20 Jun 2021

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  • Big Tasty - Gig Review: BOTB Winners Tour with Big Tasty & guests @ Anthology Lounge, Auckland - 30/04/2021

Big Tasty - Gig Review: BOTB Winners Tour with Big Tasty & guests @ Anthology Lounge, Auckland - 30/04/2021

01 May 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Back off to the Anthology Lounge for a 4-band bill, which I was really looking forward to. It was going to be the first time I had seen Cafe Fistfight in a while, I had heard good things about The Minnehahas (and I know drummer Neo from White Noise Mafia), I had reviewed the album by The RVMES while this was the last night of the tour for BOTB winners Big Tasty so it was all set for a great session.

Somehow,  I managed to get into town early, even though it was a Friday night, and all the bands had finished sound checking and had gone to get something to eat. So, I decided to go for a walk along K Road and was approached by someone handing out flyers. This “someone” turned out to be trombonist Martin McGaw of Big Tasty, who was drumming up support for the gig that night. Apparently, he had been walking around the central city convincing people they ought to come to the show, and I cannot remember the last time I saw a band doing that, so huge praise to him. While I was there chatting, Neo came up, along with bassist James McGurk, who told me that guitarist Michael Johnston and sister Saskia were really sick, and tonight they were The Minnehahas. This meant they were going to do a pick-up jam, so had swapped places with Cafe Fistfight, who would be playing a longer set. Mind you, Dan from that band then appeared and told me that their singer Chris was really sick, and he was hoping to get through the shortened 30 minutes but there was no way they could play for any longer! The night was not turning out exactly as I had expected.

We all trooped down into the lounge, and I had chats with the other bands, and then both Matt Sansome and Chris Webb arrived, which meant there were now more members of White Noise Mafia than The Minnehahas, so there could have been a band switch. Instead, for one night only, we were blessed with seeing a performance of Mini Mini Big Big when Neo and James were joined by saxophonist Niki Te Whaiti and guitarist Mitchell Goodfellow, both of Big Tasty, for a series of improvised jams. Those are words that can strike fear into the hearts and ears of any concert goer, but from the off it was obvious this was going to be a lot of fun. Niki and Mitchell are used to playing with each other, providing the melody, while Neo and James are a strong rhythm section. The longer they played, the more relaxed they became, with Neo in particular deciding to have an absolute blast. It was not obvious that here were four guys who were making it all up as they went along, instead it was a real treat, with Neo at times reminding me of no other incredible drummer than the mighty Animal from The Muppets!

Next up was Cafe Fistfight, with a lead singer/guitarist who looked almost dead on his feet. They were only playing five songs, one of which was a cover I had not heard them play before, and I had been richly taking the mickey out of them beforehand for having it in the set! The guys have been playing a great deal recently, which means they have somehow got even tighter, but with a restricted set they did not even have room for their last single, Pocket Change. Their mix of singer/songwriter, prog, shred, kitchen sink, is something I really enjoy, even when Chris is not on full form. He was determined not to let that stop him and by the time they had made it through to Service With A Smile they had people dancing. Then it was time for the cover, which they dedicated to me, and they launched into Toxic (yes, the Britney Spears number). They did not announce what the song was, and they had Cafe-ed it so much that it took time for people to realise what they were playing, but when they did, people were joining in and having a blast. It is not the first time I have come across interesting covers of her music (both Children of Bodom and Richard Thompson have done great versions of Oops! I Did It Again for example), and theirs certainly stands up against the others. Of course, they finished with King Hit Quiche, and by now they certainly had the audience on their side with their stop-go musical madness. Chris was pleased to see the end of the set as he was only just holding it together, but it was still a great show. As always, I am looking forward to seeing them again in the near future, when they are fit and well and can play for much longer.

