2 Dec 2022
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Gig Review: Emo Day Party @ Ding Dong Lounge, Auckland - 23/10/2022

25 Oct 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Being a glutton for punishment, I was back out the next day at an even more stupid time to catch the Emo Day Party which was taking place over the three floors of Ding Dong Lounge in conjunction with next door’s nightclub, Infinity. The stage was actually up in the nightclub, and it was the first time I had ventured in there so this was going to be interesting. Today there were nine bands playing, along with DJs all day as well, so there was going to be plenty for everyone.

First up, at the remarkable time of 2:45 on a Sunday afternoon were Capricore who were playing only their second ever gig and are a trio featuring Aidan Ripley on vocals and guitar, Dean Church on bass and Jerrick Wilcox on drums. I did feel for them, as there was literally just one person in the audience, but they were determined to play as if there was a crowd and all power to them for that. The set was all originals, and they started with Star In A Jar which had a delicate bass intro with strummed guitar. More alternative and indie than emo, this has a nice commercial feeling to it, with a gentle guitar vignette in the middle. Yeah, Nah, Yeah is choppy, more rocky with a strong hook, and I found myself really enjoying their set, with Aidan talking as if there was a real crowd and Dean obviously having a blast. Soundman Dave and I concurred these guys are actually really good and deserving of a proper audience, as this is a real belter with strong bass lines, powering vocals, all being driven from the back by strong drums. While their songs are all based in alternative tock, they have lots of different styles, with Mellow Lane being very different indeed to what had gone previously, showing considerable depth for a new band, and they were still acting as if there was a full crowd in front of them which was truly commendable. They even played one of Aidan’s older songs, Alien Freak, which he said he wrote when he was just thirteen, but the band were going to give it a quite different treatment to how he originally recorded it. Aidan has strong vocals, the songs are diverse, while Dean is a bassist prepared to throw shapes and lots of interesting runs and fills with Jerrick driving on from the back and I am sure we are going to be hearing a lot more from these guys.           

Next up was Christian Carstensen from Crooked Royals who was doing a solo set. Apparently, the band all have tickets to Kings of Leon so he agreed to do a solo session if he could be on early, which is why he was booked for 3:30. He had decided to do something a little different this afternoon so was playing a combination of Crooked Royals numbers and covers, starting with Copacetic (which received a 5* review for MNNZ when it was released as a single a few years  back). Hearing the song in its purest form was interesting, and very different from the version we all know, which of course normally features co-singer Lee Mackley as well. Christian has a wonderful voice, and it was great to hear it in this format, and then he dropped into Fall Out Boy’s Sugar We're Going Down. By now, Lee had arrived to support his bandmate, but with only one microphone he left Christian to perform Rumination solo, which again was a load of fun. It was time now for another cover, with Christian letting his vocals rip out for The Kill (Thirty Seconds To Mars), showing off his power and range – he really is an incredibly dynamic vocalist and when he screams it is full of control. He then turned back to one of his older numbers from before Crooked Royals to give us Cold Shower, which I have not previously come across but certainly fitted in with the acoustic show, allowing him to throw vocal gymnastics while providing us yet again with a number full of hooks.  He finished the set with Drown (Bring Me The Horizon), which is another number which lets him display his vocal chops. This was a great set, showing again what a great singer Christian is, and I can’t believe I have still to see Crooked Royals play, something I need to amend as soon as possible.

