12 Aug 2022

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  • Investigator - Gig Review: Investigator &, Crystalator @ Cupid Bar, Auckland - 04/06/2022

Investigator - Gig Review: Investigator &, Crystalator @ Cupid Bar, Auckland - 04/06/2022

04 Jun 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

So, it was back out to Point Chev tonight to catch Investigator who are currently on a high with their song Shade at #15 in the Official NZ Rock Airplay Charts. It was my first time to see Crystalator, who may have a new name but may well be known to many on the Auckland Scene as they used to be called Meridian Vibe, and with both Investigator and Crystalator having albums in the works it promised to be an interesting night.

Crystalator kicked off with the single Sludge, and I was already concerned with the sound. The reason is that Dave Gibson hits the kit incredibly hard, and Cupid Bar is a small venue, which means the drums are naturally very loud, and if the guitars and bass were turned up to the current volume to get the balance right it would have had everyone out in the street watching the gig as opposed to staying in the bar. To say this is frustrating is something of an understatement, as these guys are good, really good. They went from the high-octane opener to a cover of Split Enz’s Message To My Girl and turned it into something metallic which is a load of fun. They are tight and don’t mess about, going from one song into the next with little in the way of conversation. Before the gig they were telling me they played a gig a few weeks ago which had been the first in three years but hopefully that is going to change and we will be seeing much more of them.

There are times when they use a synth backing track some additional polish or effects to the melodic punkish sound they are producing, but although it has that punk aggression this is often way more melodic and fun. When they decide they are going to punch it they really do, but they mix it up so that each song often contains multiple sections, allowing them to mix hooks and styles which means there are plenty of dynamics and contrast in what they are doing so it is way more interesting. One can tell this is not a new band as there is confidence in what they are doing and the way they interact with each other, nice and tight. It certainly got people moving in the small venue with people pushing right up to the band. Trying to accurately define their music is difficult as while alt rock would be one way it is really a cop out as that covers so many different styles. How about grungy melodic metal with huge elements of trad punk mixed up with NZ indie? Whatever it is, I look forward to hearing them in a larger venue in the future when the sound balance will be much more in their favour.

It's been nearly a year since I last saw Investigator play, actually at the same venue, and to be honest I had forgotten quite just how much fun they are. Adrian has a great melodic rock writing style, and all his songs contain hooks a plenty and it is no surprise they have been doing so well in the radio charts. They kicked off with Bad Luck Shoebox, a single from 2020 which is probably the first song I heard of theirs. It is catchy, striking, and with a staccato driving style that gets everybody interested from the off, and it certainly pulled everyone back inside. They followed it up with Don’t Touch Me, a song which when I reviewed it back in December I said it made think of Hello Sailor and Th’ Dudes combined with The Knack and even Sham 69. This is old school hard rock mixed with elements of pop which one can imagine The Dance Exponents playing back in the day. This was followed by Lake of Eyes, so three songs in and we had already had three singles, which shows just how prolific these guys have been over the last few years. This made it into the official NZ charts at the time of release, and even though it is closely related in style to the previous two of the night it is also very different indeed., with plenty of room for a nicely structured lead guitar line.

This was followed up with YOUnique, another single, this time from 2020. This is much slower, allowing the band to demonstrate plenty of contrast within their material, and for Adrian to show he can sing in the higher register when he wants to as well. It is relaxed, well=paced, yet still full of melody with rock as its heart. The band are incredibly tight with Craig van Kan on drums and backing vocals, keeping tight and sitting back in the pocket or driving forward as the need arises, bassist Dave Crowhen who is incredibly melodic, moving all around the neck to provide additional support to the lead lines when needed, or the foundation at others while in Adam Morton-Mason they have a lead guitarist who keeps it tight for the most part, yet breaking out when he can. Then of course at the front we have Adrian Drew, full of confidence, which is probably no surprise given how much success his songs have been having recently. The quartet have a strong repertoire of powerful melodic rock song with pop and punk elements which are perfect for a bar on a Saturday night, as well as rock radio.

They have set their style, and don’t venture outside that remit, but all their material is very different indeed, yet always with a tight melody, stacks of hooks, a bass line which keeps it tight, drums driving from the back, a melodic guitar line, and Adrian providing the vocal heart. Shade made its appearance towards the end of the set, and it quickly dragged in those punters who had gone outside for some fresh air. This is much more in your face, very classic power pop with punk elements and if you had been told this was a number from New York in 1980 then you would not be surprised, yet it is modern Kiwi and is in the charts! They ended with The Raiser, yet another belter and the night was over. The Cupid Bar may be a small venue, but this means the setting is intimate, and bands have no room to hide which guarantees a great night. I am looking forward to seeing both of these bands again, as well as coming back to this lovely venue.

Photo Credit: Kev Rowland


About Investigator

It's all about the melodies and soaring choruses, with catchy riffs & driving guitar. These are bright shiny songs with dark undertones, a juxtaposition reflecting life. The love, loss and societal stabs feature heavy... but within the dark brooding space there is always a hint of optimism.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Investigator


Year: 2018
Type: EP

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