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Festival Review: The Others Way Festival, Auckland - 22/10/2022

23 Oct 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

This evening was my first visit to The Others Way, a festival being held up and down K Road in Auckland featuring eight different venues. This meant getting into the city unreasonably early as the first band on my list was starting at 6:15! My first venue was Galatos Street Stage, so working on the basis that this would be somewhere close to Galatos I made my way to that venue and found the street blocked off, with a stage set up at the far end! I caught up with David to give him his photographer’s pass and we popped into Galatos itself to see everything being set up for what was planned to be a full-on night. But although I had some gigs in that venue later, that was not where I was starting so it was back outside to get ready for Daffodils.

They are a young band, with a very strong UK Eighties feel about them, somewhere between Suede and The Smiths with a touch of The Cure here and there. The synths are basic, but add a really important wall of sound against which the rest of the band play. However, for the most part the music is accompaniment to the warm and gentle vocals of Theo, who also provides guitar. It is one of those voices which is warm and inviting, and one of the best actual singing voices I have come across on the local rock circuit. The rhythm section provides the foundation for him to interplay with synth player Jade, and the sound they produce is very powerful indeed. This alternative pop is fresh and new and there was certainly quite a crowd gathered in the street having a gentle sway in the evening sunlight. I did wonder what any local residents/bars would be thinking of it though as they were not scrimping on volume. This was a nice start to the evening, and it was good to see so many people had turned up early for what was going to be a long night. After just a few numbers I had to leave to get to the next venue, but I know I am going to be seeing these guys again soon as they are really fun and have a lot to offer.

So next it was slightly down the road to Pitt Street Methodist Church to catch up with the wonderful (and jet lagged) Steve Bone to catch Te Kaahu. There is something about hearing singers in a church where the acoustics are superb, and they started with Theia lifting her voice to the heavens in a Waiata before being joined by the other singer and together they created a wonderful sound. They were joined by three musicians for the rest of the set, who switched between different styles of guitar (even lap steel) to provide delicate accompaniment as the two singers wrapped us in their spell. There was something simply amazing about their sound, delicate yet powerful, and hearing it in a church made it even more special. This is music which is bringing together elements of folk, country, traditional and so much more, all wrapped up in these incredible vocals which ensures the audience is spellbound throughout. Having them perform in the church was a truly inspired choice as there was a reverence about the performance, with the audience sat quietly and reflective as if it was the Sunday morning service. The harmonies were a delight, and wonderfully uplifting, and although I was unable to understand any of the words as everything was in Te Reo, Theia explained what each song was about before they started. Just seeing and hearing Te Kaahu made my night, as the sound they produced was beautiful, so everything else was going to be a bonus, but it was time to move on again. I am so looking forward to reviewing their album in the near future.

Of course, one of the issues in having an event spread over many different venues is that if something is held up somewhere then there can be a real knock-on effect. My next venue was Neck of the Woods to see The Newmatics, but they didn’t even open the doors until after the band was supposed to  start, and the queue back down K Road to see one of our most iconic ska bands was huge, which made me wonder how long it would be until the band was going to come onto the stage and whether I might have to bail and hit another venue instead. But I decided to wait it out and eventually the guys came out and straight away were kicking up the noise in a manner which only comes to those who have been doing this all their lives (strange to think they originally broke up nearly 40 years ago!). The bass was high in the mix, as one would expect, with the three-piece horn section making themselves heard. There was a real cross section in the audience but there was no doubt the average age tended towards 50+ as they were the people who had grown up with these guys on the radio. There was no doubt they would be playing Riot Squad, but that was going to be towards the end of the set, and it was time for me to keep moving.