Now we had 0800 Belly Up who had trekked down from Mangawhai and did not have the best of journeys which meant they did not get here until they were already supposed to be setting up. They are a trio featuring Richard Dunn-Darvill (lead vocals, bass), Buster Clark (guitar, backing vocals), and Daniel Boyd (drums, backing vocals). They are a band who are packed full of energy, with Richard hitting his bass hard and bouncing while Buster is providing crunching riffs and Daniel is hitting hard as they throw a real punk energy into everything they do. Kick Ons commences with some interesting basslines but soon it is another belter, and the crowd were certainly having fun as this is not music designed to be sat with as it cries out for people to move. From this they downtuned the guitar some more and blasted into The Middle by Jimmy Eats World, which certainly suits their boisterous style. Of course, they had to play All The Small Things, which seems to be the favourite of many bands on the circuit, but theirs is one of the truest I’ve heard with crunching guitars and just the right amount of attitude. Punka Masala starts with a rising guitar lick until the band kick in, and they have a great knack for punchy numbers packed full of hooks which are just great fun. This was followed by Day Drinking and the opening chant of “Chug, chug, chug” which is a punk anthem with plenty of balls and attitude tempered with a sense of humour. From here they went into the bass dominated A Lot To Say which is typical of their own material in that it is commercial, aggressive, with some nice guitar and pounding drums. It just seemed so wrong to be listening to music like this in the afternoon and not late at night! Mind you, The Ramones sound great at any time and we all joined in on Blitzkrieg Bop. They changed the mood with the more laid back Your Place, bringing us down after the energetic high, showing they can be more reflective when they want to be. These guys are a load of fun, and I am sure I will be seeing them again soon.

Next was Coffin Club, another trio with Jimmy (guitar, vocals), Bug (bass) and Alex (drums). This was far more raucous than what had come previously, with Bug and Alex keeping it together while Jimmy was forcing notes out of his guitar while shouting into the microphone. These guys really mean it, creating a heck of a noise, with Gaslight starting with some synchronised guitar and bass, but soon becoming something which was manic and massively over the top. The bands which had played previously felt somewhat tame in comparison and when that song finished after about a minute it felt like we had just been battered, but we were soon into Nowhere Nowhere and there was no time for rest as our senses were being attacked once again. But there is a method within the madness, with Bug and Alex providing the melodic foundation for Jimmy to either become part of it or to use that as a base and rip into something far more aggressive and over the top. Alex is one of those drummers who rarely wants to provide a simple backbeat but instead is providing fills to keep pushing the momentum forward, which means Bug is trying to keep everything under control as her bass is the platform and lynch pin for what is happening on either side. She provides melodic complexity while both Jimmy and Alex push the music in different directions. Hail to the Sun even has some almost commercial elements to the chorus but they don’t hang around for too long as Jimmy keeps wrenching notes from his guitar. When a band really means it, not just playing but living what they are doing, then it becomes something very special indeed and that is what we were witnessing here, as they just seemed to be getting faster with Erase and Save showing that punk can be played at thrash speed and make total sense. This was a powering and exciting set, showing what can be done when a band are fully invested in what they are doing, just awesome.

Now it was time for the first band I have seen previously, the mighty Stray Dogs, who are of course Josh Pinho (vocals), Cameron Brookes (guitar), Grant Kirkpatrick (drums), and Steve Shyu (bass). This is a polished outfit, with a frontman who is not only a strong singer but will do whatever he can to get the crowd going, while both Cameron and Steve keep throwing shapes and Grant drives it from the back. Tonight, they started with the song from which they took their name and even though I was typing I could see the audience make a conscious effort to get closer to the stage. Smile is one of those songs which is a solid groove designed to make the crowd move, while Josh is of course doing whatever he can to get the crowd even more involved. There is an acapella section within this which ends with a long held note and then the band crunch band in. Life of the Party is a banger from the off, and designed to be a load of fun, with both the audience and the band fully in the groove and having a blast. Josh was the first singer not to play an instrument, and he has no need whatsoever for a microphone stand as he is always in motion. Not Enemy is an angrier song, aimed at racists, driven mostly by bass and drums, with vocal beck and call between Cameron and Josh before Josh goes into a rant more normally associated with the likes of hardcore as opposed to the melodic alternative rock these guys deliver. By now, there was a serious mosh taking place at the front of the stage, and when they kicked into Iceberg it got even more intense. Josh recently sang on Finger Tight’s new album and asked Red to return the favour on this track for the new Stray Dogs release (due out in the New Year, one not to miss), so of course Red had to jump up on stage so now we had two high energy nutters giving it everything and Steve took the wise course and carefully stayed out of the way. During the quiet section Cameron got everyone waving their arms in the air, but soon we were back into mayhem. Stray Dogs are a band who are totally comfortable on the stage, with a decade of songs behind them and new material coming through all the time yet always know what the audience want, and what the audience wanted tonight was Teenagers (given it was an Emo day it did seem somewhat strange that it had taken until the middle band of the afternoon to play My Chemical Romance).The whole place bounced and they ended the night with the high-octane Loser, a real banger.

