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Katchafire and Rainbow Country

Jonathan Huntington



Katchafire and Rainbow Country, Tuesday 22nd February, Union Hall
It was a calm summer night, and a strange smell was coming from the graveyard. My sharp journalistic mind told me it must be reggae night at Orientation. This year featured a weakened local line-up following the break-up of Trinity Roots, and Fat Freddie’s Drop’s overseas wanderings. Family values rockers Katchafire were the headliners, pedalling their brand of reggae/pop, which is, unfortunately, increasingly being described as ‘Aotearoa roots’.
The semi-substantial crowd was a mix of wide-eyed first years marvelling at the plethora of dreads and wondering “what that interesting smell could be?” and the usual reggae night suspects, out in force, which ensured the good vibe and high times we have come to expect and enjoy at reggae night.
Local band Rainbow Country made a strong impression on me, a second time listener, and held my attention remarkably well. Like many up and coming bands they struggled at times to maintain focus and present a unified collective voice, but this is something that will only improve. The singing was to some degree shared between Perry Osborne(vocals) and Caluia Ormsby(vocals, guitar) which created an interesting and unique dynamic. And OK, I am biased but Tuma Tokona on drums stole the show for me, proving that any band worth a salt is held together by a top-class drummer. Although it’s unfair to compare Rainbow Country to Trinity Roots, life’s a bitch, and I’m going to do it anyway. Rainbow Country are positioned well to take up the mantle from Trinity Roots and prove that Wellington is money, baby when it comes to live music.
To put it bluntly, I don’t have much time for Katchafire but luckily I got too drunk to care during their set. They are a tight band, and do what they do well. While not suckling on the nipple of NZonAir, they produce some good pop songs and present a fun and entertaining live show. But the hype surrounding Katchafire is lost on me. Katchafire have a long road to travel before emulating the class of contemporaries Fat Freddie’s Drop or Trinity Roots.
All in all it was a good night, albeit missing the big acts of previous years. The strong showing by Rainbow Country bodes well for the future. And as always, there was a good vibe present which is the reason reggae night in O week is guaranteed to always be a good way to spend a Tuesday night.