Live Music and Events in Wollongong

GONG HOSTS HIGH TEA WITH FRENZ

LIVE REVIEW: Frenzal Rhomb at UniBar 25/3/17

Frenzal Rhomb played at the University of Wollongong UniBar on Saturday March 25th for what was described jokingly by the band as ‘a sneaky show to help pay the bills while they ruminate on a release date and title for their new album.’ This wasn’t a lie as not a few days later they announced their new album ‘Hi-Vis High Tea’ due out on May 26th. Beerwolf and Totally Unicorn were the support acts for the night and successfully riled up the rowdy crowd for Frenzal Rhomb’s performance. Frenzal Rhomb are still going strong and their new album is undoubtedly going to be highly anticipated by many.

Beerwolf are a new band hailing from Sydney. Their support slot for Frenzal Rhomb was their second ever show but they’d clearly already found their groove as a band, delivering a great set of their punk jams. Frontman Pete was confident on stage and got the crowd warmed up for the next act.

Totally Unicorn were up next, in their signature stage outfits of colourful underwear and not much else. It’s incredible to think how much energy the band would use up every time they played as they leapt around the stage while playing their metalcore hits. Frontman Drew Gardener ventured down into the small but rough crowd and was quite literally thrown around as he crowdsurfed but managed to keep singing the entire time. The band clearly enjoyed being onstage and had grins on their faces the entire time, while also delivering some great tunes.

Frenzal Rhomb took to the stage in their usual laidback manner. Frontman Jason Whalley began by telling the crowd that guitarist Lindsay McDougall had shown them around Wollongong the day before the show and had taken them to the infamous Grand Hotel, joking to the crowd that they had not been impressed. This laidback, bantering vibe continued through the night, breaking up their high-energy songs with funny anecdotes and interactions with the crowd.

McDougall told the crowd that they would be playing new songs from their upcoming album, a special treat for the crowd at the UniBar, considering that the album hadn’t been announced at that point. There were also plenty of classics including ‘Bucket Bong’ and ‘Never Had So Much Fun’ that had everyone singing along.

The crowd were as rough as you would expect at a punk show, especially with a band like Frenzal Rhomb playing their frantic riffs. There was a lot of pushing and shoving but it was all in good fun and Whalley urged the crowd to be careful not to hurt anyone. If anything it displayed the versatility of the UniBar as a venue; they host anything from solo singer-songwriters to punk bands and everything in between.

Frenzal Rhomb may have been around for over two decades, but they are no less popular than back in the 90s when they first began. Not only are their concerts a nostalgia hit for older fans, but they serve as a fun night of good music regardless, for newer fans or those unfamiliar with their music.

April 3rd 2017 | Daisy Loomes

UNI PARTY MUCH MORE THAN GARDEN-VARIETY

LIVE REVIEW: Garden Party at UniBar 24/3/17

The University of Wollongong Garden Party is fast becoming a must-attend event for first-year university students, as well as older students, and consistently offers a world-class range of acts. 2017 was not an exception to this with a stellar line-up of 2016’s UOW Band Comp winners Halcyon Reign, Polographia, Lanks, Bec Sandridge, Luca Brasi, Urthboy and Ball Park Music. This year was a little different, thanks to the seemingly endless rain the Gong has been suffering from in the last few weeks. Rather than the usual outdoor setting all the bands performed in the UniBar and UniHall. This wasn’t a problem as both venues often host gigs, but it sadly took the ‘Garden’ out of ‘Garden Party’!

Lanks a.k.a. Will Cuming, brought his silky smooth indie pop to the UniBar stage with a perfect set early on in the evening. With just Cuming and his guitar along with a drummer on stage, Lanks delivered surprisingly layered and dimensional soundscapes, enhanced by his story-telling lyric style and use of loops. A highlight was Cumin pulling out a flute for a solo during his last song, somehow managing to make an often-scorned instrument cool.