Going down the stairs into Whammy I realised the door was open so that it was easy to get to Wine Cellar, Whammy Backroom and Whammy itself, so after popping in to see Dani shooting Pollyhill I decided to go into Wine Cellar and investigate what was going on there as they sounded great, whoever it was, which is how I discovered Bleeding Star, a punchy alternative rock band with real attitude. This is one of the things that makes this such a great event, there is a lot of music going on in different places so keep moving around and you will never know what you will find. It has been a long time since I have seen this venue so full, and with these guys cranking it out more kept coming in. With two doors open into the venue there would be no way to check numbers, but it was getting pretty rammed. I know nothing about them except they are the youngest band at the festival and they say they are inspired by melody and noise, and certainly bring that combination together in their own sound. The drummer from Animalhead came past and said to me, “this is really good” and he was right. They may be young, but they have a presence and a sound based heavily on the bass and lower registers and seem way beyond their years. One to look out for.

The next band on my list was Repairs, but if I was quick, I could get in some songs from Finn Andrews so it was back to church for the second time in a day, and I was soon basking in some wonderful country with powerful vocals as Finn accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. For his next number he slowed it down, far more reflective and emotional, this time playing piano. It was thoughtful, delicate, and passionate, and I was certainly glad I had made the effort as yet again we were in a church with the audience spellbound by what was happening in front of them. When Finn is playing nothing exists in the world except for his voice, with the third number having an accompaniment made up of dynamic chords, and his gentle and fluid vocals over the top. Lyrically he is a songwriter who likes to make the listener think, and he said he has always wanted to play this song in a church with a choir, so he was partway there, and it certainly fitted in with the ambience. He was only asked to take part in the festival the previous day as he was a fill-in, but one would never have imagined this as he was composed and totally in control and the audience were hanging on every word. But it was time for me to move on…  

Whoever thought it was a good idea to put Repairs on at Whammy Backroom needs their bumps read as I got there just after the set had started and there was no way into the venue and instead it was staying by the door and seeing what I could. Luckily, the sound mix was both excellent and loud so hearing their disjointed alternative pop rock was not an issue. I love trios, as there is never any room to hide, and here they are totally in sync with each other, incredibly tight as they kept moving through different styles and genres, with the drums and bass keeping it grounded while the guitar was often going off at tangents as they showed there were no boundaries to what they were doing. Their music often feels very out in left field with a refusal to conform yet there is a central drive and passion which keeps everything on track. This is a band I can see I need to find out more about what they are doing is experimental, fascinating, and vital.

Now it was a quick trip over to Galatos Basement to catch Rita Mae, a lovely singer-songwriter with a full band with her. Yet again the venue was full, showing there was a great deal of support for this event and I was certainly discovering a lot of bands who were new to me. So far tonight I had not seen anyone I had previously either reviewed or caught live, although that would be changing later in the night. But for now, I was making notes of musicians I needed to pay more attention to, and Rita is yet another as her sound is mixed with pop and modern sounds as well as acoustic, making it fresh and inviting and there were certainly a lot of younger people in this audience. I managed to catch up with Theia as she was there enjoying the music and let her know just how much her own performance had meant to me earlier in the night, but I had made my way to Basement as my next few bands were playing in Galatos, so it was time to move on again, as the next one promised to be a real banger.

So upstairs it was, to find a place to perch, for the only and only Dance Exponents. I have seen Jordan with his own band many times, but this was my first time seeing the group which started it all. They kicked off with All I Can Do, and the night was lifted – everyone knows these songs, Kiwi classics all, so even if some in the audience weren’t alive when the songs came out first time around, we all know the words, and are going to sing and dance! I have been fortunate enough to see some great bands at Galatos this year, yet there was no doubt this was the fullest I had ever seen it. I remember seeing Jordan here years ago, but tonight felt special as he played alongside the guys with whom it all started. Just four songs in and it the place was packed all the way back to the entrance so that it was a struggle to even get to the bar, but people were still coming, and when they kicked into Your Best Friend Loves Me Too, everyone moved forward to get that much closer.

