20 Jun 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

LearningToDive - Single Review: You Said It Best
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Learningtodive is one of a series of projects from Bravo Bonez, a musician and producer currently based in Wellington, New Zealand. He released his first single under this name back in November last year, since when he has followed it up with more singles and his debut album Norwegian Pop, which came out in April.
Gig Review: Blitz Metal Fest @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 12/06/2021
13 Jun 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Well, today was a first for me, coming to Ding Dong in the daylight! This was because it was time for Metal Blitz, a 13-band event being held which was planned to run for 10 hours but we all thought was probably going to take longer.
Gatekeepers - Single Review: Always a Rebel, Never a Rogue
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Gatekeepers may be a new name to most of you, but this New Plymouth quartet have managed to secure the opening slot in Hamilton for the Devilskin and Kora show, so they have already started to gain some attention and based on this single one can hear why. The band was only formed earlier this year by guitarist/singer Jeremy Donoghue, rhythm guitarist Sean Phillips and bassist Mat Pipe, since when they have been writing and recording tracks before sending them to the UK to be mixed by Adam Wain.
Investigator - Single Review: Lake of Eyes
09 Jun 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Adrian Drew and his band of merry men are back with the third single from their forthcoming album and given what I have heard to date I am really looking forward to that when it comes out. While Adrian provides guitar and vocals, the band is now firmly settled with David Crowhen (bass) Undercut, Craig van Kan (drums), The Couch, and lead guitarist Adam Morton-Mason, These Fine Galleons.
Mudbelly - Single Review: Baby U No Good
07 Jun 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to both survive the ravages of Canterbury’s wild weather and experience the force of nature which is Mudbelly, with the latter more than making up for going out in the driving rain to get to the gig. This means I am in the somewhat unusual position of having heard this song played in concert prior to coming across the recorded version, and it is interesting to hear just how different it is in this setting.
DRXNES - Single Review: Junkie
07 Jun 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Prior to hearing this single I had heard only positive things about Whanganui band DRXNES and having now played this I can see exactly why. This is a highly polished, highly produced number which sounds as if it has come out of a top American band and studio as opposed to little old Aotearoa.
Gig Review: Dead Favours @ Darkroom, Christchurch - 04/06/2021
07 Jun 2021 // by Kev Rowland
For the second time in less than a week it was back into the centre of Christchurch and St. Asaph Street, but whereas last time it was to the 12 Bar, this week it was next door, to Darkroom.
Gig Review: Mudbelly @ 12 Bar, Christchurch - 29/05/2021
30 May 2021 // by Kev Rowland
In the middle of a red alert weather warning, I trekked from Oxford into Christchurch to attend Mudbelly’s album launch. It has been a while since I last went to a gig down here, but I have been to some real killers in the past (Sepultura, Death Angel and Blindfolded And Led To The Woods at Canterbury University’s The Foundry will long stick in my mind), so was looking forward to this.
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