Next up was Kiero who for one night only were going to have a quiet different line-up to normal as keyboard player Michael Collier was not able to play the show, so they were using a backing track to cover his parts (synth/bass synth) and they had a friend over from Australia who was going to be playing guitar so the line-up was Grant Kirkpatrick (drums), Jin Song (guitar, bass, vocals) and Dil Harre (guitar). After Stray Dogs finished the audience had disappeared off the floor, but as the guys went into Faithless they slowly started to reappear. This was far more emotional, starting slowly before it cranked up, with Dil wrenching notes out of his guitar, providing an additional edge and experimentation against what the other guys were doing. This meant the band felt very experimental and edgy, with Grant providing different patterns while Jin at times concentrated on vocals, and others was combining with Dil to provide a wall of sound. The keyboards are a very important part of the overall sound, so much so that at times they made me think of a gothic emo Atomic Rooster, with Jin forcing his vocals over the top to create an incredible atmosphere. Dil left the stage while Jin and Grant blasted through Royal Blood’s Figure It Out, returning for Scissors, where they again slowed it right down. They were quite different from what had gone before, and possibly were in the wrong place on the bill as they would have been better as either an opening act or one to bring the set down at the end of the night, as this was not what the audience were looking for at this time. Grant is a heck of a drummer, one of those who is incredibly busy and hitting his kit hard, while Jin is doing a great deal not only vocally but with different effects, and I look forward to hearing them again when they are in their normal line-up. They ended the night with Kiero, which starts off as a wall of noise, far more in common with Krautrock than what had come before, interesting stuff, with Dil throwing himself everywhere, bouncing off the wall at one stage and standing on the kick drum.

Strangely it was still only 8:00, and there were still three bands to come. Next up was Edible, another band new to me, featuring Jayden (lead vocals, guitar), Te Ara (bass, backing vocals), Karn (guitar), and Coles (drums). They kicked off with a song which has yet to have a title, but is packed full of energy, and it was obvious that Te Ara was going to have fun no matter what was happening, providing strong basslines with a massive smile on his face and bopping to the sound. The song did slow down somewhat and take on a more reflective nature before they moved into Remo Drive’s Crash Test Rating. There is no doubt whatsoever that the next number was the song title of the night, The Best Thing About Denny’s Was The Fishtank, for which Jayden put down his guitar and the band launched into a staccato punk number which also had something of a ska feel to it. Jayden had his guitar back for their most popular number on Spotify, Learning to Yeet, which saw the guys again picking up the tempo. There were shouts of recognition as they launched into a cover of Blink 182’s Adam’s Song, and although this was somewhat slower than what they had been playing it certainly got quite a few of the crowd dancing. They pumped the energy again with Details, showing just how strong the punk credentials are in this band from the Waikato. This number has multiple sections within it, and just when it was being slowed down with some lead guitar motifs Te Ara grabbed it and turned it into a belter. It was now time for another cover, and it seemed only right to drop in some Paramore with For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic which probably got them their best reaction so far with people dancing and plenty playing air drums. Their last two songs displayed their intent with Eat Shit followed by Fuck This, so they were certainly consistent!

