What was your gig of the month? Easy call for me for September – got to say ‘The Last Strip!’, held at the iconic Las Vegas Strip Club on Auckland’s K Rd. Bittersweet, without doubt, as the event marked the final weekend of New Zealand’s longest established strip club, just prior to its sad closure after 53 years.
But thanks to Rock ‘n’ Roll Ruin, ‘The Last Strip!’ – the final ever rock n roll show performed within the oozing red walls of the Las Vegas Strip – sure did see the old joint off in style.
What a diverse and full on entertaining line up it was! With MC Fats White overseeing proceedings, we were treated to some great live sets from bands The Raw Nerves; Smokin’ Daggers; Labretta Suede & Johnny Moondog debuting their new 2 piece project ‘King Gringo & The Hyena’, and to round up a spectacular evening of entertainment, Labretta Suede and The Motel 6.
Of course it wasn’t all ‘just’ about the music, we were also treated to, oh so awesome, drag shows by: Kola Gin, Busty Springfield and Drew Blood. Thanks also to the ever glam Burly-Q Dancers: Amourous Ava and Penny Pins – and of course the Las Vegas girls!
Fresh from recording their EP and ready to blow off some steam, three piece rock band Violet Highway held their EP release party at K Rd’s Backbeat Bar, a hub of up-and-coming local talent with the perfect moody basement vibe for Violet Highway’s gritty sound. Infused with blues, punk and pop influences, the band consists of Jacqui – guitarist and commanding powerhouse vocalist, Ant on bass – with catchy basslines to keep you dancing, and James on drums – a relatively new addition who brings a rugged flair to the band. Between them, influences range from Joan Jett to The Doors, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Black Keys.
Setting the scene for the main event were the eclectic group of opening acts, who catered for a range of musical tastes. First up was two piece ensemble The Prophet Motive. Yes, political folk music is a thing, and the self-proclaimed ‘folk-punk’ group brought some lefty-angst to an otherwise chilled genre. Lets just say there were some colourful portrayals of a Mr Key and a Ms Bennet to amuse the crowd. Next up, Dukebox energised punters with their soulful funk ensemble – including trumpets and a dynamic front-woman who danced up a sultry storm. Finally, The Moots upped the ante with some heavy-hitting indie rock tunes – and the rather creative use of a microphone chord as the front-man waded through the crowd. Drinks flowing, room humming, anticipation mounting … enter: Violet Highway.
Always a crowd pleaser, James bated the crowd with an explosive drum solo; easing you into it is not this band’s style. Much of the set was dominated by high-powered head-bangers with angsty vocals, including the brand new track Separate Ways, the punk-infused EP tune Caught Up in Your Game, the oldie-but-a-goody Charlotte, and the epic EP-featured dance track which will force even the most precious of followers to loosen up – Spinning Round.
Thrown into the mix to break up the head-bangers was Violet Highway’s other specialty: husky blues-inspired tunes with funky basslines and epic crescendos to keep punters on the d-floor. One such tune was the EP-featured track Desire, which must be one of the sexiest songs by a Kiwi band to date – the antics of certain members of the crowd certainly seemed to support that theory. Another EP track, Out of Grasp, treated punters to soulful blues with a reggae twist, while a second new song, the sultry Brand New Lover, was thrown in just to thrill fans. Fool, also an EP track, showcased a dreamier side to the band’s music reminiscent of 80s and 90s grunge, while a couple of covers were thrown in for good measure.
All in all, the night was a rowdy success and a promise of much more to come.
Northland thrash metal band Alien Weaponry have added three more successes to their resume for 2015, placing second in the National Finals of both the Smokefree Rockquest and the Smokefree Pacifica Beats competition. They also took out the Youth Performance Trust’s Native Reo Award at Pacifica Beats for their song Ruana Te Whenua (The Trembling Earth).
Written entirely in Te Reo Maori, the song ‘Ruana Te Whenua’ combines thrash metal with the elements of haka, and is a tribute to the de Jong brothers’ great great great grandfather, who died in the Tauranga conflicts at Gate Pa in 1864 defending his home territory against the British.
“We were really surprised to win all of the awards,” says 13 year old singer and guitarist Lewis de Jong. “Because we play thrash metal, we were the ‘outsiders’ in both competitions, and the standard of reo in Pacifica Beats was really high.” Ruana Te Whenua was praised by the judges for its innovative use of Te Reo Maori.
Alien Weaponry are the only heavy metal band to have ever made it to the finals of the SmokeFree Pacifica Beats competition and the only group to have ever got a placing in both competitions in the same year. Facebook fans have dubbed their style ‘Te Reo Metal’ and compared them to Brazilian metal band Sepultura, who sing many of their songs in their native Portugese.
The trio, including the de Jong brothers and bass guitarist Ethan Trembath (also 13), will be using their winnings of Rockshop vouchers and cash to improve their equipment and continue funding time at Roundhead studios, where they recorded one of their songs for the Smokefree Rockquest TV series, start date Saturday 26 September. Their mentor for the recording session was Shihad drummer and record producer Tom Larkin, who flew over from Melbourne to work with the band after hearing them on The Rock radio station earlier in the year.
