1 Mar 2021
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  • WHITE NØISE MAFIA - Gig Review: White Noise Mafia @ The Thirsty, Auckland - 28/01/2021

WHITE NØISE MAFIA - Gig Review: White Noise Mafia @ The Thirsty, Auckland - 28/01/2021

29 Jan 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

So, it was back to The Thirsty, who are starting to put on more metal gigs, and if they are all like this one then I am sure they are going to be deemed to be a raging success. Tonight, it was a three-band bill and a sensible finishing time, which made something of a pleasant change, especially as many of us would be working on the Friday. All the  bands had done well in the recent Ding Dong Battle, including the eventual winners, the beer was great, and entry was just $5! No wonder that even though it was a Thursday night there were quite a few metalheads out in force. With a strict finishing time, it did mean that the first band was going to be on somewhat earlier than I am generally used to in Auckland, but there were plenty of people there ready to party from the beginning, which gave a great atmosphere right from the off.

First up were Head Lock Grave, one of the youngest bands I have seen on the circuit. Heavily influenced by Metallica I was intrigued to see how they got on, as I remember being intensely impressed by bassist Max the last time I saw them as he really underpins the sound. However, tonight was really all about Gabriel (vocals, guitar) whose confidence is growing exponentially as they play more gigs together. He may not be the greatest singer in the world, but as a frontman he is definitely taking control and all focus is on him while the rhythm section underpins the overall sound. He revelled in geeing up the crowd, getting everyone to come to the front, and he soon disposed of his shirt and was often grabbing the microphone in both hands, leaving Liam to continue on the riffs (the line-up is completed by drummer Harrison). We were getting loads of headbanging, from Gabriel as well as the crowd, who were definitely spurred on by the sheer energy and enthusiasm he was displaying. However, for me one of the issues of playing a lengthy set is there is the risk of including some numbers which either need more work or should be left in a rehearsal room, and that was the case tonight. Some of the songs felt way too basic and a work in progress as they moved more into NWOBHM, and although the crowd were having fun, for me I was actually quite bored towards the end, which is not something which should be happening at a gig. It also did not help that their set was way too long for the evening, playing for far longer than either of the other two bands who were further up the bill, and various members of those bands were obviously put out. I was actually more impressed when I saw them a much smaller set at Ding Dong, but they have improved their live act and it will be interesting to see how they proceed from here.

Next up were the pleasant country and western trio On Tick. Wait, scratch that, I meant to say that even though Aidan and Matt were on opposite sides of the stage to what I expect, they came in and right from Radioshit showed their intention to take the place by storm. This was the fourth time I had seen them play recently, and for tonight they had decided to go for the heavier and more hardcore numbers in the set and just go full out on aggression. What is fascinating for me about their music is that it is easy to just pass it by as hardcore punk noise, but anyone who pays attention to what is going on will understand there is a huge amount of complexity. Matt plays a 5-string bass and is as adept at jazz as he is at this style of music, while in Black Sands he plays technical progressive metal and drummer Brendan is not only powerful and dynamic, with a particular range of vocalisations, he is mixing and changing drum patterns all the time. Then there is of course his brother Aidan, who is like a Duracell bunny, never stopping and always putting his heart and soul into every performance. His vocals may be harsh and full of punk ethos and attitude, but that is just right for this style of music. All those fans who had turned up for Headlock Grave were very soon back at the front for On Tick, and it was obvious to all who were there, that this crowd was certainly very interested indeed in the style of music which was being offered up.

When the band started pogoing during Nothing New so did the crowd, all of them, and the reaction from the audience to what the band were doing, especially when Aidan played his guitar with his teeth, was incredible. There was a definite connection, and when Aidan had his guitar upside down over the audience playing a solo all the hands were up trying to touch it while they were even clapping at one point! I’ve never seen On Tick get such a reaction and judging from the smiles breaking their faces in half when they came off stage later, neither had they! They finished with Rats, and the crowd instantly started demanding more. The guys checked they had time, held a very quick conflab, and then went into Bullet To The Head, which got the crowd even more riled up. What was different about this version is that various members of the audience jumped up onstage to take turns on vocals – including James, drummer with Black Sands (maybe a new career is in the offing) – with Aidan just playing guitar and leaving them to it. This was a huge response from the crowd, and one has to wonder if this really is one of the last times we have seen this band play? The album is due out soon, but Aidan is shortly looking to move to Dunedin, but after this, will he?

