The organisers of The Others Way Festival have found a way to perfectly celebrate the best of both the past and present of New Zealand music. This year’s event had 40-somethings buzzing thanks to sets by such nineties Kiwi stalwarts as The Headless Chickens, Superette and Bailterspace. Meanwhile there were plenty of exciting new acts to prove that the NZ music scene is thriving still.
The added appeal to The Others Way Fest is that it takes place in venues on and around K Road, emphasising a community vibe that most of us who frequent places such as Whammy and Galatos are already subconsciously aware of. Last night the streets were teeming with musicians and music fans… in fact I found just walking along K Road to be almost as entertaining as watching the bands.
For myself, I began at The Studio to catch The Beths, who are fresh from releasing their debut album and garnering all sorts of international acclaim. And they deserve it. I think the last time I saw them was at the Golden Dawn earlier this year and it seems that they have become much more confident on stage in the interim.
From there I had the good sense to venture in The Vault… a suspicious-looking building on Cross St to catch Dead Little Penny. This was the louder, more distorted version of Hayley Smith’s music. Hayley was playing electric guitar while her two bandmates formed the rhythm section. Together they made a gloriously noisy sound that reminded me of the NY no-wave band Suicide… only more melodic. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dead Little Penny and I was very pleasantly surprised.
... loud, weird and barely contained
From there I had a beer and a chocolate donut before catching a few minutes of 70s funk band Collision. The venue, Samoa House, was packed with folks dancing, but their brand of r&b left me cold and I left fairly quickly.
It was then back to The Studio to take in what was left of Wax Chattels’ set. It was exactly what I expected… loud, weird and barely contained. They did not let me down.
Of course the most hotly-anticipated show of the evening had to be the reunion of The Headless Chickens. This is the first time that band has played together since the death of founding bassist Grant Fell, and the resulting lineup featured pretty much all of the surviving past players including Chris Matthews (guitar & vocals), Michael Lawry (keyboards & guitar), Bevan Sweeney (drums), Anthony Nevison (bass), Rupert E. Taylor (vocals & tambourine) and Fiona McDonald (vocals).
I’m not going to throw any ashes on you tonight!
With the band’s debut album, Stunt Clown, seeing its 30th Anniversary, the set list relied heavily on that album, which, upon reflection, turned out for the best. Despite the fact that Taylor and McDonald had never performed together (they were in the band at different times), this 3-headed lineup sounded cool, like a post-punk version of Jefferson Airplane, with the way the three vocalists voices mixed.
Rupert took centre stage to sing Fish Song in tribute to Grant Fell, with Chris assuring the crowd, “I’m not going to throw any ashes on you tonight!”
What they did do is rock hard and convincingly with the 50-minute set wrapping with a fierce performance by McDonald during George. “No time for encores, this is it”, claimed Fiona, as the band launched into one last tune, the soaring Expecting To Fly. It was over before we knew it, but boy, was it good.
After cooling down, I hung around to hear a bit of Bailterspace before calling it a night. Sure enough, they were really, really loud. I took refuge upstairs at The Studio, enjoyed the vibe and then made my way home.
Again, being back on the street made it clear that this Others Way Festival was something special…everyone I walked past seemed to be smiling.
The fourth edition of the Others Way Festival took place last night, the only festival of its kind in the country. In what is a celebration of New Zealand music with a handful of Aussie artists thrown in, the festival books out most of the venues along Auckland’s inner-city musical heartland of Karangahape Road and sees artists young and old come together for a night of good music and good vibes.
This year’s event kicked off for me at the 95bFM pre-show at the Station on Beresford Street. Here I got a little taste of what was to come and allowed me to tick off some acts before the main event. A whopping fifty acts were on the bill this year, the most ever at the Others Way meaning picking who to see was going to be a mission. Thankfully, the good folks at bFM came to the rescue and hosted charismatic rap duo Church & AP, electro-pop singer French Concession, and the very talented rapper/singer Tei.
After a quick bite to eat it was time for the main event and for me this meant starting with the band of the moment The Beths. Fresh from the announcement of their Silver Scrolls nomination, the quartet played a typically indie guitar pop-infested set to a packed Studio of fans who sung-along to every word and seemed genuinely pleased to see the group. The set drew mostly from their new album Future Me Hates Me, although there were a couple of older songs thrown in to keep the hardcore fans happy.
After an enjoyable start, it was then down the road to the Whammy Bar/Wine Cellar to see what was brewing. After pocking my nose through the door at Australian singer/songwriter Guy Blackman who was featured playing piano while being backed by Lawrence Arabia on bass, I then stumbled across the exciting Bene. Backed by a full band, her quirky slacker indie pop was very appealing to this first-time listener and clearly also to finance minister Grant Robertson who was spotted at the stage door having a listen.
Collision had the packed audience up and dancing and practically transported everyone back to 1978 with a set which was one of the evening highlights.
Then it was back up the road, this time to Samoa House to catch one of the reunion acts of the evening, 70s funk band Collision. This was to be a special occasion for the band and their fans as this was the first time they had performed in public in forty years and boy oh boy did they deliver. Combining tinges of reggae and soul with classic funk, Collision had the packed audience up and dancing and practically transported everyone back to 1978 with a set which was one of the evening highlights.
From one reunion act to another, the Studio was once again overflowing, this time for the Headless Chickens in what for many would have been the most anticipated act of the evening. Of the few songs I did catch they sure reminded everyone of their experimental nature not just musically but visually with the band playing in front of film footage of their past.
He [IllBaz] is one of the best DJs in the country hyping the crowd up and scratching up a storm throughout the set.
It was then time for the hip-hop part of the evening with the double whammy of High Beams and Eno x Dirty. High Beams firstly played to a relatively small but very enthusiastic crowd at Samoa House. MC’s Melodownz and Raiza Biza’s interaction with the audience was great with banter a-plenty, while IllBaz proved why he is one of the best DJs in the country hyping the crowd up and scratching up a storm throughout the set.
I then followed most of the High Beams audience to Neck of the Woods to capture local favourites Eno x Dirty. Having released two new tracks earlier in the day, the Grey Lynn duo were in fine form and oozed confidence as they laid it down to a loud and energetic crowd. Having seen these guys on several occasions already, they never fail to disappoint and it would not surprise me at all if festival’s such as Laneway came knocking shortly.
The night then ended for me with Wellington band Hans Pucket at Whammy Bar. Having released one of the most infectious indie guitar pop albums of the year, the trio was met with a hero’s welcome of sorts and in response played the house down with one of the sets of the night, a set that concluded with fan favourite Fuck My Life backed by a full horn section that included Yoko Zuna’s JY Lee and Beths members Ben Sinclair and Elizabeth Stokes.
All up, this for me was the best Others Way I have attended. It was well organised with extra stages, more artists, and greater variety across styles and eras. There were no real glitches and the vibe amongst festival goers was excellent making for a real celebration of New Zealand music.
At the end of the evening I could do nothing but simply beam with pride at being a supporter and fan of New Zealand music knowing just how great the talent is here, talent at times that is as good if not better than anything else going around the world.
Headless Chickens set list:
- Totalling Dad’s Car
- Monkey Jar
- Fish Song
- Mr Moon
- Do The Headless Chicken
- Expecting To Fly