Local indie darlings The Beths have had one of the most monumental rises in New Zealand music over the last few years. In 2016, they were floating around the local Auckland scene with an EP out and playing everywhere from the 95bFM lounge to Real Groovy on Record Store Day. Now, four years later, they are selling out the Powerstation in support of their excellent second album Jump Rope Gazers.
After months in lockdown and live music being relegated to the internet through video streaming, people are desperate to attend gigs again. Therefore, walking into the Powerstation last night you could feel the energy in the room and sense the excitement from many at the chance of seeing one of the best bands in Aotearoa up close, live in person, and not from their lounge.
However, the audience had to wait just a little bit longer to see the main act, as first up was new band Phoebe Rings. A supergroup of sorts, Phoebe Rings features among others Alex Freer of A.C. Freazy and Tiny Ruins fame, Simeon Kavanagh-Vincent from Being, and Crystal Choi.
Believe it or not, this was just their second ever gig, but thankfully, they did not seem at all phased. In fact, their set was a delightful blend of synthy jazz and electro-psychedelia, with Choi’s seductive vocals a standout. Hopefully we will be seeing them again as this was an example of an opening act who I would have happily continued listening to.
Then, the moment had come, and right from the opening guitar riff of I’m Not Getting Excited it was lift-off and The Beths were away.
Whatever had the crowd in full voice straight away and Jonathan Pearce’s blistering guitar solo sounded as good as ever. It was these older songs which got the crowd warmed up with the likes of Future Me Hates Me and Uptown Girl, the latter which even started a mini-mosh. A mosh at a Beths gig you say? Stranger things have happened.
Given this was an album release show, there was of course time to road test some new songs, most of which came across well on stage first time out. Just Shy of Sure saw Pierce switch from his trademark gold Les Paul to a sunburst Stratocaster, while Jump Rope Gazers gave off strong Crowded House vibes, appropriate I guess given that band’s love for melody and harmony also.
The band was very tight throughout the set and new songs such as the Motown-esque Don’t Go Away were played with the conviction of a band that could have already played that song dozens of times. When they started their career together, they were still finding themselves as a live unit, but here they were a well-oiled-indie rock machine and have clearly become better players the more gigs they have played.
The set was well balanced between old and new songs and climaxed perfectly with new single Dying to Believe, of which the crowd already knew all the words to, and also featured a surprise guest appearance from Rose Matafeo recreating her train announcer part from the studio recording and Green MP Chloe Swarbrick, who appeared to deliver a get out and vote message. It is election season after all and you got a love a band who loves the electoral process.
This gig was billed as The Beths triumphant return to live music after a lengthy lockdown and on the back of a new album. They more than delivered, they knocked it out of the park to a very receptive audience who seemed ecstatic to be at live music again. It is absolutely no mean feat for a New Zealand act to sell out the Powerstation, but I guess this proves the appetite people have to get back to live music, not to mention just how popular The Beths themselves are on the back of two great albums in three years.
It is always nice to see an indie band who came up through the local scene playing small venues and to small audiences get to this level and garner this much attention. After last night’s show, this surely must just be the start for The Beths. Their international reputation is growing by the minute and I am sure with performances like this, the word will continue to get out that this is a band that absolutely commands your attention both on record and on stage.
Radio 13 thanks and credits Trevor Villers with all the images in this review.