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Gig Review: Loserpalooza Festival 2021 @ Tauranga - 21/08/2021

24 Aug 2021 // A review by Mattmyth
What’s everyone bitching about with level-4-lockdown and cancelled shows? This one ruled.
I brought my own beers; the flatmate brought her own wine.

We could get as close to the bands as possible and smoke without having to go anywhere.

It was pay what you want, shit, you could just watch for free if you felt like it.

Tauranga’s Loserpalooza Festival, a benefit for Lifeline, is the creation of Austin Cunningham and a collection of musicians, artists, general party animals, misfits and fuck ups who formed a promotional collective called Your Enabler, formerly known as ‘Tauranga Music Sux.’

You can catch the shows they put on in bars, sure. But their guerrilla gigs are a real experience. Austin has put on shows in every venue that isn’t supposed to be one.

Graveyards, the top of Mount Maunganui, farms, lounges, the beach, and under bridges. If you’ve ever wanted to go see live bands and professional wrestling, or a burning 10m high wang, then this is the crew who makes that happen.

Loserpalooza Festival is the latest project. Many hundreds of hours of organisational headaches by volunteers to raise many for Lifeline and Mental Health awareness.

25 bands in 12 hours live at Totara Street, Mount Maunganui.

It was destined to be epic, and I had anxiously counted down the minutes for months, as last year's Loserpalooza had been cancelled due to Lockdown.

Surely that wouldn’t happen twice…

Well yeah, big reveal, Covid fucked us again.

Austin and the crew, rather than give up and get hammered as I would have done, turned it into a livestream with a donations link to Lifeline.

So, rather mission down to the Mount for a party, we hooked up the laptop to the TV in the lounge, the flatmate cracked a bottle of wine, I opened my beers, and we got some decent pre-drinks in before it went live at 6pm.

The stream comes on, footage from 1980's Telethons. People doing press ups, dancing, children holding giant cheques.

The Loserpalooza target for Lifeline is set at $1000.

There has already been $600 raised.

First up is Eddie and the Dreamers, an acoustic two piece that start the night off with a touching song about dead pets that has the flatmate an emotional wreck.

I’m Older is a Nirvana-esque track that raises the tempo somewhat, and it’s during this song I notice that words crawling across the screen are actually Austin’s promotional write up for the band.

‘Featuring members of Threat.Meat.Protocol and Flogging A Dead One Horse Town, Eddy and the Dreamers would be a Tauranga super group if anyone had heard of them.”

What I can’t tell, is if these acts are playing live or if it’s pre-recorded in their bubble or what.

The hosts discuss the Eddy and the Dreamers front man and his giant head, lamenting the fact he missed a golden opportunity to call the band ‘Heady and the Dreamers’.

I kind of miss Real Cool Ghoul, as my son needed to play monster trucks, which we did. The wee lad raced them around the lounge bathed in the red light from the screen, a dancing ghost wearing shades and the vocals soaked in a spooky delay.

When Dartz came on with their track Pray For Prey, a video featuring a very passable Brian Tamaki, and Jesus getting off the cross to play a mad guitar solo, I decided maybe I should probably put him to bed.

The donations go past $1000, and the target is re-set to $2000.

The hosts are busy discussing how incestuous the Tauranga music scene is and choose the moment to segue into introducing 2-piece punk act Grown Downz, who are siblings.

Grown Downz show videos from live gigs, their song 80K has my favourite type of mosh-pit. 20 people with folded arms nodding their heads, and 5 people completely losing their shit at the best band they’ve ever heard.

The donations climb past $1600 while the hosts rip on the Grown Downz singer for his pants.

And then dammit if they don’t mention me!

“Wow! Thank you, Nicola, for the $100 donation. And also, Matt Billington…a 10th of that.”
See, when you make a donation, your name comes up on the screen with how much you’ve donated. Finding the donations page for my computer-illiterate ass was like Where’s-Fucking-Wally for the blind.
Just so happened my paltry $10 was featured for all and sundry to see at the same time a high roller donation came in.

