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Mermaidens - Gig Review: Mermaidens @ The Hollywood Avondale, Auckland - 8/12/2023

11 Dec 2023 // A review by Samantha Cheong

With the theme of sourness scattered throughout their self-titled album, Mermaidens left the same exciting taste in our mouths during their performance of their record at The Hollywood Avondale. Their music pops with a fizzing sort of sourness from confectionery, one which demands to be felt, is addictive and elicits a visceral reaction.

Earth Tongue (pictured) was first to open the night, with Mermaidens’ own Gussie Larkin and Soft Bait’s Ezra Simons generating a surprising amount of fuzzy heat as a duo. Larkin’s clanging guitar and confident singing met Simons’ drumming at exciting peaks. They barely had to communicate to be synchronised in their hard-hitting performance. 

Nestled between two monstera plants then emerged Power Nap, whose synth-heavy tracks were atmospheric yet a whole bunch of dance fun. Once you’ve settled into the groove created by Chris Cudby's nimble fingers, a new element arises that tickles listeners of all genres. The electronic soundscape Cudby created softened Earth Tongue’s hooks and led nicely into the main event:

The trio of Gussie Larkin, Lily Paris West and Abe Hollingsworth were joined by guest bandmate Louisa Nicklin (Dimmer, D.C. Maxwell) on guitar 2. Together, they were a force to behold. West and Larkin’s vocal harmonies and the matching energy and prowess of Nicklin and Hollingsworth remained throughout the night with the upbeat Sister, I Like To Be Alone and Dress for Success. Hollingsworth’s percussion seemed effortlessly expert, especially on Push it in sync with West’s bass and in conjunction with the raking guitar of Larkin and Nicklin on Tear it down.

Despite the deserved hype in the room for the band’s upbeat songs, it was the slower tunes like Greedy Mouth, Siren Song and the stripped down rendition of Comet which left the crowd transfixed. A highlight was West’s exquisite voice here.

The show felt like it was for the enjoyment of everyone, with the band changing outfits midway into overheating yet cool denim, and a surprise lineup of women swaying with their hands in each others’ back pockets (a fitting reference to I Like To Be Alone) in the finale.

The royal venue of The Hollywood Avondale was perfect for Mermaidens’ monarchic reign over our ears, especially in the good hands of The Beths’ Jonathan Pearce on sound. This gig certainly marks a turning point for the exceptional trio who are a must-see.

Photo Credit: Taiga Semori
Mermaidens Photo Gallery
Earth Tongue Photo Gallery
Power Nap Photo Gallery


About Mermaidens

The earliest sketches of Wellington trio Mermaidens follows the story arc of how most bands start; through long-term friendship and bonding over music that shaped their salad days. For Mermaidens, it was an eclectic melting pot of PJ Harvey, Warpaint and Fugazi to name a few.

Together, childhood friends Gussie Larkin (guitar/co-lead vocals), Lily West (bass/co-lead vocals) and Abe Hollingsworth (drums) form a powerful trinity of unwavering creativity and relentless work ethic. Their time together as Mermaidens has been a fruitful one; a timeline consisting of three critically acclaimed albums, releasing music on the iconic indie label Flying Nun Records, and a wide range of live supports that include Sleater Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie, Lorde, Mac DeMarco and The Veils.

The band kicked 2021 off with a bang, announcing a nationwide tour and releasing the slow-burning anthem Soft Energy – the video for which was exclusively premiered by Ensemble magazine. The single and tour come off the back of a 12-month period that saw the band host their first ever Mermgrown festival (to a sold out crowd, no less) and gain a nomination for Best Alternative Artist at the Aotearoa Music Awards. In addition to this, West took home the Aotearoa Music Award for Best Album Art (Look Me In The Eyes).

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mermaidens


Year: 2023
Type: Album
Look Me In The Eye
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Perfect Body
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Year: 2012
Type: EP

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