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Bleeders - Gig Review: Bleeders @ Galatos, Auckland - 12/05/2023

15 May 2023 // A review by Kev Rowland

Back down to Galatos on a Friday evening for a very special night indeed: Bleeders are celebrating the 20th anniversary of A Bleeding Heart and they have been touring the country to sell-out crowds. I saw them at the same venue last year with Antagonist A.D. and I know they are going to tear this place apart.

Before that happens we have some other acts to get everyone warmed up, the first of which is Stacked, the young band who opened the Third Time Lucky show last year. Since then they have released the Crushed By The Sky EP, and are now working towards their second recording. Comprising Tyler Jamieson (vocals), Leaf Wright (guitar), Benji Perez (guitar), Alasdair Miller (drums), and Connor McNab (bass) they have a lot of promise, and tonight was going to be a great opportunity for them to show what they can do in front of a fairly hardened audience.

Bang on time they kicked off with Decadence, and there was no way anyone in the audience could not pay attention to what was going on as they hit hard from the off with syncopated brutality. They are a band built on a foundation of very powerful drumming, bass locked in, twin guitarists blasting over the top, and then the raw energy which is Tyler. Child may commence with picked guitars, but soon Alasdair is hitting the crash cymbal, driving the kick drums, and we are off into something which is metallic and complex, as well as bringing in plenty of hardcore energy and attack. When I saw them last time I mentioned they contain elements of mathcore and I still think that, with intricate complex guitar lines. Alasdair really is a man on a mission, that mission being to destroy the kit, exactly the same as when I saw them before, and it shows the power of the rest of the band that they are never overawed by this but instead use it to drive them on even more.

Much of the audience were standing back from the stage, paying very close attention to what was going on in front of them, but there were also plenty down the front going absolutely crazy as the mosh was on right from the beginning. It did concern me somewhat when Tyler started playing a game of Simon Says with everyone to get them all closer to the stage, but it actually seemed to work! Atlas was the success it was the first time I heard it (also the lead single from the EP), and while the band do not move much apart from swaying in time, due to the complexity of what they are doing, Tyler does his best to make up for it. He dispenses with the microphone stand at the beginning of the night and never looks lost for what to do on stage.

Red and Blue is uncompromising from the off, with Connor keeping all together while Alasdair hits everything very hard indeed with Benji and Leaf linking together tightly in some places and splitting off at others, creating complexity which never stops shifting and changing. These guys bring in complex time signatures with ease, and I would have loved to have seen them open for Helmet recently as that would have been a great bill indeed. They ended with The Blade Embedded and they certainly came away with many new friends.

Melanie normally come across as quite poppy, but tonight they were ensuring they were fitting in with the rest of the bill, with Delivery Boy kicking up a raucous racket right from the off. They are a great crossover band in that they can play with Emo crowds, pop punk and others, and tonight they were showing they can roughen it up when they wish to as well. It was more overtly melodic than what had come before, but Jamie Dentice (vocals, guitar), Robin Davey Lusk (guitar), William Dentice (bass, backing vocals), and Joe Gasparich (drums) still kick up a righteous punk noise. Brains allowed them to speed it up, and the soundman was keeping the bass high in the mix, but the strike and attack combined with the melody was working overall, although it did mean the guitars were not having quite the impact they should have. This was sorted out somewhat for No Shoes, and the band were all putting everything into their performance, with the audience reacting in turn, with loads of jumping and a reasonable sized mosh.

Melanie's songs never outstay their welcome, and in many ways they remind me of a traditional punk band, but one which is way more musical and seems to have been lumped into the scene almost by accident as they really know what they are doing, like The Stranglers and The Clash as opposed to The Pistols or UK Subs. After Kachow they made a point of telling people at the front to calm down at the front and be careful of each other, which just goes to show the reaction they were getting.

