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Gig Review: Ding Dong Bands Competition Heat 1 @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 14/09/2022

16 Oct 2022 // A review by Gideon Voon

I remember entering this competition for 3 consecutive years (if I remember correctly), during my early days of playing in bands. Each time with a different act, 2 times making the Grand Final. It brings up a lot of good memories, as well as the lessons learned from it, and of course the heartbreak that comes from being so close to taking it out. So it feels somewhat nostalgic to be back here after all these years. Today's heat feature 5 bands, each of which bringing totally different styles.


Starting the night off is the 4-piece Alt-Rock band Channeled (pictured). I had previously seen Ben perform a solo acoustic set, so I was definitely curious to see the full band. The band definitely delivered; bringing great riffs with lots of rock groove and punk energy, drawing lots of inspiration from Alt-Rock’s greats such as Creed and the Foo Fighters. Their music really compels you to headbang along to the beat. I had trouble a bit of trouble hearing the electric guitars, especially the lead guitar, I thought maybe his tone was a bit too mid-scooped. But their songwriting is one of their strong points, with the songs and parts well structured. Not that the bar has been set for the competition tonight, I eagerly waited to hear how the rest of the bands stack up.

Outta Space:

A 3-piece Thrash Metal outfit. While they were doing their soundcheck, I was pleased to hear that the guitarist and vocalist Ryan Wallace had a thick, killer Metal guitar tone. And he also showed that he had a great technique and feel when he started playing. Torrance Kam is one of the most talented upcoming metal drummers I have seen from New Zealand. He covers the basics of being tight and foundational, and from there, the fills he adds is quite tasteful while being flashy and technical, and he is very expressive with his body and face. He looks like he is having the time of his life when he plays. The band was tight, also thanks to the solid bass playing of Thomas Weston, which is a bit more difficult being thrash/speed metal and having all this energy. And they had a lot of great riffs and ideas.

I think what was lacking and could be worked on is the vocals, first off I’ll point out that I imagine it’s quite difficult to play thrashy riffs on guitar while singing. He mixes a lot clean singing with Metal screams/growls. The latter definitely works as that is common in this style of music. With the clean singing however, I think needs to be thought about more, as I couldn’t hear much of what he was singing, I think due to the singers singing in a lower register, combine that with the singer needing to work on projection. Clean singing could probably work if the band have quieter sections. So I would either double down on the screams/growls, or have quieter sections to make use of the clean singing. Not quite sure if they do their name justice, as didn’t quite see or hear anything ‘Outta Space’ about them. But they are 3 very talented metal musicians, that I will keep a lookout for in my musical radar.


Another 3-piece band, but this time playing a different genre, or I should say genres, as this band implemented so many into their different songs. So of which were: Reggae, Dub, Roots, RnB, Funk, Psychedelic, Rock, Jazz. You could definitely tell that the members were musically very versatile and open-minded. As such, it was impressive that guitarist ‘Liam Officer’ was able to nail the tone and playing for each of these styles.

The bass player Viranga Siriwardana had a great subby bass tone, that especially complements the songs that implements more of the reggae, RnB influence. I enjoyed the variation as the set went on, as each song sounded fresh.

The drummer Cody Crispe utilized a traditional grip with his left hand, which likely hints to a jazz background. If they didn’t make it to next round, I would take a guess that maybe it’s because the judges would want them to focus on a concise sound, and songs to be a bit more coherent with one another.

Mull Brain:

A 4-piece indie Rock band, Mull Brain (pictured) bought a great indie vibe, with a lot a rock flare, quite reminiscent of Paramore. They had a nice variation of sounds and feel between their different songs. The volume of the bass guitar was too loud, and that made it so that the electric guitars were quite buried, from what I could make out, the parts from two guitarists were great, and complemented one another really well. With one holding the chords, and one playing lead parts. What I think they could work on is vocal projection; getting the vocals clearer. The lead guitarist sang the final song, after of which I thought, that they should implement more backing vocals for each other. They definitely brought the most supporters, which is great to see. They had a great frontman, who fed off the energy of the crowd. They were asked for an encore, which they humbly accepted after given the okay by organizer Andrew Treeby.

