25 Mar 2023

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Danica Bryant - Gig Review: Danica Bryant @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 7/09/2022

07 Sep 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Back into central Auckland on a school night, but it was for a good reason as Danica Bryant was in town and as I had yet to see her perform but had heard some of her releases, I just had to make the effort. Before Danica started, we had Katie—Lee, (they/them), a young singer songwriter who was new to me.

With just an acoustic and plenty of energy Katie-Lee kicked off with Pls Don’t B In Luv, and showed they have a great deal of power and emotion in their broad voice, and while they can go high when they want to, they are also prepared to drop down the scale. Their music is full of passion, and when onstage they are transformed as speaking to them beforehand, they are quite reserved, but when in their natural environment they are full of confidence.

I am sure that most of the audience had not come across Katie-Lee prior to this, but by the end of the second song everyone was entranced by what they were hearing. With just a small amount of reverb on their voice plus an acoustic guitar, there was no room to hide whatsoever yet this 17-year-old was playing with a passion and strength far beyond their years. They are not afraid to use multiple notes when some would use less, be incredibly personal in their lyrics and move their voice in a way which is full of emotion. It is always difficult when playing the role of support act to judge as to how much time should be spent talking, and how much playing, and while their material was excellent, this is one area where experience will see some changes as they could have engaged the audience more between songs. However, that is a minor niggle, and each and every song of their set was enthralling.

A strong favourite of mine was Fix U, which has many different styles within the accompaniment with one quickly repeated riff near the middle being very effective indeed. They move from picking to riffing, but also use a lot of the neck, providing lightness when the time is right. This was followed by the high octane, Enough of Love, which demonstrated yet another facet, showing what a breadth of style they have. They finished with the more delicate Fake Angel Energy, and somehow, I think we are all going to be hearing more about Katie-Lee in the future as this is definitely someone to keep an eye out for.

Now it was time for Danica, who has a quite different style and had with her additional musicians in drummer Tyler Blythe and bassist Nat Bennett. Danica is a mix of pop and folk, combined with loads of passion, and it was interesting to hear her creating live harmonies with an effects pedal which adds depth and additional finesse. That this is used sparingly means it is even more effective when it comes in. She kicked off with Birthday Girl, and straight away we were in a world which was clean, and full of fun. She has a bright personality, and this shines through in the material, which is vibrant. While she is providing the top end, the rhythm section keep it grounded and they meet somewhere in the middle. Counting Clover quickly followed and already I was pleased I had come out as this was great. Lisa from MNZ had seen her show the week previously and told me just how much fun it was, and she was right!

Danica explained she never thought she would be able to undertake music as a career, and that in many ways the tour was a pipe dream, which led into the song of the same name. There is no doubt that here there is a songstress with wonderful material, a great voice, and a real presence in front of an audience. She just oozes confidence, yet is also fragile and baring her soul which really came through as she spoke about the mental health struggles many musicians suffer from. On one morning she walked into the kitchen, and if the day had not started badly enough already there were dishes to be done, which led to her writing the song The Cutlery. This was deeply personal, and we were all brought into her world, understanding and feeling the pain. She followed this up with Sugarbones which switched between upbeat and bluesy, and really allowed both Tyler and Nat to show just what an impact they have on the sound with the former providing some nice fills which took the song to a different level while the latter provided huge emphasis with well-chosen notes.

Old Chocolate is about a very painful breakup, but Danica made sure everyone knew she was in a very happy relationship and has not actually experienced this herself! Emotional, this number includes a variety of vocal stylings which make it fascinating to listen to as one is never sure what is going to come yet. Apparently, although this is an older song it is not one which Danica has released anywhere as she has never been too sure how it fits within her canon, but to my ears it should be out there as it hits pop, folk and country in equal measures and really shows off her wonderful singing. It ended with repeated gentle riffed acoustic, gradually fading out. White Knuckles saw Nat leave the stage and Tyler switch to acoustic guitar, so Danica could concentrate just on the vocals. This reminded me a great deal of South For Winter and one of their murder ballads, full of breaking vocals and emotion which sounds as if it could have come straight from New Orleans. It is dirty, filthy, and captured the attention of everyone there. This was followed by Lucy, which was the one song tonight which was performed solely by Danica, and demonstrated just how much passion and emotion she can produce on the stage without any additional help.

Before the tour the band learned three covers, and then chose which one to play when they were in each city, so we provided a drum roll and Auckland was treated to the wonderful Teenagers by My Chemical Romance which was a load of fun. Heart Eyes contained some rougher and harder elements, which even got Nat jumping as she was just so into it. I was a big fan of the single Crush, taken from her latest EP Ego Death, and it is wonderfully powerful in the live environment with the band really gelling together on a song which sounds pleasant enough until one really listens to the lyrics.

Danica announced that the next number was the last song of the night, wink wink, and yet again demonstrated what a warm and endearing nature she has which makes the audience love her that much more. The set ended with Hang On Over, and even though she had been playing for more than an hour this was just not long enough, and the crowd consequently went mad as requested so we did get one more with Ready To Bite which had her almost screaming the vocals at times with an incredibly rough edge.

That really was the end of the night for Auckland, but the tour has yet to finish so if you want an amazing night out with a wonderful singer songwriter then you really don’t want to miss out on Danica Bryant.

Photo Credit: Kev Rowland


About Danica Bryant

“Deliciously sweet yet shockingly bitter” (Under The Radar), Danica Bryant is no ordinary songwriter. Born to the fruitful music scene in Napier, New Zealand, her songs cover intense topics such as adolescence, mental health, and young love. “All hard guitar and pain-filled howl” (The Hook NZ), this woman bites back.

Gigging from age twelve, Bryant's career ripened when Smokefree Rockquest awarded Dizzy the National APRA Lyric Award in 2018. The following year, Bryant won Play It Strange’s national 'Who Loves Who' contest, was a finalist in their Lion Foundation Songwriting Competition, and received mentorship from music legend Bic Runga.

After opening for Kiwi legends like Jason Kerrison and Paul Ubana Jones, Bryant was cherry picked to support Elton John on his ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ tour. The opportunity harvested her debut EP Cider with Tiny Triumph Recordings, as she moved to the big smoke in Wellington, New Zealand. Rounding out the year, Bryant took part in APRA's Songhubs course, writing and producing with major artists such as Matthew Young and Estère. Her 2021 single Heart Eyes debuted to immense fanfare with Radio New Zealand and set the stage for successful funding with NZ On Air that September.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Danica Bryant


Ego Death
Year: 2022
Type: EP
Year: 2020
Type: EP

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