Beach Bunny – Tuning Fork, March 22, 2023: Concert Review

Beach Bunny

Beach Bunny: The Tuning Fork is hosting pre-teens to twenty-somethings tonight and they know how to live in the glorious present. Two great bands, openers Marmalade included.

Beach Bunny come from Chicago, home for a vast diversity of American music legends as Beach Bunnywell as infamous gangsters. They have links. Singer, guitarist and principle songwriter Lili Trifilio began making music in her bedroom, as is the case with many.

Whilst exploring your creativity this way is as old as humanity, the advent of the internet and computers has meant that the tools available have led to a another mini explosion in the pop music world. Many of the young artists performing here in recent years gain success initially in the bedroom. This has meant that the bar to entry is considerably higher to what it was to when I was the same age as the near sold-out crowd tonight.

The first viral Tik-Tok hit. I was never cut out for Prom Queen/ If I get more pretty/ Do you think he will like me. The band hit top gear and the kid’s are all hopped up and ready to go. Sheena might be a punk rocker, but she loves power pop.

The band is sharp and well-drilled. Jon Alvarado drums and Anthony Vaccaro bass (I think). The lead guitar is not identified. It takes them a few songs to get that power pop engine in sync and firing. Trifilio’s voice is a too low in the mix initially.

Promises and you hear her distinctive squeaky tone. Like Poly Styrene mixed with the naïve sound of New Zealand’s own Liz Stokes from the Beths.

Marmalade

Marmalade are a local band fronted by Jemilah Ross-Hayes lead singer, and Koen Aldershof guitar and vocals.

MarmaladeI saw them over a year ago at their debut Wine Cellar show, and they have come on in leaps and bounds since then.

Now they are all things pop, with an occasional indie rock song thrown in. They look comfortable on stage, and come off as equal to the headliners tonight.

The young crowd are in early and seem familiar with their music, which may be from anticipation of the Bunnies. But their thirty minute set with ten songs races through bright, racy hook-filled songs that fuel excitement.

Jangle guitar power pop with songs like Bright and Awkward. Jemilah’s voice is not distinct in the mix initially, but Koen is. Bit more testosterone power.

She improves though, and a highlight is Find Worth. Quiet reverie to begin, then the passion rises and the singer reaches her peak for the set.

When We Fight has a reggae backbeat from the drums.

Houston and Caffeine High fire up with some Two-Tone skank. Punky white reggae and ska.

Marmalade may not know it, but they share some of The Beatles influence of their English namesake from the Sixties, who had a massive hit with Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. A classic and unique ska song.

With tangerine trees and marmalade skies. This band looks set to rival the Beths.

Beach Bunny

On their records, this band have an inspirational sound like the La’s. The live show sounds harder with a little punk edge.

Beach BunnyBut you do hear this on Blame Game. The sound is minimalist pop, and a good showcase for the singer.

Trifilio writes great lyrics. They sound simple but they are accurate in their observation of the pre-occupations and imaginations of teens and the teens-at-heart.

Good Girls (Don’t Get Used). I’m the greatest thing you could have/ Stop saying “It’s my bad”/ Forgetting everything we had.

Colourblind has a quirky lead guitar lines matched to a nice New Orleans off-beat rhythm. She gets to be clever and funny in her words. You’re part of my biology/ I can’t separate myself from you/ An apology anthology.

April begins with some honky-tonk guitar and great engine room support. The bass player is on form all night and is a key to the rhythmic drive of their overall sound.

The audience are asked to sing a song which is signature Kiwi, and after some messy caterwauling break into Tatou Tatou E. The band are impressed.

Cloud 9 is their second viral hit, and the crowd are in heaven. But when he loves me I feel like I’m burning up. A love song consumed by fire.

An encore is demanded. They come back with Painkiller. You’re such a jerk is sung like an anthem. Shouty pop with a punk spirit. Tramadol, Ketamine/ I need some pain relief!

Beach Bunny end in triumph on their first New Zealand tour.

Rev Orange Peel