23 Mar 2023

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Broke - Gig Review: Broke @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 17/12/2022

20 Dec 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Back to Dead Witch in Auckland on another extremely wet Saturday night for my last gig of the year, my 62nd! Tonight, I was in the unusual position of being faced with three bands I had never seen before, although I had reviewed material by all of them, plus the band I have seen most in 2022. These four bands all played together in Hamilton last night, but tonight they had changed up the order so Venom Dolls would be closing. I had a chat with them downstairs before heading up, and still can’t believe that Carawei played with Venom Dolls in Hamilton before heading back to Whammy to play with Cootie Cuties, but somehow, she managed it.

First up were Otts, a trio featuring Jon Painter (guitar, vocals), Simone (bass, backing vocals) and Marc Gernhoefer (drums, backing vocals). I reviewed their Overboard The Troubled Ship EP earlier this year, and I knew both songs were in the set tonight so was looking forward to hearing them live. There was a short delay due to issues with Jon’s amp, and I don’t know if it had an impact on his state of mind, but he attacked his guitar and microphone from the off, with Everybody Knows being out and out aggression. He has a punk attitude of being incredibly angry, which is somewhat at odds with Simone who looks quite relaxed, and Marc who is of course hitting the kit very hard indeed. When I reviewed their EP I said they reminded me of Buzzcocks, and this came through very powerfully indeed in second song Friend, with fast riffing downward strikes on the guitar. Sunday Blue is one of the songs from the EP and was blasted through really quickly and was over way too soon. There was no time for chat between the songs, as the trio were determined to play as many songs as possible within the short timeframe (4 bands in 3 hours is a tough gig), all with Jon at the mike stand providing aggression and angst alongside sharp-edged riffs, Simone looking far more relaxed, while at the back a very sweaty Marc (who wisely had disposed of most of his clothing before commencing) was keeping everything punchy.

We had a short bass/drum instrumental while Jon replaced a broken string (something which must happen with some regularity given the way he attacks the instrument), and then we were into Liz where Marc provided some nice tribal rhythms and Simone gave us some counter melodies. Jon is such a dynamic performer and his voice and guitar so strident that it is possible to overlook what the other two are doing, but Marc never stops driving with rolls and fills at the opportune moment while Simone provides the foundation which allows both the others to play off. This is punk which is the real deal, reminding me of the scene when it first came around more than 45 years ago, They ended the night with the other song from the EP, BOK, another fun, bouncy, trad commercial punk song which sound as if it is from the late 70's and not 2022, awesome.

Next we had Infinity Ritual, whose 4-track self-titled EP I reviewed in the middle of the year. Here we have a trio comprising Adam Colless (guitar, vocals), Jason Karam (bass, vocals), and drummer Mark Thomas. Before the gig even started, I was already stoked as this was the first time a band has ever given me a bottle of their own (Magic 8) beer (8%!). Even if I had not been presented with this I would have been mightily impressed by the guys (and not only because Adam was wearing a Pull Down The Sun shirt), by the way they kicked off into instrumental Ford Cap Guy, providing us with demonic stoner from guys who were incredibly into the music, living everything they were doing while crunching riffs which were slabs so solid we could walk on them. This was followed by Berzerker from the EP, which has some space in the arrangements but still plenty of grunt, so much so that the music sounded like a force of nature, totally dominating. One way of ensuring the audience is paying attention is by playing so brutally loudly that no-one can possibly have a conversation. Mark mixes it up at the back, using a double kick drum for emphasis at the right time, Jason has obviously been influenced by Geezer Butler (and also provides some nice demonic growls) while Adam keeps providing monstrous riffs with little room for single notes as it is all about the chords.

There are times when they move from stoner into doom, always brutal, always heavy, mixing the tempos and even giving us a short guitar solo at one point, but for the most part always paying homage to the mighty riff. Again, there was little room for banter with the crowd apart from the obligatory thank you’s, as the band was on a mission to see if they could smash down the walls using consistent sonic attacks. Even photographer Joe was swaying from side to side due to the force of the music. Infinity Ritual are a band who are not afraid of throwing in instrumentals alongside songs containing vocals, and in a trio there is never any room to hide so everyone has to be on the top of their game every night. There were a few times when Adam was asked to cut the feedback by Jason when he was retuning, as it was so loud that it was causing him problems, which just goes to show if it was having that much impact on the equipment what was it doing to our ears? The set was over way too soon, ending with the crunching Underneath, with Jon joining in on the chorus. This is a band I definitely want to see again and anyone into this style of metal needs to seek them out.

