• James Edwards @Ambient Light

Skinny Hobos Tour - Auckland

It’s Friday night, but it’s not your normal Friday night (although really what constitutes as a normal Friday night in Auckland now days …but I digress). Today is ‘Love Your Local Venue Day’ so just about every local venue is full with New Zealand acts which is great to see. Despite the fact there are so many amazing local acts to choose from I decide to go for the Skinny Hobo’s album release party being held at Galatos.

  1. Because I have always got into those guys despite never seeing them live and

  2. Because another favourite local band of mine is playing in support; His Masters Voice are crazy talented and are always a good time

  3. Four bands, one ticket price?? Hell yeah that’s what I call value for money!

I arrive early and the place is already beginning to fill – which is actually really great to see. Too many people never bother to come out and support the support bands and they really should. We have so many amazing bands in Auckland as well as in New Zealand and often they are overlooked by the punters who arrive just in time for the main act. So if I can give you one piece of advice – check out the supports, you may just fall in love with a whole new act!

Galatos is a cool venue – it has that gritty rocker vibe thanks to being down a side street behind K’Rd. Once inside and away from the crappy weather that Auckland keeps heaping onto us, it’s time for a drink and to check out the first band.

I hadn’t heard of Animalhead before – but I won’t soon be forgetting them! Any drummer that is also the vocalist immediately has my respect as that is not only a whole lot of energy being used up but a tonne of co-ordinated talent. Hailing from West Auckland (these guys are already one of my favs and I haven’t even heard them play yet!) Animalhead are a simple three piece who deliver good old Rock n Roll. First track up is ‘Rabbit Hole’ and I have to say the massive sound that these guys deliver is fantastic; raw – without being so raw that it sounds like garbage) – and really tight, these guys have the audience banging heads from the get go. Their sound isn’t purely Rock n Roll – like any band of that genre you can hear a little blues, and a lot of rock vibes coming through which is excellent – especially on their cover of The Beatles ‘Come Together’ which frankly Dan Rooke on drums and vocals nails, that intro is just sick. Stand out track for me is definitely ‘Devil Told Me So’ as it has that real ‘Rage Against the Machine’ vibe to it which certainly appeals to my taste, it also has a chorus that features a good ole ‘Hey’ chant – which most fans with a drink in their hand can’t say no too.

First band down and I’m already feeling good about the rest of the night, pleased with myself for turning up early.

Second band up is Coridian – now these guys impressed when they played support for P.O.D recently at The Studio across the road, so I am looking forward to seeing them bring it once again.

Having two brothers myself I am fascinated by the fact the Auckland four piece is made up of three brothers (with the last name of Raven, which is frankly just perfect considering the type of music they play.) on the guitar, drums and bass. I admire them greatly as most siblings would tear a band apart (Oasis anyone?), instead these guys seem to use it to their advantage.

Lead singer Dity Maharaj has the voice to carry the songs, taking them out into the room and presenting them to each and every person present. I particularly like his howls, they are in some ways almost primeval; they are not pitch-perfect and that’s what appeals about them as it makes them more heart-felt and guttural. They released their second EP Caldera last year and it’s definitely a goodie. We get a few tracks off it tonight, both ‘Nonetheless’ and ‘Blind Faith’ a couple of my favs.

While the latter is a little slower paced it reminds me of Blindspott – another great New Zealand band from back in the day. While Nick and Mike on bass and guitar are great to watch – again for the second act for the night the drummer steals the show; Kris has a natural style when performing which makes everything flow just right. Looking over to my right and my best mate agrees, I can tell as he’s trying to emulate him on his own personal air drums before grinning at me, pointing to the drummer and giving a thumbs up.

They ended on ‘Reflections’ the second track off the Caldera EP, where you can definitely hear that Deftones influence (being one of my favourite bands that’s more than completely acceptable) It’s a solid track to end on too as it left its mark with that big punch in the middle that then fades out with lingering guitar strikes.

Now I have to be honest here – the next band up happens to be a kiwi act that I love, so I will be completely biased; if you have not heard of His Masters Voice then you need to reassess your life goals. Taking the best of the blues, rock and just the slightest threads from the bottom of metals universal black jumper and His Masters Voice have really created something quite special. But where they excel is with the unearthly voice that is lead singer Jesse Sorensen; from behind a waterfall of hair comes vocals that are just so powerful that it really is hard to put into words exactly what they elicit when listening to them. Not only that, but he can play fine guitar as well.

Flanked on either side by lead guitarist Az Burns who could give Satan himself a run for his money with the way he shreds strings and Brandon Bott on bass who makes it look so damn easy (trust me it’s not) the band are then all draw together by easily one of the best drummers in New Zealand, the talents of Rene Harvey of Cripple Mr Onion fame – yet another New Zealand band from the past that you should check out if you like your music with a side order of heavy. There are no stand out tracks because every track is a winner when it comes to His Masters Voice, a bold statement, yes but having been listening to these guys for a number of years it’s a statement I stand by wholeheartedly.

However I will say that it was nice to hear one of their very early hits – ‘Lucid Dream’ make an appearance in the set list; while ‘Possession’ and ‘Don’t Trust Myself’ especially just make you want to bear your soul to the world as you completely let the music take you over. I am one of those guys that prefers to just stand in the crowd and do the old co-ordinated head and foot bang; yet His Masters Voice make me want to just go nuts on the dance floor. I really hope to see these guys in a few more International support slots because God knows they are more than worthy of it. They left the very appreciative audience with ‘Lonely Road’ which is just one of those feel good songs that rumble around the room rattling your bones with its desirability.

For me it’s going to be hard to top that – but as a fan of Royal Blood I am looking forward to seeing what Skinny Hobo’s can do live, being that they present themselves in a very similar format. These guys describe themselves as ‘Hobosexual’ on Facebook which I find hilarious, that ‘poke fun at myself’ humour very much a New Zealand trait. Made up of just the two band members Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom (Aka Alex Ferrier and Sam Holdom) the first thing I note upon seeing them live for the first time is that they don’t hold back. Like nothing. Zilch. From the moment they get on stage til the moment they stagger back off these guys really do give it their all; Holdom behind the kit which has their band name emblazoned across the bass drum in very appropriate black spray paint is like some multi-limbed organism, completely covering all bases at once. Ferrier on the other hand, feels far more closed off from the audience when he’s playing. And this is not at all a bad thing. It’s like watching Einstein at work; Ferrier is creating very particular formulae in his head which he then physically tests out on the massive set of pedals in front of him. Combined they are thick and juicy, like a steak at the end of the day that you have been thinking about for the last week. Yep that good.

Having received quite a bit of airplay I am already familiar with some of their tracks such as ‘Suburban Living’ and ‘Jacked Like The Ripper’, both of which are just balls out rock that will always pick you up at the end of a bad day. This is of course their album release tour and it’s good to see that Galatos is almost packed with fans celebrating Skinny Hobo’s success. It takes time, effort and of course money to produce such a thing so seeing so many fans faces must have really made the boy’s night! A Led Zepplin cover and a couple of insane instrumentals (seriously, not always a big fan of the instrumental but these guys have it down to a fine art form that just totally held me by the back of my neck) and the Skinny Hobo’s delivered to Auckland a huge dish of ‘Hell Yes!’ While yeah, they are similar to Royal Blood, they are also completely their own entity which is fantastic. These guys will undoubtedly go far.

Four bands, one night and I couldn’t be more stoked with the state of play. People who scoff and write off local music need to get their heads read as tonight just proved how good we really do have it. Eleven out of ten!


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