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May 14, 2012 | by  | in Arts Music | [ssba]

Weekend In Red, Dancing With Me, Cheek To Cheek

One Salient writer discovers Bodega and all that that entails 

9.30, Friday night. I sit at a booth, staring into six-dollar Castlepoints (which is crazy, San Fran can’t even pull that shit) and avoiding the glances of the middle-aged patrons. My entourage is all otherwise engaged–selling tickets, stacking shelves, attending Young Labour parties. I’d rather be with any of them.

The guy next to me–let’s call him Road House Kevin Dillon–tells his mum that she should “offer to look after the baby. You like being a grandma.” He walks to the bar and mumbles incoherently to LA Woman as it pipes into this crushed-velvet kingdom.

It’s 10:30pm (I’m wondering when gig times on posters became guidelines). The crowd has started to arrive. It’s like a convoy of bogans have arrived at their Eden, a blissful place where they meet hipsters, fuck and create the perfect hybrid. There are more chains on pants than there are cardigans and boat shoes. The cast of a Tim Burton-inspired student film are here.

I grossly overestimated Bar Bodega’s hipster cred.

I’m here to see Bikini Roulette. Lead vocalist Matt Pender used to front OdESSA, a band I had a week-long love affair with in 2008 after seeing them open for Supergroove at the old Union Hall. They won’t play until midnight. Before them, at 11:15pm, is Lady Parts. They open with a solid jazz-rock jam, like an uptempo Fat Freddy’s Drop. I’m not averse to this, nor to their musicianship generally. They’re at their best infusing rock with Mayfield-style soul-funk, like in the unfortunately-named ‘Casanova Sauna’– they’re infectious and genuinely fun. But the lyrics and vocals are Grinderman without the self-awareness, AC/DC without the personality. The lead singer’s voice alternates between ‘gravelly’ and ‘Creed’; the pinnacle of his penmanship is juvenile blokey-bloke nonsense–“I’m on my second bottle of scotch/and I’m only thinking with my crotch.” Deja Voodoo was making fun of these guys before they existed.

Bikini Roulette make the night an exercise in opposites. Pender is blistering, a consummate performer–a little over-rehearsed, but energetic, handsome, ridiculously charismatic. His bandmates, some I think I recognise from the days of OdESSA, mesh perfectly with Pender, switching between white man funk, southern rock and Motorhead-lite riffs with swagger and style. It’s an exercise in affected showmanship, with its heavy American influence and its matching outfits, but with songs like ‘Play Dead’ and ‘Second Hand Soul’, it doesn’t matter. They’re just too damn good.

Saturday night. I’m called back to Bodega with two friends for Tommy Ill’s ‘album release party’. Bang! Bang! Eche! and Golden Axe are in support.

We miss Golden Axe because we are drinking wine at one’s flat and talking about comics and Alphabethead.

We arrive a couple of songs into Bang! Bang! Eche!’s set. The venue is reasonably packed. It is hot. I buy a six-dollar Quilmes. It is “Argentina’s Favourite Beer.” Argentina needs better taste.

This is the first time I have ever seen Bang! Bang! Eche! live. Apparently they are an institution; but then, I am new(ish) to the New Zealand gig scene, which is why this is a semi-travelogue. I don’t take notes. It is good, frenetic, aggressive hipster dance music (by which I mean you can bop your head to it and maybe wave your arms for a song). Lead vocalist Zach Doney is a bristly, arresting presence. I dig the electronic music-meets-The Fall sound.

Tommy Ill happens. He is rad. Kelvin Neal and Buck Beauchamp make out and bounce around and shit. The guy on the keyboard gets his clothes off. Tommy gets the room to observe a moment’s silence for MCA before launching into a barnstorming cover of ‘Sabotage’. They do ‘Living Dead’ and it is phenomenal and the mosh pit (led by a rogue in a blue shirt, a recon man for his posse) almost destroys my small fragile body. There are Hawaiian shirts. ‘Coldest Summer’, easily the least upbeat Tommy Ill cut, is the encore, which is a bit weird, and the crowd is ridiculous and barely tolerable, but these are the sacrifices we make. There is a crazy amount of glass on the floor. It is quite great.

I think I like San Fran better, though.



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  1. Luigi says:

    Oppsies, I think a bit of editing wouldn’t go astray. The last six paragraphs are repeated…
    Not a bad article. I would like to hear a bit more about the music, and less about the painfully hip crowd.

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