29 Nov 2020
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On Tick - Gig Review: On Tick @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 20/11/2020

21 Nov 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland

When everyone at Ding Dong greeted me by name, and soundman Dave asked why I wasn’t at the final of the bands battle the previous week, it made me realise that possibly I have been attending the venue quite a lot in recent times. But when they have bands playing who are as good as these, where else would I be on a Friday night? Apparently, this gig was originally intended to take place back in April, and had been rescheduled twice since then, but finally it was on. Organised by Aidan from On Tick, along with his wonderful partner Eleanor, all the bands were in the recent battle at Ding Dong, although Black Sands had to pull out at the last minute due to illness, with both On Tick and Mariner making it through to the semis.

Openers tonight were Libermere, playing their fourth ever gig, who use an electronic drumkit. Talking to drummer Anaru Broughton before the gig he was saying that he envisages a future where he will be playing a hybrid, as there is always the worry that something could go wrong with the electronics, which is what happened in the soundcheck before the last show. There is no doubt that a band can rehearse as much as they like, but there is no substitute for playing live in front of a real audience and tonight the band were far more settled and relaxed than they were the last time I saw them. Just their fourth show and they were already exuding far more confidence and were way more relaxed, which came through in their playing. Lazarus Effect is quite laid-back and possibly not what I would choose as an opener, but The Alchemist (which is now on Spotify) is far rockier and got everyone moving. While singer Adam Moore provides strong guitar, with Anaru driving from the back, what makes them stand out is the superb bass playing from Shaun Caffell, as he provides a great deal of additional melody and counter melodies. They still have only 5 songs of their own which they are confident enough to play live, so we again had 2 covers in Fairies Wear Boots and No One Knows, the latter really getting everyone singing and having a good time. But the original between those, My Rational Brain, really stood out as the best song of their set, with strong use of harmony vocals. Incredibly powerful, it is going to be interesting to see how this band grows and progresses in future, as if they follow this route then there is real promise.

I had been looking forward to seeing Black Sands in the heats and was incredibly disappointed when they had to pull out so was definitely intrigued to see them tonight. They were originally planned to close the event tonight, but had requested to go on second instead, and put a real effort into the show. They draped a white cloth at the back and used a projector to play video taken from various recent riots: they felt a need to do something a little different to provide a visual focus as these guys are something very rare indeed, an instrumental metal act. I already knew 5-string bassist Matt Hammond as he is also in On Tick, and had previously been talking to guitarist Cameron Owens, and then before the show I was introduced to the incredibly affable and friendly drummer James Rimmer (the line-up is completed by 8-string guitarist Ruaidri Keens). James is incredibly laid-back and mellow, a friendly soul, but I was warned that appearances can be deceiving and that he hits the skins really hard indeed. They were right. The band launched into Uprisings Call and immediately the intensity was incredible: these guys are playing very heavy, very complex music with the two guitarists following intricate melodies, a bassist on the top of his game and a drummer creating multiple patterns and using many different styles all within the same song. In fact, it is the drums which create the cut through, far more than one would normally expect. I was discussing this with James afterwards and he was telling me they break down the material and seriously discuss what should be happening with the percussion at each point. At times they veer into death territory, others it is mathcore, but always it is sonically immense with a great deal going on. They have apparently been having serious discussions on whether they should get a singer, but my advice would be to leave well alone. Kappa was one of the highlights – a shorter number which is massively over the top – while musical tricks and nuances such as Matt repeating a bass motif, yet dropping it an octave, are incredibly effective. Speaking with Cameron afterwards he told me they are currently recording the album, and that is something to look forward to indeed.

When I reviewed Mariner last time I somehow managed to confuse the name of the bassist, so let me make it clear that it is Cullen Erson who looks as if he is in the wrong band, seemingly dropped in from the late Sixties. But again, looks can be deceiving, and there is no doubt he definitely belongs here as he nails the bottom end of a band who merge the pop punk of Blink 182 and Sum 41 and carry it off with aplomb. Given their obvious influences, it is not surprising that their songs are short, melodic, and rammed full of hooks. Singer Adam Salim referred a few times to the fact this was the first time they had ever played a 45-minute set, which meant that some of the songs being played tonight were being featured for the first time. With the competition pressure lifted, here was another band who were stepping up in terms of performance, with the rhythm section nailing it (there was some very good use of bass drum pedals), both guitarists keeping it punchy and clean and a good use of harmony vocals. But as the set progressed it was obvious that Adam was having some problems as he just is not used to singing for this length of time. The longer it went on, the more issues he was having and by the time he came to their cover of All The Small Things he was definitely suffering. Still, the crowd loved it and were more than happy to join in and provide vocals for him. There were 3 more songs after that, but he was shot, and it was a struggle through to the end. Experience will help as the more he sings for longer periods the more he will be able to cope, but in reality, the band should have stopped after that cover and called it a night. But overall, they put on a great show, full of confidence from making it through to the semi-finals, and they are just going to keep getting better.

By now it was past 11:30, and On Tick had yet to appear, but they did the changeover as quickly as they could. But the venue had suddenly emptied, and it looked they were going to be playing for themselves, yet as soon as they launched into Scabs it filled back up again. The trio are full of energy and passion for what they do, and given this was Matt’s second set of the night, and both he and Aidan had been moshing like madmen during the other sets, it was something to see. This is hardcore punk, mixed with the likes of Oi! and plenty of metal, to create something which is massively intense, complex, and straight into the brain. Radioshit continues to be a favourite as they go for the jugular: it didn’t matter how late it was, or how knackered anyone was, they were out to give it their all and take the crowd with them on a wild ride. With Aidan’s brother Brendan providing complex patterns, and somewhat gruff vocals, it allows the others to create an incredibly intense environment. If Aidan smiles any wider, his face will crack, as although he allows himself to do some heavy metal gurning, he is just so happy to do what he does, which means everyone else has a blast as well. He even ended Don’t Know Who I Am by playing with his teeth! He told me beforehand they were really looking forward to playing a cover tonight, Rage Against The Machine’s Bullet In The Head, and while this was quite different to their own material it certainly fitted in well and everyone was having a blast. The highlight of their own material was probably The Box, which had everyone pogoing, but even though everything was going well they decided to cut short the set due to the over-run. However, they weren’t going to be allowed to stop just like that, so even though they genuinely had finished, the crowd demanded an encore which led to Aidan kicking into another cover from RATM, Killling In The Name, with the crowd singing the words as much as he did.

Overall, this was a really interesting evening, with four very different bands indeed. On Tick have nearly completed their album, with just vocals left to record next weekend, and that will be definitely worth checking out. For me it was Black Sands and On Tick who were the bands of the night, but I am sure I will be catching all these guys again in the near future. The Auckland music scene is incredibly vibrant at present so get out there and support the bands and the venues who are making it happen.

 

Photo Credit: Kev Rowland

 

About On Tick

Three piece band from Auckland belting out heavy tunes for your pleasure.




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