Over the last year or so I have had some of my favourite nights at Valhalla – they consistently put on great, well-priced line-ups, and tonight was no exception. Four bands, each of whom had their own distinct sound and style even though they all had heavy punk influences. Overall it created a fun, energetic night filled with catchy songs containing clever lyrics.
First up was Drunken Gunship, a 2-piece band with a folk-punk sound. Made up of Matt Preston on guitar and an energetic Nick Hendricks on saxophone they have a range of catchy songs that never cross into being too folky, including those played with a harmonica. I really enjoyed the way several of their songs transitioned from quiet to angry (and back again), which, in combination with some good vocal harmonies, hinted at a subtle Pogues influence. As always, it is hard to be the first band in a show, and although the crowd was a reasonable size, it was very static. Nick more than made up for this by the end of the set and their final song about Christmas was a highlight of the evening.
Next up was Sicari, a 3-piece alternative/punk band from Wellington with a sound that is perhaps best described as the Sex Pistols with a heavy Nirvana influence. Valium was an absolute stand out of a song with it’s catchy, thumping, beat. It looked like they are not all completely comfortable on stage yet; Jack Flude was fairly focused on his guitar the entire set and Jesse Dekel (guitar/vocals) was also a bit static for most of the set, fortunately Sam Curtis (drums) appeared relaxed and was completely immersed in playing so that gives me hope that with a few more shows under their belts they will put on one hell of a show.
Gold Medal Famous is the kind of band you need to see at least once in your lifetime – they create a show that is as much art as it is music. After making their entrance they kick off with a piece of psychedelic electropop that just builds and builds which (finally) gets the crowd moving. Their set contains some great songs – all weird, yet epic, mixes of rock, funk, and electropop (excellent use is made of the theremin) combined with clever lyrics about hating things like cell phones, baby boomers, mortgages and office work. It all felt strangely apt for a band that looked like they sat on the gen x/y boundary and was performed with consistently high levels of energy. Wrapping up the show with a satirical cover of Like a Virgin combined with a little bit of cabaret takes the set full circle, whilst still leaving the audience wanting more – genius.
Last up was MISHAP, a young 3-piece pop punk band with a lot of energy. Given this band has been together for less than a year you can’t help but think that they are going to go a long way. Not only do they have an infectious sound, they also know how to perform live. They look completely natural on stage, are perfectly in time with each other, and engage well with the crowd. As the set developed I began to notice that their songs are actually quite nuanced – there are several layers to many of them; from some clever yet fun lyrics to some excellent vocal harmonies and clear progression from the poppy Scrumpy Song to their newer, slightly heavier, material. Go and see their show soon – I suspect it won’t be long before they outgrow the smaller venues.