Melanie are a band who have played a great deal, and it shows in the way they approach everything they do, from the high energy approach they all have to the way they never miss a beat. They are having so much fun up there that it is impossible not to do the same in the audience and when they are blasting through bangers all you can do is smile and let yourself go. It is high octane punk which relies heavily on the bass to drive the melody, drums which provide the attack, buzzsaw guitars which give us the heart of the sound and then Jamie the soul. All these guys are full of confidence, know their place and what they deliver, and with countless gigs behind them they know each one of them will always deliver so they do. Bills was delivered with the same high energy they had been giving us all night and it was difficult to realise they were already coming close to the end of their set as they were still giving it to is as if they had just started. They ended the night with a cover of Turnstile’s T.L.C. and Jamie off the stage and in the audience. Yet another great set from one of Auckland’s best live bands. 

Now it was time for the only band I had not seen before tonight, Flirting With Disaster, who comprise Kev (drums), Ash (bass, backing vocals) and Chazz (vocals, guitar). Now, I may not have seen this band previously, but I first came across the singer when he was running Band Club at Orewa College and one of my daughters was a student. Back then he was in The Rabble and she begged me to take her to the album release show for The Battle’s Almost Over, all the way back in 2007! They were a great punk band, who I last saw when they had just come back from Europe, having honed their craft very tightly indeed, but sadly they split up many years ago.

The guys started with Kev bashing the kit and cymbals as if it was the end of the set, Chazz and Ash riffing, and then we were off into Anything But, showing yet another facet of punk. This is more influenced by American melodic punk but also mixed in with elements of the likes of UK Subs – in a trio there is never any room to hide, with everyone having to pull their weight. This means Ash was giving his all with plenty of jumps when Chazz was stuck behind the microphone stand, and Kev was determined to break his equipment with very hard strikes on the snare and heavy use of double kick pedals. Take You Higher had Ash and Chazz competing to see who could do the most jumps at the beginning, and the sheer energy they were putting into everything was highly infectious with everyone having a blast. 

Ash provides a rawness in his backing vocals which emphasises how melodic Chazz can be, while Kev is one of those drummers who is never content to sit in the pocket but is always changing the pattern which ensures the foundation is always moving. This allows the bass and guitar to twist and change, and one is never sure what is going to happen next in that they keep changing tempo, dropping guitars in one section, riffing in the next, with Live It Up allowing them to be very melodic in some places, like a brutalised Blink 182, and far harder in others. One can tell these guys have been around just due to them being so comfortable on stage, with Chazz at one point right down at the front bent over providing a solo.

An almost tribal drum pattern took us into Good Night, which stretches into Emo territory with great singalong sections, and is superb right from the off. It never ceases to amaze me just how many great bands we have in Auckland alone, and here was another which was just tearing up the place who I had not previously come across. It annoys me when people either say there is nothing happening in NZ music, or just mention the same few bands each time (and don’t get me started on NZ Music Month), as there is so much amazing talent out there if you just go and look for it. Tonight there were four great bands for just $30 – what a bargain, no wonder this was a sell out and everyone here was having a great time.

We even got a typical punk blink and you’ve missed it in Catastrophizing which certainly made me smile. Door Knockers was dedicated to Jehovah’s Witnesses and was another short song played at very high tempo, and then we were straight into Bleeding Out. It felt almost as if the band had been warming up to this point as now they were on fire, dripping sweat as they poured everything into what they were doing. We were now being rushed through as they blasted into I Don’t Wanna Get Up, but if anyone felt an increase speed and decrease in length meant a drop in quality they were mistaken as this felt like an Irish drinking song with complex melodies and countermelodies, just blasted through in sub 2 minutes. Just to show one never knows what to expect, Chazz then led us into the first verse of Bad Moon Rising in a fairly straight manner, until he invited Kev and Ash in and then it was played to within an inch of its new punk life. They finished the night with Cynical and I knew for sure I was not the only one making a promise to catch these guys again soon. 

Back in 2003 Bleeders released their debut EP, A Bleeding Heart, and tonight we were going to get all of it along with plenty more. Although the band broke up in 2009 they got back together a few times after that, finally reforming properly in 2019. At that point Angelo Munro (vocals), Gareth Stack (bass), Ian King (guitar), and Matt (George) Clark (drums) said goodbye to founder guitarist Hadleigh Donald, who was replaced by Aaron Goddard, and they recorded their first new music in 12 years.

