Thursday, 8 September 2016
The Beths and Kip McGrath - Live at Cassette Nine
God the night of the gig must have been one of the coldest of the year, seriously it was freezing.
Despite the frigid temperature plenty of music enthusiasts turned up for Sal Valentines new club
night at Cassette nine were he jokingly quipped on stage about how it was funny he booked his own band for the first night. To be fair though The Beths is somewhat of a side project for Sal who sings in Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes but drums in The Beths (which I had no idea was the case until i went to the gig last night). I firmly hold it's always cool to try and promote your side project as much as possible, I mean if your gonna have a fling enjoy it am i right Sal? lol.
Photos from the reviewed gig viewable at Under the radar:
Usually good music wouldn't be enough to entice me out into the cold on a freezing Spring night but I had made plans to see my lady friend and so I was looking forward to the gig a lot polar blasts withstanding. Unfortunately I missed the bus on the way to Cassette, as the first bus driver was stuck on auto-pilot and couldn't see my in the dark. So I walked down the road nearer to St Lukes were there was more light and managed to flag down the next bus like a man possessed waving about. Being an Auckland Public transport veteran I take it as a personally challenge to see from how far away I can flag down a bus from, a hundred meters two hundred meters, ok that's bullshit but when the driver sees you and starts indicating it feels good to relax and pretend to be cool knowing your going to get from a to b.
After getting off the bus and thanking the kind Polynesian female bus driver i skipped over the lights and bumped into my friend Rufus and his girlfriend Jenco. Apparently the had just been swimming at the tepid pools somewhere, at the news of such delights on this ice age like night my body was overcome with a jealous flash of emotion, they just looked so much warmer than me lol. After wrangling my emotions Rufus mentioned how he had a rap record sitting on his hardrive that he had recorded in Vietnam which he had only left last month to return home to NZ. I told them I had some studio monitors and a bunch of enthusiasm about the project so he rumbled round in his wallet and produced a very novel business card, which had a funny play on words on it instead of the 'fuck the world' acronym he had flipped into 'Pup the World' with a little dog on the world with all his social media and email address starting with PTW we had a good laugh about it then I said had to run to the show as I was running late. I snuck in a cheeky high five and ran across the street cutting my way through the cold.
Checking into the venue I bounced past the bouncer and scanned the room while mentally clocking the outrageous disco ball dangling from the ceiling. I couldn't see my friends anywhere who I had actually meet at Face club the week before and hit it off with. I knew they were there somewhere though so flopped over to the bar. I ordered a lemon, lime and bitters from a very friendly and sincere bartender. Then just as my drink was being stirred I saw my friend wearing a coloured blue and black tartan shirt with her mate with blue dyed hair and plonked my weary bones on the chair beside them while simultaneously offering a genuine heart rendered apology for being late. I detest lateness. A quick scan of the drums and amps on stage thankfully signalled I hadn't missed the first act Kip McGrath. Which allowed me to rest back in my chair a little easier, i took my coat off in preparation for a thoroughly enjoyable night. My friend uttered she had high hopes for the show and later after the show she would mention how she hadn't been disappointed.
Kip McGrath a young ensemble of talented musicians were the first to preform. Their music reminded me of Mac Demarco with maybe a more ruthless Kiwi edge, less chorus more grit. The band lurched and rolled like a well oiled rocknroll machine. My new friend Rachel mentioned how
she enjoyed the arrangements of the songs and how the lead guitarist who I am pretty sure is Kip himself was doing a stellar job, he also even jammed some dirty funked up synth in one song which kicked ass! Also as a classically trained grade 8 musician I tend to take what Rachel says with some air of authority, she nodded her head and clapped with appreciation at Kips bands her favourite of the night. Rachel also mentioned how she played the french horn, which she told me sells for like 10K wow!! so she didn't actually have one ;(
The flow and feel of the drummer of Kip's groups with his snare flourishes plus the way he leaned into and accented the high hats in a haphazardly human way was great, something a drum machine can really struggle to replicate do in my opinion. As a whole I thought the McGrathies sounded more jubilant and daring than on their records all though fun and imaginative their records so far didn't quite do sound justice to how tight and well orchestrated their live performance is. However, I don't think this is uncommon phenomena as band members tend to change and musicians get better and evolving from past works that tend to represent a band in their adolescent period. My favourite track from the Kip was the groovy disco funk number towards the end of the set that the crowd loved.
Carb on Carb in the crowd looked to also be really enjoying the show i didn't get to say hello to them
physically but mentally i did haha
Next up were the headliners The Beths a casually dressed rocky quartet oozing swag. I'm pretty sure every member of the band is classical trained something I really admire in musicians.
