I went to have a cigarette, down the way of Otumoetai, as the Mount was getting too hot and crowded on this Sunday afternoon. As I drove down Ngatai road, there were barely any cars around, the streets were quiet.
So I pulled up right next to Western Road, across from the train tracks. There was a little walking track going down below the tracks, this was all uncharted territory for me, as I walked down lighting up my cigarette, in the middle of the surrounding trees and the peace that it provided. I kept walking and saw beautiful patterns of Maori graffiti, on the other side of the walking track, as it led back up to the road. Right under the train track, there was a tunnel, a small tunnel. Inside there were a few people gathered, sitting on top of amps with guitar cases, and there is a microphone stand.
I walked over to ask them what was going on, and learnt that there was a rock concert about to go down, right there in the tunnel under the train tracks…One of the bands ‘Desperate Models’ had travelled from Auckland and the featured band ‘Traps PS’ had travelled all the way from Los Angeles.
The event was called the TMS Tunnel, organized by the Tauranga Music Sux collective, and had been going on since 2011, in various tunnels throughout the city with local and international bands…I had never even heard of the event. And my cigarette was almost finished, so I decided to stay and witness this spontaneous act of public art.
As it got closer to showtime, people started showing up. It wasn’t a big crowd, but it was a crowd none-the-less as far as tunnel rock concerts go. I took a seat right in front of the tunnel, and as the music began, the tunnel acted like a natural mixer, when it came to the sound.
Hard guitar riffs, punk rock rhythms and screamed poetry is what followed, rocking the quiet neighbourhood. There were passers-by, walking their dogs, mothers with prams, and people enjoying an afternoon walk, who stopped to take a look, with smiles on their faces. Some even took photos and videos of their own. There were no complaints…
And it was over, almost as spontaneously as it began…and I myself was left wanting more. However, at the end of it all, there was a big sense of community, from the people who were there, the bands and the audience. An unspoken bond, that had obviously existed for a long time.
I hope there are more of these tunnel events in the upcoming year. Beats having a cigarette by yourself under the train tracks any day, when you have spontaneous Rock N’ Roll to listen to…
Dhaivat Mehta, Editor of ARTbop alternative