27 Sep 2021
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Gig Review: Biscuits, Cootie Cuties & Fuzzies @ UFO, Auckland - 26/03/2021

30 Mar 2021 // A review by Matt Billington
The flat mate parks up outside a mechanics which is still open, dudes are lying on their backs under the bodies of cars twisting tools, fiddling with socket sets, or hanging around the door outside drinking Woodstocks and smoking cigarettes.

We walk awkwardly past them, stepping over potholes and erosion, the concrete being eaten away by weather and heavy vehicles.

The venue we’re headed to, UFO, is up the road at the end of the cul-de-sac on Drury street in New Lynn.

It’s an all ages venue, no bar or booze allowed.

So instead of carrying a box of beers with me, I carry the weight of my Dad’s recently diagnosed illness and I tell myself the gig will be something else to do other than feel far away and worried and missing my scattered family.
Eight thirty is late for a garage to be open, but early for a show.

“I wanna marry that bus” sings The flat mate, a line from our favourite Biscuits song.
“I hope they play that” I say.

God I need to go to a show.
I want to hear people tell me about their next show in Tauranga in April, not read a glowing blue box on my phone about the next hospital appointment.

I want them to ask me if I remember that show at UFO back when it was on Veronica street and Russell put a hole in the wall, not take a video call about how the meeting with the specialist went.
I don’t want to hear words like ‘malignant.’

We walk past flaking paint on buildings caged behind wire fences, and think it will be nice to ask people how they are and not hear things like ‘in hospital on drip’ in reply.

From inside UFO at the end of the cul-de-sac, we can hear dirgy folk music and our steps quicken because it sounds live and maybe the first act is on?

I don’t want to hear words like ‘stage 4’ and ‘treatment’ and ‘aggressive’.

Right outside UFO, we can tell it’s just a record playing.

The cracked, old and broken concrete of the road no bureaucracy will ever bother to fix has a puddle with a scrawny cat drinking from it. Bony and grey, as though someone draped a washcloth over a tiny clothes horse and made it cute.

There are a few punters lounging outside on the footpath, they have been there the best part of two hours and wonder aloud when the first band will start.
I try to pat the cat, but it deliberately saunters just out of reach under a car,

I look up and catch the eye of the teenagers watching this failed attempt. There isn’t anything more embarrassing than being told to fuck off by a cat, and I take my burning cheeks inside to have a look.

The front room is Alien Records, a record store. At the back of the store, is the entry into UFO, the venue space.

The walk through the Alien Records and into UFO could be twenty seconds or two days depending on how distracted you get.

This is an absolute mind blowing testament to everything underground, obscure, and alternative.

Can’t find any CD of that band you saw at house party in Wellington when you were 17?Your best bet might be Alien Records, 10 Drury Street, New Lynn.

The flat mate and I flip through CDs and vinyl. She texts her boyfriend a picture of one of his old band’s records, Super Narcoman.

I gently pick up a copy of Mucus Kids Mosh For Jesus and think about how I bought it at a show they played at UFO when it was on Veronica street .

I would only get to see them play once more after that.

REM is on the PA when we drag ourselves away from the records, pay our ten bucks and get inside.

Some teenagers sprawl on top of each other on couches that line the room, a giant Sgt Pepper’s inspired mural on one of the walls behind them.

To my total shock, a number of them are already dancing.

Back in my youth, we lined the walls of a venue and no one dared venture onto dance floor lest a portal to The Dimension of Humiliation opened up and swallowed us.

Today’s kids don’t give a fuck.

They dance with each other as if each moment they have together means something, like it might suddenly be ripped away.

3 piece Fuzzies eventually take the stage, and they pack the dance floor even more with jagged, dreamy guitar pop.

They have a Dinosaur Jr kinda thing happening. The guitarist/singer delivering melodic hooks in an understated way, occasionally asking the dancing kids if they’re happy.

I Walk The Line is a great song.

The bassist is curiously on the floor stage right, delivering excellent harmonies and occasionally singing lead.

Fuzzies don’t try to be larger than life or put on a show. They leave us the fuck alone to do whatever we want.

I relax.
When Fuzzies play, we’re allowed to move our bodies, lie on a couch, chew a set of drumsticks, excitedly catch up with friends, or sit cross legged at the edge of the dance floor with arms draped over a lover, all to an at times Pixies-ish soundtrack.

They’ve got a record out, but someone from that record has since left and they’re working on a new one.

After their set I find the toilet, which is next to a kitchen with dishes and food on the bench.

The bathroom has a shower. There are toothbrushes, razors, shower gel, and spare toilet paper on a small wooden shelf. On the inside of the door is a Waitemata District Health Board poster, a sweating, scared cartoon man and information on Hypoglycaemia.

UFO isn’t just a gig venue; it’s someone’s house. We are guests, invited in to enjoy music.
There is a welcome and respect not driven by bar sales.

Outside, Cootie Cuties are discussing where the staying for their upcoming April 17th show in Tauranga with new local act, Two Skinner.

