25 Oct 2021
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  • Gig Review: Ding Dong Lounge Bands Competition Heat 4 @ Ding Dong, Auckland - 04/11/2020

Gig Review: Ding Dong Lounge Bands Competition Heat 4 @ Ding Dong, Auckland - 04/11/2020

07 Nov 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland

So, it was back to Ding Dong for the final heat of the Bands competition, which is being sponsored by Dave Rhodes Productions, SIS Studios, Real Groovy Auckland and Muzic.net.nz. I had been really looking forward to seeing Black Sands as by all accounts they are a great band, but unfortunately one of them fell ill and they had to cancel. On a positive note it did mean that On Tick were brought back to bring it back to a 5 band line-up, and as I thought they should have gone through from their heat it meant they had another opportunity to prove their worth.

First up was Libermere, a trio featuring Adam Moore (guitar, vocals), Shaun Caffell (bass) and Anaru Broughton (drums). They were the first band I have come across in a long time who use an electronic drum kit, so they were on at the beginning to ease the changeovers, as everyone else would be using On Tick’s kit as a base. Nerves were frazzled by the failure of a DI on the kit itself, but that was fortunately resolved and they started with The Lazarus Effect, which seemed somewhat of an unusual choice as this was a slower instrumental, but The Alchemist allowed them to start shaking loose and relax. This was only their third ever gig, but as they turned it up and became more metallic, they definitely started to generate a groove. There were also some interesting things happening at the back, with Anaru using rimshots for effect, as well as some complex patterns. When they covered Fairies Wear Boots they did a good job and generated strong audience response, but both the band and the audience enjoyed the last song most, Queen of the Stone Age’s No One Knows. However, this was a competition and not a normal gig and to play 2 cover songs in a set of just 7 (in total, there was just 1 other cover version played over all 4 heats) was probably not a wise decision.

After a drum kit change, up came On Tick. They had only been asked that day to do the gig, so it was the same setlist as the previous heat, apart from the final song where they swapped WWII for Rats. As before, Radioshit really grabs attention from the off, mixing the likes of System of a Down with a hardcore punk attitude, abrasive and full of energy. Aidan was really going for it tonight, ripping into his guitar and spitting venom in his vocals, while Matt was all over his 5-string, providing either support or counter melodies and Brendan was at the back providing both dynamic assault and beast-like vocals at the right time. There was massive enthusiasm and desire coming from the stage, and the crowd definitely responded. We were getting finger popping on the bass, at times there was some weird funk being brought to us while Don’t Know Who I Am was massively aggressive yet also contained some complex over the top melodies which moved away and then returned. They hit the groove early on and maintained it until the end. There was no doubt they had set the bar very high indeed and given three bands were going through tonight out of the five, even having not seen any of the others I was sure they would be in the semis.

This then brought us to World On Fire who comprise Nick Moriarty (drums, vocals) from Auckland, who lived in Japan for the last decade, and Saki Nakayama (guitar, vocals) from Tokyo, Japan. They started playing together about 6 months ago after the first lockdown when they realised they had a common love of Japanese alternative/indie bands and other British/American alternative music, but although Nick has been in other bands this is a first for Saki, so the preliminary heat was not only the band’s first-ever gig together but the first time she has been on stage, and she was decidedly nervous for tonight. Lyrics are a mix of Japanese and English, with both providing lead vocals for different songs, and right from Nyusion they gained attention from the crowd. The reason is this is alternative music that is very different indeed, abrasive with attitude but also hugely experimental. The more they played the more it reminded me of the styles of music coming out of CBGB’s in the mid Seventies, when there was a real melting pot of expression, and as they continued the more I enjoyed it, with Sonic Proof probably being the highlight. The pace changed throughout by the set, and by the end no-one was quite sure what they had seen and heard, but all felt better for it.

Next up were Electric Moccasins who comprise Sidharth Pagad (vocals, guitar), Hrish Chandratre (guitar), Simon Murcott (bass) and Dyames Ortiz (drums). Not only was this just their second ever gig, but the band had also only been together for a month, so they had already done well in getting through the heats. As they were setting up, I noticed Simon was wearing a fretless bass, which for me is pretty much a guarantee I am going to enjoy the band, as it takes a special character to play one. From the first notes of Garden they hit a groove, with Sidharth providing strong edgy vocals, and the song morphed from something emotional into a sound which was far heavier and in your face while retaining melody. There was a feeling of classic Seventies to much of the music, with a blues base, and in Sidharth they have a commanding frontman while Hrish is a fine guitarist, always in control and providing controlled leads while there was all good interplay between them. The rhythm section laid down a solid base, which then allowed the guitarists to build from there. The sound itself was huge, yet they were prepared to break that with some acapella vocals to provide sonic relief. Passage was the highlight, with a superb guitar solo, and overall, I really enjoyed the set. One wonders what they are going to be like in the future if they have only been together a month.

Last up were Glass Throne, who came into the event with a strong reputation. A three-piece comprising Justin Robinson (lead vocals, bass), Owen McKibbin (guitar, backing vocals) and Daniel Cutfield (drums, backing vocals), they are unusual in that Owen also plays organ while Justin moves to lead guitar. This allows them to be quite different in their musical approach, as they can mix it up in ways the audience may not be expecting, and certainly drive songs in different directions. Just a few bars into Living Dying I was already a fan, as here is a group of youngsters who are determined to put on a show. Whether that is undertaking a guitar solo with the guitar over the heads of the audience, or stick twirling aplenty, these guys realise a live gig is about more than just music. There were times when they were in the centre of the stage egging each other on, and others where Owen ditched his guitar for a few bars of keyboards, before coming back with finger tapping while Justin provided intricate lines and Daniel classic drum fills as well as showboating: they reminded me of Atomic Rooster, yet in an updated manner. Cage saw them finish the set with Justin on electric guitar and Owen on keyboards throughout. This was far more metallic, but for me there was not enough bottom end, so it did not hit quite as hard as it could have.

Now it was all over, and all that was left was for the judges to make their decision and then have Andrew Treeby announce it from the stage. The deliberation took much longer than I expected, but finally they came out and going through was Glass Throne, On Tick, and World of Fire. I admit that last one threw me, but I also understood where the judges were coming from. If it were me then I would have given that slot to Electric Moccasins, but I am very happy I am not judging as the next night would be the first semi-final, and that was going to be tough! Well done Ding Dong for putting on yet another great show at everyone’s favourite rock dive.


Photo Credit: Aaron Leece

 

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