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April 6, 2009 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Connan Mockasin and Little Pictures

“Um… excuse me. Have you guys paid? … Uh, do you think that’s maybe something you would feel like doing?”

So apparently I’m out of the loop and gigs start at 10:30 these days—I and several others had arrived at Happy before anyone was on the door. But Johanna from Little Pictures was so nice about it that I didn’t mind paying after all.

Little Pictures—they’re nice people. I wanted to like their music. They’ve been doing pretty well for themselves in the last year or so, yet frequently take quite a knocking from reviewers and indie music afficionados, which I had suspected was just bitterness caused by jealousy. It wasn’t. They’re really just not that good. They’re nauseatingly twee, and lack any kind of darker elements to give substance and dimension to the cutesiness. They’re a couple, and they play xylophones and drum machines. Need I say more? You want more? Ok, they blew bubbles. Ick.

Also: sampling beats: yes, sometimes. Sampling hooks: okay, if it’s tasteful and original. Sampling raps: theft. Hip-hop done well is a hard thing to get right, and you can’t just poach someone else’s and expect it to transfer its value to you. It’s cheating.

Connan Mockasin and his band, however, were absolutely brilliant. The band featured Ricky Boyd on drums and Liam Finn playing guitar and various other doodads, plus a couple of guys I didn’t know. Their set was gorgeously psychedelic in its layering of melodies, inventive musicianship and genre-crossing songs that I could get genuinely lost in.

The band worked together amazingly well for a group that was apparently thrown together in the last few weeks. Kudos particularly to Boyd, who obviously has chops to burn but used them with taste. The set was mostly unreleased material, but a funked-up version of ‘Sneaky Sneaky Dog Friend’ (off UUU It’s Teasy) was welcomed with enthusiasm by the crowd.

And of course, Connan was as bewitching a performer as ever, starting the set in a ‘snat’ (half snake, half rat) suit, and winning the crowd over with his natural charm. He was completely at ease with being the centre of attention, without giving off so much as a hint of a big ego. Not to mention his Hendrix-like ability on the guitar and unique leprechaun voice… sigh. They don’t make too many rock stars like that these days. Oh Connan, won’t you come back to little old New Zild? For me?

Unfortunately, Connan Mockasin and his band outclassed the Little Pictures so much that it was embarrassing. Mature, experienced, intelligent professional musicians playing inventive and original material are always going to outshine kids who are still finding their feet as artists. For the sake of both the Pictures, the audience and themselves, Connan and his crew should have picked a different opener—it would have made a damn good gig into a mind-blowing night.


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  1. Dorkus says:

    HAHAHAHA hahahahaha. So right on.

  2. kit says:

    Yeah I totally agree too, they are pretty much the shittest band in wellington. Also I think it’s kind of racist that they use hip hop samples. That music belongs to the black people who wrote it.

  3. susan says:

    backing tracks are so lame, i want the finest authentic rock musics

  4. anon says:

    but if were talking about dishonesty tehn what about their dishonesty at a personal level? I heard that the girl one “johanna” is actually biologicall male, and that tehy are actually siblings not a couple or maybe both

  5. chris says:

    racism / ‘that music belongs to the black people who wrote it’ – geez i hope this is an ironic post… music is music, if you put racial requirements on sampling, it’s YOU who is racist.

  6. Chris Gilbert says:

    This is great, this is all good stuff.

  7. joyless soul says:

    I remember reading a review of Owl+Owl by Little Snitches in the Groove Guide, where the reviewer said “only a joyless soul wouldn’t enjoy little pictures” good to see I have so many fellow joyless souls out there to have fun with. F&*( Little Pictures, their presence on the local music circuit only serves to lower the bar. Imagine the kinda shit the next generation are going to try and pull after seeing this ish…crikey

  8. A.Nonny says:

    You just summarised everything we’ve been thinking about for the last two years. Thank you Stephanie.

  9. Antonie says:

    I, for one, know that Johanna IS a man. And WHAT a man! (She has a big package). Johanna’s the blonde one right?

    Love you dude!


  10. steve says:

    are you people 14 or something? i’m confused as to how stupid you’re all sounding. but you all are at uni right? and you all listen to “indie rock” then i suppose? cool. then litlle pictures don’t need you as fans

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