I may have gotten a bit too intoxicated before this gig, which I heard was sold out the night before. But when I read the facebook page with the possibility of door sales, I skulled my last drink and rushed over there at the last minute.
When I arrived at the Mauao Performing Arts Center, lead organizer Rachel Stanway, was putting signs and plants near the front entrance. Now, If you are not familiar with The Red Lounge Sessions, Rachel has been running them for a while, as a way to showcase, local and non-local musicians and artists in an intimate environment, it a great chance to network, mingle, relax, and enjoy some really cool talent. This particular red lounge session however, was the biggest that they had, out of the living room and bars. I learnt from Rachel that this was the last one of the year, before they gear up for the Sundaise festival.
There were only a few people there, close to the kick off time of 7pm. The house lights were still on… upon paying the entry at the door and getting a smiley face on my right hand, I wandered into the main area.
Now, I hadn’t been to the MauaoPAC, since last year’s National Poetry Day, when the venue was still being worked on. Now, a year later, the venue has been pimped out, into a neon psychedelic performance space. If you haven’t already, check out the venue review of MauaoPAC from Kingsley Smith, to get all the details:
The first thing I noticed was the set design and lighting on the stage, which was decorated magnificently in couches antique chairs and lamps, lit with sporadic red lights, placed strategically. There was a turntable deck in the back left hand corner. And up the front the mics, amps and other tools that were necessary for the musicians to do their thing.
I ran into Ross Schilling, who was the resident sound and light man for the night, who informed me, that there are still a few kinks to sort out with the venue, but as far as I could tell, they were already there. The main seating arrangement, replicated the stage, with couches set out downstairs, which chairs and bleachers upstairs.
I took a seat, as the guests were slowly starting to arrive, in groups and cliques, headed to the bar, for refreshment, before the music gets going. I was still feeling the buzz from the pre game, sitting down, helped me center.
Once the venue was starting to get packed upstairs and downstairs, the first act to take the stage was soloist Tanya Horo, who has recently been in the paper as the proprietor of the BOP Actor’s Agency, and also was the star of the locally made feature film The Z-Nail Gang. I had no idea that she was also a musician, until this gig.
Opening with a Leonard Cohen cover, the title of which escapes me, she went on to play some awesome, moody, emotional songs, all while strumming the acoustic. Starting the evening off right, and bringing people out of conversation and into the music zone.
There was an interlude inbetween, which was a solo Burlesque act, making me feel like I was time-warped back to the 1940s, there were still the usual “WooHoos” and “YEAs” and the occasional wharf whistle throughout the performance…I decided to head out for a cigarette, not realizing that by this time the crowd had really packed the house. I must’ve been distracted by the music and the pretty lights…But I managed to get out for some fresh oxygen.
The entire entrance way was lined with smokers, gathered in groups, some sitting and some standing up, I made it all the way, towards the front entrance, and lit up. I remember talking to a German guy named Chris, who had been living here for a couple of years in a caravan, making it on foot to the MauaoPAC, because he heard there was music, then we briefly discussed European House Music, which was his main cup of tea.
The cigarette was almost out, and Rachel was about to introduce the next act. So I made my way back inside, past the other happy smokers. Still a little bit buzzed, but the main rush was gone.
I took a seat on the top floor this time, directly facing the stage. Alice Sea, was the next performer, most of you will be familiar with Alice, who has been performing locally for years, in various clubs and bars, and continues to do so regularly. This was the first time I had seen her perform solo however, last time was with the Mad Hallelujah Tribe @ The Arty House.
She started it off with a blast on the didgeridoo, going on to weave, multiple instruments and sounds, through loop pedals, with a kind of otherworldy grace, channeling her vocals through two microphones that were infront of her. It was Upbeat, psychedelic, and all around evocative stuff, with the words and with the instrumentation. The crowd gathered around the front of the stage, dancing and jamming, to the rhythm.
The buzz that I had lost was revived (Well, a bit of it anyway). And just in time, for the finale act…The mighty All Hail The Funkillers…before they graced the stage though, there was still time for another smoke.
On my way outside, into the sea of fellow smokers I ran into Red from Jim Jones and The People’s Temple and a few other musicians that I’ve come to know. Conversing about the gig and the venue, life, etc…
Before Rachel’s muffled voice reached out, and called us back in. When I took my seat upstairs, I realized that most of the stage had been cleared. The lighting had changed to a purple/pink, and there was just one microphone stand, between two giant amps and a drum kit.
It was Rock N’ Roll time!
And sure enough man, the band all appeared on stage, with the exception of Shannon, the lead singer, the music was building to an electric crescendo, the crowd, though they were darkened, were bobbing up and down, no moshpit.
I hadn’t seen All Hail The Funkillers Live since they played the launch for ARTbop alternative, back in February, so FUCK this was cool. And when Shannon did grace the stage like a punk rock lioness, following the electric scent of the rest of funkillers, and screamed and wailed into the microphone, jumping around, taking full advantage of the performance space….
The energy was relentless…
There was a cover song of British rock band The Cure…after which, I daresay my cognition was reduced to feelings…maybe it was the music, the wild energy of the whole evening, or the intoxication, taking over, rendering my memory void…(OK, I lied, I may have rolled a little somethin’, I knocked the edge off! Listen to the kids bro)
The last thing I do remember though was Shannon, hanging upside down from the edge of the stage, clutching onto the microphone, screaming “Good God! Good God! Good God!” and the electricity on the stage reaching a plateau, after which, I saw members of the audience, assist the leading lady back onto her feet…
And the energy continued.
An eclectic evening, to say the least…
Written By: Dhaivat Mehta
(Editor – ARTbop alternative)
Dhaivat Mehta is a film-maker and performance poet, and a member of the Tauranga Writers…Involved with many aspects of local creativity! As an organizer he was responsible for last year’s National Poetry Day event “Caught In The Act” He also raps and does spoken word under the stage name ARCHAEO!