4 Dec 2020

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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

The Finalists - Album Review: First
03 Dec 2020 // by Kev Rowland
The Finalists may be currently based in Sydney, but ¾ of the guys are actually from prominent Auckland bands with guitarist Robert Young (Semi Lemon Kola), bassist Chris Familton (Fontanelle, Thorazine Shuffle) and drummer Matt Brown (Shaft, {SLK)) joining forces with singer/guitarist and songwriter Mark Tobin (Scarlet, Panic Syndrome, The Black Halo). The coming together of these musicians has resulted in jangly guitar-based indie rock, with elements of psychedelia, power pop, shoegaze and post-punk.
Max Earnshaw - Single Review: Love It When You Hate Me
03 Dec 2020 // by Kev Rowland
Love It When You Hate Me is the latest single from young Auckland singer Max Earnshaw, who has already received from recognition and radio airplay for his last release, Lonely Love. What we have this time around is a pop/rock number which is incredibly infectious and annoyingly catchy.
Cafe Fistfight - Single Review: King Hit Quiche
03 Dec 2020 // by Kev Rowland
For anyone who has yet to catch these guys in concert, they are probably best summed up by how they describe their debut single, "An oven baked heavy hitter packed full of protein and sprinkled with cheese." Here we have a band who refuse to take themselves or their music too seriously, yet are producing incredibly complex arrangements, and are a stunning live act.
Stealphish - Single Review: Procidens
28 Nov 2020 // by Kev Rowland
I was chatting with the guys from Cafe Fistfight before their recent gig at Ding Dong, when guitarist Josh Barker asked if I would be interested in his brand-new solo release, and I was definitely intrigued. Apart from classical pianist Caitlyn Abbot, and some assistance from Dan Barker who assisted in programming the hi hat rolls at the start and some of the fills, everything on this instrumental release is by Josh.
Gig Review: Cafe Fistfight @ The Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 27/11/2020
28 Nov 2020 // by Kev Rowland
Today was set to be the launch party for the second album by Channeled, I Heard Penelope Sing, but unfortunately singer and songwriter Ben Ruegg was rushed into hospital on Tuesday, only being allowed home on the Friday itself. The thoughts of everyone at Muzic.
The Solomon Cole Band - Single Review: Lucifer's Rising
26 Nov 2020 // by Kev Rowland
The Solomon Cole Band comprise Solomon (vocals, guitar), Fonnie Jo Davies (vocals), Lee Catlin (bass) and Loujean (LJ) Philander (drums), and one has to ask the question as to when did Waiheke Island become part of the Deep South and go back in time? Their latest release, Lucifer’s Rising, is taken from their second album, A Little South Of Heaven, and takes us almost 100 years into the past and geographically into the Southern states of America.
Samuel Philip Cooper - Album Review: Breaking The Silence
26 Nov 2020 // by Kev Rowland
Young Wellington-based pianist Samuel Philip Cooper is now releasing his debut album, which contains both of his earlier singles, Broken Heart Recovery and Hope In Your Heart. One of the problems I had with Samuel’s work is that it was too short, but hearing the 18 songs on this album (47 minutes long) it makes far more sense as here the different songs become part of one much larger work.
Album Review: It's Already Tomorrow
25 Nov 2020 // by Kev Rowland
This compilation is the brainchild of leading New Zealand composer, John Psathas, and past-student guitarist, electronic musician and composer, Jack Hooker. With everyone in bubbles around the world, the idea was to create a collaborative environment for New Zealand artists, where John and Jack created nuggets for others to amend and use as a base for their own musical adventures.
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