It has been way too long since I last saw Melanie play, one of the most interesting and dynamic bands on the circuit, and I had been looking forward to this set for some time. The band are Jamie Dentice (vocals, guitar), Robin Davey Lusk (guitar), William Dentice (bass, backing vocals), and Joe Gasparich (drums) and they have deservedly built up quite a reputation as one of the best live acts around, and the audience had certainly grown to the best of the day so far. Jamie told everyone to get closer to the stage and then commenced to riff into Delivery Boy, and we were off. This is high octane stuff from a band who are incredibly tight due to countless hours playing together, not only from playing live but also from all sharing a flat so they could practice together more. When they go for it, they are insanely quick, yet stay melodic and together, and Josie was blasted through as if they were The Ramones on speed. No Shoes is about taking care of yourself if you have mental health issues and is fierce, direct, and totally in your face. These guys are on a mission to convert everyone to massively over the top pop punk and are going to achieve that with music which blasts though at a rate of knots, yet somehow stays clean and focussed even though they are ripping up the place. It does not get any better than Melanie on full speed blasting through Kachow, with the crowd fully behind them. William is centre stage, and he never stops moving, putting everything into the performance as the guys all live what they are doing. The crowd were certainly responding and there now a quite violent mosh taking place at the front. It was obvious the band could do no wrong, and when they played Joyce Manor’s Constant Headache there were plenty of people singing it back to them. When they played Collide it seemed as if there was no way they could get any quicker, yet somehow, they managed it. They ended the set with two covers, knowing everyone would sing along, even letting the crowd to take the lead on Basket Case and then slowing it down with Teenage Dirtbag. A great set by a great band.

To finish the night, we had the mighty Holloway up from Wellington who have certainly been making many friends in Auckland since their show as part of Crushfest. The trio of Lou Valentine (vocals, guitar), Taylor Criscuola (drums) and Max Long (guitar) are a powerful act, and one I knew was really going to go off. With plenty of riffing the guys made themselves known, and then we were off into Hot Pink Paralysis and the crowd were making their way back to the front of the stage. Lou is a rock god, born to front a stage while Max is not going to be left behind, throwing shapes, and providing backing vocals. If that was not enough, Taylor is one of those rare things, a drummer who not only provides fills and plenty of attacks from the back but also want to be noticed so wears a rubber mask which must surely smell at the end of each set. Lou announced to the crowd that he was there to steal their husbands and sons, and then we were into Here Comes Glitterboy. They use backing tracks to provide the synths which are an important part of their overall sound, adding finesse to the bombast which only comes from a band on the very top of the game. Lou had everyone get even closer to the stage and then we were off into The Freak Show and I was already solidly reminded of why I love this band so much. Lou pulled the mask off Taylor so he could breathe, and then kept riling up the crowd, getting everyone to pogo with them during Violet. Lou got the crowd singing with him and then we were into I Write Sins Not Tragedies, with everyone singing and dancing, but when they pulled out the riffs to Fall Out Boy’s Sugar We're Going Down the mosh was on, yet that was not going to stop everyone from singing along. The covers fit in well with their own material as they are all of the same quality, packed with hooks and commerciality with Psycho Sensitive getting the same crowd reaction as the songs they already knew. Date All My Friends combines that commerciality with a stream of consciousness rap which Lou said was incredibly hard to sing, and I believe him! Taylor is surely one of the most visible and over the top drummers around, throwing everything into it, giving us an insane performance against Thomas The Tank Engine which is simply magical. They slowed it down with Crush and then lifted it back up again with If What I Think Is Happening is Happening, It Better Not Be and the audience were still dancing even though by now it was some 9 hours since the first band started. It was only fitting that they finish with a cover by the emo band, and everyone jumped again as they kicked into Dead!

That was it, what a day. Ding Dong also had DJ’s working the other two floors and that was going on for a few more hours yet but I  was done. Yet another incredible event at Dead Witch 

 

Photo Credit: Coffin Club, Stray Dogs, Edible, Melanie & Holloway - Ginny C Photography

Photo Credit: All others, Kev Rowland

 

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