It’s an all ages gig at the Tuning Fork tonight. It’s a different vibe. People running around, redoubling their efforts to have everything just so, it’s not the sedate ambiance of an Americana gig, but the fervour of youth. Which means that some of these kids are young, very young. Which means no doubt that Steve (my mate) and I are here not just for my review, but to lift the average age towards 18 so more people can get a drink.
While it feels like a summery night, with all these young folk, spoiler alert, there are thieves out and about, so be careful.
There’s a steady stream of people still coming in when L A Women take the stage. Top marks for the band name, and subtle change to the plural to pay homage but not steal from the great Doors song from 1971. It’s obvious that’s what’s at play here, because L A Women are men, and they hail from Masterton, just a little town south of Eketahuna, and a long way from Bakersfield.
The two cousins and their best mate have now relocated to Auckland, and are making their mark: Jake Schdroski, Zac Emerson and Jesse Brown are immediately Under Pressure but it’s not the Bowie/Mercury pressure, it's their own song, and you immediately sense the legacy that Six 60 are imprinting in the minds and music of young kiwis today, funky indie pop with some reggae spice is the order of the day. These three guys have been at it for a number of years, since schooldays, and have developed into polished outfit, well known and appreciated by the audience.
It's a pretty decent set and I don’t think we get all the songs but the setlist includes most if not all the stuff from their 2018 ep, their biggest Spotify hit Hurricane Love and the more recent Novocaine.
The Fork is filling up and hey presto, there’s a mosh pit.
L A Women Setlist
- Under Pressure
- Count It Up
- Love Me
- Don’t Call Me Back
- Lights Down Low
- Hurricane Love
- Falling In Love
- Thinking About You
Summer Thieves are a product of Dunedin Scarfiedom, just like their eminent peers, Six 60. They have been going for nearly 10 years, honing their sound, and releasing a full-length album in 2017, Warped (now playing loud in my living room). And a new EP just released, Bandaids & Lipstick.
Originally a four piece, now they are five. Jarni Blair is the newest recruit on lead guitar, joining the porkpie behatted Jake Barton (vocals and guitar), Johnny Ward on drums, Adam Spencer on bass, and another more recent addition, Izzy Bones on keys. The band strike up, or rather Jarni leads us gently through an ethereal introduction that could be a Carlos Santana warm up, and then the band are off into Green Queen.
The sound is full and rich, this is a Powerstation band, they are bigger than the Fork, or they should be. And as the songs roll out, they reveal themselves to be a fusion of Six 60, L.A.B, and let me say it again, Santana, but specifically the Santana of Supernatural, the album he made 20 years ago, bringing in diverse guests and creating another fusion of pop, rock, folk, hip hop and reggae.
And so it is, just as they reveal on Coast Roads, they like the reggae, they like the rock, the jazz, the drum ‘n bass, the metal, the hip hop and the ska. And with all these diverse influences on show tonight, its clear the future of music in New Zealand is in good hands with bands like this.
Holly from the Label assured me that Summer Thieves are one of the best live acts around at the moment, which is a big claim, but these guys are sharp and tight and clever. Jake makes a great front man with his gnarly snarly Jamaican vocal style, but for me the standout is Jarni with his ethereal flights into sensational solo.
And in a fitting finale, they invite L A Women to join them in the encore, and the stage is indeed a crowded house.
The best gigs are often the ones where expectations are low or non-existent. Just curiosity. Well, curiosity has never killed this cat but has certainly uplifted and enriched.
Summer Thieves are not far short of sensational.
Summer Thieves Setlist
- Green Queen
- Get Away
- Grey Skies
- Coast Roads
- La De Da
- Ocean Baby
- All I Want
- What They Want
- Rey Mysterio
- No Shadow
- Love is Lost
Radio 13 thanks and credits Liam Costley for all the images in this review.