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House of Bonnie Presents @ Valhalla, Wellington - 10/11/2022

12 Nov 2022 // A review by Nicholas Clark
While Wellington’s Valhalla can often seem the perfect venue for dark and brutal music with the Viking themed attire, steep black walls, not to mention imposing decals (including some surviving Halloween decorations), the bar was all colour and light on Thursday evening when Sodalight, REID, Happy Two and Burnt Out Graduate came to brighten the corners. The event had been organised by The House of Bonnie; an organiser who regularly puts on pop shows that are often related to Massey University creative art graduates.

First to take the stage was Sodalight (pictured), who played light, fresh and funky pop songs. Often, the guitar was not necessary
and slung at the side of the vocalist as he crooned through quiet passages and sung passionately through choruses. When the guitar did return it would punctuate rhythms with the keyboards, creating a nice interplay with the central bass that held the songs together.

Next up, REID took to the stage and immediately appeared more professional. Front man Reid Benseman sang with impressive control, holding notes to harmonise with the band behind. Again, keys and guitar, along with occasional acoustic guitar, interplayed with a heavy bass that kept things poppy and leaning toward funk. Reid established an immediate rapport with the audience, talking just a tiny bit between songs so the band and audience could prepare for a different vibe. The musicians subtly danced to the rhythms and the crowd followed likewise. REID played with influences ranging from pop, R&B, rock, worship music, even reggae. After a Bruno Mars cover the band had demonstrated their ability to deliver powerful pop tunes.

Next up was Happy Two, a foursome including Ben from Dave & The Dirty Humans. Front man Philip Kim got the crowd inspired early on with both his humorous patter and the band’s easy-going demeanor. Despite this, the band slipped into heavy punk rock at times, playing songs that sounded reminiscent of Anime series opening credits, a transformation of one of their songs into A-ha’s Take On Me and ending with a rousing version of Gangnam Style. Thoroughly entertaining.

The last band of the night was Burnt Out Graduate (pictured), oddly enough the only band who had since completed their degree. Immediately, the difference in the bands stage presence was obvious due to the lack of a vocalist, with their bassist taking the role of front man. The band played songs that had more in common with post-rock than pop, changing moods within songs from optimistically rising melodies to shimmering plaintive sections using heavy reverb to create crystalline ambience. Despite the lack of vocals, the music carried the band and entertained the audience until they covered their only pop song, a Gwen Stefani cover. By the end the band looked pumped and ready to play at least another half hour, but the night was late and as mentioned by the band at the beginning of their set, it was a Thursday after all.

Once the band had come off stage, I congratulated them on a powerful and inspiring set. They asked if I thought they needed a vocalist to compete their sound, to which I replied: ‘Don’t change a thing.’

Photo Credit: Nicholas E. Clark
Sodalight Photo Gallery
REID Photo Gallery
Happy Two Photo Gallery 
Burnt Out Graduate Photo Gallery


Other Reviews By Nicholas Clark

Guilt Grip - Album Review: Guilt Grip
12 Apr 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
Tamaki Makaurau Auckland four-piece Guilt Grip present here, available in the unconventional medium of cassette tape, their first full length self-titled album. It’s an abrasive listen that suits the surreal collaged artwork by Lia Boscu, and one that proudly and loudly celebrates the band’s passions and values.
EP Review: Lava
29 Feb 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
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Tower Of Flints - Album Review: Live at Paisley Stage
12 Feb 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
The true proof that any band is worthy of praise is the live act. Recalling my own introduction to certain musicians, the quality of a live album would often be the deciding factor of whether I would continue to follow a band.
Mister Unit - EP Review: There's Always Someone With A Bigger Schtick
30 Jan 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
Mister Unit’s third offering, after one EP and an album, is a six strong EP filled with inventive riffs, clever lyrics and catchy melodies. Oh yes, and lots of great guitar solos.
Gig Review: Mister Unit @ Valhalla, Wellington - 18/01/2024
21 Jan 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
An emotional night for many, Valhalla hosted Mister Unit's album release party on Thursday with a three-band line-up. Emotional because the conclusion of work on a recording always is, whether or not it is a celebration, especially so on the dense, powerful and ultimately nostalgic six track album by the headlining band; but more than usual perhaps, because one member who featured on the album was no longer with us.
Gig Review: Dave and the Dirty Humans @ Fringe Bar, Wellington - 13/01/2024
15 Jan 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
Dave and The Dirty Humans are not a band that fades in memory next to the many other current Wellington bands the capital scene appears to be teeming with. Not only is the name a mouthful, but their live shows are memorable, and their songs seem familiar by drawing heavily from the near past (read, the 90’s and 2000’s).
Lung - Album Review: Lung Cancer
07 Jan 2024 // by Nicholas Clark
The legendary 90’s grunge band Lung recently returned to playing live gigs after a hiatus from 1994 until the 2010’s. In 2022 they released Bad Acid Soundtracks II which offered newer versions from their earlier records (like 3 Heads on a Plate and Cactii) but featured the impressive drumming from frontman Dave White’s son, Zak.
Gig Review: Dave and the Dirty Humans @ The Welsh Dragon, Wellington - 27/10/2023
31 Oct 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
If you’ve attended even a handful of live music events in the capital these past two years, chances are you’ve seen or heard of the alternative heavy rock band, Dave and the Dirty Humans. They’re the kind of band you might rave about the next morning, groggily and inaccurately trying to describe their style as both heavy and funky, metallic but not really metal, direct and brutal at times but complex and harmonious the next second.
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