A L B U M R E V I E W
Ghosts of Electricity - ‘Music to get Puppies to Sleep’
A year after their debut album, Ghosts of Electricity (GoE) are back with their sophomore effort, ‘Music to get Puppies to Sleep’, to be released in early July.
Where the heck did this album come from, I ask myself? Overall, this release is a totally different beast from GoE’s debut album, Trolls. That was dominated by riff-heavy, punk-inspired songs, played at a frenetic pace. On this release, however, the band for the most part can’t be accused of having any obvious punk influences. This is an album with a split personality. On one hand, it contains some well-crafted, complex pop songs, while many of the others are musically sparse and spoken. Following the classic guitar, bass and drums of Trolls, the importance of keyboards on this album is both surprising and welcome, while the glockenspiel promised in post-Trolls interviews appears on many of the songs also. Regardless of the style, the songs are as interesting lyrically as you might expect from a GoE release, featuring a great deal of intelligent observational humour and social commentary.
Some of the songs that connect most immediately with me, as a rationalist, are those that less than subtlety critique the anti-fluoridation and anti-vaccination movements. First track up, ‘The People Look Like Ochre at Last’, is spoken in its delivery, King Missile in style, and singer Tim Fowler puts his feet in the sandals of new-agers; “Don’t drink fluoride, it hardens your brain” sings Tim. Later, in ‘When I was Young’, he sings; “We didn’t need to be immunised, we just cured polio the natural way, which, you know, was to die, become disabled”, followed by an extended section of coughing. Even what on the surface are the funniest of songs, we are provided with some biting social commentary. Brilliant.
Given Trolls explored social issues and was seemingly so politically correct, dealing with themes like racism and gender, the contrasting song titles on this album are glaring; ‘Young MILFs In Your Area’, ‘Beer Castle’ (the one song that would have fitted comfortably on Trolls) and, in particular, ‘Tits out for the Boys’. This is seemingly GoE in a much lighter mood.
The highlight of the album for me is the second track, ‘Cultural Show’, which is a sort of sea-shanty styled piece of noise-pop. While a lot of the album is spoken word, this tune sees Tim singing from the chest. Fascinating and addictive, I rate this as probably the best song I have heard from the band to date, and I can imagine this will be an epic and intense song to experience live. ‘Stay at Home’ is also excellent, made unique by including what seems to be samples of some Gregorian bass chants.
Overall, this is a really interesting album, featuring some excellent songs and sounds, with thought provoking and challenging lyrics. How are these songs going to translate live? I can’t wait to see. - Ian Duggan
I N T E R V I E W
Indira Neville of Sonic Comic/The Biscuits
By Arpie Shirehorse
HUP had a yarn with Indira Neville of The Biscuits, about Sonic Comic, a sound and visual sensation which was released a couple of weeks ago with a show at Auckland's Audio Foundation. I haven't sold it all well there so read on to find out more about Sonic Comic's unique greatness and the heavy influence of a fearsome, knife-wielding Hamilton gang!
What is Sonic Comic? Sonic Comic is a collection of single works that have both a comic element and a sound element. Edited by myself, Beth Dawson and Chris Cudby, it’s a publication and playlist, you buy the book and get a download code, and read each comic whilst listening to the relevant audio track.
It’s a celebration of musicians who make comics and comic artists who make music!
Who had the idea/How did it come to be? Firstly, me, Beth, and Chris are all comic-makers/musicians, and we know lots of other comic-maker/musicians. So the idea of someone who makes both comics and music has been part of all three of our lives for ages. About nine months ago we all seemed to independently come up with the idea of making something that showcased these artists, and because we’re pals we chatted and we decided to do something collectively.
As well as this, for me personally there was a strong motivation relating to ‘breaking up’ the NZ comics hegemony. For the last 5 or 10 years NZ comics has been dominated by what I call, the ‘competent boy comic’ narrative. That is the highlighting of a few (male) comic artists who make ‘graphic novels’ rather than comics, and who draw in an inoffensive and commercially appealing, things-that-look-like-things kind of style; and who are touted as ‘quality’. I perceive this narrative as gross and untrue. I think it ignores or downplays all of the true amazingness of NZ comics (the weird, the punk, the horrific, the hilarious) and I want to change it.
