niina.amniisia » bits, pieces and photos from sydney, australia and elsewhere

auckland can wait (Saturday February 26th, 2005 - 15:17)

category: mmhuh?

Rising up the stairs at Spectrum on Thursday night I thought I heard the first band saying it was their first ever gig. Soft Tigers suffered from the shambles. There might have been some good songs and lyrics in there but the mix was all over the place, instruments randomly drowning everything else out, and the vocals rarely came through. One of the singers was lost in a world of his own, unsure of when songs were ending, quietly mouthing a few more words while the band had quietened down behind him. They had a sizeable crowd cheering them on and singing happy birthday to the drummer but from my point of view they lacked presence or coherence. But then I only saw a small part of the set..

The Null Set were better than the last time I saw them. Less of the guitar switcheroos, perhaps a bit more relaxed. Their drummer still outshines the rest but even though I’d been tempted to skip out on them on Thursday I’ve had a change of mind and if they’re on a bill again I won’t dismiss them.

Expatriate headlined and I felt like I’d blinked and fallen back to the 80s. Very good stage awareness and the sizeable crowd was loving it. The set began with just the drummer, and the singer mincing about, until the rest of the band joined them on stage, the bassist particularly fetching at somewhere well over 6 foot tall and a hat down over his eyes. Echoed vocals brought the Cure to mind, elements of Depeche Mode and there were even Bowie moments. Live they had a harder edge than the mp3s on the site suggest, but sold on it? I’m not sure. They’re definitely good, quality, entertaining, but I’m not certain it’s my taste to go out of the way for but I’ll see ’em again if they’re near by.

In other things.. a two week turn around on a site at work (plus a billion other projects in various states) and an early morning to launch it on Friday had me unconvinced to cope with a crowded Spectrum for the Spazzys. Instead a friendly muso soldered (is that a word?) the new outpack jack in to place so my bass is functional and I can start bothering the neighbours again.

This morning I bought my plane tickets and the plan is to hit Wellington, NZ on April 7 and exit on April 12. I bought a Rough Guide so next week I’ll form some plans, book some accommodation and decide whether to cross over to the tip of the South Island and maybe get to Christchurch for a few days or just stick to the North Island. Auckland can wait til next time I think.

2 comments to “auckland can wait”
Wiseblood said on February 26th, 2005 at 6:30 pm:

I think I have that same Rough Guide, the blue cover with Milford Sound on it. It’s cool that you’ll be in Wellington one week after we were there exactly one year ago. Hope you have a fun time when you’re there as well.

There was a cool bed and breakfast at the very top of the hill above the Embassy Theater, on the left-hand side of the street (if you’re facing up the hill). The travel guides we had gave it a decent rating. We tried to spend the night there but it was booked solid. It was right across from the trailhead at the treeline of the wooded park area at the peak of Mt. Victoria. You could step out the front door and right onto the path that leads up to the lookouts at the top of the mountain (or get lost in the woods if you choose). The walk into the city center was steep and long but the view from the top practically made up for that. We ended up staying in a less attractive motel-type joint down the street. Not bad but a little lacking in comfort for the price paid for a night.

At the bottom of the same street, right across the street from the Embassy, was an interesting little wine shop that was memorable to me because it appeared to be run by two blonde 40-something Kiwi gals who had the Velvet Underground blasting from the in-store stereo system as we were browsing the stock.

I know you probably won’t want to waste time sitting in a cinema for several hours but, if the urge strikes you, go to the Embassy Theater. It is possibly THE loveliest cinema I’ve ever been in. State-of-the-art everything but elegant as well. I recommend splurging a little extra cash on the leatherbound recliner seats on the upper level. Just be careful not to go at the end of a long day or you might find yourself dozing out on those unspeakably comfortable chairs. You should at least take a look through the lobby in passing. There should be plenty to do. Good luck finding Slowboat Records if you are in search of it. It was tough to find. Just turn left at the plaza with the crazy bucket fountain and keep walking and walking and walking. You’ll get there eventually ;-). Also be sure to stop at the tiny hole-the-wall Galaxy Records shop if you manage to make it to Christchurch. A limited stock of merchandise but they had some cool stuff in the bins and on the walls to warrant a look, plus they seemed pretty friendly.

Great memories, great places, great time. Take tons of pics and get back to me when you get back, please. Can’t wait to hear how it went for you.

niina said on February 28th, 2005 at 10:17 pm:

Thanks for the fantastic tips as always. I’m looking at just staying at the YHA which is near the Embassy.

Plans are still a little hazy but I’m thinking of spending a few days in Wellington and then hopping across to Picton in the south island and down to Christchurch and back to Wellington to fly out. I haven’t quite decided if I just want to put my feet up and relax or scoot about as far as I can. Time to decide soon so I can make my bookings..