Now it was time for the headline band, Broke, who’s single Through Her Eyes I reviewed a while back. From having two trios to open with, the third band from the Taranaki are a quintet comprising singer Aidan Rogers, bassist Craig Pretty, rhythm guitarist Griff Wellington, lead guitarist Hamish McDonald and drummer Justen Smith. We were now back to punk, but a very different vibe to Otts, coming at it more from a Clash-style with plenty of Ska influences. Craig was probably winning the competition for the most manic musician of the night as he is so at home that he has no idea what to do with himself, so pogos in some places, generally bounces around at others, all the time providing runs of great complexity, the glue between the drums and the twin guitars. He can also be seen singing at the top of his voice, even though he does not have a microphone. We now had two guitarists riffing, but there was way more space in the arrangements than what had come before, so it seemed much lighter than the assault on the senses which is Infinity Ritual and there is no doubt there are some great bands coming out of Taranaki, and these three sound very different indeed yet appeal to the same audience.

As with the other bands, there was little in the way of banter, as they wanted to play as much material as possible and there was no doubt the audience were responding as there were loads of people dancing and having fun. The first four songs went past incredibly quickly and soon we were into Through The Eyes, a great song which has more than a hint of The Rabble about it, with a commercial hook while maintaining its punk roots. From here we went into Urgency, which was the most ska song of the night so far, with definite nods to Less Than Jake (I still love their All My Friends Are Metalheads) and was a load of fun from beginning to end. They use harmony vocals to provide additional emphasis, Justen drives it hard from the back, while they can slow it down at times to provide the contrast, and on In The Moment we even had some slap bass. Aidan is always in the moment, full of intensity and pouring his passion into the microphone as he means what he is singing, and even when they slow it down, he is putting everything into it. What made their set work so well was the use of dynamics and the way they shifted tempos and styles, so there was always plenty of space and lightness to offset the riffs, and there was no doubt they also made loads of friends here tonight.

With the first band not coming on until 9:00, and three bands before them, it now meant that Venom Dolls had yet to go on stage and it was nearing midnight. If that was not enough, bassist Arlo had to go to hospital to get an emergency tooth extraction which meant tonight they were going to be a three-piece of Summah Auvae (drums), Carawei Gao (guitar) and Bridie Campbell (vocals). With probably the fastest changeover of the night, they kicked into I Remember, and for the first time tonight we had a female lead singer in Bridie who soon moved to the side of the stage to provide visual balance instead of the centre she is used to. Before the gig I was telling the band I found myself in the warehouse the other day singing a song to myself, and it took a while to realise it was one of theirs, which shows just how many times I have seen them this year! Mary Sue is one of their commercial numbers which allows Bridie to show off her voice, although the lack of bass caused some problems in the next one where Carawei was riffing White Knuckle Ride and Bridie started singing Fucked Up, although in fairness the lyrics and melody fitted perfectly on that section of the song. She would have got away with it apart from Summah and Carawei both stopping with massive smiles on their faces.

It was restarted with no issue, and then they went into Fucked Up, which has loads of space within it even when they have a bass, but here it was even more dramatic. Bridie has a great voice, which she really shows off on the introduction on Don’t Wanna Be, where gentle riffing allows her to be delicate and quiet, but then the riffs soon started, and her vocals become far more powerful. If they were showing any nerves of not having a bassist it was not showing, with Summah being her normal bouncy and fun-loving self on the drums, someone who lives to play onstage, while Carawei was also thoroughly enjoying herself. The lack of bass was probably only noticeable to those of us who know their material so well, and certainly the audience (who had mostly stuck around even though it was so late) were having a blast. ALAB (All Landlords Are Bastards) was blasted through with the venom we expect, and then we were into Obssessed with its wonderfully sped up tempo at the end. Even without a bass they decided to keep with Funeralopalis as a closer, which did somewhat surprise me, but Carawei conjured a filthy riff from her guitar and they showed you can indeed play doom without bottom end. Bridie got loud shouts of appreciation when she hit the scream, and even at 12:30 there were plenty of people headbanging and dancing.

That was it, we were done, yet another fine night at Dead Witch, allowing us to see some great bands from New Plymouth as well as our own Venom Dolls and hopefully we will see them all again soon.

Photo Credit: Tadashi Jokagi / Joe Photography
Broke Photo Gallery
Infinity Ritual Photo Gallery
OTTS Photo Gallery
Venom Dolls Photo Gallery


About Broke

Broke is a punk / alternative rock band from the heart of Taranaki.

The band consists of five good mates who have recently come together to build upon Hamish’s solo work and collaborate on new material. They have a real passion for music and love to play high energy gigs.

Their music ranges from fast punk rock riffs to ska beats inclusive of groovy bass runs, lead breaks, with a punchy back rhythm, and dynamic melodies.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Broke


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