As part of this ‘mission’ I co-edited Three Words, an 2016 anthology of NZ women’s comics (making the work of sixty NZ women comic artists visible) and I see Sonic Comic as a continuation of this work, helping to make another interesting and important NZ comics community more visible.
When did work start/finish? Chris, Beth and I started working on this mid-last year. We applied for CNZ funding, didn’t get it, and then decided to try and make Sonic Comic anyway. We invited the individuals and groups we wanted to be involved, giving them a January deadline (and it’s important to say that this project is in no way a ‘history’ or ‘survey’ of all NZ comic-makers/musicians. It’s VERY subjective, artists whose work we liked or were fascinated by or wanted to see more of). Worked really revved up at the start of this year with the wrangling of late submissions, laying out the book, liaising with the printer, setting up the Bandcamp page, doing communications, organising the launch and exhibition, getting an ISBN number etc. All this stuff is over now – Sonic Comic is in the world! But I guess the work won’t really finish until all the books are sold (and there are only 160 available, individually numbered).
Was it all plain sailing or were there any angsty artistic moments of indecision or disagreement? It was an incredibly positive project to be involved in. Beth, Chris and I all had similar motivations and expectations, and a similar aesthetic. We hardly disagreed at all and when we did, because there were three of us, we just voted on the issue and it was sorted! For me it was a joyful and energizing and worthy thing to do. Contributors have been similarly positive – good vibes all around (though this is not to minimise the hard work). I did however have plenty of angsty artistic inner moments when making my own sonic comic!
There's a huge Hamilton contingent involved - you mentioned Oats - tell us more about that! Yeh, so Hamilton alumni involved are 7 Keys, Dean Ballinger, Stefan Neville and Clayton Noone, Matthew Davies, Adrian Ganley, Wendyhouse, G. Frenzy, Greg Page, Oliver Stewart, Matt Emery and me! That’s 11 out of 35 contributors or 31.42 per cent! I am probably to blame (or credit) for this. My formative comic-making years were the nineties, spent in Hamilton as part of the rabid-knife-wielding-photocopy-frenzied street gang Oats; and pretty much all the Oats terrors were also part of Plop Recordings, the Hamilton music stable that spawned such legends as Grommet, Teen-x-Ray, The Crawdads, Armpit, The Biff Bangle Experience, oh yeh and Pumice :) I just know/am a fan of a lot of comic-maker/musicians in/from Hamilton I guess.
Mark I Comics kindly sponsored drinks at the Sonic Comic launch because of the Hamilton connection (and Chris and Rachel who own Mark I are old Oats allies). My first comic - Nice Gravy – used to be sold in Mark I (as were all the Oats titles). It was kind of a loud obnoxious silly mutilation feminist body-politics kind of thing, and issues were put in sealed bags and placed on the high-up shelf alongside the pornography! :)
Any plans for a follow up/series/world domination? Not yet. We are still working on this project and then I think we will need a rest!
Where can we get it? You can preview and buy Sonic Comic direct from the Bandcamp page (we’ll ship it to you promptly!) Mark I also has copies in stock.
I N T E R V I E W
By Arpie Shirehorse
HUP caught up with Lake of Lake South ahead of the band's show at Nivara Lounge this coming Friday, March 31st (with Ancient Tapes and Glass Shards), to discuss their new album, the horseshit housing situation, discgolf greatness, and the weird and wonderful world of Ward Lane Tavern and its mystical metal bars!
Congratulations on the album! It sounds amazing, you've obviously put a shitload of work into it. How long has it taken to get to this stage? Were the songs all written with an album in mind or is it more a collection of songs from a period of time? I went on a bit of a musical hiatus after I dissolved Urbantramper. I just got a bit overwhelmed with the classic self-doubt and societal pressures that every artist deals with and almost made the smart decision to give up and get a good job. But when the art game's got you it don't let you go that easy. I wrote and released Good Keen Man in 2014 with another track and then put out a track a year. An album was always on the horizon but it didn't get serious until 2016 when I holed up at house in Whanarua Bay to write the rest of the album. I then teamed up with a mate from my netball team, Joshua Lynn, to make my computer demos sound good. We used a lot of synths, a lot of chorus/flange, and an actual plate reverb that he made out of a single bed frame.