Local legend Bec Sandridge performed at the UniHall later on, bringing her Karen-O channeling act back to the Uni after her last performance there in August last year. Sandridge and her band put on a high-energy show, managing to fit in a few tender moments as well as Sandridge sang to the crowd at the front of the stage. She even slipped in a cover of John Farnham’s ‘You’re the Voice’, the same song she performed on Triple J recently. While her ‘Like a Version’ performance may have garnered some negative backlash from internet trolls, it was very well received at Garden Party and had everyone singing along. Sandridge may have a rockstar persona but it didn’t stop her bantering with the crowd, revealing the humble personality behind lyrics like ‘You’re a Fucking Joke’. Paired with her unique voice and talented guitar playing, Sandridge put on a great show for the Garden Party crowd.

Urthboy, a.k.a. Tim Levinson was one of the headliners for the night, playing at the UniBar stage. He was joined by a few backup singers on the stage who managed to share the spotlight just as much as him with their vocals and smooth moves. Levinson released his latest album in 2016, ‘The Past Beats Inside of Me Like a Second Heartbeat’ to positives reviews. The album focused on stories from Levinson’s past as well as the experience of being a father. This retrospective, tender theme was present throughout his Garden Party performance without compromising the fun nature of Australian hip-hop. Instead, Levinson struck a good balance between feel-good hits likes ‘We Get Around’ and songs about issues he sees as important like feminism and self-determination for all groups. Levinson has clearly become a skilled performer since he first came onto the scenes in the late 90s, and kept the crowd grooving for his whole set.

Ball Park Music were the other headliners of the night, playing in the UniHall. The sound in the hall was a little muddied during earlier sets due to the fact that hall is not designed for bigger concerts. However, Ball Par Music made the UniHall feel like a dedicated concert venue with a combination of fantastic sound mixing, light displays and a seamless set of their hit songs. Lead singer Sam Cromack exuded Rivers Cuomo-esque nerdy charm, and had the voice and guitar skills to match that of the Weezer frontman. The whole band were very tight and in sync, meaning there were no pauses in the set. If there were breaks to change instruments Cromack would play a spellbinding solo song on an acoustic guitar, maintaining the feeling of a polished concert set and giving the audience hit after hit, from ‘It’s Nice to Be Alive’ to ‘Surrender.’ Ball Park Music made sure that Garden Party ended with a bang and were sure to have left the crowd looking forward to attending the event again next year.

April 2nd 2017 | Daisy Loomes

OLD ENDINGS FORGE NEW BEGINNINGS

LIVE REVIEW: The Living End at Waves Nightclub 09/03/17

The Living End are a staple of Aussie rock music, and have been for nearly 20 years since their formation. This hasn’t resulted in them become irrelevant by any means, as they put on a stellar show at Waves Nightclub on March 9th, supported by another great Australian band, The Bennies.

The Bennies did a great job of amping up the audience before The Living End took to the stage, and clearly had a lot of fans of their own in the crowd. In their typical style they took the stage in a cloud of long hair and tie-dye shirts and jumped right into their set. Incredibly, frontman Anty Horgan told the audience that the first gig he had ever gone to was to see The Living End, who he was now supporting – a dream-come-true for any musician! The Bennies’ brand of carefree psychedelic punk rock is predictably popular with the average Aussie rock fan, but is also innovative and technically interesting. Horgan used loops and a samples to create wacky soundscapes, that went surprisingly well with the rest of the traditional instruments. The drummer also incorporated an electronic kit into his regular kit, another interesting twist on traditional rock. The Bennies really got the crowd riled up and reading to rock out to The Living End.

The headliners took to the stage with a swagger befit of their reputation as one of Australia’s best rock bands. Frontman Chris Cheney has kept his punk style after all this time and told the crowd ‘Thing are gonna get out of hand tonight – in fact, I command it.’ This led to a rowdy crowd as the band and audience fed off the others energy.

