18 May 2022

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  • In The Shallows - Gig Review: In The Shallows @ Earth Beat Festival, Kaipara - 18/03/2021

In The Shallows - Gig Review: In The Shallows @ Earth Beat Festival, Kaipara - 18/03/2021

20 Mar 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

I have been trying to catch up with In The Shallows for ages, but even though they have been touring nationally, I have somehow managed to always be in another part of the country so kept missing them. We were going to meet up at Spirit Festival a few weeks back, but thanks to COVID that was postponed, and then I heard they would be playing at another Auckland festival, so I contacted Danni and we agreed Earth Beat was going to be the one.

Now, in fairness, I knew it was being held in Auckland but did not check the full details until the day before when I was reading the FAQ, and it was only then I realised it was being held in Port Albert. The only people who actually believe this is part of Auckland are those in the council who felt putting a “Welcome to Auckland” sign north of Wellsford would make all those living in Rodney feel warm and fuzzy when our rates were being spent on the city. For me it meant a journey of more than 100 km each way, but I knew it was going to be worth it, as Earth Beat describe themselves as “Aotearoa’s most innovative and earth-friendly music and arts festival.

A 5-day legendary party with 3 stages, over 70 mind-expanding workshops and plenty of wonder-filled experiences for the whole family.” I was hugely impressed that there were no bins on site, and everyone needed to bring their own plate, cutlery, and mugs if they wanted to buy anything from the huge amount of different food vendors (I had jerk beans, they were incredible). This was not a music festival, it was an event where that happened to be music taking place as well as workshops, and many people who were attending were doing so for reasons other than listening to great sounds. The festival itself was quite spread out among the slopes and hills of Atiu Creek Regional Park, and the Solomon Stage was down by the water, alongside many art installations, all leading to a wonderful atmosphere. I sat at a table, and was soon involved in conversations with different people about types of music and what we liked, although I was rather taken aback when I was asked if I knew Café Fistfight.

While we were talking, I realised a band was setting up on stage. I had got there relatively early, so checked the program which stated that this was going to be The Dirty Happys, who perform reggae, funk, Latin, and soul. When they started playing, I realised I needed to pay far more attention, as while the style of music is not something I would normally seek out, there was something incredibly compelling and inviting about what they were doing. With two frontwomen in Aysha Robertson (who also provided ukulele and melodica), and Wendy Nute (keyboards) they were creating some wonderful harmonies and vocals, while Rob Nute had the perfect backdrop, noodling when the time was right and at the back Vaughan Morgan and Brody Buer kept it all locked down. They were playing a commercial form of reggae for the most part, and in the afternoon sun it was just the perfect thing to get lots of people up and dancing. Many of the numbers were covers, but with arrangements which gave them a different twist, so while Food For Thought is a logical number, the use of twin melodicas gave it an unusual sound. Highlight for me was probably Sweet Dreams Are Made of This, which sounded much improved in this style, while Jammin’ was guaranteed to leave everyone sweaty having a great time. They were the perfect early afternoon band, upbeat and fun, and there was a real connection between the band and the audience.

Next up was In The Shallows, who this afternoon were playing as the duo of Danni Parsons and Lance Shepherd, both providing guitars and vocals, although they do also perform as a full band. The plan is to record later this year, and I was intrigued to hear that this afternoon was going to be the first time Danni played electric guitar on stage. They kicked off with Who Were You Before, with Lance on acoustic guitar, stomp box and harmony vocals, and Danni providing the lead. They immediately created a totally different vibe to what had gone before, as this was more relaxed, inviting and flowing, whereas The Dirty Happys are about having fun and getting people to groove. Danni also picked up her acoustic at times, but on Let’s Not Start A War, Lance swapped his for the electric and this provided a much harder edge to a song that was apparently only written a few weeks ago. The music coming from the instruments is simply an accompaniment, it is the vocals which transport the listener, all so effortless and easy.

As with the album, it was hard to pick what was the highlight, especially as they played all three of my favourites, but possibly it was Don’t Be Afraid, which was sublime. The vocals, harmonies and acoustic guitars created a delicate atmosphere which captured the essence of the festival itself, bringing all together as one in a safe and loving place. Mind you, they did also perform the revised version of their second single, Hold On, which is now in both English and Te Reo, and that was incredibly special indeed with the picking of electric adding an additional edge. But this morning I woke up and realised that Take It Easy was going around inside my head so obviously that had quite some impact on me as well.

We are incredibly fortunate at the moment in New Zealand, with some incredible male/female duos working in the folk/alt-rock space. Now if only we could get a tour together of Looking For Alaska, Aro and In The Shallows, that would be quite something indeed – each are very different to the others, but they are all complimentary, and to hear them play one after another would be very special. I just hope I get to catch these guys again soon, whatever the setting, as they are just as amazing in concert as they are on the album, and if you have yet to come across their debut you need to seek it out.

Photo credit: Kev Rowland


About In The Shallows

Blending catchy vocal hooks with soaring harmonies and atmospheric acoustic guitar, weaving in tales of love, loss, connection, redemption and empowerment - leaving audiences spellbound and wanting more.

Full Band includes Andy Bain (Fur Patrol) and Nick Brown (Eb & Sparrow, Vorn).

A little more about In The Shallows...

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for In The Shallows


In The Shallows
Year: 2020
Type: Album

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