I moved to NZ in 2005 and one of my earliest memories of discovering NZ bands was when I stumbled across UrbanTramper's 'Tokon and the Colours', particularly the song 'Shitty Flat' which I love - a lot of the songs on the new album remind me of this song. How has the subject matter changed between then and the songs on the new album? When I look at the track list for that album I guess the subject matter is pretty similar. Still writing songs about working crappy jobs. Still living in Shitty Flats. Still reading classic novels. One thing I've tried to do lately is imbue the songs with a strong sense of Aotearoa/NZ. I like singing songs about the cities, suburbs and coastline that I live in. It's important for artists to reflect their environment so as to offer their community distilled perspectives of place.
There's a real sense of resignation about the housing market on many of the songs, a kind of resentment that many of us have today about the state of what many consider a basic right. I'm guessing this is something you feel strongly about? Yes. I have a lot of friends who are studying or working in the field and it seems like the system is currently setup to benefit [wealthy] land owners and not renters. I'm not an expert on the housing market so I can't offer any academic critique or solution, but I can try and capture the mood of the people around me. People are fucked off. Houses cost millions of dollars and renting is becoming prohibitively expensive. The Government isn't doing anything and has effectively made a bunch of wealthy homeowners a whole lot richer.
What was the driver behind changing name from Urbantramper to Lake South? I felt like I'd lost momentum with Urbantramper and that there was a lot of baggage associated with the name. I needed a new start.
Any plans to play overseas? Yep. I'm heading to France/Europe in April then moving to Canada in June. We're recording an album with the Wellington Sea Shanty Society in Nantes and I'm playing a few Lake South shows around the place.
Any memories of Hamilton from previous shows? I saw you around 2007 at Ward Lane Tavern and was blown away! Yes I remember that show! I remember the big metal bars at the front of the stage. My contact lenses were real old and my eyes were killing me so I had to perform blind.
Some quick fire questions…Are National going to get in again this time round?
I like to stay positive. Nihilism is worse than National.
How many more years until Donald Trump leaves the White House?
It will be exciting to be in North America this year
Should GST on fruit and veges be eliminated? Yes
What NZ bands/artists should we be listening to at the moment? All the Home Alone Music bands obviously. Gulls, Benny's Videos, Glass Vaults, Boy Crush, Nadia Reid, Finn Johansson. Heaps more I forgot.
What is your biggest sporting achievement?! I'm currently ranked 107th in NZ for disc golf.
You can arrange a gig anywhere in the world by 3 bands alive or dead....where/who/what are we drinking? Dana Eclair, Danger Pin & my band. At Mussel Inn. I'd feel left out if I wasn't playing. I guess we're drinking their beer.
A R T I C L E
The Outsiders III: What memories do bands that toured Hamilton have of us?
By Ian Duggan
Hamilton has hosted many notable bands, from elsewhere in New Zealand, as well as a number of international visitors. I approached musicians from some of these bands, and posed a single, simple question: “Do you have any lasting memories or impressions of playing in Hamilton?” We published Part I and II in August and September 2016, and over the last few months we’ve received a bunch more responses.
In the previous ‘Outsiders’ articles, band members commonly had trouble remembering details. So something fascinating this time around was that one musician actually kept a tour diary! John Willsteed was the bass player for Australian band The Go-Betweens between 1987 and 1989, and played at Waikato University during an Orientation tour on 2 March 1989, the night after playing a gig in Wellington: “We took off from the south after dramas. There was a rape at the hotel, so lots of police, which freaked out [promoter] Doug Hood; a Cheech and Chong scenario of your choosing. Wellington was lovely and we'd had a great few days, but it was an adventure heading north. A very long drive up the west coast stomped on the vibe somewhat, and we had a breakdown in the middle somewhere. I think there was a fair bit of "hooch" as the young people call it, so the vibe returned, mellow and probably blissed by the visual feast of the countryside, the joys of Whanganui and the op shops which regularly drew our attention. We got in late to Hamilton, no time for sound-check. The gig was wild, lots of vets and ag students - these people are ANIMALS! Which is appropriate I guess; they can tend to one another if anything goes wrong. After the show, we play cards back at the motel - what crazy rock kids! The next day, Robert [Forster] drives north as we continue our search for the Bluff oysters and Bollinger…”. Funnily, Waikato has never had vet or ag students, but I guess that was the impression they gave…!