To those outside New Zealand it is hard to express just how iconic and important these guys are to the history of Kiwi Rock, and this was fun! For a band not exactly in the first flush of youth they were putting others to shame with the amount of energy and drive as they rolled back the years. Just Me And You certainly had people dancing and reacting with its ska-style beat, and they just kept rocking on. This was the first band of the night where I was planning to stay for the whole set, as there was nowhere else I would rather be. When the chords started to Victoria the cheers went up, the crowd started singing, and even the bar staff started dancing. Classic, iconic, was there ever a better song written about a landlady? They were now past their end time but showing no sign of stopping, still blasting out as if they were a band half their age and just starting out as opposed to being at the end of the set and when Jordan started singing the chorus to I’ll Say Goodbye (Even Though I’m Blue) everyone joined in, it was compulsory! They even managed to fit in a piece of The Mockers’ Forever Tuesday Morning. The shouts for one more song went to no avail as there was a schedule to keep, so time to move to the next venue!

Back downstairs into Galatos Basement for Soft Plastics, the first band of the night I had actually seen play before when they supported the wonderful Fur Patrol. As with every other event tonight, this was rammed even though as Sophie said, Che Fu was playing outside on the Galatos Street Stage. Apart from The Newmatics, which were definitely an older audience, every gig I had attended tonight had a real cross section of ages, and it was the case again here. When I saw Soft Plastics last time, they were a trio, but now they have expanded to a quartet with the addition of a keyboard player which certainly expands their sound, yet the focus stays where it needs to be, on Sophie’s vocals which cut through with a simplicity and naivety which is enthralling. Their garage pop is reminiscent at times of the UK Manchester scene of the Eighties, with just the right amount of crunch and hooks, and the audience were reacting very positively indeed with lots of dancing taking place. The guitar goes through a pedalboard which is used to provide plenty of effects and reverb so the band can seem much larger than it is, while Sophie’s voice follows the melody being provided by her bass, allowing the other musicians to build soundscapes around it. They are adept at creating a magical world, and yet again I am incredibly impressed by what they are delivering, and I am sure they are destined for larger stages.

I needed a break from music for a while and somewhere to sit, so grabbed some food from White Lady, and then made my way down to Whammy Bar for what was going to be my last band of the night, Shepherds Reign. It did seem strange to find a metal band at the festival, but the night had been wonderfully diverse so why not? Looking around the audience who were in Whammy Bar I must confess I wondered how many of them knew what was coming next? Polynesian groove metal anyone? The backing track started, and then we were into Aiga and anyone unsure of what was happening was left in no doubt whatsoever as the guys kicked in as only they can. They are brutally heavy, have a rhythm section to die for, two guitarists at the top of their game while at the front there is Filivaa, one of the finest frontmen around. I felt like the evening has somehow been building to this, with Ua Massa lifting the intensity even further. There may not have been a metal audience in front of them, but every few had left, possibly because they would have had to get very close to the speakers on the way out, but more likely due to them being converted.

No time to allow anyone to catch their own breath, they only had 30 minutes tonight so were soon blasting into Samoa Mo Samoa which has huge percussive foundation and a groove which really kicks – these guys create groove metal which is exciting and grabs the listener in. When Filli plays the pate, it adds an additional element with everything in line with the percussion, taking the sound ever deeper. When they hit their stride there are few to match them, as while there is power in abundance, what makes this work are the levels of finesse they also bring to it. Just how many metal bands can you name where the lead singer can bring a keytar into the mix? But when he does the rest of the band just take it to new levels, determined to show they are not going soft by adding more melody. The introduction to Legend was sheer brilliance, with the piano sound being offset by crunching guitars. This is one of their more commercial numbers, yet is still brutally heavy and full of the tricks and hooks we expect from them. The percussion started, driving everything forward and then we were crunching into Ala Mai and the energy levels were being driven deep into the red. It was now past midnight, and their set should have ended, but no-one was going to stop the juggernaut which was onstage. They completed their night, and mine, with Le Manu – it cannot be long until the international labels come calling.

What an incredible festival with some amazing music, what a night. There were still bands playing, but it was time for me finally give in with my ears buzzing from metal at its very best.

