Oh, The Night Before The Others Way. A nice exercise in scuttling between the various St Kevin's Arcade venues in Auckland, NZ and exposing the lack of breadth in my local band knowledge. Regardless, after a slightly awkward encounter where I almost took the stamp from the doorman, I'm raring to go, excited to jump in essentially blind to a night of fantastic music.
First stop at 8:30pm: The Wine Cellar, to catch Mice On Stilts, which quickly became an effort to hold back tears for half an hour. What I learned the hard way was that the band has an extremely melancholic vibe, playing progressive folk-rock with orchestral elements via cello and violin. Nautical metaphors, soft guitar arpeggios, cathartic crescendos - basically every stop was pulled to make the set as intense and therapeutic as possible. A genuinely moving experience, and the emotional pinnacle of the night by a long shot - but we still have four other bands to get to.
Next up is a quick detour to the Whammy Backroom for the avant-garde Richard Maybe's Passion for Nature. Two keyboards shared on a beaten-up office desk in the centre of the stage was an intimate setup, and certainly a far cry from the six-piece, twelve-instrument band that wrapped up a minute before. I liked the live beat construction and “horror movie” synth-wave vibes the duo was creating, but the echoey and indecipherable vocal effects soured the overall experience. Not a bad performance, but not everything can be a winner in a pot luck, unfortunately.
First Move had pinched most of the crowd's attention around 10pm, but in the leathery depths of the Whammy Bar’s main room, I was interested in what the female-led Wellington band Linen had to play. What they had was somewhere between The Breeders and Racing, delivering dissonant riffs, throat-shredding vocals and lightswitch dynamics - on or off, no in-between. Even with other acts bleeding through the open doors, you couldn’t help but be transfixed to the point of tuning everything else out. Hopefully, Emerald (guitars, vocals), Kate (bass) and Tom (drums) from Linen have an EP or album in the pipeline, because they have the potential to be a fan favourite.
Quick Detour #2: Electric Boogaloo, back to The Wine Cellar for Green Grove. Their Bandcamp page describes them as lounge or library music, but my brain immediately went to espionage, like something out of a James Bond soundtrack. Similar to Richard Maybe’s, Durham Fenwick’s vocoder vocals left me a little out of my comfort zone, but the band ultimately reeled me back in with slick bass lines and a relaxing atmosphere. It’s a band that could deliver either a deep listening experience or a beautiful background noise to get lost in - and whether that’s a compliment or not depends on what mood you’re in.
Tired, dehydrated and desperately looking for any remaining bands at 11:15, the wiry chords and booming bongo beats of Flying Nun hopefuls Dog Power drew me through the door. The lead singer had a Spacehog vibe to him but instead of glammy Britpop, the band was providing more of a moody, experimental take on 'Madchester' dance-rock. Ironically, they might have been the loudest act of the night despite using a powerhouse drum machine instead of a powerhouse drummer. Seductively groovy stuff, and if I didn’t have to leave, I would have gladly spent more time trying to wrap my head around the percussion.
There’s a pleasant feeling walking down K Road after a gig; regardless of winners or losers, it’s a good comedown to an energetic and eventful night. Feeling that essentially five times over is even better. For the hordes storming K Road tonight for the full The Others Way lineup: stay hydrated, stay safe, and godspeed.