It’s at a venue called Our Place, which Kelsie isn’t sure is a bar or what but it does involve shipping containers and food.

They could stay at Joel’s, or Rik’s, and Ev and Gem would probably put them up as well.

No one mentions words like ‘pain relief’ or ‘medication’ but they scrape the inside of my brain tissue like feedback.

There is a story floating around, that there is a body stored in a fridge inside UFO for a wake in a few day's time.
It doesn’t sound at all true, but no one really knows if the person who said it was joking or not.
They sure didn’t sound like it, apparently. In any case, no one is brave enough to go into the kitchen and check.
The flat mate blows vape smoke and tells us she is looking forward to seeing Cookies play.
“Cookies?” Kelsie tilts her head and scrunches her eyebrows, then her face beams. “You mean Biscuits!”
Close enough.

“Can you believe that Fuzzie’s set” I say to Annie. “They had a dance floor, like, not a moshpit, an actual dance floor.”
“I know!” she says, eyes wide and smiling. “I can’t wait to play; I’ve always dreamed of playing to people who actually dance!”

Cootie Cuties take the stage, and smash into Johnny off their Freebleeder EP, a song Annie tells the crowd is about “killing horrible men.”
And Annie’s dream comes true.

People dancing.

Not a mosh pit like all their other shows, but a dance floor.

Kelsie dedicates “I Hate Men” to the girls at Christchurch Girl’s High School who had a protest undermined by some joyless fuck conservative of a principal.
The kids are still dancing, really. Just closer together and jumping more. A couple bang into each other.

By the time they play Sexy Grrrls In Your Area, Annie’s dream dance floor has descended into a mosh pit.
They’ve only their own explosive energy and infectious chorus’ to blame.
The new song, Girls Helping Girls Helping Girls Helping has a four piece harmonic acapella intro, which in theory is to be followed by a thundering bass riff that launches a killer pop punk song.

What actually happens, is Paddy’s bass lead chooses that exact moment to shit itself.

Like right when everyone was only listening and looking at him.
Like, staring right at him.
Being a punk band, the moment only adds to the Cootie Cutie’s set rather than take away from it, and they dig the song out of the fire with good humour and the ‘fuck off’ of a puddle drinking cat that doesn’t want to be patted.
Still, the music Gods can piss right off with that broken bass lead shit.

They close with End The Violence.
“So excited to see Biscuits up next! Come for the cooties, stay for the cookies!” Annie tells us.
Just after hearing that song, that searing cultural indictment of toxic masculinity, we stand outside on the street and some really cool dude in a fast car speeds into the cul-de-sac, scattering punters in all directions, revving the engine and swinging hard around.

Everyone on the footpath but me leaped out of the way.

Sure, it was pretty safe and he wasn’t likely to hit me.

But how was I to know how many Cody’s he’d smashed back with Bazza and Davo prior to that impressive show of dominance?
I stood there because on reflex, I didn’t want to be a pussy and back down.

It’s a guy thing.
Neither that douche rocket driving or my dumb not moving ass impressed anyone with that bullshit display.
In fact, I’d risked an outcome as sure as untreated lymphatic cancer.

And for what?
Had I not just heard a song about this?

Kelsie says, “I’m going to look in the fridge” and walks inside.
If that body-being-stored-in-a-fridge story is true, I don’t want to miss it, and I follow.

But she hooks a right into the bathroom, and leaves me as a creep that just followed a woman to a toilet, instead of an intrepid reporter looking for a body in a fridge.
I go back outside just in time to catch some goss. The UFO crew are putting on a 40 band festival in Titirangi this June 6th. Cootie Cuties are booked. I grin and think about how I can be the first dude to print that even though it hasn't been announced and I'm not sure if I should.

Biscuits, the wall of pop noise headliners are on.

I haven’t seen them before, but trawled through their releases going back to 2013 on Bandcamp.

I’d half expected a Spiderbait-type-thing of glorious pop songs interspersed with long jams, but they up the ante of the night with Pick Me! Pure energy.
It takes three frenetic pop songs get into any atmospheric melodic jamming that rises like a storm.
Around us, the venue is watched over by posters of gigs past and present. Band logos arrive on spaceships, cartoon women smoking cigarettes, pterodactyls soaring above decaying cityscapes.

Biscuits jab us with short punk songs, and let wall-of-noise tracks give their set depth and accentuate the more straight forward songs.
As the singer curls a finger over the neck of her guitar, holding a chord and rhythm while the lead guitarist sets the mood, the posters watch with us.
King Missile.
Scantily Clad.
Slow Rage.
Headlock grave.
Someone opens the roller door to outside stage left, and I watch from outside.
Biscuits play a relentless set in a room that is a shrine to a thousand shows.
People hold hands and dance.

They smile at each other, they move in close and yell things into each other's ears and then stand apart, still holding each other and laughing.
Biscuits thank us, and the singer makes a Cookie joke.
With the show over, The flat mate and I walk back to her car.
“That was really cool” she says.
I think ‘80% chance of recovery’, and smile.

 

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