The flatmate is pissing herself. “You can donate anonymously next time you fork out a pitiful amount, Matty.”

In any case, the donations go past $2000, and the target is re-set for $3000.

Ian Clarke comes on wearing a Russian hat and the classic ‘Slumbug’ shirt done in the ‘Pornhub’ logo. He changes the lyrics of Folsom City Blues by Johnny Cash to something more Covid related and asks us to speak up if we have mental health trouble.

We’re into the swing of things by this point.

Stunt Clown come on with highly charged street punk n roll, a kick ass live video that “for a bunch of geriatric fucks is rockin”. To think, we were supposed to see them live. How blown apart would have my mind been?

Fucking Covid.

While the hosts try to hock Loserpalooza T-Shirts, the donations for Lifeline climb past $3000, the target is re-set for $5000

We’re partying in our lounge. My son comes in for a dance and gets chased back to bed.

Then, the flatmate says, “Who’s the geezer in the Stone Roses shirt?”

The geezer in the Stone Roses shirt is Paul Moran.

He is sitting against a wall, looking into the camera, and begins reciting a poem/story about his experiences losing loved ones to suicide.

The author Chuck Palahnuik says that stories are a tool, some you use.

Others use you up.

Those stories, the ones that use you up, they leave the story intact but the readers themselves are left broken. These stories are the ones you can’t unread, the ones that stay with you.

Paul Moran’s story is one of those stories.

I can’t do it justice by recounting the details, but it’s now a part of me. I can’t unhear it, I can’t forget it.

You can tell by the way Paul delivers it, that it shattered him. But despite the horrific details, the events didn’t break him, and that’s the point of it. In the grimmest and darkest of ways, it’s positive.

Much respect and thanks Paul, but if we didn’t half need a fucken drink after that.

Whether ‘Polaroids of Polar bears’ is a full band, or just one singer/guitarist in lockdown who recorded a couple of songs especially for Loserpalooza was not explained. What I do know, is it was filmed in black and white from the ceiling, and the angle of such gave a haunting quality to the beautiful songs.

He held up a notebook with messages to us, thanking Austin. It's amazing what one dude with a guitar and honesty can do.

As heavy as we were feeling, the music got heavier. And faster. And screamier. A lot more screamy.

The dual vocals and genius named Arse Huffer filled our screen, and I would have turned it down if my son hadn’t lost the remote. When not sludge slow, they were machine gun quick.

The Arse Huffer footage was from a live show back when we had them, courtesy of the incomparable Andy Young who films damn near every underground New Zealand punk band. It was so good the hosts played their entire set.

Well, their whole set was ten songs in 6 minutes, but it was still mean.

YdoubleR is up next, a profile piece. YdoubleR don’t do genre specific. He marched across the music spectrum like a stoner at a buffet no giving a monkey’s sack what course of the meal he was supposed to be eating.

YdoubleR is rap, trap, punk, nu metal, and whatever else he wants to make. Starting out as a therapy to deal with his emotions, his music turned out to be really, really good and other people agreed.

He really highlighted how shit it was that this gig never went ahead in all its live show glory. The most common refrain in our lounge was “if only this had have happened” …

There are those who love pizza, and then there are those love it enough to start a band called Die Hards of Deep Dish. We are treated to a few songs off their debut album released on the day of Loserpalooza. Physical copies are a CD inside a pizza box.

Their song Cheesus Crust and the chorus of “Hell! Fire! 666! You can eat a pizza on the crucifix” is a club hit if I’d ever heard one.

They donate all profits from the release sales to Lifeline.

The whole gig slides downhill with the hosts bullshitting to each other over top of some dude doing a record review of sorts, then the footage becomes a man’s legs, the 80's Telethon still playing in the background.
We’ve no idea what's going on.

