On a muggy summer night, you’re already going to be sweating, so you might as well be sweating at a gig. That was exactly the plan for Saturday night, as The Tuning Fork in Auckland became hosts to a triple threat of young artists at different stages of bearing the fruits of their labours - and none more deserving than the stars of the show, Miss June.
Beyond my personal admiration for the band as a friend, it's exciting to see how Titirangi's own Blu Fish have evolved their sound over the past year or so. While the Shments EP lauded its Peach Pit influence on its sleeve, tracks like Closet Jimmy and Auckland CBD exhibit a moodier disdain, a willingness to delve into deep dissonant riffage - not to mention the pure surf prog of Beech Forest.
The upfront crowd never seemed to fully embrace the vibe - and the silence between songs was pretty telling - but the band have tapped into a subtly technical prowess that no one can deny. They’ve already had a wildly productive year with explosive new singles and a stint as international indie darlings, so 2020 is bound to break new boundaries for Blu Fish.
It initially seemed like a supporting slot selection out of left field, as eternally rising rap duo Church & AP took to the mics. Surprisingly, it ended up being one of mutual appreciation, as we later learned during Miss June’s set that Two Hits was a personal favourite of the pair - but more about them later. Riding high off the release of Teeth, we get to experience both rappers at their most comfortable, calmly spitting impeccable flows - and even trading each other's verses - with chemistry and ease.
Supported by producer and DJ Dera Meelan, the mildest of accidental beat drop-outs is no serious matter; they turn up, pop off, and hop off the stage with another consistent performance under their belt, keeping the hot streak they’ve been cultivating all year alive and well.
Building tension on stage with a feedback explosion, Miss June's presence is fiercely undeniable; they succumb fully into the punk paradox of playing sloppily tight and being hilariously serious. One minute the riotous girl power of Enemies sends the band flailing into each other’s instruments, or guitarist Jun Park is crowd surfing while nailing a solo.
Then next, drummer Tom Leggett has lost his bass drum pedal and vocalist Annabel Liddell is relentlessly ripping into him in the way only friends can. A breakneck pace meant forgoing the softer songs like Anomaly or Double Negative - but when you have an all-ages crowd “going hundies” as it were, sometimes sacrifices have to be made.
You can feel that paradox, albeit more wholesomely, in their crowd interaction too; bassist Chris Marshall’s insistence to both wild out and stay safe proves that it is, in fact, not cool to not care.
Miss June’s lyrics, autobiographical or otherwise, have always contained a furious regret (“I could’ve been anything but instead I chose to be with you” comes to mind), but in the context of a live setting, there are no regrets here. The sincerity of the support networks at this gig - in both the heckling friends of Jun or the overall sentiment of the audience - is not to be understated, or underappreciated.
It was fascinating to hear both support acts relate their love for Miss June, painting all-age Zeal gigs as a time and place deserving of nostalgia and longing. Then again, it's the intensity of, and fervent dedication to, that grind that allows bands to earn that spot of idolisation; the bands that follow their dreams through oblivion and back. Their album may be called Bad Luck Party, but if Liddell’s emotional speech about sticking to your guns is anything to go by, Miss June’s good fortune isn’t running out anytime soon.