New Zealand music royalty graced my inbox in the form of Mike Chunn, the original bass player for Split Ends/Enz through the mid ‘70s and later Citizen Band. He felt: “Hamilton was a strong city for both Split Enz and Citizen Band. In different ways. The highlight of it all was when Enz supported Spacewaltz in late 1974. The Founders Theatre. That was the first time we wore the Noel Crombie soot suits [image provided]. We felt like kings! We only ever played the Founders. As far as Citizen Band goes it was the strong pub circuit. But Hamiltonians came out in their droves. It’s a rocking good town! The Hillcrest. The River Bar. Cool, supportive crowds”. The Hillcrest having enthusiastic and discerning crowds was mentioned by many in Part I and II, and this continued to be a trend here also. From a similar era, Richard (‘Dick’) Driver, who played here with Hip Singles and Pop Mechanix backed this up: “Hamilton was always a highlight on the national circuit. Compared to many audiences around New Zealand, Hamiltonians were quite the connoisseurs of music. The Hillcrest had a great room that felt like an intimate space. Although there was a restaurant that was separated from the bar by only a low wall and I do remember many occasions diners would screeching loudly in-between songs with outbursts like 'shut that racket up', etc, and our audience were always quick to rebuff them with their own vitriolic response in our defence. Quite touching really”.
Hamilton was lucky to have large numbers of bands tour through the 1980s. The Newmatics, fronted by Mark Clare, played at the Hillcrest on the same bill as Blam Blam Blam and Screaming Meemees; a gig that Blam Blam Blam’s Tim Mahon remembered for its “fine collection of rednecks” (see Part I). Mark stated: “Hamilton; I was born there 1960! This gig is where we kidnapped a 16-year-old Kelly Rogers and took him on the tour as our second sax player. Apparently he'd snuck out of the house with the very intention of doing just that. Cheeky chops hasn't changed”. Not all stories from this time are quite so positive, mind you, as Buster Stiggs, drummer for The Swingers, was clear to point out: “The Swingers played there only once. As we were packing up our gear I walked past a table of the manager and his red-neck regulars having an after closing time drink. One of them stood up and said to me, "Ya fucken poof", and unprovoked punched me on the jaw. I just kept walking, not wanting to cause a scene. We loaded up the rest of the gear, jumped in the van to go back to Auckland and never ever returned to Hamilton”. It’s a shame that just one idiot could have such a negative effect; Hamilton’s loss, for sure.
Back to the late ‘70s, and more positive memories…. Following on from the comments of Jonathan Jamrag of Proud Scum in Part II, other members of bands from the same Auckland punk scene also shared some memories. Jim Salter was the sax player and founding member of The Suburban Reptiles, better known during this period as Jimmy Vinyl or Jimmy Joy, and despite initially claiming otherwise, he had some amazingly specific memories: “Yes, the Reps did play Hamilton, once. My memory of the details is sketchy; exactly when, the name of the venue. None of this was Hamilton's fault. But I do have a couple of impressions. So the venue was a pub - must have been the Hillcrest Tavern I think, and 1978. I do remember that the crowd was pretty good and we played OK. "Pretty good" meant no fights and no idiots who thought they were being punk by pouring jugs into the monitor speakers, which had happened at the Awapuni in Palmerston North. It wasn't a punk crowd, and at least they weren't pretending to be. The ripped t-shirt thing was already about three 'looks' in the past. "Playing OK" meant that we started and finished all the songs at the same time and nothing blew up. So it was a pretty chilled Reptiles gig. We had some friendly faces in the audience: Auckland had its own version of the ‘Bromley Contingent’, who were as important to the scene as the bands. One of these was Sandra Jones, who went on to form the ‘Idle Idols’ along with some others from the scene. On this occasion, we had driven down in a borrowed van and there was limited room, so Sandra hitched down from Auckland. Dressed just in red-splattered bandages like a mummy and a nurse's hat, and carrying a kid's school bag with a red cross on it. That's one mental snapshot. The other is a guy coming up to us after the set; he had the early studded dog-collar and safety-pin look going on. He was really excited to have us in town, but he wasn't from Hamilton. He said "I'm the only punk in Huntly". We thought "that's pretty staunch, there's only about ten of us in Auckland!" If he reads your column it's be great to know if there were ever more punks in Huntly”.