Their crowd-pleasing set consisted of hit after hit, as well as newer songs from their 2016 album ‘Switch’ including the single ‘Monkey’. As the name indicates, their last release was a departure or ‘switch’ from their typical song-writing style, but the newer songs didn’t seem out of place in the set list. They still encapsulated The Living End’s punk attitude and style and demonstrated their technical skill and evolution as musicians.

A highlight of the set was a cover of Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to Be Wild’, a very appropriate song for the energetic band. The Living End finished their set with their hit ‘Prisoner of Society’ and the crowd sang along with every word.

Cheney and the band really managed to command the crowd at Waves and showed why they are still celebrated as one of Australia’s greatest rock bands. Not only did they entertain the crowd with their banter, but their performance was tight, talented and powerful. Thanks to their unfaltering energy and consistently enjoyable performances, it doesn’t seem like the hype surrounding The Living End is going to end anytime soon.

March 15th 2017 | Daisy Loomes

THE CAT IS BACK

LIVE REVIEW: Cat Empire at Stuart Park 12/02/17

Stuart Park in Wollongong has become a popular place for events by Yours and Owls, most notably their annual music festival. Sunday 12th of February saw Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd perform, supported by HARTS, Ocean Alley and Sahara Beck, at the beautiful location right next to the water. The concert had a real festival feel, running for most of the day and featuring food and drink vendors. The re-emergence of daytime festivals featuring alternative music is exciting considering the unfortunate cancellation of many Sydney festivals including Big Day Out and Soundwave. Events like this are also a great way to draw people to the Wollongong area; some concert-goers had travelled over two hours to see their favourite bands perform.

The hot weather of the previous few weeks eased up for the concert, resulting in a perfect, if a little cloudy day. The event began as 18+ only during the ticket sales but was made all-ages later on, meaning there were a lot of families set up to enjoy the music. HARTS, Ocean Alley and Sahara Beck were the bands to kick off the day and warm everyone up for the bigger acts later in the afternoon and evening.

Xavier Rudd put on a stellar performance with his band, featuring long jams melting into each other to create a set with a continuous soundscape. Rudd holds an interest and connection with Aboriginal culture and incorporated didgeridoo into his performance, something that not many artists do well but that was in this case was highly effective and haunting. He also featured harmonica solos, another musical foray that many musicians fail to do justice, done beautifully by Rudd and his band. Rudd’s distinctive sound was evident but he managed to put his own modern twist on his reggae/world style with bass drops and keyboard. His lyrics and between-song banter captured his music’s socially conscious theme, as he spoke about Aboriginal culture and the environment and land.

Cat Empire took to the stage later on with a brilliant sunset as the backdrop, which of course prompted a sea of mobile phones to appear to capture it. This didn’t dull the special moment however, and the beautiful sight set the mood for the show, which was that of a typical Cat Empire gig – friendly, fun and a feel-good time. A highlight of Cat Empire’s performance was the instrument solos – even the harmonica (played by Xavier Rudd) and the drummer got the chance for an extended, wild solo. This cemented Cat Empire as not only true entertainers, but very technically skilled musicians. Cat Empire is a band that just makes you want to get up at dance, but at one point one of the frontmen got the entire crowd to sit down for the quiet introduction of their hit ‘All Night Loud’ before jumping up again to the famous trumpet hook. Cat Empire put on a fun high-energy and finished off the day nicely.

The success of this even hopefully heralds many more events and festivals at Stuart Park and other locations in Wollongong, giving music-lovers more opportunities to get out and enjoy their local area and some fantastic music to go with it.

