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It's an exciting time for punk and hardcore kids young and old (read, me) lately in Auckland as the bands we grew up singing along to regroup, reform and re-visit our stages. The Bleeders before Christmas and LA's post hardcore outfit LetLive tonight are being followed up by AlexisOnFire, all the way from Canada next Monday the 23rd of January. The much loved group are playing their first show in New Zealand in ten years, at the iconic Power-Station, and tickets are still available online. It's hard not to sound over-hyped and use all the tired old adjectives when describing a show, but having seen them play a couple of times, I promise it'll be a high-energy emotionally charged performance.
The band first formed in 2001, and released four full length albums (Alexisonfire, WatchOut!, Crisis and Old Crows/Young Cardinals) , before breaking up in 2012, only to reform in 2015. Some readers will know the beautiful voice of vocalist Dallas Green from his solo work as City and Colour, or guitarist and backing vocalist Wade McNeil as the singer of Gallows. Throughout their work, the band delves into both the personal and political, with songs such as Sons Of Privilege critiquing American policy and well, privilege, while Rough Hands is one of the most heart rending break up dirges you'll ever hear.
I've a couple of tickets to give away, check out my instagram, for how to win 'em!
Ok, so you're probably paralysed by indecision because there's a buttload of dope shit happening this weekend, but let me try and snap you out of that and encourage you to attend my picks for fun things to do; Splore, kicking off on Friday the 19th and finishing Sunday the 21st, and then late Sunday afternoon there's a great talk back in Auckland, Control: Fighting It, Losing It, Finding It.
I attended my first Splore last year, with my partner in blog crime Aroha, and we had a silly amount of fun. Located at the beautiful Tapapakanga Regional Park an hour out of Auckland, it was a legit good time. What can go wrong on a beach with amazing musicians and artists, so many great friends, fruity costumes to marvel at, great healthy food and even a huge out door yoga class.
This year promises to be no different, with a plethora of musical acts from at home and around the globe, artists and intellectually engaging activities. On the music front, there's three days stacked with DJs and musicians across four stages (if I'm counting them right). I'm especially looking forwards to Little Simz, and like last year I'm sure I'll discover a bunch of artists I'd not seen or heard before. I'm looking forwards to having my heart and ears filled up with the musical offerings I'm going to be introduced to.
As well as music, there's actually a host of other interesting stuff to take part in or attend at Splore. For example, the esteemed Russell Brown, you may know his excellent work at Public Address, is hosting a very interesting series of panels on Saturday at The Listening Lounge. I'm humbled to be partaking in a discussion about somethings you might not know about drugs, alongside some New Zealand notables on the subject, before leading drug policy expert Dr Sanho Tree, delivers the key note speech "about the foundations of the global drug war in US foreign policy imperatives, the reasons it has failed and the prospects and means for reform." At 12, the theme and cast of the panel changes to the state of Dance music. Including Aroha, Eddie Johnston, and Lady Flic, it all promises to be very illuminating and thought provoking.
If sitting down listening isn't your thing, there's heaps of physical fun to be done. Mind out of the gutter children, There's also handstand and dance workshops, workshops on hula hoops and acrobatics, you can up skill yourself and your dreams of joining the circus and eloping can start to take shape!
The whole event is super family friendly, kids under 12 get in free and there are three and two day tickets which are still available. Go on, get out of town and broaden your horizons, it'll be a nice time, promise!
After Splore, I'm heading back to the village I fluctuate between loving and hating to listen to some kind smart people talk about things I find fascinating; addiction and anxiety. My dear friends Damaris Coulter (Coco's Cantina) and Dominic Hoey (Tourettes) join brainiac and all round cool person Sara Illingworth (Impolitikal) to chat about these topics that touch a lot of our lives. Sonia Grey is hosting the night, and I'm really looking forwards to sitting back, listening, learning and probably laughing. Entry is by donation, $5 should do it I reckon. The more we talk about anxiety and addiction, the better we can help those in need I think, so if you're looking for something smart to do, this is for you.
As always, whatever you do this weekend, please drive, drink and drug safely (or hey, don't drink or drug at all, sobriety is fun, honest!), don't touch people's bodies without them wanting you to and saying you can, be nice to strangers and animals, and just generally be a good person. Have fun out there!
If you want to keep the party going after New Years you've no shortage of options over the coming months especially if you happen to live in Auckland. This weekend alone has back-to-back events; Anno Domini, Jamie XX (one of my faves) and Kurt Vile (I've never listened to him). The jewel in the crown of all this musical awesomeness is of course going to be Laneway Festival out in February, on the 1st.
I'm obv late getting this post up, but the cleverly named series Anno Domini (It's Latin for advancing of old age) kicks it all off on Sunday, January 10th, right about now actually, the time of writing being 2:35pm on said date. Described by co-promoter Mark Kneebone as an event that's 'not a fucking munt fest', Anno Domini brings to Auckland what's been going on in other cities for years, civilised roof top parties. Hosted at The Auckland Art Gallery, the series is using public space in an innovative way. Food for the series, which fall on the January 10th and 24th and February 14th, Valentines day, is taken care of by my dear friends and wonderful team at Coco's Cantina. For those who like to imbibe, drinks are provided by Mea Culpa . I'm feeling the Roman vibe that's going on with all the Latin being bandied about and with Coco's delicious Italian cuisine. Well played fam.
Amazing food and drinks and clever use of Latin aside, what's a party without music? The series highlights some of the best in left of centre electronic music. January 10th is headlined by Ninja Tune's signed, Seven Davis Jr. His house influenced experimental electronic productions are perfect for a lazy Sunday party. On the Jan, 24th, Californian Dam Funk shall be laying down the modern funk sounds, and the soundtrack to Valentine's Day is bought to us by Sydney's super dreamy Seekae and Roland Tings playing respective DJ Sets, along with Wellington lad Race Banyon. If you're looking for way to impress an exisiting or potential lover on Valentine's day, I'm backing tickets to this as a gift. If all this wasn't enough to have a mild level of interest about (no one seems to get that excited this day and age of hipster indifference), there is a fourth date yet to be confirmed, and no doubt the line up shall be similarly great.
On Monday the 11th, Jamie XX, of The XX fame plays at Auckland' Vector Arena. His solo album, In Colour, was a favourite release of mine in 2015. It's an intricate album full of beautiful melancholy you can dance to, offset by party jams with features from Young Thug. Mr XX will no doubt be bringing an amazing set to perform, so if you want to party on a school night, this will be a trill time.
I won't bullshit you and say I'm a huge fan of Kurt Vile, but if you're into chilled out alternative rock stuff in the vein of Pavement or Beck, then he's great at what he does. Since the Echo Festival he was scheduled to be a part of fell to pieces, he's playing Auckland at the Saint James on Tuesday and Wellington at the San Fran on Wednesday. Tickets to Wellington are sold out but still available for Auckland at the time of writing.
Laneway is going to be such an amazing time, I think I'll give it a write up all of it's own, so stay posted. If you do go and check out any of these shows, let us know what you thought of them!
I started writing a gushy post about all the amazing heavy bands I was excited to see in January, only to have my hopes and dreams to sing along to old jams and enthusiastically nod my head to new ones shattered with the news that Australia's Soundwave festival has been cancelled. All the bands that were set to play were spring-boarding from Australia to play shows here, but without Soundwave, that's not financially viable for them; so heavy music fans will have to thrash YouTube videos to get their fix. It'll keep us out of the sun I suppose, which is great if you've a penchant for fair skin and wearing black. Silver linings.
First up, Bring Me The Horizon were scheduled to return to Auckland touring their amazing new album 'That's The Spirit' on January the 21st, but melancholic hearts the city over are more despondent than usual, now that they've postponed the show to an as yet later date.
Soon after that, West Fest was bringing an amazing line up to Auckland on January the 30th, but that's highly doubtful now due to Soundwave's cancellation. All the Australian acts have cancelled, and I'm picking the other internationals will too. Sweden's reformed Refused were who I was especially looking forward to seeing in New Zealand for the first time. Their latest album Freedom, is an awesome return to the stage. It's been 17 years since they released their ground breaking 'The Shape of Punk To Come', and their June 2015 release picked up where they left off with genre blending song structures and politically charged lyrics. But alas, chances are we won't get to see them this time around. Le sigh.
Bridgeport Connecticut's Hatebreed would have been on the same bill, returning to New Zealand for the fourth time. They've crushed some smaller club shows on headlining tours here over the years, and slayed the crowd at the Big Day Out 2005, so it would have been a fun time to see them again. Whether they have a new generation following them in Aotearoa I'm not sure, but I know a lot of people who would have got baby sitters to see them again.
NOFX were headlining the bill, again no strangers to our shores, last headlining a show with Bad Religion in Auckland back in 2009. Whilst interviewing vocalist Fat Mike and him being a cock put me off the band; I'm certain their loyal following of punk rockers would have turned out en masse to see them.
Rounding out the show were local boys done good Antagonist A.D, a reformed Bleeders, Saving Grace and Dawn of Azazel. It was set to be an awesome show that ticked a lot of boxes for a lot of people, but chances are slim it'll eventuate now.
Still, my inner emo gets to sing along to some screamy jams when Asking Alexandria plays the Power Station on April the 5th. Buried In Verona and Bless The Fall support them, so it's a show that'll be sure to be popular with the kids and is set to sell out.
Recent well populated shows from Parkway Drive and Amity Affliction in October and December respectively have reminded me that there's still a passionate following for heavy music in New Zealand (well, Auckland at least), and a new generation of fans that mosh away their angst and growing pains.
All this makes me wonder why radio ignores the demographic. Bring Me The Horizon, Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction have all had a lot of chart and commercial success in Australia and further afield but are ignored here. Zane Lowe's taste making Apple Music show Beats One, debuted the singles and gave a lot of love to Bring Me’s That’s The Spirit for example, but no one here seems to want to rock the boat in a seemingly risk adverse environment. That said, everything is cyclical and trends are cyclical, so hope springs eternal that a station out there might see the light. Gotta keep that PMA right?