Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: In the neighbourhood

Last week, I saw Lawrence Arabia play solo on a Tuesday night. This week I saw SJD play solo on a Wednesday. And I didn't have to go into the CBD or stay up stupidly late to do it. I could really get to like this neighbourhood gigs thing.

Sean James Donnelly didn't just play solo -- he's been doing that since Elastic Wasteland came out -- but unplugged. It was intriguing to hear 'Superman You're Crying' (which he's been playing lately as a techno track) strummed out on acoustic guitar. He tried out two new songs (one of which, 'Invisible Man', definitely sounds like a keeper) and played what he said was the first live performance of the title track from Southern Lights.

Credit here to the venue, the Portland Public House in Kingsland, whose owners have shown a lot of imagination in the way they present artists; hosting regular dates like the Kingsland Folk Club (which isn't quite what it sounds) on Sundays and booking month-long residencies for various bands. Also to the Dan Sperber Band, who used their own residency to present a different guest each week -- Buzz from Voom, Hollie Fulbrook, SJD. Their own three-piece-indie-jazz thing was cool too.

It's not perfect. Not everyone comes to the bar to hear the band, and people do have a right to socialise. But really, pal, when someone's singing, do you need to have your awesome high-decibel conversation with your friends right in front of the stage -- when there's so much space out the back? People are weird like that.


"There's a bit of a function on tonight," advised the bouncer.

"Er, you mean @Peace are playing?" I said.


"I know."

He still didn't quite seem convinced that I really wanted to be there. To be fair, once I got inside the Tyler Street Garage I could see his point. Everyone else there was apparently 22 and boisterous.

"See, Jim?" I said to my son. "This is what people your age do."

He looked around: "Well, why not?"

We'd come to see what was if not the last gig ever by @Peace, then certainly the last here for a while. Tom Scott and Haz Beatz, his beatmaking sideman in Home Brew, are heading to Melbourne for a change of scene. (You've missed out on buying Tom's clothes on Trade me, but there's still time to grab a Home Brew gold disc.) If you're reading from Melbourne, their residency next month with other members of the YGB crew at the Laundry Bar in Fitzroy looks great.

The most notable thing about @Peace's show at TSG last night was quite how engaged the crowd was with their music. The kids knew all the words. It was hardly the best show they've ever played, and Tom even advised me earlier in the day that "It's really the worst bar ever. I wouldn't go if I was u." It wasn't that bad.

Tyler Street and its companion bars in Britomart Square (several of them owned by the same company) are examples of the trend that has sent Coherent in Karangahape Road out of business this week -- the funky brew-bar versus the old-fashioned nightclub. It's nice to have Emerson's Pilsener on tap at a gig, even at $12 a pint.

This trend must also be putting some pressure on the King's Arms, with its awkward layout and deafening rock PA. It just doesn't seem as much fun as it used to.


 The household's reliance on tethered-phone internet for the past eight days has deterred me from clocking up data overage with downloads and streams, but Street Chant have a deal on Soundcloud that's too good to refuse.

They've made available for free download 'Sink', the first single from their endlessly-forthcoming second album:

And that single's physical b-side, their cracking cover of Wire's 'Outdoor Miner'.

You want them both, believe me.


Hey, my internet is back! Check out this sweet Rhian Sheehan remix:

And Mojo Filter's trippy take on that song:


Last weekend (thanks internet) I watched Once in A Lifetime, a 1984 UK Channel 4 "documentary" produced with Talking Heads. It's an odd beast -- the decision to shoot most of the "live" footage with the band playing to an empty Wembley Arena was bizarre, especially given that the actual concert footage at the end is blindingly good -- but I'd especially recommend it to anyone who's read David Byrne's book How Music Works. The film's crazy melange of found footage from commercials, religious broadcasts and other documentaries achieves an odd sense of commonality.

Here's the first part on YouTube. The same user has uploaded the other parts too:


Back at TheAudience, there's this nifty shuffle out of West Auckland (click through for the free download):

MC Tali again with this Kendrick Lamar cover for George FM Breakfast's 'Damn! I Wish I Was Your Cover' series:

And from the same series, Ruby Frost singing rather than being on TV telling other singers they're not ready:

You can download that here.

And in a wholly different vein, plangent Portland Public House folkie Nadia Reid:


Righto. Time for lunch. And a giveaway. I have a double pass to tomorrow night's Bobby Womack show at the Civic Theatre. Click the email icon below and email me with BOBBY in the subject line. I'll draw a winner at 3pm.


The Hard News Music Post is sponsored by:


12 responses to this post

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…


You may also create an account or retrieve your password.