Friday, November 12, 2004

Hot Swiss Mistress with Pine

(Wunderbar, Lyttleton, 4 November)

In a bit of a disastrous trip, I went last week to Christchurch, partly to catch up with a friend, partly to check out the Christchurch A&P show and its associated Food Canterbury Pavillion and partly to go out to the Wunderbar for this gig. I've long heard about the Wunderbar, it is world famous in some circles and not just those centred on Lyttleton, but never actually been there before. The one other gig I've attended in Lyttleton was in the Harbour Light. The Wunderbar has a great setting - it clings to the back of the supermarket, with a verandah the length of the bar facing out over the Port. Inside, they have gone to town with the lampshades in particular: one was made out of doll's faces, cut out of their respective heads and glued together. Others featured the upper torsoes of mannequins, wearing billowing nightgowns. Still others were blocky toys - trucks and boats and the like. It was an immediately comforting place, the sort of bar I'd call my local if we had it in Dunedin.

This is about the fourth time I've seen Pine, they've been part of my life since their EP Speeding came out a few years ago. Then with Longplayer and in all their live gigs, they seemed to go for being a nice well-mannered band with a clean sound, but just a bit on the tame, even boring, side. Something seems to have happened to them since I last saw them, however. In this gig, there was plenty of energy, at least once Stephen started with proper drum sticks instead of the brushes which would be better employed by a pastry cook. Hannah's keyboard contributions were outstanding - I was captivated by the old school sounds she was making, thinking for some reason that this was music which should really be on vinyl. One consequence is that I am now convinced I need their latest CD, Akira Sunrise - maybe then I will be able to talk more coherently about the particular tracks they played.

Headlining the gig was a new band, Hot Swiss Mistress - they have been talked about a bit on, so I thought I'd check them out. It seems they provided a slightly more challenging listening experience than Pine for the audience, sionce quite a large part of it left. Another large part of it stood around talking loudly to each other: the main offender being one of the guys from Pine. So, actually hearing the gig provided a few challenges, but it was well worth it. The band basically has something for everyone, from the surf rock of Stink Magnetic to the beautiful ballad of the final song. They had to repeat Drowsy Woman, their only song to dance to. I had thoughts of the kind of multi-textured gigs that the Flaming Lips might do, and in the dark, singer Warner Emery even looked a little like Wayne. The strength was in the vocals, he seems to work hard at these to produce something of beauty, both in the lyrics and in the use of his voice. This makes Hot Swiss Mistress the kind of band you have to see more than once to fully assess, in order to get a proper handle on what is being sung.

As for the rest of my trip, well that was a disaster. I went to the showgrounds on Friday, to see a few fellows apparently cleaning up. Walking around town, it turned out that the show actyually runs from 10 - 12 November, making me a whole week early. Then my friend, who was a early childhood teacher last time I saw her (and claiming to be happily engaged but I won't go there), has morphed into someone who works all night shifts in hospitality. Furthermore, her new boi, a fellow she'd not seen for a while, was flying in within a matter of hours. It didn't seem a particularly good idea for me to hang around any longer.


Blogger Jessie said...

Hey Barry, thanks for the comments on Hot Swiss! Very insightful. I recall people were talking a lot - including some persons whom I would have expected to have been interested in the music being performed - but what can you do?! I too had a fairly strange and rather stressful night, what with some freak photographer asking me to pose nude (did you notice him? Really excessive flash technique) and consequent paranoid delusions that the same freak was doing bad things to drummer Ben... and more, but what a drag, to fill my comment with complaints. Catch you next time, anyway.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Wow, a visitor! I certainly did notice the guy with the camera, I thought he must have been a band hanger-on, he was so keen. Didn't realise he was just being a pain. But yes, next time HSM is in the 03, I'll be there and make sure I say hi.

5:43 PM  

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