A hardcore finale for Music Month

Music Plus
with Winston Watusi watusi@thesun.co.nz

Okay. Into the final straight of New Zealand Music Month.

Being a month with five weekends I have two columns left: just as well as things are happening apace.

I’ve received two more albums from the Bay, the latest offering from Irish band The Whittakers, and a sophomore album by singer-songwriter Ben Lloyd. More next week ...

This week I want to look at a couple of gigs at the Mount on the very final day of NZMM, both promising to be a deluge of alternative music.

Very different scene

Glancing rearwards for a moment, the Tauranga music scene is very different now than it was 20 years ago when I started writing this column.

Talismer. Photo: Synzphoto.

Back then it was pretty much all one large – well, small actually – interconnected scene.

Young rock musicians rubbed shoulders with veteran jazz players; at jam sessions musicians of every stripe would attend, and usually find common ground.

It’s not like that now.

These days there are different genre scenes that rarely interact with each other.

And the jam nights and open mic nights seem to have different ecosystems depending on which your local is; be it Jack Dustys or The Rising Tide or Mount Mellick or The Matua.

In terms of what’s thriving, the blues scene continues to flourish, and the jazz scene seems to be picking up, with regular spots at The Barrel Room, The Mount Social Club and now Jais Aben on The Strand with jazz piano from John Key.

The folk and country scenes also tick along in slightly insular fashion.

Few people appear to cross over from scene to scene, though I did see indie-pop singer-songwriter Frances Ellen singing Bye Bye Blackbird on International Jazz Day with the Jazz Society cats.


The one music scene that’s definitely flourishing, and I have several theories as to why, is what you could broadly call the ‘alternative’ scene, with that word ‘alternative’ doing a lot of heavy lifting since this ranges from weird instrumental duos to hardcore thrash metal bands.

Little really unites them, with styles that run from melodic experimental electronica to hardcore puck, except that word: ‘alternative’.

Two factors in this success?

Firstly an enthusiastic, smart, long-term promoter.

I’m talking here about Austin Cunningham, the man behind Tauranga Music Sux who now goes under the name Your Enabler Presents, organiser of the annual Loserpalooza festivals and 1000 other gigs.

Secondly, no one seems in it for money.

There is a certain purity of motivation.

And it’s much easier to put on gigs if you don’t expect to be paid.

Threat.Meet.Protocol. Photo: Synzphoto.

Moving on, those gigs ... May 31 at the Mount from 7.30pm at Totara St is Dark Hearts 2, a veritable feast of Tauranga hardcore featuring Threat.Meet.Protocol (Austin’s band), Nuggiez, Stunt Clown, Rapairs, Hemordroid and Torana.

Meanwhile, just down the road at The Voodoo Lounge, Talismer bring their blend of stoner and doom metal to life with the assistance of anthemic alt-rockers Dead Empire and hard rock trio Somacaine.

Not a bad way to farewell NZMM.

Hear Winston’s latest Playlist: