact this was going to be their first gig since 2019!
Cafe Fistfight - Single Review: Pocket Change
16 Feb 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Cafe Fistfight describe themselves as New Zealand's premiere Acoustic-driven Progressive Rock band, with their music fitting in somewhere between John Mayer/Six60 and Incubus/Tool. To be honest, that is probably as good a description as any, but before someone expects to see the latest Yes, Genesis or Pink Floyd clone, be aware that when they describe themselves as progressive, they mean it in the true sense of the word, in that they are blending and mixing  genres and pushing the music in unusual directions.
Channeled - EP Review: Interpretation
05 Feb 2021 // by Kev Rowland
2020 was a breakthrough year for Channeled. Instead of just being a studio project, multi-instrumentalist Ben Ruegg was convinced to turn it into a full operational live band which quickly gelled into an incredibly tight unit which grew with experience and confidence each time they gigged.
David Sutton - Album Review: Planet B
04 Feb 2021 // by Kev Rowland
This is the ninth album from David, and while he wrote all the songs, he was assisted in the performances by his son Joseph, and between them we get plenty of keyboards, electronic drums, acoustic, bass, Stratocaster, harmonica and vocals. The result is something that does not really sound like a multi-instrumentalist performance, but rather a band, and even before putting it on I had to smile as while the CD booklet itself is low key, I cannot remember before seeing a track listing for Side A and Side B for a CD, plus the album is less than 45 minutes long so it really is harkening back to the 70’s.
Gig Review: Dragon @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 3/02/21
04 Feb 2021 // by Kev Rowland
When The Biggest Pub Gig In The World took place at the end of last year, I truly felt there was a band missing from the bill who would have made the line-up complete, Dragon. Not only are they an  iconic New Zealand band, with countless hit singles and songs to their name, but they have been a solid gigging unit since their rebirth around bassist Todd Hunter in 2006.
Festival Review: Auckland Folk Festival 2021 - 31/01/2021
02 Feb 2021 // by Kev Rowland
The final day of the Auckland Folk Festival 2021 started up, and I headed over in time to catch Being. at Midday.
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

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