The big-name touring artists might get all the headlines but it is the small mid-week gigs at venues such as the Wine Cellar and Whammy Bar that are the heart and soul of the local music scene in Auckland, New Zealand. These gigs, such as Bad Timing’s single release party featuring Tei. and Dead Little Penny truly showcase what Auckland has to offer musically, and if last night’s show at the Wine Cellar was anything to go by, that offering is very healthy.
Bad Timing is a relatively new band led by Chris Marshall, a man who seems to be in every band in Auckland, Miss June and The Miltones immediately come to mind. They have an EP on the way and last night’s gig was to celebrate the release of their latest single 100% Pure.
The evening was a cosy affair with a relatively small and intimate crowd gathered to see three local bands. On a Thursday night what could be better.
Talented R&B sensation Tei. began the night with a slick set of soul and hip hop. Since I last saw her, she has added a live two-piece band to her set and immediately you could tell what a positive difference this has made to her silky-smooth tracks... sounding punchier than usual.
As a massive hip hop fan, I have been critical in the past of rappers turning up with just a DJ... leading to lacklustre sets. A live band for me makes all the difference and Tei. utilised this change to the max, with the audience instantly hooked by her chilled-out jams.
Next up came experimental psych-rockers Dead Little Penny. Led by the brilliant Hayley Smith and playing under strobe lighting, the three-piece band’s set was an exercise in heavy distortion and ambient soundscapes in what was at times very loud, but also quite dreamy and dark in patches.
As a guitar nerd, I was also very taken during their set by Simon Buxton’s Les Paul Gibson bass guitar... a rare sight indeed in a world of fender basses. Nerdy I know, but you notice these things, especially as part of the visual and aesthetic aspect of the performance.
Closing out the night of course, was Bad Timing who were coming in fresh hot off an excellent live set at 95bFM’s Drive Island a few weeks back.
The set was built around songs off their upcoming EP and their performance was stylistically quite varied as they moved between different musical moods including what sounded like jazz fusion, dreamy pop and ragey punk. Their songs are also quite politically charged and this came across well during the performance with songs such as Cabbage and 100% Pure tackling issues such as New Zealand’s poor environment and to quote frontman Chris Marshall “how shit money is.”
It was this political aspect of the song-writing which offered up the biggest surprise of the evening in the form of a usually reserved and quiet Marshall moving outside his comfort zone and taking up the role of frontman screaming lyrics with intense energy. When Marshall and bassist Siobhan Leilani got their screams on in unison, it looked like nothing could stop them, not even the capitalist patriarchy they were raging against.
All up, Bad Timing’s performance was a fun and humour-packed set that concluded an evening that showcased the best Auckland’s music scene has to presently offer. The band may just be starting out as a unit but they already made a splash in a relatively short time. I look forward to see how their live set will translate on to record when their impending EP drops soon.