Earlier in the night all the members had been waltzing around the room lookin chilled literally and very relaxed with no signs of worry about any rabid Beth's super fans in the crowd jumping out at them haha. It's always nice to see a band in good spirits before a show I think it can really tell how the gig is going to go.
I also spied the bass player of Miss June gearing up for the Beths set, it looked like he was flying solo looking to drink in the next onslaught of rock music, I thought about saying hi and mentioning how much I enjoyed June's set at Fuzzy Islands a while back but was feeling shy and hanging with friends.
I really admire anyone who goes to a gig by themselves it shows moxy and a strong sense of character.
Suddenly the Beths jumped on stage and started some pre-gig banter on stage with a comical 'fucking fuck' ringing out across the room uttered from the mischievous lips of drummer Sal Valentine.
On stage right, guitarist Johnthan Pearce a local mixing/production whizz-kid and a personal inspiration was tonifying his weapon of a choice a slashesque Lez Paul. I actually had to do a double take on the guitar he was practising scales on as even though I had seen him rocking it in the Beths music vids it triggered off a flashback of when I saw Guns and Roses play at Vector Arena, hey Johnathan that guitar needs a trigger warning sticker on it haha. Then in the latent memory banks of my brain meat I remembered the god of everything good in the world Neil Young plays a black Lez and I recovered from my mental discombobulation. On a side note one of things I like best about The Beths music are their backing vocals that remind me of the crazy horse maestros compositions. My view of the bass player was blocked but after a few kicks, doubles and flams paradiddle diddles on his practice pad Sal and his friends all fell into soupy mess of kiwi garage propelled rock music.
The first couple of songs from the headliners were polished renditions of tracks off their debut E.P Warm Blood you can buy here:
I think Liz the lead singer said the first song was a pseudo soundcheck but you never would've even guessed that. Bob Frisbee manning the mixing desk was as always killing it, I heard some guys moan about the sound behind me when you were right up close but I couldn't hear a damn thing wrong but I did have my earplugs in. The only thing I could that was wrong was their pretentious moaning dont talk of the music please!! I was sitting at closest table to the front of stage and it sounded perfect, just shows how you can't please everyone peeps. I also think people don't have much of an idea how to mix live sound just mutter about small problems. I mean if you get up real close in a small club your probably gonna get a lot of sound from the actually amps which is something an engineer has really no control over if they are being slammed full boar like The Beths did winning. In polar opposition to the dis-gruntled and rather annoying spectator I thought the vocals drums and guitars were beautifully insync with the bass pulsating like a beautiful well measured earthquake. Sal's starchy Ludwig acrolite snare sounded beautiful matched with his virtuoistic drum feel, it almost seems unfair how much talent one person can have, then you remember it almost always comes down to hard-work haha. As Kevin Hart said on his hilarious DVD "everyone wants to be famous, no one wants to put the work in"!! To me Sals rolls reflecting this quotes power as his prowess behind the the kit during the Beths songs really stood out to me due to his endearing sense of time, the way smashed his cymbals with fury and such wild abandon and the different beats and flashes across the toms. It may be an over statement but it's probably worth seeing the Beths play just to witness Sal thrashing a kit in all the right ways! especially if your a drummer.
Moving on to the guitars both Liz and Johnathan worked really well together both guitars harmonizng and singing together well. What of my favourite moments of the gig was when Liz played the first lead line on her guitar that sounded so musically like a trumpet which I am pretty sure is an instrument she also plays. Her singing was also clear and beautiful with unorthodox note choices in the vocal melody throwing the listener of when the song would return to the root note. Certain high and low notes really created a sense of random joy to the music that more predictable vocal lines and note choice would have lacked.
The wall of guitars driven forth by Johnathan were also sublime in the fact that you could tell how much detail he had put into his choice of tone and his pedal board. His lead guitar playing also reminded me of Dire Straits as did the whole bands sound. As a group the hit song "Whatever" was flawless and kept you in the groove and running through the highs and the lows of the dynamics but the new stuff was in a different league. As a group the Beth's are starting to hit their stride and I believe their new album that they have been recording is going to rock our socks off :) :)
The real bonus of seeing The Beth's play on such a horrible night was to get a glimpse at the new and unreleased material that is going to make its way onto their latest record. But as a memento after the show I scored a physical copy of the E.P as a keepsake and also out of practical necessity as i love listening to compact discs. I also bought my friend a band t-shirt as I thought it would look good on her. Apparently she plays the clarinet.
Photos from the reviewed gig viewable at Under the radar: