9 Dec 2023

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Going Global Review: Day 2 Showcase

03 Sep 2023 // A review by Roger Bowie

Saturday night at the Whammy trinity and we know the score. Artists in the round, although we are the ones moving underground, 20 minutes tops, immaculate precision.

Luke Thompson has been around, an everyman folk troubadour, and sometimes they escape attention, but not tonight, tick another one off. Sounds like? Lots of people, but mainly Luke Thompson, and also Bon Iver. An old song, Boxes, kicks off the set as the punters roll in, and then a song crying for attention when the audiences refuse to listen. Not tonight, we’re music lovers in the Wine Cellar, not random party-heads (that comes later). A lockdown song brings Luke to the keyboard, channeling his inner Elton, A Light Calling, happens to be his new single, and a final surge towards Mexico, written barely three weeks ago. Luke Thompson is very good, deserves further attention, lots of back catalogue, I have one on now…… and it’s bloody good.

Dawn Diver is a product of the Wellington sound, and a project led by Ben Lemi, an accomplished guitarist/instrumentalist with pedigree such as Trinity Roots, Estere and Vera Ellen. Three ladies drumming, strumming and humming, and a bass player. Reggae beats with a jazzy vocal, sometimes funky, clever use of harmony, songs dressed in metaphor which rev up and, fasten your seatbelts, somehow fail to take off, at least not tonight. Don’t write them off, though, it might just be me on the wrong runway…

Now, hip-hop is not my thing, generally, but I have learned enough to know it has its own depth and cultural relevance, and it’s also clever, and so a little Mazbou Q is a perfect opportunity to indulge my adolescence, especially if the influence is afro-beat and Fela Kuti. And Mazbou Q is also a genial ambassador for the science because he is a codifier and a teacher and a preacher and by the way he looks like a rugby player and probably was. And so, the rap scientist enraptures us in the feral beat of his afro-kiwi funk band, and the rhythms are pure and many, and the words are sometimes intelligible but no doubt intelligent and you can tell he’s a nice guy. Awesome.

Blake is a diminutive neo-pop artist from Queenstown so that is a great start. (I’m diminutive too and was born in Tuatapere). She does pop that’s a little funky and a little electric and a tinge of jazz, but that’s maybe the definition of pop anyway, but she pops out her songs in infectious fashion, and I don’t decide but a bunch of pink berets in the audience do decide that You Don’t Decide  is a great song and there’s more enthusiasm for a joke song called Down on Me which might not be a joke so how do I write about that? The problem with being a little bit upset with someone? I won’t go there. And she finished with Breakdown Breakthrough, her latest single and maybe that’s what it will be. By the way, she toured with Park Road recently. 

Soft Plastics are another Wellington band (there are lots of them tonight) who have recently released an acclaimed album and have three members (but there may have been more) and they play tantalizing indie rock with a Welsh connection which reminds one of Catatonia and Cardigans as well as Debbie. It’s the voice of Sophie Scott-Maunder which entrances and beguiles with an opening song which is also riff heavy before the songs calm down into pleasing melodies and just when you think a little more pace is needed, they oblige in the last song which is still soaring as I make my way to the Back Room. Very interesting indeed.

White Stripes meet Kills erupts on the Back Room stage with relentless low-tom thump and power chord guitar. It’s somebody’s garage and it’s sonic youth and it’s Elliot and Vincent, and Elliot has a famous Dad, but we won’t let that get in the way of a powerful and forceful barrage of sound which is beguiling and dangerous in an earthquaky way. And Elliot has a voice which is sultry and sharp and sensuous. Great little duo if you like a good thrash.

Vera Ellen is in the Wine Cellar and it’s noisy because Elliot and Vincent haven’t stopped but Vera goes off on time and it takes a little while for the sound to settle down, but it does and it’s now an ideal home noise and she’s a Homewrecker and then an Imposter. Posture is everything. Prayer Ambulance shares vocals with her brother and it’s about her cousin and it’s sad and we break the furniture so we call the Carpenter and then just to prove that you can fit five songs into twenty minutes Lenny Says it all. But he’s wrong, she’s not a bloody loser, she’s a bloody star and underrated in this venue because I can remember her triumphant opening for Marlon back in January. Vera Ellen is the real deal, and we are lucky to have her here underground. And she’s from Wellington. 

Ok, Kita (guess where they are from?) are on Whammy and are a powerful pedigree three-piece who play explosive indie rock and I’ve seen them before but tonight they are especially tight and effusive and for me it’s a fitting end to the magic of going global underground and I’ll miss the last act because I think this is it, and Nikita will be too hard to beat.


Other Reviews By Roger Bowie

A Crude Mechanical - Album Review: Discourse
08 Dec 2023 // by Roger Bowie
Shane Warbrooke doesn’t believe in lyrics, because of the risk of lyrics being hi-jacked and meanings bent to suit ideologies which he doesn’t like. Well, such ideologies which most of us don’t like, truth be known, but then again, Beethoven didn’t write lyrics, so the freedom of speech counter argument only goes so far.
Gig Review: The Phoenix Foundation @ Hollywood Avondale, Auckland - 24/11/2023
26 Nov 2023 // by Roger Bowie
This is a first of many things. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen The Phoenix Foundation play live.
Velvet Arrow - Album Review: Songs of Solitude
17 Nov 2023 // by Roger Bowie
A Song Of Hope & Fear would normally be a contradiction in terms unless darkness prevails and light shines through, which is an appropriate metaphor for the debut album from Whangarei’s Velvet Arrow and the opening song, with Dan Stenhouse’s husky voice helping us through the night against a ghostly horror wail from Hannah Jane. After all it’s just a song to help you through the night, just the words that speak, it’s not real.
Gig Review: Atomic: Women of Rock @ The Civic, Auckland - 11/11/2023
13 Nov 2023 // by Roger Bowie
What a feast of nostalgia we’ve had from Liberty Stage (Simone Williams) these past few years, as New Zealand’s finest have Come Together to cover the classic albums which made the soundtracks of our youth. In addition to this, there have also been special tributes like Tami Neilson’s rock ‘n roll party with Dinah Lee, just last month.
Dimmer - Album Review: Live At The Hollywood
09 Nov 2023 // by Roger Bowie
Wow, not very often that we see alive album these days, an unusual beast, but that’s we have, a 14-track monster from Dimmer, recorded from last year’s sold-out trilogy at the Hollywood Avondale. Which, if you didn’t get to go last year, you can still see on December 2nd at the Powerstation, unless, like me, you are going instead to The War on Drugs.
Killergrams - EP Review: Lonely Nights In A Little Town
27 Oct 2023 // by Roger Bowie
Someone walked out, and Tom Maxwell has lost his mind, in a gentle, acoustic way. Then his mind explodes in a cacophony of chaos, which might just be what it feels like, losing something that important.
D.C. Maxwell - Album Review: Lone Rider
24 Oct 2023 // by Roger Bowie
I’ve Been Wrong, but every once in a while, someone comes along and knocks you out. Random violence is not what this is about, but D.
Julian Temple Band - Album Review: Tunnels
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What tunnels have I been hiding in? Here’s a band from Dunedin with now seven albums out and first time for me.
View All Articles By Roger Bowie

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