- Ed Knowles impressive range
- Eclectic tracks
- Masterful musicianship
- I wish it could have gone longer
‘Racing’, comprised of former ‘The Checks’ band-mates Edward Knowles (vocals) and Sven Pettersen (guitar), as well as Izaak Houston (drums) and Daniel Barrett, are at the vanguard of New Zealand’s rock and roll revival movement.
Their searing live sets have seen them anointed as one of our best live acts, while the release of their critically acclaimed, self-titled, EP in 2015 earnt them instant rave reviews.
Considering all of this, I am a little embarrassed to admit that the band had completely flown under my radar (thanks Spotify…), and I had no idea what I’d be getting into upon entering the narrow steps of Auckland’s Whammy Bar.
Fortunately for the band, it seems that the rest of New Zealand was far more clued-up on how brilliant they were live, and the arrival of the Auckland-based ‘hypno-rockers’ was met with raucous cheers from the heaving, near-capacity Friday night crowd.
‘Racing’ are self-professed fans of honing their songs on the road, and this current tour has seen them tour the country in support of their new fantastic release, Misbehaving, throughout May. This relentless drive to tweak and improve provided the audience with a generous set of songs that were primed for live consumption, and a band who knew exactly how to deliver them.
Front man, Edward Knowles, once commented that “you can’t put a price on momentum and energy” and, rising out of the ashes of the break-up of ‘The Checks’, the band seems to have taken these words to heart.
While ‘Racing’ have many influences, they wear them subtly, crafting tracks which combine the best of hard rock and psychedelia, while still sounding wholly original – and undeniably awesome.
This lends itself to a sound which veers wildly and is hard to pin down. At times the band leans on pulsating hard rock and ferocious riffs, such as on All Night Long, a frenetically-paced and surging rock-anthem which is best described as the sort of track that Jet wishes that they could have written.
At other times Racing, employs the sorts of hypnotic and mesmerizing soundscapes which would not be out of place at a Tame Impala concert. This bold experimentation underpins crowd-favourites like, the awesome Stereo Fields.
Ed Knowles was at the top of his game on Friday night. He has undeniable and effortless on-stage charisma which he honed during his time fronting ‘The Checks’ and this helps him to bend the crowd to his every whim. The gig also served as an excellent showcase of his impressive vocal range, which saw him veer from a Josh Homme-like tuneful heaviness on Sex in Summer, to a hard rock howl that Robert Plant would be proud to call his own. However, the vocal highlight of the night had to be Ed’s delicious falsetto on stand-out track Misbehaving, a catchy-as-hell disco-ripper that serves as the bands new single.
Guitarist Sven Pettersen was sensational, ripping through blues riffs with confident ease and appealing sense of urgency, while bassist Daniel Barret, and drummer Izaak Houston, paired to form the pulsating heart of the band – imbuing each track with a captivating driving rhythm that had me hooked from the get-go.
I went into Friday night’s performance with little knowledge of what was going to unfold, but I left Whammy completely converted to the undeniable awesome of ‘Racing’ – all hail the future of Kiwi rock and roll.
You can next catch Racing on Friday the 27th of May at Darkroom in Christchurch.
Date / Venue: Friday May 20th, 2016 – Whammy Bar, Auckland