Rock vs. Punk, Student Union Building, Thursday 24th Feb
I was facing a night of rock versus punk and although I know where my loyalties lie in this face off, it was pretty obvious looking around the crowd that I was in the minority. There was an abundance of trucker caps, polo shirts and tennis sweatbands filling the Union Hall on this occasion.
I arrived too late to see Not Quite Right, so they get left out I’m afraid. I had come along with Gramsci as my main motivation, and in that respect I was not disappointed. Gramsci’s performance truly was a tour de force; Paul McLaney’s vocals moved from beautiful and sublime to an angry guttural roar, and guitarist David Holmes, with his seventeen pedals, did exactly as McLaney promised in Salient’s Orientation interview with him, and played the guitar like no one else in New Zealand. Gramsci’s sound has definitely moved towards rock in a big way. The combination of McLaney’s sometimes heartbreaking vocals and this edgy, raw rock sound is nothing short of fantastic! They played songs from their upcoming album including tracks “Fall to Earth”, “Recovery” and “Each and Every Day”, and from the comments I heard later, from those of us there that have strong rock allegiances, Gramsci’s upcoming album will be on the ‘to buy’ list.
Gramsci was followed by Autozamm, who made up the second part of the rock tag-team. When these guys took to the stage, however, I began to doubt my affiliations. I have never been, and will never, be a fan of Autozamm; they personify every rock cliché in the book, and couldn’t love themselves any more if they tried. In saying that they succeeded in getting the crowd going, which has to count for something. Their onstage energy is impressive, and if you like banal, been-done-so-many-times-before rock, they definitely fill that space well.
But rock was not what these punters had come for. They wanted Sommerset, and their eager little ears had waited long enough. For what its worth they do what they do extremely well, it’s just not my cup of tea. Instead of spewing out my own biases, I thought it more fitting to tell you how much the audience loved it, because they really did. There were punk circles (I had never seen one before and had to have the phenomena explained to me by my more knowledgeable younger sister), crowd surfers, and manic boys being lasered by security guards and taken from the crowd. The audience were having a fantastic, let’s-intentionally-slam-into-each-other-because-we-love-this-so-much, time.
While I will always fall on the rock side of the fence, it was pretty obvious that, in terms of crowd reaction, punk was the winner on the night.