The spontaneity of electronica performed live is something that can definitely make or break an artist. It is the great illusion: even though it can be performed live is it rarely created in real-time. All the programming and sequencing is often (for the most part) created using pretty much the same technology upon which it will be performed; therefore the opportunity to breath something new into the fray, to de-construct and re-construct things within the 'live' environment becomes ever more prevalent.
When we first heard that TOKiMONSTA was finally gracing our shores, it was with a buzz of anticipation and excitement. Any artist bearing the Brainfeeder brand (and now with releases on Ultra Records) is worth their salt and it can easily be said that TOKi has been one of the more arresting artists to surface through the new 'bass-age'. Her woozy, eloquent style has brought a certain symphony to the table and I was interested to see how she was going to translate that mood live.
I wasn't the only one. A healthy crowd of beanie-wearing devotees had also stepped out on this wintry Wednesday evening, unperturbed by the relatively late change in venue from Toto's to K Rd'sWhammy Bar. I refrained from forging any immediate and somewhat clichéd notions that this was still an 'underground' scene; however I must admit the threadbare carpets and graffitied walls gave things a foreboding sense of purpose.
When we arrived, local artist Kamandi was already warming up things nicely and that included the bass-bins. For the slowly gathering crowd it was the perfect entree - deep choppy beats that were so heavy I imagined him having to carry his laptop on a trailer. Suren Unka then stepped up - another emerging local talent with a wildly different yet complementary take on things. We were treated to some pounding 4/4 kicks and enough piano-laced trance to evoke fond memories of 1998's Return to the Source parties at Brixton Academy. With drumsticks firmly in hand, he added and overlayed sounds within the live context, which brought back a sense of the organic. He was loving it, and it showed.
The pace was set, the room had definitely heated up and all coats had finally found a rack of their own by the time Jennifer Lee (aka TOKiMONSTA) graced the stage. Sporting a glittered silvery cap and a Californian smile that lit up the room, it was obvious that she was stoked to finally be here in NZ. After a brief welcome though a feedbacked mic we were straight into things. and there was little time to gather our thoughts as it kicked in hard from the get-go. With precision, Lee began to layer bass and drum breaks under swirling visuals. It was a train that we were already running to catch from the outset, hastily climbing aboard as it traversed smoothly around corners at speeds between 70 and 140bpm.
"Are you still with me?" she asked with a smile as she took things up a couple of gears through a giddy trip of hiphop, house and trap style percussion. Vocal samples were looped and chopped to keep up with the pace, moving quickly past the window of the speeding carriages almost like conversations on a fairground ride;XXYYXX, Grandmaster Flash, Blackstreet and even Armand van Helden at one point found themselves spinning headlong in the mélange. The dancefloor heaved and surged like a breaking wave; hold tight, Auckland!
After about 20 minutes in, it had become increasingly clear that this was not exactly the journey most had expected, and the nausea kicked in. Although clinical by its organisation, construction and delivery, the continued alternating between styles and genres every 16 bars eventually started to take its toll. Lee had the opportunity here to cleverly de-construct things, to have fun with her own creations that we in-turn had grown to love, especially in light of the fact that a new album had just been released.
Instead she had opted for an all-out assault on the senses, scratching the surface of all genres with little or no space for any real depth. Understandably, elements from the new release were very much in the mix here: the hard Kool Keith vocal overlays from The Force; the instantly recognisable riffs of Let It Go; and the milky sounds of Gavin Turek among others. But there was no real chance for them to deservedly breathe and flourish. Instead they too became part of the white noise, without the chance to leave any lasting impression. There was a small break of sunshine as the beautiful strings and vocals of Darkest (Dim) finally clambered to the surface, but it was soon swallowed up again in the 140bpm calvacade, extinguished just as quickly as it had sparked.