So far tonight there had been two high energy bands, both of whom had really got the audience going, and everyone was pumped up, so it would take something special to take the levels even higher, but with White Noise Mafia that was never going to be an issue. When I first saw them play, at only their second ever gig, I felt during the very first song that I was witnessing something special, and that came through again last night. Firstly, the band are incredibly tight, with a solid rhythm section and strong lead guitar which allows the band to really hit hard in their style of melodic alternative rock. Then at the front is Chris Webb, who is one of the best frontmen around. His vocals were not quite as strong tonight, due to him suffering from concussion, but he is a powerful singer, good guitarist, and also, he knows exactly how to work a crowd. He is locked in musically with the rest of the guys, who give him the freedom to get the audience into the palm of his hand and then all four of them lock it in and drive it down. It is really difficult to overplay the sheer professionalism of what is still a very fresh outfit – before the gig Chris told me they are playing The Tuning Fork in the next few months, way ahead of the schedule they set themselves, so they are definitely being noticed. I was sat next to the soundman and during the very first song, The Divide, he turned to me and said, “They are really good”.

The energy levels had been high during Head Lock Grave, went up during On Tick, and now White Noise Mafia were taking it to the next level and during only the third number, Let It End, we got our first crowd surfer of the night who jumped backwards off the stage and was then carried aloft. That number reminds me of The Knack with a power-pop staccato sound which is also incredibly metallic yet also very commercial. During Attack they even split the audience and had everyone ready to run into a mosh, which quickly degenerated into something quite messy and pleasantly rough (at one time there was a real risk of broken furniture, but it was averted). All the sets tonight were supposed to be roughly 30 minutes, and White Noise Mafia closed with a cover of Shihad’s Think You’re So Free which got everyone even more riled up, so it was obvious they were not going to be let off quite that easily. There was only one minor problem, due to various reasons they actually had not rehearsed any more songs, so what to do? The simple answer was to tell the crowd they actually did not know all the words to the next song, so they would need everyone to join in, and then they launched into Bliss. This is the third time I have seen it played live recently, the other times once by Dave Dobbyn and once by Th’ Dudes, but neither of those were as raw nor as raucous as this. Everyone sang the chorus, of course, while Chris sang the first verse and lead guitarist Matt the second, and it just did not matter that Matt was unsure of the lyrics. Both the crowd and the audience were as one, with everyone shouting whatever words they knew to the ceiling. So that was that, except no, the crowd still would not let the night end. This got the band checking with the bar to see if there really was time for one more, and when they got permission the question was what to do now? A quick conversation, with drummer Neo finally being convinced to give it a shot, and then they launched into Nirvana’s Territorial Pissings with Matt on lead vocals. Chris fell back into bassist Matt’s (too many Matts) position who joined in on vocals for the first time ever on stage. The crowd went mad, last orders were called, and eventually it was over.

This was a high energy metallic blast at The Thirsty that was simply stunning. Three bands who gave the crowd what they wanted, yet it was only $5 on the door! It was a special night, and I look forward to the next one with eager anticipation.


Photo credit: Kev Rowland

 

About WHITE NØISE MAFIA

WHITE NØISE MAFIA is a 4 piece heavy alternative rock band established in July 2020 and based in Auckland, New Zealand. The band strives to put on an all-out show with heavy riffs, crushing beats, booming low end and catchy vocals to hook the listener into their performance. They take inspiration from bands such as Linkin Park, Blindspott, BMTH, Slipknot etc. In the long run they seek to leave a lasting impact on the local scene and make a name for themselves.




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