Shrugs, not drugs

I tried making Thai chicken green curry (or something involving the words curry, green, chicken and Thai), but it didn’t quite work out. At least it wasn’t like the one that the Thai place in Mercury Plaza does. There was something in the curry paste that made me cough. Dammit, all I was trying to do was cook some delicious ethnic food, and instead I created a health risk.

I didn’t manage to scam a ticket to the bNet awards, but, like, I don’t care. I don’t know who was awarded what, but probably all the Auckland bands won, except in the downbeat category, and then a Wellington band will have won that.

Instead I went to Edens Bar and saw Assassin, The Shrugs and the Hollow Grinders.

Edens Bar is downstairs from the Vegas strip club. This maybe would give it some kind of sleazy rock cred, except for the fact that it’s been kitted out as a Korean karaoke bar, which is very un-rock. Ok, maybe a little rock. Oh, there was one of those energy saver light bulbs in the ladies toilets. It was saving so much energy that it didn’t actually emit enough light to light up the toilet cubicles. Ever tried to pee in the dark? It’s tricky.

Assassin are one of those rock ‘n’ roll bands that the kids and/or the music press are so into at the moment. They started off with a rip-roaring tune that got a few people jiggling, but their set soon devolved into a long sonic masturbation session that didn’t even have the courtesy of giving the audience a reach-around (that metaphor doesn’t work, I know, shut up, I like it).

This was the first time I’d seen the new Shrugs line up. The angry young man rhythm section had been replaced by a kinder, gentler couple. They can still rock out when necessary, but there’s also a kind of sensuality and tenderness that the olde Shrugs didn’t have. “Mustang song” was great. Oh, and Geoff Shrugs gave me a copy of the Shrugs new CD “The Doggler Effect”. It’s pretty much a collection of all the singles they’ve released over the past few years. It has all my favourites, so I’m happy.

The Grinders ruled. They did a solid, very fun set. There was one song in particular that was as great as “Mustang Song”. I can’t remember what it was called, but for posterity I shall note that it was about four or five songs into the set and Otis played lead guitar on it. Later on I found myself thinking impure groupie-style thoughts. That’s what rock is all about, I think.


I drove past three car accidents today. The first was just past Ngaruawahia, where a car had driven into a ditch. A tow truck was trying to get in a safe position to be able to tow it out.

Then later on I came down the big hills on the way to Raglan, and there were two cars who had appeared to have hit each other almost head-on. One was totally smashed up in the front, the other was smashed at the front on the right side. There are lots of windy roads on the way to Raglan. People who are used to the smoothness of motorway driving don’t get that you really have to slow down when you go around a tight corner. So I’m guessing that someone took a corner too fast, cut across into the other lane and hit a car coming in the opposite direction. That accident was so recent that no emergency vehicles had arrived yet. The ambulance passed me further long the road.

Then a few hours after that I hooned out to Manu Bay and back. On that road there’s a chicaney corner that’s really hard to drive around. Not only is it a tight hairpin turn, but it’s also up (or down) a hill. The recommended speed is 25 km/h. On the way up it I remember thinking that it’d really suck to get stuck in a ditch like the previous car had. Minutes later on the way back a car had taken that corner too fast and had driving into the inner edge of the bend and was stuck in the ditch. The passengers of the car appeared to be drunk teenagers. Maybe the driver was too.

I saw the Hollow Grinders and Nodrog play at Aqua Velvet. It was a cold night and hardly anyone showed up, but it was a fun show. The ‘Grinders’ set list was written in biro, and no one could actually read it, so they gave it to a guy in the audience and got him to yell out the song titles. Later in the show, Otis observed that there were only three people in the audience he didn’t personally know, so he introduced himself. Instead of having a door charge, they put a plastic fireman’s had in front of the stage and invited people to give a koha (that’s Maori for “gold coin donation”). I gave them 5 cents, but felt guilty and biffed in a $5 note later.

Earlier in the evening my parents were reminiscing about when you could drive from Hamilton to Auckland and back on $2 petrol. I think I spent about $32 getting my car filled up today. Oh yes, and the new bit of road from south of Meremere to north of Huntly is open now. Two smooth lanes in each direction, and it totally bypasses Ohinewai. Looking across at the old windy two lane road, it seems amazing that it was ever deemed worthy of being State Highway 1.


I was distracted. A shitty movie on TV and a chatroom discussion on the pronunciation of the “wh” sound in Maori made me a little late for the Hollow Grinders and All Torn Up gig. So late that I paid to get in, went to the bar, bought a beer and the Grinders finished their last song. But it was really cool running across Wainui Road towards Aqua Velvet with the beginning of that song playing. All Torn Up were fun. The audience seemed to be mostly locals. Oh, and the door stamp smudged purple ink onto my t-shirt.

After the show I was standing out on the footpath talking with Dirk Thrust and another fellow Dirk knew said that Raglan was a healing place. A friend of his had come out here and gone in the surf and cried. I think there may have been a spiritual church in the equation too. But Raglan doesn’t specifically heal me. If I drink the water I get sick.

Where are my seduction pants?


Last night I saw The Shrugs and the Hollow Grinders play at Aqua Velvet in Rag Land. The Shrugs were as rip-roaring as ever. The Grinders had a shitload of tension happening. It was a good night. Everyone loves the Shrugs (except for the guy who called out “boring!”) and they are destined for greatness.

Ok, that is all.

The Grinders in Raggiz

I drove to Raglan and saw The Hollow Grinders play at Aqua Velvet.

Pumice was the support act. I’m not sure if Pumice is always just Stefan Neville, but tonight it was. He played drums, a guitar, sometimes keyboards and various other stuff that made interesting noises.

I could see that there were a few people coming in and immediately thinking “what the fuck?”. Someone tried heckling him, but it didn’t work because he was really, really good. He played sitting behind the drum kit, and would intensely play, then look up at the end of each song and look happy that people were applauding. He did a really nice version of “Sunshine on Leith”.

But the exciting thing is Pumice is one of the bands playing support for the Breeders concert. I’m guessing he’ll be on before the Brunettes. It’s hard to guess what the audience reaction will be, but I suspect it might be like when the Shrugs opened for the Datsuns at the St James. I was talking to StfnNvll after the show and said I was planning on going to the Breeders show. He said he was a bit nervous because all he really knew of them was “Cannonball”. Ha!

Hey, the Hollow Grinders were great. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Hollow Grinders show as good as this one. The sound was good, and the atmosphere was as well. There were plenty of people dancing (not just the Hamilton fans). I think it might have worked because it makes sense for a band that plays surf instrumental to be playing near one of the best surf beaches in the world. There’s even a few songs about Raglan-related surf stuff.

I had a couple of beers, I danced along, I had a great time.