Harden Up, Ow

It’s New Zealand Music Month. Because there’s a whole month to fill with events, a lot of unremarkable stuff is included – C4 plays a music video by a New Zealand artist, or a local band plays at the Kings Arms and, whoo-hoo, it’s a New Zealand music celebration!

Except that ordinary sort of stuff shouldn’t be singled out as being special. That stuff should just be (and indeed is) the everyday healthy state of the New Zealand music industry.

But amid all the hype, there have been a few decent events that make up for all the non-events.

One such rockstravaganza was Harden Up Ow, an evening of the best of Hamilton’s incestuous music scene (and that’s good incest, like when the fictional hot mom seduces her fictional hot son, not the real-life bad uncle incest). The idea behind the evening was that each of the bands would play three songs – one original and two covers of songs by other Hamilton bands.

Being a bit of a Hamilton exile, I wasn’t familiar with a few of the bands who played, but that didn’t matter so much when the band played a song I knew and could happily jump along with.

Me and my beatnik friends are through with being laid-back.
If I had something bigger than a pushbike I’d run you down.

The evening opened with Amy Racecar doing the permanently glorious “Caroline” (originally by Jahna, I think), and then Split Enz’s “Shark Attack”. It’s a bit of a tenuous connection linking Te Awamutu/Auckland with Hamilton, but it can sort of be done, but for such a shit song as “Shark Attack” it’s not worth it.

Date-Month-Year started playing a slow, waltzy song. The audience had a collective “Hmm… what’s this one?” think, but it wasn’t until the first verse started that it became apparent they were doing 48 May’s “Leather and Tattoos”. The tempo change magically transformed it from a happy joy-time vapid punk-pop song into a bittersweet story of a messed-up young lady. However, it went on a bit too long and Petra Jane was forced to blow her whistle and hold up the “HURRY UP OW” sign.

Frogletter did a wild medley with bits and pieces of songs from all over the city, including a snatch of “Leather and Tattoos” from you-know-who. It was fun, and, despite the temptation (or indeed the theme of the evening), it didn’t get all that wanky.

I hadn’t seen Rose Petals and Confetti plays before, but I am all for bands with a goth/punk/glam thing, especially when the lead singer introduces his microphone to his tight trousers. RPAC did the Shrugs’ “I don’t know what I’m doing” and ended with Knightshade’s (yes!) “Last night in the city”, that also managed to segue into “Sweet Child o’ Mine”. It took years to undo the damage Knightshade did to Hamilton’s musical reputation, but now no one cares and we can happily wave our lighters in the air.

Ten years in the jailer’s eye
And I’m thinkin’ ’bout my baby
Lookin’ at my life go by

St Lucy – at the heart of which is Mark Tupuhi, who organised the whole event – managed to find a connection between Hamilton and Dragon and used that as an excuse to play “Are you old enough”. There was a brief concern that the munters in Diggers’ front bar might get excited at what possibly sounded like a Kiwi covers band, but it seemed they stayed away, leaving the Harden Up crowd to sing along with every chorus.

Aether (and who cannot love a band who does the ae thing in their name?) did a thrashy, sped-up version of Wendyhouse’s “Suit Suit Kill Kill” (one of my favourite songs of all time; I wrote “Suit Suit Kill Kill” on my wardrobe door when I was 18.)

Then along came the Shrugs and they were excellent, as always. They finished their trio with Mobile Stud Unit’s “Stu’s Piecart”. Geoff Shrugs couldn’t quite remember the spoken bit in the middle, but the crowd enthusiastically filled in all his something-somethings.

Next were the Clerics and I all I can remember is a) they did “Rose Petals and Confetti” and b) they finished with a cool shouty song that included Mark Tupuhi on guest shouty vocals.

Cosmic Ska Child did another Shrugs songs, “I wanna feel myself”, reggaeing it into one of those “Be yourself! Stand up for what you believe in!” songs that potheads like. They also covered “Suit suit kill kill,” this time slowing it down and playing with the rhythm.

Shroedingers Cat played some songs, but I don’t seem to remember that. What was I doing? Perhaps queuing for a beer. I remember I tried to buy a bottle but the dude sold me a handle. I’m ok with that, though.

Finally Disjecta Membra played. DM has been around for ages, in various incarnations. Tonight it was The Goth Guy with an earlier form of Trucker. Their set was stellar, the highlight being a Blackjack song – I don’t know its name, but it was of the “Watch out, devilwoman!” variety and sounded terrific with the gothy vocals and Stan Jagger’s shredtastic guitar.

I like Metallica
I like Metallica
I like Metallica
I don’t know what I’m doing

The evening’s emcee called it the first-annual circle jerk, which immediately got everyone excited as they eagerly anticipated the 2006 one.

Plans are already afoot to get some Prime Devastation songs covered in 2006, or possibly even an appearance from Devastating Prime: The Prime Devastation Experience.

Petra’s magical camera has hot rock pics a go-go.

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