“Working with Tom has been really inspirational,” says 15 year old drummer Henry de Jong. “Even the short time we spent with him has improved how we interact as a group and changed the way I think about drumming, so we can’t wait to continue that process. Also, at the moment we only have a few demo songs recorded, and we have enough material for an album, so we really want to get that happening and release some radio quality recordings.”
“These kids are leagues beyond their years and there is some incredible stuff on the way from them,” says Tom Larkin. “This is some seriously crushing metal.”
Alien Weaponry have a number of ‘School’s Out’ shows lined up for later in the year, once NCEA exams are over. They will be joined by fellow Rockquest finalists Joe Says No, as well as Brendan Thomas and the Vibes, whom they have played with several times before, including the 2014 NZ Battle of the Bands finals.
Check out the music video for ‘Ruana Te Whenua (The Trembling Earth)’ here!
Indie singer and pianist, Nicole Andrews, has released a music video for ‘Whisper’, the latest single from her debut album ‘In the Shallows’.
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Nicole has made herself at home in the Wellington music scene, having worked with artists like David Long (The Mutton Birds), Andrew Bain (Fur Patrol), Thomas Voyce (Rhombus), Daniel Ryland (OdESSA and Sorceress), and more. Nicole is often compared to alternative artists such as Tori Amos, PJ Harvey and Massive Attack.
The video for Whisper was the collaborative brainchild of Nicole and Bradley Garner; a well known concert photographer based in Wellington. Bradley has photographed acts such as Six60, Kora, Rudimental, Joss Stone, Seether, Devilskin and many more.
The guerilla approach that they took to making the video relied heavily on the help of friends with film experience, and a crazed work ethic to get the project done with limited resources and time. Nicole explains, “I tend to come up with ideas that are too ambitious, and sometimes I don’t realise it’s going to be so difficult until I’m sitting there trying to piece it all together. I like doing things the hard way.”
While Whisper is one of the most ‘pop’ tracks on the album, it explores aspects of relationship struggles, and seems to say that even though things might be hard at the moment, it doesn’t mean they are broken.
Nicole Andrews is touring in October to promote the album with performances in 10 cities across the North and South Island in October.
Check out the music video for ‘Whisper’ here!
Nicole Andrews ‘In the Shallows’ Album Release Tour Dates:
Nelson, Fairfield House – 1 Oct
Akaroa, Hilltop Tavern – 2 Oct
Dunedin, Taste Merchants – 3 Oct
Queenstown, Vinyl Underground – 4 Oct
Wanaka, Gin and Raspberry – 5 Oct
Invercargill, Suzie Q – 6 Oct
Oamaru, Birdlands – 8 Oct
Lyttelton, Christchurch, Wunderbar – 9 Oct
Wellington, Rogue and Vagabond – 17 Oct
Auckland, Wine Cellar – 31 Oct
The latest album from Delaney Davidson Lucky Guy has been released today on ‘creamy vinyl and pristine CD (for those 90’s Retro freaks)’.
Lucky Guy was recorded at The Lab in Auckland and mixed in New York with Matt Verta Ray (Heavy Trash). Boasting a rhythm section of Ben Woolley and Joe McCallum, the record showcases a more stripped-back style from the troubadour.
“Lucky Guy is about a wind change,” Davidson says. “I wanted to keep the songs short and to the point, more direct and remove some of the decorations I like to work with. The stories are more in the lyrics than in the music. It’s almost the album I should have released first.”
You can check out the second single from the album ‘Broken Wheel’ here!
Album Release Shows
Saturday 5th September, 2015. The Darkroom, Christchurch, NZ
Hailing from Lyttelton, New Zealand, part man part wheel, Delaney Davidson is part wandering minstrel, part travelling salesman.
One hand holds a small brown suitcase; his trade, his ghost orchestra, the other holds his guitar. One foot firmly in the Blues Trash corner of the ring, the other on the road, you could say Delaney sees music as he sees geography, and that although he has certain preferences, in fact all territories are up for grabs. Ireland, Germany, Italy, Brazil, UK, Switzerland, Mexico, Austria, Romania, Belgium, Holland, Russia, France, USA, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, all destinations on the ten year Solo Tour with which Davidson has turned homelessness into a success of its own.
Man of a thousand faces, his work with paint, music, film and concept all has traces of his unique take on life. Part new world and part old world, this duality is echoed in the flavours he evokes with his work; Past VS present, too loud for folk VS too quiet for rock, Light VS Dark, Davidson’s restless work refuses to be still for the portrait it is asked to sit for. A pattern we see in his own restless life, indeed, the apple never falls far from the tree.
Congrats to Albi and The Wolves on their debut single and video release – ‘Remember Your Name’.
The single is already receiving airplay, and has been selected for NZ On Air’s NewTracks playlist, well deserved support for a band that has also been growing a loyal fanbase for their live shows.
Check out the new music vid for Albi and The Wolves – Remember Your Name here!
About Albi and the Wolves:
Albi and The Wolves are a four piece Folk Rock Band from Auckland, New Zealand. The band is headed by Chris (Albi) Dent on vocals and Guitar, Matt Owens on Banjo, Michael Young on the Double Bass and Pascal Roggen playing Fiddle.
Albi and The Wolves base themselves as an originals band but have a vast repertoire of popular covers mastered in their own way, style and feel. There first EP I will Not Be Broken was released in 2015.