By Lou Mitchell
Artist: Red Fang
Date / Venue: Saturday May 16th, Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland
The night Red Fang came to play in Auckland began with a collective gasp as people checked Facebook and saw an ominous message from the band stating that they may or may not be able to make it to the gig, and if they did, it would be rather late. The people spoke and the band committed to the Saturday night super late gig rather than postponing it.
This translated, in reality, to a really big night. We were treated to extra bands (and they were indeed a treat), in a gig that lasted about six hours. The opening band were young and they were dressed up, and as they took the stage, a few eyebrows were raised within a nervous crowd that seemed split between anxiety and anticipation about the situation with Red Fang (who were, at this point, still in Australia). Then they began to play. The Cavemen ripped the gig open with their frenetic rock'n'roll punk set. Leopard print flailed around the stage and the band commanded attention as they threw their music at our faces. It was hard to look away - it was like I was getting to see the genuine dirty old punk rock I missed out on because I was too young.
Stone the Crows were up next, and it was an almost jarring change of gears. This is a band made to close your eyes to and just feel. They lulled me in to an almost-trance with their acid influenced, sludge tinged, instrumental grooves. An unassuming three piece, they drew us in to multiple peaks of hectic suspense. Stone the Crows offer a poisoned apple breed of enchantment; you really should take a bite.
Next up were Bloodnut, accompanied by a beard that was accurately described by my partner as majestic and regal. Bloodnut rarked the crowd up a notch, with a small but enthusiastically violent pit forming in their presence. Elbows flew as Bloodnut poured out their grime upon us. The drumming was a particular standout. Bloodnut's set seemed to grow in intensity as it went, and I found myself thinking that they sounded just massive. It was the first time I'd seen them, and I'll be making the effort to see them again.
Beastwars, as ever, were a musically glorious feast of brutal force. One of the things I love about Beastwars is the way they perform so intensely. It's like you get stomped on visually and aurally, but it is a stomping you will pay to experience again and again. Last night was no exception.
Logistically, Beastwars had their hands full; a packed out and weary Kings Arms crowd, a headliner in the sky and a whole cloud of uncertainty.Surely the act of balancing co-ordinating the arrival of the international act and playing an hour and a half long set deserves a medal.
Red Fang made it to the venue, and I don't think anyone who heard the first song just after 2am could have had any regrets about staying. For four people who had such an utterly crap and endless day, they managed to pull out of what appeared to be an initial (and understandable) grump. Shots were shared, and the band loosened up, and it was clear that the intense pressure that was on them had now lifted.
The crowd was pumped and overjoyed that Red Fang were finally playing. They slammed us unrelentingly their particular vein of doomy stoner rock. It was almost unbelievable how much the band were throwing themselves into this performance, given the context they had just stepped out of, but that was just it... They had stepped out of it, and we had to as an audience as well. It speaks volumes that Red Fang were able to tame an audience that had been waiting (and drinking) six hours to hear them.
They played hard and they gave it everything. Heads banged almost involuntarily, and people surfed over the crowd.
A good night for sure.