Alas, it wasn't to be, and the Alpha Males weren't to be playing this evening. There was a show tentatively booked, but it fell through, and attempts to wrangle a second show at show notice were also unsuccessful. Which was a shame, because it may have also featured the international debut of the Nested Ifs, although, having never practised, I'm not sure if that would have been a good thing.
Incidentally, the reason the original show fell through was because it was booked for Valentines Day, and those organizing the show figured, albeit correctly, that most of our friends, who are generally coupled, would choose to have a romantic dinner somewhere and not come to our show. However, I think an opportunity was missed to get a whole bunch of single girls to come along and be charmed by our sonic prowess, because everyone knows that there's a certain type of girl to whom spending Valentines Day alone is the equivalent of hell on earth, and you know that if a girl does turn up to your show alone, that her boyfriend is either a) lazy or b) imaginary. We could have been the skinny, underfed, pasty indie rock equivalent of Manpower. or not - last time I stripped on stage it wasn't received well.
But instead, I found myself at Whammy Bar in St Kevin's Arcade watching Cassette et al. Admittedly, there's several things that Cassette have that Alpha Males don't - namely talent, good looks, good songs, fans, a hit EP and witty stage banter, so I'll have to concede that I wasn't too upset to be in the audience rather than on stage this evening. Tonight was my first trip to the Whammy Bar, when I was last in Auckland it was home to an exclusive dance club (which was actually kinda cool, for a dance club), which I know I've been to, but I must have been messed up last time I went there, as I remembered nothing about the interior). It's apparently affiliated with the excellent Wine Cellar, further down St Kevin's Arcade, where I spent an outstanding Tuesday evening at the Eavesdrop Listening Party (here's a concept someone needs to export to North America - you pay 4 dollars to the knowledgeable gentleman at the door, who hands you a pamphlet, which has reviews of 10-15 albums coming out in the recent past or the near future, and throughout the evening you listen to a selection of songs off those records, while lounging on couches and sipping outstanding wine, while being periodically given chances to win said records).
Anyway, the bar is a cosy little underground nook, with a small step of a stage, but plenty of seating and a neat little atmosphere. The standard assortment of rocknroll illuminati was in attendance, (the singer from the Reduction Agents and the bassist from TransAm were standing in my sphere of view) and at one point my sister pointed out Liam Finn's girlfriend. I was tempted to attempt to cut his lunch, just for being a precociously talented little goofball, but then I remembered that every time I've met him he's been lovely, and that the poor girl was far too intelligent to be fooled in to going for a guy like me.
and the female turnout was a little low-key - there was one lonely looking girl over in the corner, but I wasn't feeling particularly attractive with a spectacularly burnt and peeling nose, so I decided that pretending I wasn't interested was preferable to a extravagant crash and burn, so I thought I'd concentrate instead on the music.
Which, incidentally, was first rate. Opening was Bachelorette, who I thought were a jangly little 3 piece all girl outfit, but turned out to be one girl, some loops and electronica, and a couple of keyboards (I have no idea who the jangly 3 piece were), and she was entertaining, although mid-show banter isn't her strong point.
Ned Collette was a pointy-shoed, pointy-sideburned australian, but I'm not going to hold either of those three things against him. He played some gentle acoustic songs, that sounded a little like quiet, introspective Tim Rogers songs (I'm thinking the slow parts of "What Rhymes with Cars and Girls" or "The Luxury of Hysteria", and some countrified rocknroll stomp reminiscent of countrified Tim Rogers "Spit Polish", or "Dirty Ron". That's possibly a little oversimplistic as a description, but Ned had some snappy songs, a great laid-back stage presence, and sounded better with a backing band than on his own (but it's a rare performer that doesn't).
Cassette too have their laid back stage presence down. The band was formed around a couple of guys who played with some seminal Wellington rock/metal bands, (the letterbox lambs, and head like a hole, the latter of which you may be familiar with, and if you're not, you should be, for their cover of "summer nights" alone (which incidentally I sang at a school assembly when I was 15).
The stage show mostly consists of the drummer and the guitarist lofting verbal barbs at each other (more on that later), but Cassette specialise in low key dreamy pop songs. They released a six song EP called emo (they were emo before it even existed) a long long time ago, (2001, apparently) and put out a debut record last year. In between they've been living in Melbourne, and obviously playing a lot of shows, because they're super-comfortable passing the time live on stage. Their best songs, "nothing to do", "don't let anyone" and the new single that they play on the b (the greatest radio station in the universe) that I haven't caught the name of yet, were all in the offing tonight, and they were perfect for a small, low-key midweek gathering. The late hour (it was nearly 12.30 before they went on) made it seem even more appropriate, like a country balladeer playing in a southern honkytown long after all the respectable folk had gone home, and everyone was lying drunk in the corners.
The onstage banter was of the highest calibre, with most inter-song moments filled with some sort of anecdote. I'm a little regretful that I waited a week to write about this, as I've forgotten most of the best bits. one story involved their night in Taupo the night before, where a young local said "you guys dress like homos", to which they replied "i think the word you are looking for is "dandys". The crowning glory was after the last song, when there was some genuine cheering for an encore, and the drummer said "instead of a encore, how about we play that last one again, but a little bit faster". He then asked for a show of hands, and those who wanted the last song again narrowly outvoted those who wanted a different song, so they played it again, a little bit faster. it was genius.
Alright, you must excuse me, I need to go search the internet obsessively for a way to get hold of the new Los Campesinos album " Hold on now, youngster" (complete with the requisite comma) before its north america release date in a ridiculously 2 months time. The pitchfork review featured this line, if they weren't already my favourite band, they would be more so after this "they document it with an emotional vividness that should have Pete Wentz friending them in no time. (Even though he probably won't get most of their jokes.)" genius.
(reposted at http://www.undertheradar.co.nz