Feb 21st 2017 | Daisy Loomes

GREAT FOLK AT EPIC FEST

LIVE REVIEW: ILLAWARRA FOLK FESTIVAL 12/01/17

The Illawarra Folk Festival was held at Bulli Show Grounds from the 12th to the 15th of January this year, making it the 32nd annual run of the popular event. The Festival was first held in Jamberoo in 1985 and has continued growing in popularity since then, with acts coming from all over Australia and the world to perform. The intimate but welcoming community atmosphere was very much present this year and the festival was a success for another year running, despite some bad weather on the last day. Not only does the festival boast a diverse lineup of musicians, dancers and comedians, but there were also a variety of food, clothing and jewellery stalls and workshops for festivalgoers to enjoy.

Saturday is known as the biggest day of the festival, but that didn’t mean there weren’t a variety of great acts to enjoy on Friday or Sunday. Friday evening saw local musician Melanie April performing her understated indie folk tunes in The Shed. Her set included a cover of an Adele song as well as several personal, original songs. Listening to the peaceful simplicity of her voice and guitar was a lovely way to spend the evening sitting on the cushions in The Shed.
A unique part of the festival was the Tivoli Tent featuring dance performances. Cinnamon Twist bellydancing school took to the stage on Saturday morning showcasing a variety of bellydance styles including Turkish, Macedonian, popular and traditional. A variety of other groups also performed over the weekend with many holding workshops for those interested in giving dancing a go.

Another great performance on the Saturday was by Genni Kane in the Black Diamond Marquee. Genni is a member of the ARIA award winning Flying Emus but the Folk Festival saw her playing solo, joined by her brother, husband and a close friend. This made for an intimate show as she joked and laughed with them onstage, even sharing an emotional moment as they talked about Genni’s mother who had recently passed away. Genni played songs from her latest album ‘Selfies’, described as ‘observations of life, loss and love’, with every song embodying the spirit of folk music; personal, poignant and relatable songs. Highlights included a sweet song about her late neighbour in the small community she lived in ,’And With That’, with the song title coming from a phrase she would often repeat as she chatted to Genni over her front fence. Another fantastic song was about a dress from a thrift store, serving as an analogy for, as Genni said, ‘a no-good man.’

Jay Wars and the Howard Youth also performed on Saturday in the Slacky Flat Bar, with an unusual, but skilful blend of punk and folk music. The band featured drums, a few guitars and a violin. They played, of course, several politicised songs, referencing the fight for marriage equality and slamming politicians including Christopher Pyne. Their set wasn’t complete as a punk band, of course, without a song about drinking inviting the audience to buy them a drink after their performance. Jay Wars and the Howard Youth were one of a group of punk-folk bands playing the festival, showing the diversity of genres present.

Four Winds were one of the stars of the festival. The four piece Irish traditional group played at The Chapel, one of the most beautiful venues of the festival, a marquee filled with native plants and fairy lights and set on top of a hill in the bush. The group consists of four young Irish musicians with Daoiri Farrell playing the bouzouki (a Greek guitar), Caroline Keane playing the concertina, Tom Delany on the uilleann pipes (the national bagpipes of Ireland) and Robbie Walsh playing the bodhrán (an Irish drum). Four Winds were not only highly skilled musicians, with many of them holding university degrees in Irish traditional music, but they also brought a sense of fun to their performance with funny anecdotes and stories about their songs.

The Illawarra Folk Festival is a lovely way to spend a summer weekend and looks set to retain its popularity for many more years to come.

Feb 1st 2017 | Daisy Loomes

BIRDS OF TOKYO TAKE FLIGHT WITH NEW SOUND

LIVE REVIEW: Birds of Tokyo at Waves Nightclub 17/12/16

Birds of Tokyo have gone through many changes in their 12 years of being a band. From their Silverchair-esque debut album ‘Day One’, to their 2013 release ‘March Fires’ filled with ambient, pop soundscapes, Birds of Tokyo have covered it all. Their latest album ‘Brace’, however, came as a surprise to many. Produced by David Bottrill, well-known for his work on gritty, dark albums such as Muse’s ‘Origin of Symmetry’, ‘Brace’ sees the band take on an antiestablishment, aggressive mood, making for a great album, and a fantastic live show.

