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Review: Bad Religion, Nofx, and Pour Habit, Auckland Town Hall, 04/10/09 by underground

New Zealand doesn’t get too many bands visit from overseas, let alone two heavy-weights at one single show. So when news broke earlier this year that Bad Religion and Nofx would play the Auckland Town Hall together, the punk scene was stoked.

Name any modern punk band and either Bad Religion or Nofx influenced their sound or gave them their break. Both bands born in the earlier 1980s, they have led the way for countless other bands, and are still going strong as Nofx surpasses 25 years and 30 years beckon for Bad Religion.

One of the hordes of bands who owe a lot to these pioneers is Pour Habit, a recent Fat Wreck Chords signing, who opened the Town Hall show. Hailing from Compton, CA, Pour Habit is really unlike most punk bands we see on our shores. Soundwise, the vocalist, an acrobatic African American, reminds me of early Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), and the band is heavy, with souring Strung Out-esque guitar solos and thunderous drumming.

Considering punk is usually about equality, acceptance and (sometimes) inclusiveness, it is a shame the scene isn’t more diverse. Hopefully Pour Habit will break more stereotypes and entice more non-whiteys away from rap and RnB and towards punk.

On to the main show, and the self-proclaimed “Sultans of Slander” took to the stage. Well known as a band who talk a lot between songs Nofx did not stray from convention, with more talk than Muammar al-Gaddafi at the United Nations before they’d even played a note, with Fat Mike quipping the instruments were “props”. Apart from a few exceptions the band played a very different setlist than previous visits, which would have pleased those who had seen them before, but likely disappointed new-comers to the band. Nonetheless the band played with enthusiasm and got nothing less from the packed crowd, with mayhem on the floor and the balconies.

With all the banter and a few rubbish songs performed, Nofx could have thrown in The Decline or a few other crowd pleasers, but with Nofx, fans should understand to expect no more than 70 or so percent.

Bad Religion took up their positions on the stage and got right into Los Angeles is Burning. They sounded flat and unenthusiastic. The single was followed by much debate and a hasty sound check. The crowd got restless but the work was worth it, as the sound was greatly improved as was the attitude of the band. Bad Religion came to please and so wanted the best sound possible. Many songs were made heavier, with the guitars producing the heaviest-sounding palm-muting imaginable, which gave the songs extra fury. Drummer Brooks Wackerman was a marvel, beyond describable. Surprisingly Bad Religion only played one track of their latest album New Maps of Hell (2007), instead playing several from Recipe for Hate, the Grey Race and many from the early 1980s.

Next year should see a new album from the world’s greatest band, and if we’re lucky, having found a shores for the first time in only 2007, Bad Religion will be back. If they do, don’t miss it for the world, as they are one hell of a fine live band.



On winners and losers by underground

Like the sadist I am, sometimes I like to watch Fox News, cheerleaders of religious conservatism, where the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity make the most ridiculous assertions. According to Hannity, Obama is a socialist because of the US’s increasing deficit, despite George W Bush’s efforts to plunge the surplus he inherited into the red. Yesterday, I enjoyed Hannity slating the network’s opposition for their criticism of the Fox-endorsed anti-Obama “tea party” protests. While I believe it is part of the media role to often advocate a cause, organising anti-government protests is hardly fair and unbiased. And who are the people protesting? They are not the millions who took to the streets objecting to Bush’s illegal war and the erosion of civil liberties. They are tens of thousands of people who voted for the guy that did not win a democratic election last year. They are the sorest of losers, who supported a failed president for eight years and have written off the guy who inherited his mess; a troubled economy and a fractured nation. They are Hannity and Co.’s rent-a-crowd.

In New Zealand, the Left have had to stomach a National Government for six months and, even more difficult, the realisation that John Key is not as bad as previously believed. Key’s empty rhetoric and lack of substance pre-election concerned many, but his inclusive, measured governance has caused a re-think from many. There are indications unpopular policy may be in the pipeline and their pre-Christmas rush and their 100-day inaction may have given opponents some amnunition, but for the time being it’s plain sailing for the Government. The losers of the last election will need to regroup and consider their moves for the future. Let’s not see the pathetic sore-loser response shown by the tea baggers across the Pacific.



Caveat emptor or something like that. by underground

I bought a TV the other day. I had no idea what I was looking at when I bought it, I just wanted the cheapest one with a screen large enough to be seen from the beanbag positioned one and a half metres away. I’m pleased with the one I got, despite the poor reception we have to put up with and will continue to put up with until I get up on the roof to wiggle the aerial or pay to get the satellite operating as more than a roof ornament.

Dubbed the “4x4s of the living room” plasma screens have just been banned in Britain. Turns out they are “energy guzzlers”, and hardly the acquisition of a responsible world citizen. And with global warming an accepted reality for everyone that can comprehend that pollution must obviously have an adverse effect on our environment, banning the sale of these living room equivalents to a coal-power station makes sense, doesn’t it?

Apparently not. Continue reading



Review: Elemeno P & Supergroove at the Coroglen 03/01/09 by underground
January 4, 2009, 9:57 am
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Initially I thought $55 to see two Kiwi bands at the Coroglen Tavern was really steep. Following Elemeno P’s set I was still feeling a little ripped off. An hour later I knew I had got my money’s worth.

