- Fun, energetic crowd
- Strong vocals across the board
- Some technical issues with sound quality
Aahhhh, the Darkroom. This iconic Christchurch bar was on form as usual last Friday night, with flickering candles and pinky-purple stage lights doing their best to illuminate the shadowy space. A pretty decent (and mixed) crowd had turned up for the EP release of Auckland band The Beths, ft. some awesome local support.
Fast becoming a household name in the Christchurch music scene, Moonpup (Sophie White on guitar and vocals, bassist Erica Mackie, Nick Glen on guitar and drummer Cameron Hoy) started off the night. First up was “Rain”. Punky, grungey, and layered with dreamy vocals that soon gave way to the raw sound Sophie is best known for, this laid the foundation for the rest of their set.
The song also featured something of a Moonpup trademark – slowing the tempo down for a few bars to finish (you can hear this in their studio tracks, but last night it was confined to the gig opener).
The second song of the set (“Wolf Girl”) saw the band’s energy pick up, with electrifying guitar riffs and a recurring motif punctuated by the moaning howls of their singer. After a bit of a chill intermission (“Feelings”), it was right back into it with “Heavy” and “Rot” – the latter of which featured angsty, soulful vocals and a killer guitar solo by Nick. The live performance of this was a bit more dynamic than the recorded version, which makes for a great chilled out listening session. Have a listen.
The first thing you notice about Wurld Series is their stage presence. In fact, it’s a pretty dominant part of their set. One of the guys filled the awkward gaps between songs with an “Anthony Kiedis Lyrics: True or False” quiz (the lyrics were all weird, and they were all true).
Anyway, onto the music. Their unreleased songs were a bit of a departure from their currently released tracks (which are of the psychedelic persuasion). “AH’s 56th Dream” featured some tight harmonies, and rap-style vocals from the guitarist (I didn’t pick up on any names, sadly). This was followed up by some banter about the meaning of their next song title, “Rip KF” – “Rest in Peace Kevin Federline” is a strong contender, apparently.
“Orkly Kid” was almost serene, with a sound like Pink Floyd circa 1971 (at least up until the chaotic ending), and the set ended on an oldie but goodie, “Serpent’s Egg”. The studio version is a bit more melancholic – on the night, the sound was raw, chaotic, and unbridled.
If you’re now thinking, “wow, I’d really like to hear a bit of lo-fi psychedelic grunge bedcore”, today is your lucky day! Here it is. The band will also be releasing another full length LP in the near future, so watch that space.
Having studiously listened to the EP the day before the gig, it was a bit dizzying to hear these songs performed just as impeccably live, while also seeing the band’s on-stage chemistry.
Elizabeth Stokes, on guitar and lead vocals, has an incredibly versatile voice. In some moments, it has a sweet ethereal quality, in others she’s belting it out with all the gutsiness of an iconic 80s rocker.
“Whatever” – which also happens to be the first song of the EP – is upbeat and playful, complete with oohing and aahing backup vocals. It’s got a real feel good vibe. Elizabeth also had a feel good demeanor, taking the time to thank the bands that opened for them and throw in a wee compliment about Christchurch musos.
The opening riff of “Warm Blood” is raw and a bit bluesy, and contrasts with her light and airy vocals. It picks up soon enough, the drumbeat and instrumentals become a bit more frantic, then it all peels back towards the end as the guitar picks up the melody.
Multi talented drummer/vocalist Ivan Luketina-Johnston wrote “Rush Hour 3”, which is rock’n’roll inspired fun with a lot of vocal input from the other members. In fact, they’re all pretty multi-talented. It’s unusual to see everyone in a band get behind the singing while also killing it on their respective instruments, but The Beths really nail it (the band also features Jonathan Pearce on guitar and vocals, and Benjamin Sinclair on bass and vocals).
The other two songs on the EP are also well worth listening to – give it a whirl.