December 17th saw them take to the stage at Waves Nightclub in Towradgi, following Introvert and Strangers as support acts. Both acts shared Birds of Tokyo’s new, heavier sound. Introvert were up first, giving a taste of Deftones with their alternative metal sound. They were followed by Strangers who geared up the crowd with their fast tracks. A highlight of their set was the drummer who played with a massive grin on his face, looking not unlike a joyous dog with its head sticking out the window of a car. You could sense the band’s love for performing as the lead singer jumped down to walk in the crowd, giving out hugs and high-fives.

Birds of Tokyo took to the stage next amidst an impressive display of lights and graphics behind them, something to be commended in such a small venue. The animations followed the themes of destruction, creation, technology and change and added a dramatic flair to the performance. Most of Birds of Tokyo’s setlist was taken from their new album, ‘Brace’, which created a very cohesive, almost theatrical show. Even the appearance of the band fed into this; all the musicians played standing up, including the keyboard player and the drummer. Lead singer Ian Kenny was decked out in all white and sporting an impressive beard, which along with his dancing and gestures gave him a true rockstar appearance. The new album’ singles ‘Brace’ and ‘Empire’ have been played extensively on radio (despite the band touting the new release as something that would be rejected by mainstream radio) and were hits on the night as the crowd sang along. However, a Birds of Tokyo show wouldn’t be complete without older classics such as ‘Lanterns’, ‘This Fire’ and ‘Plans’ being played, all of which proved to still be massive hits with the crowd. The lighter nature of their older songs didn’t seem out of place with new tracks from ‘Brace’, as the band had clearly taken into account speed and dynamics to modify the songs to fit in.

It’s clear that even after all this time, Birds of Tokyo haven’t lost their energy or creativity. Even with their new, aggressive lyrics, they remain a band that put on a genuine, skilled show that just makes you want to sing along.

Jan 10th 2017 | Daisy Loomes

RAD POLISH FANS GET BEAT UP

LIVE REVIEW: Polish Club at Rad Bar 10/12/16

Rad Bar is a popular place to kickback with friends and enjoy some live music, with a variety of great acts playing most days of the week. Polish Club’s gig on December 10th, supported by Sun Sap and Food Court, was no exception to the high-standard of performances at Rad Bar. All three acts differed in style, but were equally talented and popular with the crowd, making for an awesome Saturday night.

Sun Sap were first up, with their mix of garage-rock, surf-rock and country creating a cohesive and confident sound for such a young band. The energy and enthusiasm Sun Sap had, combined with their musical skill, made for a fun set. Even on the tiny dancefloor they had the crowd dancing along with them, with the usual banter and sharing of drinks seen at Rad Bar. Without overpowering the other members, the lead singer really lead the band, giving off vibes of Pelle Almqvist of The Hives as he commanded the crowd and interspersed his singing with bombastic howls and yells.

Food Court were up next with some good, classic garage rock. With 2 guitars, 1 bass guitar and a drummer, Food Court had the classic pop-punk lineup, but this didn’t mean they didn’t have their own individual style. Rather than defaulting to a Green Day or Blink-182 style of nasally vocals and angsty lyrics, Food Court’s Aussie background came through in their music. Combined with well-practised and tight instrumentation, the band pumped up the crowd for the next band.

Polish Club were the headliners for the night at Rad Bar, and they certainly fit their role as the stars of the show. Made up of only a drummer, John-Henry, and guitarist/singer, Novak, Polish Club made a lot of noise for so few members. Described on their Triple J Unearthed profile as writers of ‘pop songs fifty years late and twice the speed’, Polish Club played a unique mix of fast, hard drumming and soulful, bluesy guitar and vocals. Novak played like a man possessed, falling into the middle of the crowd at one point to play a guitar solo on the ground. With a sound similar to Kings of Leon or the Black Keys and pulled together by the front man’s brash, full-bodied vocals, Polish Club played hit after hit, many of them short and sweet. A highlight of their set was a mashup of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ leading into a raunchy cover of ‘Pony’ by Ginuwine, once again firmly set in their own style but extremely well-done and fun. Polish Club have an album coming out soon, and their performance at Rad Bar definitely heralded big things happening in the band’s future.