I had been chatting with The RVMES before the show, but even though I had reviewed their album this was going to be the first time I had seen them play, and nothing had really prepared me for what was on offer. Here are four guys who are determined to have fun, both off stage and on, and there were loads of smiles as they produced a style of alternative rock that is designed to get everyone dancing. Drummer Logan Fox is not as showy as either of the other drummers who had sat at the kit before him, concentrating on setting the rhythm and pattern while bassist Ronaldo Lima displayed not only a fine taste in shirts, but also some very strong bass lines as well as bongos at the appropriate moment. One thing I noticed immediately about guitarist Miro Gibson is that he does not use a pick, and I am sure the last person I saw do that on stage was Alan Morse of the mighty Spock’s Beard: this means his attack is quite different to the norm, and it allows him to also pick notes more easily. The line-up of course is completed by singer/guitarist Edwin Judd, who commands centre stage as the band moved through a series of numbers which veered through funk, reggae, ska, and soul, all with catchy beats and hooks. Gone For Days was plain down and dirty, while Self Control is perfect pop. The album is Lifetime, and that number had a slow start with picked guitar but by the chorus it had turned into a real belter. At times they were incredibly intense and powerful, while at others they were really mellow and laid back, and their way of switching from one style to another ensure it all hung together and made sense. They ended with Whisper To Me, which also included a conga around the room, and I noticed that Dan and Jesse from Cafe Fistfight were the first ones in the line, which made total sense as The RVMES and Cafe Fistfight may be hugely different in some ways, but very close indeed in others. I enjoyed the album, which I awarded 4 *’s, but on stage the guys take it to a whole new level, and they are a band to look out for.

Then it was time for the headline, and there was no doubt that the crowd had come to see Big Tasty as they were soon crowding the stage, making me feel quite happy that I was behind the rope as there was no way I could have captured notes otherwise. Big Tasty are a throwback in my mind to the Sixties, a band with two guitarists, keyboard player and brass section, meaning there were 9 people crammed onto the stage. No one was able to do any more than shuffle a foot or two, while the bassist was completely hidden behind the horns, but this was all about the music. The embodiment of what they were doing is singer Manuela Ovalle Herrera who never stopped moving – her feet may not have been able to go very far, so instead she let her emotion out through her body and expressive arms. If she was the visible soul of the music, then the heart must be Lucas West who spent the whole gig stuck in a corner against a speaker and with trumpet and trombone hiding him from view. His basswork was sublime, and it was this that provided the firm foundation for a soul/jazz/Cuban dance band who are all about having fun and getting the crowd to move.

Manuela is full of passion and heart, taking us with her on the journey, while the multi-faceted band all locked together to create a musical storm. It is hard to realise that the band were basically created for the BOTB competition and have been around for way less than a year, as they come together like seasoned pros. They easily blend together different musical strands, often with a Latin base, and there is real emotion in what they are providing which resonates soundly with the audience. Given any excuse and the crowd were jumping up and down, trying to keep up with keyboard player Michael Ligani who showed it is possible to play and pogo at the same time. Highlights were probably the slower If You Leave Me Now, which really allowed Manuela to shine, and is incredibly delicate and controlled while also being multi-layered, and Irresponsible which has a great horn section.

When they came off stage all the band were a sweaty mess, as was the audience, as a great time had been had by all. All praise to Anthology Lounge for providing opportunities to young bands like these, and I am sure that next time any of these bands come back there will be even more people to see them, and I will happily come and see any of them again. Friday night dance music on K Road at Anthology Lounge. Who could wish for anything else?

Photo Credit: Jake Moir Photography (images 1, 2 & 4)
Kev Rowland (image 3)


About Big Tasty

Big Tasty are a 9 piece funk party ready to shake your socks off!

Led by diminutive powerhouse front woman Manuela Ovalle Herrera and backed by a full horn section, Big Tasty lay down some hard hitting dance music and will make you dance!

Winners of Battle of the Bands 2020.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Big Tasty


There are no releases to display for Big Tasty.

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