Tonight there was no messing, following the introduction they were straight into Channeling, and everything in the venue just went up several notches all at once. The intensity was immense, with the band blasting right from the off, energy levels through the roof, as was the volume. Here we have a hardcore punk act who know exactly what the fans expect, and deliver it at speed, wrapped around a sledgehammer. Of course, the next track on the EP is Sell Out, and after a feedback drenched introduction they were off, somehow getting faster and more menacing. It is only when watching them that one remembers they are not as young as they used to be, but musically these are still angry with something to prove, all intensity and angst.

Cast In The Shadows continued the EP, which allowed Angelo to slow it down somewhat, and show he can sing melodically as well as bring it rougher when the time is right. Bleeders are a band who have been immensely important to the scene in New Zealand, and they were demonstrating that over the years they have lost none of their enthusiasm for what they do, showing the young guns just how to deliver as there are few who can put on a show as energy packed and intense as this. I was just glad I was at the rear of the venue writing the review as opposed to being a photographer down the front as I am sure they would have many bruises to show for their efforts in the morning. 

The mosh was full on now, and we were even getting crowd surfers as Bleeders kept ramping it up time and again. This is not a band just on fire, as they are volcanic in their approach and by now the venue was warm indeed as bodies were being slammed against each other. It’s Black kept the energy levels high, with Angelo spitting venom in the chorus, with the place just going nuts. By now most of those who had grown up on this band had safely retreated to the safety of the rear of the venue and left the front to those who were somewhat younger as the band just kept driving the crowd even higher in intensity.

Just when I thought it could not get any crazier they launched into the most brutal version of Nazi Punks Fuck Off I have ever heard, Jello Biafra would be proud of them. From that they went into some Bad Brains as they played a medley of bands which influenced them in playing this music. Angelo was striding the stage like a man possessed while the guys somehow kept it tight when ripping at very high speeds indeed. The bogans were even treated to a cover of Danzig’s Mother, which was somewhat slower than what they had been playing up until then but no less heavy. Kylie Johnson came up to reprise her role on Enginehead from their most recent release, showing they lost none of their attack in the intervening years. Then it was back to their second album with She Screamed She Loved Me, which showed yet another approach, with hard tight riffing and a rhythm section which provided a counter foundation and a chorus which is both a singalong and melodic. 

The band could do no wrong, working through their back catalogue like men possessed. There may have been four bands on tonight, but they were ensuring everyone was getting value for money and by now had been playing for more than 45 minutes and even though they were soaked in sweat, as were those at the front, they were showing no sign at all of slowing down. It felt as if they could play all night and the crowd would have stayed, but later today they are playing in Hamilton which meant all good things must come to an end. They told us not to ask for an encore as they hadn’t learned any more songs, so instead they cranked it up one more time and the mosh responded in kind. This was one heck of a night, and there is no doubt in my mind that this will be in my Top ten gigs at the end of the year. Bleeders came, they saw, they kicked some serious ass.


Photo Credit: Joe Photography
Bleeders Gallery
Flirting with Disaster Gallery
Melanie Gallery

Stacked Gallery

 

About Bleeders

Formed in 2002, it didn't take long for Auckland based Bleeders to take off. In their debut year they released the legendary hardcore punk NZ classic A Bleeding Heart EP. This was followed by constant sold out shows all over NZ. In 2004 the band was rewarded for their hard work and ever growing fan base by signing a record deal to Universal Music.

2006 was a huge year for the Bleeders. Their debut album, the anthemic power house that is Sweet As Sin, reached 2 in the charts, garnered them Best Breakthough Artist and Best Rock Album at the 2006 New Zealand Music Awards and went on to sell Gold. The band toured like maniacs in NZ and headed across the Tasman no less than five times at the invitation of everyone from Avenged Sevenfold and AFI to Aussie acts Gyroscope and Behind Crimson Eyes.

The self-titled follow up to Sweet As Sin rejects any notion of resting on laurels. Produced by Clint Murphy and the Bleeders at Auckland’s York Street Studios and mastered by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound in New York, Bleeders was a return to the brutal vitality that first brought them to people’s attention.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Bleeders

Releases

Bleeders
Year: 2007
Type: Album
As Sweet As Sin
Year: 2006
Type: Album
A Bleeding Heart
Year: 2003
Type: EP

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