Dec 16th 2016 | Daisy Loomes

THUNDERING LATE NIGHTS

LIVE REVIEW: Thundamentals at UOW Unibar 2/12/16

Australia hiphop group Thundamentals have enjoyed widespread popularity since the release of their debut self-titled album in 2009, and that popularity clearly hadn’t wavered as they played for an excited crowd at the University of Wollongong UniBar on December 2nd. Supported by Mallrats and PEZ, Thundamentals played a tight, fun and surprisingly emotional show making for a great night.

Mallrat kicked off the night with her infectious synth-pop tunes. The 17 year old Brisbanite recently signed with New World Artists, joining the likes of Grinspoon, King Parrot and The Meeting Tree. Mallrat did a great job warming up the stage for PEZ, who was up second on the night.

PEZ is well-known as a staple of Australian hiphop, making his name on the scene with his debut album ‘A Mind of My Own’ in 2008 with his single ‘The Festival Song’ reaching number 7 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 list. PEZ’s second album, ‘Don’t Look Down’ released on November 4th, was a long time coming, and PEZ addressed this as he took the stage. He spoke about setbacks and insecurities and ultimately overcoming them to release a new album and reconnect with his fans. PEZ kicked off with a new song ‘SOS’ before turning up the mood with ‘Weekend’, a classic Aussie track about letting loose at the end of the week. PEZ is not only a talented musician, but a true performer, with a perfect balance of enthusiasm and professionalism. PEZ ramped up the crowd asking if they were warmed up and ready for Thundamentals, even managing to crowdsurf in the small audience.

Thundamentals made a dramatic entrance, with an impressive light display over a large artwork banner, giving the UniBar more of a theatre feel. Featuring smooth, superfast flow and live trumpet, Thundamentals demonstrated why they’re so popular at the moment. Despite their supercool, popstar vibes, Thundamentals were clearly happy to be performing, sporting big grins as they came on stage. Like PEZ, they weren’t afraid to speak candidly to the crowd about important issues and setbacks they had overcome. ‘Ignorance is Bliss’, released last year as part of their Got Love initiative, looked at white privilege and the treatment of minorities. Their Got Love campaign partners them with the National Centre of Black Excellence, and they took a moment during the show to tell the crowd that the proceeds from some of their merchandise would go to the Centre. These serious moment didn’t dampen the upbeat mood of their gig however, as the performers told people to introduce themselves to whoever was next to them and make friends for the night. Another tender moment came when one of the rappers spoke about his struggles with depression and anxiety, emphatically telling the crowd they were not alone in similar struggles before launching into a number of all new tracks that had their fans dancing all night long.

Thundamentals put on a show that really captured the essence of Australian hiphop – a combination of talented performance, mateship and great vibes.

Dec 9th 2016 | Daisy Loomes

MORRISSEY STRIKES AGAIN

LIVE REVIEW: Morrissey at WIN Entertainment Centre 29/10/16

Morrissey – a performer so iconic he goes by one name like Rihanna or Madonna. And, just like Rihanna and Madonna, Morrissey is known for having the attitude of a diva. Yet, at his concert at Win Entertainment Centre on October 29th, no sign of this apparent pretentiousness was seen as the Smiths singer played a lively, fun show for a crowd filled with fans young and old.

Morrissey’s appearance on the night was preceded by a projected presentation of music videos and clips ranging from the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen, to Cher, to eerie clips of a Ferris wheel turning.  In a suitably dramatic reveal, the projection sheet dropped to reveal Morrissey and his band. Wearing his instantly recognisable half-buttoned white shirt, Morrissey responded to the cheers of the crowd with ‘It’s my pleasure’, before kicking off with his debut solo single ‘Suedehead.’ The British star played a number of Smiths tracks as well as songs from his solo releases, all of which were received well by the crowd.

