Auckland indie band, Brother Sister celebrated the release of their SSDD EP in raucous fashion at the Thirsty Dog in Auckland, NZ with a plethora of supporting guests and wildly varying styles, thematically tied together by their love of the synthesizer and an appreciation for the electronic.
EP release gigs are always intimidating, a veritable who's who of musical acts coming and going at a whim. It's comparable to - and easier to treat the night/review as - a kind of 'speed dating' session. So we’re gonna break it down, chronologically, step by step New Kids On The Block style.
Bachelor #1: BB Gurl. Unfortunately, one half of the R&B duo could not attend tonight; university assignments get the best of us, as the other half, Che explained. Instead, Mall Shopper - Che's self-proclaimed and self-produced noise rap project - ended up performing instead. A timid stage presence contrasted with intense thrashy screaming and surprisingly melodic beats in between the usual punky distortion. If anything, knowing Che can spontaneously hold his own makes BB Gurl look even more appealing, and hopefully they utilise that in their own sets. Highlight of the set: Fuck White Art School Kids.
Bachelor #2: Fear Up Harsh. Ambient bongo beats, the occasional spoken-word section and wavy keyboard loops galore, with a synth pad that initially crackled at a certain frequency before the issue was fixed. I can't say I'm well versed in ambient or drone music - so take it with a grain of salt - but I wish the crescendos and climaxes of the piece were a bit more overt, to really make the slow burn preceding them worthwhile. No ill will towards the duo though; they used interesting textures overall, and calling it background noise would be a disservice, even if I didn’t find what I wanted to. Highlight of the set: again, ambient bongo beats, you can't beat them.
Bachelor #3: Lipsink vs. DJ Crapdate. 80s new wave synthesizers are an ultimate guilty pleasure. Heckling new wave duos to play Slayer is another. That shouting man in the crowd didn't quite get his wish, but we got some beautiful Human League-esque tunes and impassioned harmonies instead - a pretty good trade-off if you ask me. Possibly as good of a trade-off as Lipsink and Crapdate trading call-and-response lyrics off each other, showcasing a solid chemistry between the two. Highlight of the set: a particularly inspired and modulated cover of Neil Young's Hey Hey My My.
Bachelor #4: Our beautiful headliners, Brother Sister. "Like Hanson but angry." They definitely sang like punks, but the statement was still ironic, considering how bouncy this band of siblings' tunes were. There's no BS about Brother Sister; they played the most straightforward, synth-heavy garage rock of the night, earning the honour of Most Danceable Setlist. With a splash of deadpan humour and fantastic audience interaction, they deserve a larger crowd, to both play for and off of. Highlight of the set: Get It. (Note: this paragraph was in no way swayed by the free beer coaster given out before the show.)
Bachelor #5: Dateless. Full disclaimer, I had to leave around the same time this band was setting up, so I couldn't get a full glimpse of their live capabilities (which makes a live review slightly redundant). Funny that Dateless are the ones getting stood up in the speed-dating motif too. However, I did hear a monstrous sound-check with a more traditional drum-bass-guitar setup, and I assume they were planning on destroying the set for a monstrous finale.
At the end of the day - and the beginning of the next one, if Brother Sister and Dateless had anything to say about it - everyone in the bar was privy to one of the most eclectic gig lineups I’ve ever seen. Jumping in blind is not always this low-risk with this high of a reward, but leave it to the Thirsty Dog to curate solid and obscure Auckland talent.
Here’s to the next batch.