3 Jun 2023

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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

Torn Chorus - Single/Video Review: Time I Wasn't Here
22 May 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
Torn Chorus’ latest single Time I Wasn't Here is a mid-tempo rocker that is a pleasant, country tinged song with a not so hidden meaning. The act is a one man band, Franklin Davis, who plays all the instruments and performs all the vocals capably in a no-nonsense approach.
Gig Review: Dead Favours @ Meow, Wellington - 27/04/2023
30 Apr 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
Meow was humming on Thursday night as the locals awaited two Auckland bands and a Wellingtonian act to entertain them. Rock and roll legends Dead Favours, on tour for their second six-track EP Riffing and Yelling Part 2 (or the second part of their second album if you want to think about it that way) were headlining, bringing with them pop-punks Ekko Park.
Gig Review: Crooked Royals @ Valhalla, Wellington - 28/04/2023
30 Apr 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
Valhalla was surely over their capacity on Friday night when Auckland metalcore juggernauts Crooked Royals headlined a very quickly sold out show. It was standing room only within the small club, but there was a palpable, even friendly excitement in the cramped conditions.
InDuna - Single/Video Review: Dreams
08 Apr 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
Ink and Gold: An Artist’s Journey to Olympic Glory is a documentary about New Zealand artist and athlete, Zakea Page, winning the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games medal design competition. It’s an engaging short film to say the least, with a message about persevering despite the odds and celebrating the intersection of passions, in this case, sport and art.
TheSlacks - Single/Video Review: Information Ape
20 Feb 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
TheSlacks latest single Information Ape starts off with a sweet melody that reminds me of a 50's doowop band like The Penguins. Over the top of this some digital noises such as phones ringing and switches changing lines establishes the vibe or both sincere, innocent beginnings and hectic modern life.
Ripship - Album Review: Fearsome Engine
06 Jan 2023 // by Nicholas Clark
This couldn’t be a Ripship review without at least mentioning the immense noise the two-piece band produces. There – I’ve said it; they sure can conjure up some dBs.
Adult Friends - Single Review: Brittle
12 Dec 2022 // by Nicholas Clark
In the contemporary music industry, there continues to be a use for genres to categorize products for easier consumption and describe artists for potential customers. True artists, pioneers if you will, often reside at the periphery of the conventions expected of them.
Gig Review: Swallow the Rat w/ Ripship @ Valhalla, Wellington - 8/12/2022
10 Dec 2022 // by Nicholas Clark
Swallow the Rat and Ripship’s seven date North Island tour had landed in Wellington. Despite the anticipation for the event, including how people attending were talking about the event and online discussions, I entered a rather empty Valhalla bar on Vivian Street a little late for the advertised starting time.
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