Similarly, The Terrorways also played Hamilton once. Frontman John Hunter (a.k.a. John ‘No-one’) also remembered the Auckland fans making the trip down. “So the Hamilton show. The few weeks on tour were brilliant and we were all excited about getting back to Auckland and going into TVNZ to achieve television immortality. We could've probably used a short break to dry out but for some reason this show was tagged on at the end. Fans came down from Auckland”, who were apparently loaded into three Morris 1100s.
Through the ‘80s and into the ‘90s, touring bands to Hamilton began to include many on the Flying Nun label, including The Chills, The Bats and Jean Paul Sartre Experience. Brent McLachlan played Hamilton with both the Gordons and with Bailterspace. Although he remembered playing Hamilton a few times, he didn’t have any specific memories: “Not really. Probably smelt of beer and cigarettes and if [it was] a good night maybe some vomit”. Alan Haig, drummer for The Chills in the early-‘80s, had similarly hazy memories. “The only vague memory I have would have been on the Flying Nun Looney Tour. Playing with The Chills as drummer and I think it was at the Metropolitan?”. “Yes, the Metropole”, I stated, “It's now a Briscoes store!”. “That’s right, the Metropole! I could be wrong but that whole tour was pretty crazy. I had my own (red) CF Bedford van on this tour and remember carting some of 'Childrens Hour' back to Auckland directly after we had played and packed down the PA equipment. Other than this, I don't think I have played anywhere else in Hamilton. As far as the Chills performance went I'm sure it was okay. It’s quite different when your performing when you know personally we could have played better but that was always my thoughts. Most audience goers loved it and we got very good feedback. Pretty sure it was at the time Terry Moore rejoined the band replacing Martin Kean. Sorry I don't have any more memories as its being a while and of course I aint getting any younger!”.
Jeff Eden, bass player and vocalist for Wellington band Skank Attack, remembered Hamilton best for playing, and a rivalry, with The Bats: “We had a great time playing with The Bats in Hamilton and probably got a better response there than at the Auckland gigs due to a packed venue and a very responsive crowd. As [drummer] Steve Cochrane tells it, this particular gig came about because we'd booked the venue and they were on tour and asked if they could join us there, which Steve rather cheekily (and entrepreneur-ally; we were totally skint, as always) agreed to on the condition that we got a 60/40% split of the door take. Although we had our [self-titled] EP out and were getting better known, albeit in a pretty niche manner, they helped pull in a much bigger crowd as they were pretty well known. The Bats were a lovely bunch of people. However, because we thought their music was disappointing given their multiple lineages via The Enemy, Toy Love and The Clean, etc, and they were the better-known band, we set about trying to blow them away by playing as loud, hard and fast as we could, which seemed to go down quite well in the packed Tron. Legend has it that both bands were so twatted by the end of the night that nobody could work out the 60% split for ages, until Steve — by far the most hedonistic among us all — finally did the maths and we went our separate ways, never to see them again”.
Finally, getting the prize for the earliest visitor, I heard from Carl Evensen of late ‘60s band The Fourmyula, most famous for their song ‘Nature’. The Fourmyula were regular visitors to Hamilton, and particularly the Starlight Ballroom on Anglesea St during their prime: “I remember dark, dingy halls. They were our gigs, kids our age standing around listening and dancing to the music. [I] lost my new duffle coat there, lol... Big old, empty houses, with low coloured lights. Parties after the gigs. A lot of longhairs. It was all getting a bit psychedelic”.
The lesson learned from the three parts of the Outsiders? Although the memories of visiting musicians can become hazy in the mists of time, a number have recollections of Hamilton that have been clear, specific and generally positive. But if you are a touring musician, if in doubt, think about keeping a tour diary!
(Thanks to Mike Chunn and Jeff Eden for providing images!)
