Sunday, January 30, 2005


After quite a drought in the Dunedin musical spectrum, I was faced with not two but three different possibilities on Friday night. At Arc, there was a new band, Chihuahua, with one of the fellows from Carriage H. Not that I ever heard Carriage H or there was any guarantee that Chihuahua would sound anything like them, but a friend had been raving about them. Even the Punkemon 2 gig sounded doable, what with Sommerset playing. But loyalty won out, and I went to the two-headed Renderer’s gig at Chicks. One critic has tried hard to classify them, saying they are “country garage death psych” or maybe “a distillation of gravedirt, whiskey and lamb’s blood”. When asked, I simply say they’re country goth, and fabulous with it.

It must be said that a gig at Chicks has benefits that no other venue can offer, as I can duck home for a drink or a pee between songs and if I truly don’t like what’s going on, can hang about at home for a bit. And the Chicks audience is such a strange mix – there is the small cadre of people who will turn up wherever the Renderers will play and at the opposite end of the spectrum, those who will be at Chicks because it’s a Friday – people from the port, most likely, wearing their white gumboots, trackpants and fisherman’s jersey. In between, there’s the largest group at all – those in opshop chic who have come out because there’s something arty going on at Chicks and, not just that, it’s the hometown genii of Brian and Maryrose Crook.

I have to apologise to the support act, Bridget Ellis – the noise was such that I couldn’t hear you and Chicks doesn’t offer much in terms of seating. Rather than standing about feeling uncomfortable, I went home and watched tele.

I wasn’t counting, but I suspect that Maryrose sang most of the songs. That reminds me – there is supposed to be a solo album by her floating around, so I must hunt it down. She is our answer to mid-career Marianne Faithful, although warmer and less fucked up, so it is no bad thing that she did most of the singing. Add in the guitars in the key of sombre and you have songs I just want to just crawl into and live in for a while. Here’s a classic example:

Right From Wrong

I went looking for you in the fields of my father
under skies blank and huge where the pain goes on forever
straight to the mountains leading your eye ever outwards
away from the truth and into a landscape of shimmering fragments
he told me to stay young for him
so I wasted away my food became poison
high on a wire I hear beasts in the darkness torturing others
licked by a fire that blackens and scours as onward it smoulders
I have lived forever to regret
to suffer inside till there's nothing left
because the past is a mire of filth that lives outside of every law
I don't know right from wrong anymore

But not all their music is slow and melancholic – there is their party song, which ends with “drink up, for tomorrow you die”.


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