House of Ousey:

A 4-piece Power Metal band, very melodic and theatrical. Spearheaded by their great frontman Frank Zhao. With regards to me constantly mentioning that singers need to learn to project more, some might start to question that maybe it’s my hearing or the EQ of the mic/room. But here we have one of the few vocalists I have seen in Ding Dong who knows how to project his voice. His voice was very clear and I could understand his words. He had a great power stance and actions that contributes massively to the visual performance. We have Josh Ousey, Guitarist and founder of the band, a great guitar shredder with neo classical influences such as Yngwie Malmsteen. He had a lot of great solos which had a great mix of expression and speed/technicality. If this was still the 80’s, a guitarist like him would definitely be in high demand. I can’t wait to see what his playing will be like in a few years as he continues to improve his technique. Torrance Kam from Outta Space also plays drums for this band, he retains all the elements that makes him a great drummer here, while being a bit more restrained, as the song tempos were slower.

And of course a great bass player K to round up the line-up, he was left handed and as such has a left-handed bass. This was pretty cool visually, as the bass on the left side of stage along with Josh on the right, gives a visual of angel wings spreading from Frank Zhao in the middle. And all instrumentalists were on backing vocals, which adds to the sound. Their standout point is that they use a lot of strong hooks and melodies that makes the songs memorable.


There was a great variety of bands that I enjoyed. Overall the bands felt pretty stacked for just the 1st Heat, I imagine the judges had a hard time deciding. My money was on Mull Brain, and House of Ousey.

Mull Brain ended up being one of the winners, the other winner was Channeled. I can’t wait to see how these bands ended up going, and if they make it to the finals.


Other Reviews By Gideon Voon

Gig Review: Dead Favours @ Galatos, Auckland - 16/06/2023
18 Jun 2023 // by Gideon Voon
Tonight's line-up included some of NZ best upcoming rock acts to form in more recent years, so I had great expectations. Animalhead signaled their start by having all members fist-bump at the start.
Gig Review: The Adventures of Mikejoffa @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 02/06/2023
05 Jun 2023 // by Gideon Voon
Tonight’s programme comprised of Rock and Metals acts, of which has some ways of stretching the boundaries of the genre with some interesting influences.First up was Holy Crime.
Gig Review: Ding Dong Lounge 10th Birthday Part 2 @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 29/01/2023
03 Feb 2023 // by Gideon Voon
With the new AUX stage promising better things to come, the Dead Witch Stage reminds of us of the events that were that led us to this point. First up on the Dead Witch Stage, we had Swizl Jager (pictured), if you thought Ding Dong Lounge was exclusively reserved for Rock and Metal, then you will be proven wrong, as Swizl brings the world of Rap and Hip-Hop to us.
Gig Review: Ding Dong Bands Competition Grand Final @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 26/11/2022
28 Nov 2022 // by Gideon Voon
Weeks of hard work and preparation culminates in the Grand Final of Auckland's Ding Dong Lounge's Band Competition. As this was a competition, I had a bit of fun trying my best to make a calculated guess as to who would win.
Gig Review: Banks Arcade @ Tuning Fork, Auckland - 13/08/2022
17 Aug 2022 // by Gideon Voon
In you are a fan of the newer generation of Metal or Heavy Music. You really missed out.
Gig Review: Coridian @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 15/07/2022
18 Jul 2022 // by Gideon Voon
Coridian, who I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with in my band’s most recent NZ gig, have put on a gig titled ‘Power to Rock’. But we do not get the power part straight away, we build up to it.
Gig Review: Midwave Breaks @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 03/06/2022
05 Jun 2022 // by Gideon Voon
Tauranga and Hamilton joined forces to send some of their best Alt-Rock acts to show Auckland a thing or two. First up is a 5-piece band from Hamilton, Retro Valley.
Gig Review: Voodoo Bloo w/ Friends @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 14/05/2022
16 May 2022 // by Gideon Voon
It’s mid-2022 and yet another gig is at the mercy of Covid. This time, Melanie was not spared.
View All Articles By Gideon Voon

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