I N T E R V I E W
Lachie Thurlow of YUKON ERA
By Arpie Shirehorse
Young Auckland band YUKON ERA have been having a whale of a time since forming back in 2015, culminating most recently in a stellar performance at Laneway Festival in Auckland. HUP caught up with guitarist Lachie Thurlow ahead of the band's show at Diggers this coming Thursday, March 16th (with Ancient Tapes and Contenders).
How did Yukon Era get together? I met Christian and Pierre through music at high school. Christian and I played in a band together which broke up mid 2015, but we didn't want to stop playing shows. So we asked Pierre to play bass for us, and asked our friend Ben to play keys. I was on drums at the time, but since then I have changed to playing guitar, as well as Christian, and asked our friend James to play drums. He had to do proper school though this year so we asked Christian's brother (also called James) to play drums.
What was the aim at the outset and do you think it's going to plan? I guess the aim was just to keep developing musically and get to play more and more shows to (hopefully) more and more people. I'm pretty confident in saying that collectively, we love playing live more than anything else. We've been super lucky and have had some amazing opportunities pop up to play some really cool shows so at the moment, I'd say it probably is going to plan!
The EPs have a really mature feel, to what extent is the band's sound influenced by other artists? We all have very different tastes in music, but there are heaps of overlaps. Common overlaps include Preoccupations, Jeff Buckley, Women, David Bowie, The Mint Chicks, and the list goes on! After a few spins of a new song, I can definitely hear bits and pieces that are similar to the bands we would be listening to heaps at the time, but we try very hard to not rip off other songs! Please call us out if we do.
What is Yukon Era's writing/recording process - is there one main writer or does everyone get to contribute equally etc. Christian will, more often than not, come up with the bones of the song, and then we all fill it out together usually. However Christian writes all the lyrics (bar one song).
What's the story behind latest single 'Tongue'? Had to go to Christian for this one:
Well the song is a pretty personal for me. It's kind of a self assessment; taking a look at how I felt in a certain emotional situation and trying to figure out how I could feel something so strong over something so small.
Is there an album or new EP following on? We're currently writing the rest of our debut LP which should come out next summer. We're really keen to get an album out as we have been sitting on some material for quite some time, and Pierre, Christian, and I have never released a full length album before.
What is your favourite song to play live? I really like playing this new song called Quietly, which isn't out yet. Otherwise either Tongue, High Handed, or Daily Judgement.
Quickfire stuff..Sportiest member of Yukon Era? Christian
Most likely to get arrested? James What for?! Something destructive hahahaha.
Favourite show ever seen? Tough one but probably Unknown Mortal Orchestra at the St James Theatre in Auckland.
If you could curate a show anywhere in the world with any 3 bands/artists playing - who/where/what are we drinking? It would probably have to be at The Smell in LA. I've never actually been there but it's legendary. The bands would probably have to be Women, The Mint Chicks, and (tacky I know) Nirvana. That would pop off. We'd definitely have to drink some Double Browns for the special occasion.
R E V I E W
Future City Festival - Day 2 Review
Addendum by Gee Ttochs
Team tagging here with Ian who stayed at Creative Waikato for most of Day 2, gallantly taking on door and merch sale duties between bands, which meant he didn't catch all the bands that day. One of the best aspects of Captain Shirehorse's organisation, was no lull to the proceedings for a keen audience, as one band ended and another began 5 minutes later. However, being mere mortal, some of us flagged and had to do things like eat, so it was impossible to get to everything over the course of the 2 days. I however did get to see most of what has already been reviewed and a bit more. During the day Nivara wasn't as bright and airy as Creative Waikato, but come into its own more at night. Indeed, Creative Waikato was superbly transformed into a cool place to hang during the day with merch, crafts, photography and excellent sound despite those high ceilings (great job on sound by Terry and Steph across both venues).
Nivara that day saw Date Month Year start proceedings. A tough gig for any band, but these guys are going from strength to strength and were probably the safest pair of hands for this job. Perfect for those of us who were a bit slow from the night before. Well-crafted songs to get us going. Next up (after Half Eaten Pie) was Glass Shards, who gave zero fucks about easing us in. The hammer was pretty much implanted in face by this heavy-electro maniac. Again, another Hamilton act that has constantly evolved over the last few years, just getting better and better. He has mastered his craft and is sounding great. Slowly but surely, we are seeing and getting to know the person behind the noise. The mask was off, and the vocals are getting clearer. Someone is getting comfortable in their own skin despite themselves.
