23 Sep 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

Going Global Review: Day 1 Showcase
02 Sep 2023 // by Roger Bowie
The Going Global Music Summit brings together a host of international music industry folk and they talk about the industry. It’s organized by IMNZ (Independent Music NZ) and the NZ Music Commission.
Evan Silva - Album Review: Reihana Street
31 Aug 2023 // by Roger Bowie
Out of the blue, nearly 60 years in the making, lands Reihana Street in my inbox with an extraordinary back story.  Evan Silva was an altar boy gone wild, a Mission Bay mafiosi, and a singer/songwriter from the mid-sixties, starting at age 13 singing pop songs, before settling into soul and then selling that soul to the excesses of the 60’s in Kings Cross centred Sydney, sailing close to the edge, before epiphany struck, and overnight, life changed.
Gig Review: Don McGlashan @ Artworks Theatre, Waiheke Island - 26/08/2023
28 Aug 2023 // by Roger Bowie
Don McGlashan warmed up the Waiheke Artworks centre on Saturday night with a magical journey through the past 40 years of the art of The Don. The newly appointed (but not yet anointed) Hall of Famer was in modestly ebullient form as he thanked his Lucky Stars in his opening song.
Sonia & Nigel - Album Review: Sweet Paname
04 Aug 2023 // by Roger Bowie
In the middle of last month, just in time for Bastille Day, Sonia Wilson released the digital version of her paean to Paris, Sweet Paname. Sonia is Franco-American, born and educated in Paris, and now resides in Auckland after a peripatetic period of travel.
Jiahu Symbols - EP Review: For The Good Times
01 Aug 2023 // by Roger Bowie
The Jiahu Symbols are an early language form found on 16 distinct markings discovered in China in the late 1980's and estimated at 6000 years old. Not thought to be joined up writing, more a precursor.
You, Me, Everybody - Gig Review: You Me Everybody @ Tuning Fork, Auckland - 23/07/2023
25 Jul 2023 // by Roger Bowie
A nice cosy seating arrangement greeted us on Sunday night to contrast the winter gloom as the Tuning Fork opened its doors nice and early for a night of music from old friends. You, Me, Everybody are on tour to celebrate the fame and attention they have been receiving since having a song chosen for the Netflix series Sweet Tooth, and so now we are paying attention to them and they to us!!!
Like Angels - Album Review: Your Day Will Come
18 Jul 2023 // by Roger Bowie
Like Angels is the new solo project from Lyttelton based Robert McLean, and was also the title track of his previous release with his band How to Kill, back in 2010. Robert has taken time away from music but is now back home and has written and self-produced an 88 minute album of progressive apocalypse in Killswitch studios (now that seems appropriate) in Lyttelton.
Gig Review: Jazmine Mary @ Hollywood Avondale, Auckland - 08/07/2023
10 Jul 2023 // by Roger Bowie
Jazmine Mary enchanted the fully seated Hollywood theatre in Avondale on Saturday night celebrating their new album Dog. But first up was an elegantly attired Julia Deans bringing us some new songs from her next album due out later this year.
View All Articles By Roger Bowie

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