After 60 relentless minutes the show had reached its final destination, but for some the interest had faded long before that. Primarily, it wasn't really anything that we haven't seen before. This non-stop megamix (a seemingly fitting description) of scraping through genres got tired very quickly, and it wasn't as if her selection choices were original either. It would have been slightly more forgivable had it have been a purely vinyl DJ set, but only slightly. The samples would still have been stale and outdated, but at least it would have been more intriguing to look at. As a result, the only interesting thing to come out of the speakers was of course her own compositions; it was just a shame that they needed to fight for so much space during the proceedings.
"I can play one more song," Lee proclaimed, ironic given the fact that she hadn't really played 'one' song in its entirety the entire time she had been on stage. Maybe this was the chance; maybe we would finally get to hear the real TOKiMONSTA, breaking down and celebrating all those delicious layers and showing us what she was made of? My mustered excitement was short-lived. All that was left in the tank was a three-minutePurple Haze/Dam Funk mashup. Sadly, it was as if Lee herself was not confident that we would 'get it'. Almost like it was assumed we would be unhappy for her to simply stand in the spotlight with her APC and do what she is so good at - touch our soul with beautifully produced music. Surely the very idea of the interaction is to explore?
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
To this day I still remember my introduction to Sepultura - camped out in the granny flat bedroom of long-time friend Kerry - a live version of their cover of Motörhead's Orgasmatron, and from there it continues to this day
Due to incredible demand, internationally renowned award-winning musician, comedian, actor, writer and composer TIM MINCHIN has today announced a third and final Auckland show as part of his Australasian tour of his live show BACK.
Legendary, GRAMMY-award winning band FLEETWOOD MAC today announced an Australian and New Zealand tour, set to kick off on August 9 with two shows in Auckland on September 16 and 19, along with a welcome return to Dunedin on September 21.
California’s radical sons, The Growlers arrive in the country this week for the start of the Australian leg of their mammoth worldwide ‘Beach Goth’ tour. In what is guaranteed to be a rollicking, majestic wave of movements all around our golden coast,
Timaru’s iconic Soundshell in Caroline Bay will host two of the most well-known bands in New Zealand in a one-day entertainment extravaganza this January. Katchafire and The Black Seeds will headline the R18+ event at the Soundshell on Saturday, January 26, 2019. They’ll be joined by The Butlers.
In true kiwi summer tour tradition Marlon Williams will now take The Tūrangawaewae Tour to a further six markets this February making it a total of 12 shows - Marlon’s most comprehensive New Zealand tour ever!
With sounds primed for a hot summer ahead, Christchurch four piece Mako Road have arrived with the perfect soundtrack for long nights, cold drinks and hazy days with the ‘Local Safari’ EP, which releases today.
“Music can bring us all together, it bonds us, it strengthens us...” this song “Your Guardian Angel” by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus has been dedicated to Toyah Cordingley.
Please spread the word to anyone who loves the song, or has lost someone too early also, feel free to leave any dedications in the comments of which we will share direct for Toyahs’ family and the band to see.
On the heels of releasing several collaborative hit tracks this year, five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson returns with a brand new single of his own ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus.
George Ezra toured the world nonstop for more than two years following the release of his debut LP Wanted On Voyage, finally making it to Aotearoa for one of the standout sets of this year’s Auckland City Limits.
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.
Singer Elaine Paige has announced an 8-date series of concerts from October 10 to October 25 2018, which will see her perform songs from her illustrious career along side an array of her favourite tracks by contemporary songwriters.
The critically acclaimed, award-winning comedian and actor, Catherine Tate, is bringing The Catherine Tate Show - Live to New Zealand for the first time, with shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch commencing November 28, 2018.
It has been announced overnight that Last Tapes Theatre Company's original production Valerie has been selected for a month-long season in the prestigious Summerhall programme at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.
Featuring Brouhaha: choreographer Malia Johnston, composer Eden Mulholland, AV designer Rowan Pierce; In Transit: choreographer Louise Potiki Bryant, composer/AV designer Paddy Free; The Geography of an Archipelago: choreographer Stephen Shropshire, composer Chris O’Connor.