Morrissey was backed by a stellar band who between them played a variety of instruments, including a giant gong and a piano accordion, which may seem like bizarre choices, but worked surprisingly well. While many people would think of Morrissey and his previous band The Smiths as rather soft, willowy music, Morrissey’s performance had a decidedly rocking vibe filled with energy. Although, at one point the 57 year old musician told the crowd after a raucous song ‘It’s not as easy as it looks!’

Morrissey is a well-known political and animal-rights activist and this was strikingly obvious in the second half of his performance. During one song, videos of police brutality played in the background as he sang about the cause, and another song, ‘Meat is Murder’ featured graphic images of slaughterhouses and animal factories, showcasing the violence and cruelty of the meat industry. Morrissey finished the aggressive songs with the lyrics ‘You’re too fat, you’re too macho, you’re too lazy to change.’ This intense politicism may have been shocking coming from a pop-star, but Morrissey’s reputation meant that this statement didn’t really seem out of place at one of his concerts. Even Australian politics weren’t safe from his jabs as Morrissey told the crowd he had seen roadkill on the way to the concert; three kangaroos, two wombats and Malcom Turnbull. ‘So there’s something good in every bad situation’ he joked.

Many musicians seem to put less and less effort into their performances as they gain popularity, or perhaps they tire with age. Morrissey on the other hand delivered a fantastic performance, showcasing his voice that was just as strong as at the height of The Smiths popularity.

Even after headlining the likes of Wembley and touring with David Bowie, Morrissey gave it his all to put on a stellar show in Wollongong.

Oct 29th 2016 | Daisy Loomes

KIWI’S STOKE THE RASTA FIRE

LIVE REVIEW: Katchafire + L.A.B Kora Brothers at UOW Unibar 12/10/16

Katchafire turned an ordinary Wednesday into a fantastic, upbeat night at the University of Wollongong UniBar on the 12th of October. The UniBar had a smaller stage set up near the bar rather than the main stage, as they often do for smaller acts. I’m a fan of this setup as it allows for a casual setting to enjoy music with couches behind the stage and a closer view of the performers. Supported by the L.A.B. Kora Brothers, Katchafire played to a crowd of fans and provided a pick-me-up for the middle of the week.

The L.A.B Kora Brothers were first up for the evening and set a real ‘smoky bar’ vibe in the small venue. Stuart Kora headlined the band with his smooth soul voice accompanied by the rest of the effortlessly watertight band. With a delicious mix of rock and reggae the Brothers warmed up the crowd with their stellar performance. They finished their set with an incredible cover of ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles, complete with their own touch of dirty riffs and husky vocals.

Katchafire took to the stage next and instantly filled it with their cheerful, friendly presence. Katchafire are a Kiwi band and having family from New Zealand myself, the laidback and friendly attitude of the band and their music was very accurate to the nature of the people of New Zealand and their culture. Also important to note, Katchafire are an all Maori band and proudly so! Despite having a fairly large band consisting of bongos, drum set, trumpet, saxophone, bass, several guitars and keyboards, they played together effortlessly, often switching singers and instruments. Katchafire had a few fans in the crowd as I spotted a few band t-shirts and plenty of people singing along. At one point they dedicated a song to everyone who had spent the day at school or work which was met to cheers from the crowd of course – it was a Wednesday at a university bar and everyone was there to kick back and relax. Katchafire provided the perfect soundtrack for this middle-of-the-week getaway with smooth reggae tracks. It was clear to see why they enjoy such widespread, international success. Not only did they put out good vibes, they were extremely talented musicians, showcasing three way harmonies and proficiency on a range of instruments. They put on a fantastic show and provided a cure for the Wednesday-blues.

Oct 20th 2016 | Daisy Loomes

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