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Crooked Royals - Gig Review: Crooked Royals @ Big Fan, Auckland - 29/07/2023

30 Jul 2023 // A review by Liam Davis

Crooked Royals set a precedent for Auckland home shows last night, Packing a sold-out crowd into an intimate venue, Big Fan, in the sleepy suburb of Morningside. Each supporting act brought in what felt like a puzzle piece into what Crooked Royals’ soundscape is, the venue-shattering line-up of Stacked, All I Seek, and Finger Tight opening for the aforementioned powerhouse act.

The night kicked off with the long haired melodic hardcore act Stacked; who brought their piece of aggression and groove heavy breakdowns that got the crowd moving. They utilised the small stage space well - even when the two guitarists Leaf and Benji jumped into the crowd during one of the last songs. Overall, I liked how well the band weaved their melodic breaks and leads into the heavy chugs and breakdowns, making them enjoyable to watch - setting off some small, violent mosh pits in their wake.

Next up was the Wellington-based All I Seek; a band I’d not personally heard of before, but was pleasantly surprised by; they brought in pieces of catchy and technical riffs and clean singing, and although they didn't manage to create much moshing, they certainly held us in a trance with lead vocalist James' ‘fresh off an episode of the voice’ vocal performance - giving us some pop-centric hooks along with thundering sounds of chugging riffs. Easily the most memorable piece of their set was when they invited the Crooked Royals’ vocalists Lee and Christian to assist in their track The Bay, resulting in the classic vocalist banter we’ve come to love at CR gigs; but also a harmony-led performance between the temporary 7-piece band.

On the next act we had up-and-coming stars Finger Tight; whose stage presence, led by vocalist Red, was the final piece we needed - the crowd went nuts for this band, singing along, opening up wall pits, and getting everyone moving. I especially enjoyed the mix of punk-esque and hardcore segments they played, I was pleased to hear such diversity and range. I also loved the matching uniforms they donned on stage- baseball shirts with pink lettering and stripes, definitely made it seem like these guys were like a family, and they made us all feel that way, as they burned through their set, working up sweats and interacting with the crowd.

And by these powers combined, we had Crooked Royals to end the night. Finger Tight's drummer Matt was filling in on guitar while bassist Conor was M.I.A - Matt, unfortunately, broke a string in the first song, leading us into an unplanned intermission in which Christian attempted to salvage by performing the fated Peanut Bar rap - a reference to an episode of Community, which only a few seemed to grasp. Despite this, we all had quite a fun time before carrying on without losing anyone in the audience, which clearly showcased the gravitas these guys have on crowds.

With this, Crooked Royals carried on to have a funny, emotional, and aggressive set - playing songs off their 2022 album Quarter Life Daydream - the songs Counterfeit and Copacetic had the most effect on the crowds and were played back to back as we all moshed the night away. The emotional Between You and I was played second to last, a song (which I did not know) was about guitarist Jake Andrews’ wife, a sweet emotional piece of music in which we all held our phone flashlights above - making quite the atmosphere for such a beautiful song. They ended the night with a throwback to Rumination - as a way of showing that the Quarter Life Daydream run may be over, but now it's time for the band to move on to new material.

Between the last few Crooked Royals gigs I have attended in the past, this one clearly showed these guys bringing their A-Game to the table, never missing a beat or losing the audience in the slew of technical onslaughts and wide mosh pits; as it goes to show that Crooked Royals is an essential live performance for the average NZ underground goer.

Photo Credit: Joe Photography
Crooked Royals Gallery
Finger Tight Gallery
All I Seek Gallery
Stacked Gallery


About Crooked Royals

Crooked Royals unearth harmony from unpredictability. The quintet is Christian Carstensen (clean vocals), Lee Mackley (heavy vocals), Jake Andrews (guitar), Keane Gilles (drums), and Conor Lawson (bass). Infusing metalcore with moments of head-spinning off-kilter prog, alternative melodies, and even nocturnal trap R&B, the band switch lanes seamlessly and smoothly.

They bob and weave past boundaries with a deft and dynamic approach. After racking up millions of streams independently and touring with various genre heavyweights, they perfect this vision on their full-length debut album, Quarter Life Daydream out through esteemed label 3DOT Recordings.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Crooked Royals


Quarter Life Day Dream
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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