I too dashed across town to catch Elider, but Ian's Inchworm obsession has more than adequately covered that set. I bought the CD and have been playing it ever since. It was a treat to see an electric version of the otherwise more acoustic album. A live album is definitely required as the songs translated so well in a live setting. Enough brown nosing.
Back over in Nivara we were then treated to an overseas act in the form of Blankets. This set was a complete contrast to the otherwise traditional band set up of stringed guitars and drums. Set up on a table was a tape recorder and several effects pedals, manipulated and performed beautifully to transform all who were present to a much different sonic space. The performance too was captivating- watching an artist completely immersed in their sonic world was a delight. It was enchanting and beautiful and over all too quickly. A festival high point for a self-confessed gearhead who'd love to ditch the guitar and just play the pedals!!!
Next up in Nivara was fledgling H-town band Celebrity Death Hoax. Having just conquered Wellington, they returned home triumphant and with a bit of confidence. However, at this gig they were joined by some Gremlins who promised to mess up the festival schedule. The band had to abandon their first attempt at their now customary set opener, the CDH Theme Songs ("we are a Death Hoax, you are a death hoax, Celebrity Death Hoax) and take a second go at it. The set was plagued by technical difficulties, but the band set up on the floor in front of the stage and engaged the audience directly with singer Pip prowling around the venue amongst the audience singing through a megaphone. they gave it their all.
Invisible Threads returned to Hamilton having played the HUP 1st Annual Xmas Party. Jana having joined on drums in the interim. The switch of drummer had a huge impact, keeping the pace but creating more space for bass and guitar. They are a joy to watch and figure out. Sam Moore's guitar playing is mesmerising and cut through beautifully with the new line up, whilst retaining the pace of old. Great set.
Unfortunately, I missed The Recently Deceived as I ended up gassing to someone and I went off for a feed. So, sorry guys. Loved the zine entry. It was my favourite Q&A for sure. I returned for Rumpus Room who were clearly enjoying their set. While it was neat to see that exciting special edition version of the band, that interplay between the Newth bros. on guitar is clearly one of their distinctive features. There is nothing better than the way they combine as guitarists. However, this was a bit of a treat for sure.
Two Cartoons together with Spawts really embraced the festival spirit. Those guys deserve a bit of a special mention (together with members of Date Month Year, Halcyon Birds and Invisible Threads) for their presence throughout the festival, watching and supporting other bands on the bill. That is what it's all about, people coming together, being inspired by other groups and getting a chance to meet one another. It's a bit of a personal annoyance of mine, bands who just turn up and play without watching the people they are sharing a bill with. These guys were all over the place, down the front, taking it all in. Two Cartoons put in a great show, they really won over the crowd by the end of their set. Had it been later and few beers got involved I am sure there would have been people giving it their best moves down the front, but at 8pm after a hard day's walking to and fro, people were glad of a seat to enjoy their entertainment and they entertained.
I failed to make it to the very end, having been involved in both nights. Alexa Dexa was a sweet exit. Again another neat act that is just so open to the idea of using anything to make music. A real creative spirit that again was a great counterpoint to more traditional genres done well. Big shout out to HUP for having the vision and the energy to put this on for us. You did an amazing organisational job, but also note curated the whole event. You have immensely good taste in music and have introduced me to some of my new favourite acts over the weekend. So thanks and long live HUP and the Future City Festival.
R E V I E W
Future City Festival, Day 2
by Ian Duggan
The Future City Festival is over and done for its first year. We saw many excellent bands, and a good number of punters through the doors. From a personal perspective, I unfortunately didn’t get to see as much on Day 2 as on Day 1, but there were definitely some major highlights. And as always, being a subjective review, my highlights may be different from your highlights.