When I was 10 I listened to whatever my dad listened to. Whilst I was listening to Cat Stevens and Meatloaf, the rest of the kids in my standard 4 class were listening to Supergroove. Eventually I caught up, hearing their hit songs on the radio, but by then they had broken up.

Recently reformed, Supergroove play their famous songs like it was the early nineties. Che Fu has an incredible voice which is accompanied well live by the large enthusiastic and talented band. The energy which flowed throughout their diverse set was topped of by a band member climbing onto the rafters during scorpio girl. It was bedlam.

Elemeno P were good, but I found them lacking. Sometimes I think this band doesn’t really know what genre they should be playing and they do none well. Apart from the well known radio songs, and including some of them, I found them a bit boring, until they lifted the tempo. Many of their slower songs do not come across well live and they didn’t have the energy I expected. When followed up by Supergroove this was really exposed.

With a mix of old and new, hits and solo Che Fu, the crowd were treated to everything Supergroove had to offer. The crowd was as diverse as the songs played, from those who had probably seen them the first time round to those who had only discovered them this millenium.

It might be Crowded House or the Exponents who you hear at the cricket or every waterfront bar in the country, but Supergroove is the quintessential Kiwi band. Missing them is a greater cost than any ticket price.



Kiwis beating the Aussies – Take that Murdoch! by underground

Deborah Coddington is not the only one to be impressed with this year’s TWN, AUT’s student newspaper. The Australian Journalism Education Association were equally impressed, awarding TWN the “Ossie” award for ‘best regular student publication 2008’ in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. And not did we win that, we also won a second category – the ‘Dr Charles Stuart Prize for Best Student Publication (Any Medium)’.

It would be interesting see what the standard of publication we were up against and compare how different journalism schools approach the challenge of producing a newspaper. The skills one learns from doing so are valuable in ‘real world’ journalism, as I am now finding out. I recommend all journalism students who are interested in getting into any aspect of print journalism to take any such paper on offer at your university/institute.

Good luck to the TWNers for next year, let’s see if you can make it two in a row! Continue reading



Don’t worry, the future of New Zealand journalism is in safe hands! by underground

I’ve just had an opinion piece by Deborah Coddington in the Herald on Sunday bought to my attention. Coddington commented on the performance of the media through the election, commending some for fine work, whilst slamming others for their waffling and incompetitance.

“And why, on election night, did Sainsbury have Noelle McCarthy wittering on breathlessly?

She came over like a pretty little teenager woken up by adoring dad to join the grown-ups’ party.

It was cruel to watch and McCarthy was completely out of her depth.

The Irish lass is dangerously muddled – does she want to be a celebrity or a journalist? Posing for gossip pages in designer frocks is not really the best way to be taken seriously.”

However, and this is where my and my fellow former student friends get to slap ourselves on the back, Coddington says the future of journalism is in safe hands.

“And are we in New Zealand well-served in the future?

Most definitely, if the publication put out by AUT journalism students, Te Waha Nui (Big Mouth), is any indication.

I picked up their pre-election special in late October and was impressed – good questions asked, short items clearly written, no sign of student smart-arse.

Let’s hope they’re our future Cliftons, Robinsons, Edwards, Clarks – political reporters who’ve become household names for their talents and skills, as opposed to celebrity scribblers who rise without trace because they can dress up and attend the opening of an oyster.”

Well done Te waha nui 2008! Now let’s try find some bloody jobs. Sorry Deborah, but it looks like we’ll end up in PR!



Sore losers or bad winners? by underground

Elections are always going to leave one section of voters elated and the other disappointed. The victors and their supporters will seek to quickly bring up the changes they’ve desired throughout the campaign. There will be some soul searching and some hard questions asked, but eventually those defeated and their supporters will move on and live to fight another day. There will be some venting, comments posted on message boards and blogs. There will be some sour grapes, but there will also be some insightful analysis and considered commentary. However many on the right slate those on the left as being sore losers for whatever comment they make on the election result on Nov 8. People have rightly said that National does not have the mandate to, along with Act, steer the country hard to the right. The election result was not a sign that New Zealand has shifted to the right, because National has gone to great lengths to adopt much of Labour’s policies and shift itself far further to the left then it was under Don Brash. National are going to find it difficult to govern this term, economic crisis aside, as the government formed comprises of many conflicting ideologies. National may have won the election my a large margin, but Labour did not lose because voters rejected the party, they merely support change. To point this out to people is not sour grapes or being a sore loser, it is merely stating fact. However rather than argue these assertions made often by those on left, many choose to brag “we won, you lost”, stoked that “Helengrad’s dykocracy” has ceased to be. Just like prior to the election many National supporters could not articulate why they supported the party apart from saying “it is time for change” and “Labour’s fucked up the country”, they can also not engage in debate or conversation following the election. Morons will only make eventual Labour victory all the more sweeter for supporters, but I encourage them to be more humble than their unintelligent counterparts.

Just as many on the left sometimes disown some of their comrades for ill thought out comments, well done those on the right capable of doing the same, and engaging in civilised discussion with opponents. Debate should not be silenced by personal attacks and slogans, although we can all be guilty at times.