Photo Credits:
In order of images, top to bottom:

Daffodils - David Dunham
Te Kaahu - Steve Bone
Bleeding Star - David Dunham
Finn Andrews - Steve Bone
Rita Mae - David Dunham
Dance Exponents - Steve Bone
Shepherds Reign - Kev Rowland
Nadia Reid - Danielle Hao-Aickin
Anthonie Tonnon - Danielle Hao-Aicken

View More Here:
Gallery 1 - Steve Bone / Steve Bone Photography
Gallery 2 - Danielle Hao-Aickin / Salt and Sugar Photos
Gallery 3 - David Dunham / The Black and White Picture


Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Gig Review: Crushfest @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 07/07/2023
07 Jul 2023 // by Kev Rowland
So it was down to Tuning Fork for the first night of the second Crushfest festival. Tonight was going to be Wellington and Auckland bands, and then some of the same will be playing at the second night in Wellington next month.
Rain - Single Review: Love and War
15 Jun 2023 // by Kev Rowland
It has been quite a while since I last heard from Wellington-based singer songwriter Cathy Elizabeth, and back then Rain was seen solely as a studio project with Cathy being accompanied by Thomas Te Taite, who provided all the instrumentation including digital drums. Now they are a full band who have been performing live, and it is the first time they have recorded as such, with Thomas now, just providing acoustic guitar (plus engineering and producing etc.
Lost Vessels - Single Review: All This Time
01 Jun 2023 // by Kev Rowland
I must admit I was not that impressed when I first saw Lost Vessels play at Crushfest, something they later admitted to me was the worst gig of their career, but since then they have improved in leaps and bounds. This has been noticed by others on the Auckland circuit as they are getting more opportunities with better support slots, and I was not at all surprised when they won the Ding Dong Lounge Battle Of The Bands in November last year.
Unwanted Subject - Single Review: Sons of Savages
28 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
I have caught Unwanted Subject in concert a few times over the last couple of years, and while they have been getting better each time I have seen them, I must admit that nothing prepared me for this, which right from the off is a monster. I have never heard them quite this is aggressive, nor as polished, and this multi-sectioned single sounds almost like a different band as they have pushed their metal roots to the max in this metalcore beast which sees them mixing and blending different genres to create something quite special.
Gig Review: Stray Dogs @ AUX, Auckland - 26/05/2023
28 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
So it was back to Ding Dong Lounge on a Friday night for one of their infamous Emo nights, which tonight was a three-band bill with Stray Dogs having an extended set, supported by Altaea and then up first we had Blindr, a band new to me. Blindr are a quartet featuring Bill Caldwell (vocals, guitar), Blake Woodfield (lead guitar), Jack Power (bass), and Charlie McCracken (drums).
Gig Review: Turkey The Bird @ The Ministry of Folk, Auckland - 27/05/2023
27 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Back up to Auckland Guide Centre in Mount Eden tonight for my second consecutive gig (Sol suggested it was a turkey sandwich as I am at Vader tomorrow) to see Taranaki’s finest, Turkey The Bird at The Ministry of Folk. Before that we of course had Hoop, who are Al Baxter (vocals, guitar, harmonica, banjo, mandolin), Nick Edgar (vocals, guitar, ukulele, flute, harmonica), Emily Allen (violin, viola), Glenn Coldham (bass) while tonight Gary Hunt was filling in for drummer Rusty Knox.
This Silent Divide - Single Review: Beautiful Creature
25 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Here we have the latest single from Wellington-based melodic hard rock quartet This Silent Divide, entitled Beautiful Creature. I really enjoyed their Tall Stories EP, and they played a great gig at Dead Witch towards the end of last year, and this would have been recorded at about the same time.
Gig Review: Emily Rice @ Your Local Coffee Roasters, Pukekohe - 24/05/2023
24 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Earlier this week I had a message from Emily Rice asking me if I lived in South Auckland. When I responded I did, she asked if I would be interested in coming along to an event she was putting on in a coffee shop in Pukekohe to celebrate the release of her new single, Warenoa.
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

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