The day had a quiet start with WendyD at Creative Waikato, easing us back into the festival gently after the night before. While I was a member of the regular migration between Creative Waikato and Nivara Lounge on Day 1, I was largely confined to Creative Waikato on Day 2, so I unfortunately missed a number of great bands there. Nevertheless, Elider, fronted by ex-Inchworm guitarist Justin Harris, set the early standard for the day at Creative Waikato just before 4pm. The set started with the popular 'It’s Times Like This' and the re-imagined late-Inchworm song ‘Lift’. Adding some surrealism to the set was that the drummer used, Ben Cole of the Joint Chiefs, has the physical features, mannerisms and humour of Inchworm drummer Rob Talsma. Combined with that, having a Scott N instead of a Scott B on bass made this gig appear a little like watching an Inchworm from some sort of alternate universe. Nevertheless, Elider has different songs and a different sound, and provided us with an enjoyable, intelligent set, which even included a pop quiz about ‘rotifers’ (top marks went to Hollow Grinder Dean Ballinger). The crowd favourite was 'Waterdog', while the final song ‘Your Silent Face’ was epic. Overall, one of the best sets of the festival.
Next up at Creative Waikato was the Joint Chiefs, who started with their perfect pop piece, ‘Run Down’. In fact, as I hadn’t made it across to Nivara Lounge between bands I got to hear them play the same excellent song in sound check also, so I felt doubly blessed. This was another really clever set, based wholly around Heidi’s beautiful keyboards, Ben’s skilled drumming, and the pairs infectious demeanour. Each song was a different adventure from the last, and the crowd appeared to love it. As if we weren’t lucky enough having one Datsun gracing our presence in Ben, we had another surprise with Phil Datsun standing in on guitar for Rumpus Room soon after. It was really something to experience.
Another highlight at Creative Waikato was a display of Ngamihi Pawa’s amazing photos. She was all over the place at the festival, and I can’t wait to see what shots she has ended up with! Many, including myself, were able to pick up some pretty sweet merchandise while we were there also.
Being a long day, many were searching for much needed sustenance in the evening, and after a long couple of days I was getting weary. Hardcore bands Contenders and Old Loaves dominated Creative Waikato into the late evening, and I learnt that member’s of bands from this genre manage to lose their otherwise indestructible arm bands at a far greater rate than the general population. Finishing off the night I finally made it to Nivara Lounge, getting to hear Spawts excellent song ‘Big Fresh’, but by this time I was utterly spent, feeling like I had experienced an excellent festival and then some.
R E V I E W
Future City Festival, Day 1
by Ian Duggan
Day 1 of the Future City Festival is over, and Day 2 is not long off beginning. Day 1 started with Halcyon Birds and Dynamo Dave, though due to home responsibilities I only got to Nivara Lounge in time for hip hop artist Dbldbl. But what a great introduction to the festival I got! Being ‘nerdcore’ in appearance, wearing an X-Files t-shirt and oversized glasses, gave me no hints to the high quality of this guy’s style and delivery. A totally enjoyable first taste of Dbldbl, and of the festival, for me. Next it was across to Creative Waikato for The Biscuits. A tad behind on getting started, guitarist and front-person Indira Neville announced, “Brenda’s on the loo”. Shortly after the audible flush, second guitarist Brenda made her appearance, and the band started a stonking set full of some beautiful, noisy guitar sounds. Great stuff!
With both venues feeling pretty warm, the short walks between the two venues provided regular cool breaks, allowing not only a breather but conversations with other punters and band members. Rather than being any kind of hassle, it seems everyone enjoyed these migrations, and that it really added to the overall experience.
So back then to Nivara Lounge for Ancient Tapes. Since their last appearance, the Tapes have added Cam Reid on drums, providing not only a greater volume, but a greater intensity and sense of purpose to their set. I would rate this as their best performance since reformation, and I can’t wait to see how the band evolves from here. Across to Creative Waikato again, Threat.Meet.Protocol were the first band to get some proper stage encroachment for the night. Equally synth-driven, bass-driven and keyboards-driven, their 3-piece noisy pop was infectious. It was also quite mad; the lead singer made his cries of insanity throughout, with lyrics including “I’ll be watching you with one eye opened” repeated over and over. The keyboardist bashed the noise out of his instrument. Only the drummer had any semblance of sanity, and it appeared like he was perhaps taking the other members out for a day trip from the institution. An unexpected highlight of Day 1, for me. The night ended with a solid Carb on Carb set, and everything you would expect from the hardcore outfit Wizz Kids and the surf-music of The Hollow Grinders. Overall, a great Day 1, everyone went home happy, and I’m looking forward to what Day 2 brings!