2016 was a year when Hamilton continued its slow-but-certain resurgence as a city with a thriving music scene. We asked a few Hamiltonians for their highlights from a year of Hamilton music. Some people responded…and a few of them even stuck with the requested format!
Ian Duggan (HUP)
1. The release of the excellent compilation, 'Life Beneath a Gravel Streak' in December, which really highlights the strength of Hamilton music.
2. The release of HUPzine, with its 5 issues since January 2016; always a great read, and commonly with an emphasis on Hamilton bands.
3. The release of the excellent The Scones EP, ‘The Trouble with Thompson’.
4. The best gig by visitors, The Naenae Express at Nivara Lounge in May.
5. For pure nostalgia, and excellent music, the Inchworm reunion gig in March!
Arpie Shirehorse (HUP)
1. Various out of town bands buzzing after playing at HUP shows – The Beths, Soccerpractise, Mermaidens, Ted Danson With Wolves etc.
2. Big shows really going off – Bandfandango, Inchworm and The HUP/HUM Xmas party…big crowds, great buzz.
3. Stumbling across new bands…local ones -such as The Scones, Louder Louder, El Jay Hall, Half Eaten Pie, Blue Cross (RIP) - and from elsewhere like Terry, Kitchen’s Floor, Bozo, Hex, Skymning.
4. Ivan Muir…the man deserves a medal. Nivara Lounge is a gem…we don’t know how lucky we are.
5. More than anything, clear signs of strong growth in the support for our local music scene - people meeting people, being creative, helping each other out and just getting shit done. Real community without pretence. Brilliant.
Julian White (The Scones)
1. The greatest highlight for me would be the Bandfandango in August. What a great, original idea which produced 4 varied new bands. My favourite was Closet Octopus, who embraced the whole concept with gusto and appealed to both my indie pop sensibilities and sense of humour. The vision of the drumming Octopus will stick with me. Also, The Scones had our best response of the year from an enthusiastic crowd. Thoroughly memorable.
2. The Hide & Tallow/Rumpus Room/Inchworm gig in March was memorable for attracting a large and excited crowd. It was fascinating for me as someone who wasn’t around in Hamilton in Inchworm’s heyday. I’m sure if I had been I would have been a huge fan. It was a great reminder, if we needed one, that there is an audience for good indie music in Hamilton.
3. Apart from Closet Octopus’s set, the other standout set from a Hamilton band this year for me was Ancient Tapes at the HUP/Hum Xmas Party in December. There was an enormous wave of energy, great sound and the band looked like they were really enjoying themselves. Can’t wait to see them again.
4. It’s great that Hamilton is now on the map for touring bands. My favourite among many excellent acts was The Beths from Auckland in October, with honourable mentions to Aussies Ted Danson With Wolves in February and Skyscraper Stan and the Commission Flats also in October.
Mark Servian (Embassy Park Working Group)
Embassy Park is a venue!
A very successful Performance Jam, featuring local musicians, poets and street performers, was recently held at Embassy Park, the home of the Riff Raff Statue, to test the space as a venue.
The Riff Raff Public Art Trust, whose Embassy Park Working Group is driving the rebuild, is keen for performers and musicians to claim and use Embassy Park for every kind of performance. So to that end, a small Green Room has been included in the back end of the new Embassy Park Pavilion (AKA the toilet block) to provide a central and secure place to prepare for performances, gigs and shows in the Park and across the Hamilton CBD. There is also an external power point on the Pavilion, so amplification (within reason) and the use of other electrical gadgetry is now possible.
The Embassy Park Working Group is aiming in the next year or so to build a stage in the back corner of Riff Raff Square, and a ceremonial space on the River Terrace at the bottom of the hill, both of which will facilitate outdoor performance of all kinds. The project is starting from square one again in terms of planning and funding, so if you want to see this happen, the New Year will be a great time to get involved! Street theatre, urban circus, music, dance, cosplay, roaming and fixed performances, whatever - come and play in Embassy Park!
If you want access to the Green Room and/or power supply, and/or want to hold an event or even just experiment with performance spots in Embassy Park, and/or want to get involved with the Embassy Park redevelopment, contact Mark Servian via firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 888 469.
(Ed: HUP hopes to include Embassy Park in some way/shape/form at the Future City Festival in March!)
Jake Tait (Volume Collective, Wink Wink Nudge Nudge, Nivara Lounge Soundguy!)
My favourite shows this year were:
1. The Recently Deceived album release (just epic)
2. Circle Jerk (and those saucy boys from Wink Wink)
3. Looking for Alaska's (10 out of 10) album release show
4. Richard Swainson's 50th Birthday.
5. Other shows of note… Mermaidens, Strangely Arousing and Brendon Thomas and the Vibes, Salil Bhatt and his amazing slide guitar stuff.
6. The Volume Collective hosted the Muso Market in March, and to see kids dancing and getting into bands like of The Latest Fallout, Coral, Aorangi, Everlasting Bonfire and Phil Black was just such a rewarding experience, have big plans for one again in 2018.
Chelsee Woollaston (Hamilton Fringe, New Millenium Beatnik)
Jared Ipsen (Barracks, Zeal Hamilton)
1. Having Turnstile at Zeal in Jan was a personal highlight for me, just the amount of energy there was the best part.. People stage diving and shit. From a venue's point of view it's a safety nightmare but it's still mean. Throwing down and whatnot.
2. Blind Threats and Bridge Burner at The Pitt was sick, all of the shows there have been cool. Was that this year? I'm sure there have been a few shows there this year. House shows are great but the problem is that everyone wants to go to a house show, but no one wants a show in their house.
3. Every time Super Narco Man play in Hamilton is a highlight.
4. Having the opportunity to work at a youth venue and see a whole new generation of kids start bands and run shows has been so cool to see and be a part of. The whole Hamilton music scene is really coming to life at the moment, and I'm grateful to be involved.
5. Seeing the boys from Half Eaten Pie at Rockquest heats and just being blown away and then to see them crush it in the finals was cool. Great band. I wish I was in a band that good when I was in high school, or even just now. The show we had out in the cafe area for Halloween with them was for sure the most fun gig we put on this year. We were finding lollies all over the ground for weeks but it was like a delicious treat every time you swept the floor.