Words and photography by Shelley Te Haara
After cancelling his last planned trip to NZ, Hoodie Allen finally got around to heading to New Zealand, with a one off show at Auckland’s Neck of the Woods. As I arrived at the venue, a small but excited crowd had already taken their place right up by the stage, and a makeshift barrier separated the fans from the stage. The crowd packed in and a projection with Hoodie Allen’s name lit the back wall behind the stage.
Dressed in a blue jumpsuit with a puppy on it and a red long sleeve underneath, local act Randa took the stage. After playing a couple of songs, they felt they had to explain the jumpsuit, as apparently people often seem to think they must work at a pet shop and as much as they says they’ve tried and they’d love to, they don’t. Randa had to pop back and forth to their laptop as they controlled the music for their set, and even though they may come off as a bit awkward, they perform confidently and easily own the stage. Their raps are clear and flow well, the crowd loving every second of it.
Randa thanked them all for coming out on a Tuesday night, and noted that “more people would be happier if this was a normal thing and they went out on a Tuesday”, clearly provoking the party animals in the crowd, as when Randa took a drink of their beer, a chant of “not just some of it, all of it!” started. This seemed to amp them up a bit before finally realising what the audience had said, at which point Randa explained that they’re a nerd and have no idea what that meant before letting the crowd know it’s not going to happen before launching into the next song. Randa put on an incredible set and they are definitely someone to keep an eye on, deserving more recognition than they currently have.
The 3-piece band (drums, guitar & bass) took the stage after a short break with Hoodie Allen himself following. He said hi to the crowd before getting right into the set. After the first couple of songs he checked in on the crowd on the side and asked if it sounded bad from where they were standing but soon carried on with the set. A women in the front row passed up her American flag to Hoodie and let him know he could have it. Taking it graciously, he tied it around himself and wore it like a cape.
If you pay any attention to Hoodie’s social media, you’d known that he will occasionally take photos with fans while performing or just take their phones briefly, and with this in mind, the girls at the side shouted and shoved their phones at him. He eventually acknowledged their requests, taking one of the girls’ phones and recording a short video for them before continuing on with the show.
Hoodie Allen was on point with his vocals and stage presence. As most artists do when they come here they mention Australia, although this time, this conversation resulted in guitarist Alex Howard doing a “shoey” from a girl’s boot, following which Hoodie explained that he is more American and draped the flag over his microphone as if to make a point. He then addressed on the fact he was meant to come here a while ago and asked the crowd who traveled for this show, to which a few indicated that they had, with some fans holding tickets from the cancelled shows way back in 2016.
The best crowd interaction of the night would have to go to the women in the front row who rapped a verse of Cake Boy with Hoodie, clearly surprising him with how well she did it. Hoodie continued to finish it and turned around only to quickly turn back and launch cake at the crowd. Part of me thought it was awesome and part of me thought it was a waste of cake.
As the set came to an end, Hoodie took it upon himself to explain the encore. Due to the way the venue was set up they couldn’t leave the stage and return discreetly so he told them that they would just have to go hard and they did, being treated to performances of No Faith in Brooklyn and No interruption as a reward.
Hoodie put on a great show and even if you didn’t know his music, you would have enjoyed it. The intimate crowd won’t forget it I’m sure, and it was definitely worth the wait.