Then a Bad Juju music video arrives, an ambient instrumental track with a saxophone. To fully embrace the vibe, you’d have to be a 1940's private investigator in a fedora, 2 bottles of whiskey in your stomach, wandering down the back ally of some dive bar after midnight smoking a cigarette and haunted by the one case you couldn’t close…

I grab another beer instead and put away the monster trucks my boy left on the carpet.

Lizard Prom are a four piece with a singer who has a stunning voice. Again, its footage from a live show back when we had them. The first song is a clean, minor-ish chord pop song.

In the second, however, Betty Goes to Hell the vocals go from clean perfection into raw guttural screams. Like a really tuneful torture session.

The flatmate has seen them live, and my jealousy seethes. I write them into my ‘bands I gotta see when this covid shit is over list’ and underline their name in thick, permanent vivid.

One of the hosts attempts (a couple of times later as well) to cram proceedings into the toilet with the sort of Jeremy Clarkson type it’s-funny-cos-its-un-pc type joke, before 3 piece punk act Pop OD have a profile piece and live track.

Pop OD are high octane punk-rock n roll of the finest order. Reminiscent of The Dwarves or New Bomb Turks with “lyrics that are more inclusive.”

Like the Str8-Up Punk styles of the following bands Dateless and Hoick, Pop OD deliver all energy all speed all hooks rawly packaged in two minutes, zero pissing around.

Some gigs you miss bits because you’re catching up with someone or get talking. Sometimes you miss a band because your mate got caught taking a leak behind the venue and the cops make him wipe up his own urine with his t-shirt and you have to find something for him to wear.

This gig, in these covid ravaged times, it was the stream.

We caught the relentless abrasiveness of Stress Ghetto, and brutality at its finest by the way of two Piece Pulvanator who sound like a waaaayyyy heavier 7 Year Bitch.

But there was a lot of swearing and refreshing of the computer, so we missed the names of a couple of acts.

The blues punk ferocity of Two Skinner, and the epic solo performance of two songs by Rat Dicks front woman Holly, the 90's street punk style of Dead Man 6… Each act simultaneously engaging us with their kick ass songs and adding to the disappointment that we couldn’t see it all live.

Basically, the whole event was a strip tease. Awesome, beautiful, talented, but still, a tease.

By the time Cootie Cuties closed out the performances with a couple of acoustic tracks, the new song I Hate Men and the live favourite Johnny, the lads hosting the podcast are sounding a bit emotional.

And fair enough.

Austin and his band of merry fanatics worked their tits off getting Loserpalooza over the line and didn’t let petty issues like the gig being cancelled due to a world changing pandemic stop them.

Over $4100 has been raised for Lifeline.

Last of all, the finishing touch, is a tribute video from Austin to Anna Antoinette Bouwmeester.

At the end of 2012, I was on tour with 3 bands when a flash flood washed out bridges and ruined 3 shows we had down the west coast and central South Island.

Stuck in Nelson, wondering just what the hell we were supposed to do now, a woman I’d never met but whose band Pramcakes was opening the Christchurch show took care of it all.

She put us up at her house, helped me make some CDs, organised 2 more house shows, and came home one day on her bike with her Lorikeet, Nami, on her shoulder and bags full of food she’d dumpstered to make us dinner with.

She saved our asses.

As I’d appreciate over the next times I was lucky enough to see her, she wasn’t trying to be kind or helpful, she was just being herself.

Rescuing a van full of punks when a tour goes tits up was just how Anna rolled.

That same ethos Anna embodied, a love for music and community was what made Loserpalooza happen.

The tribute video closed out the night, photos of a smiling Anna, and a memorial written by Austin.

We had a cry.

Then a drink and a smoke.

As good as Loserpalooza 2021 was, 2022 will be monumental.

Looking forward to it.


Lifeline 24/7 Helpline |0800 LIFELINE (0800 54 33 54) or free text HELP (4357)


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