Concert Review: King Sweeties & Opossom – Hopetoun Alpha, October 20, 2020

Elemental Nights: Hopetoun Alpha Series

“There’s Bic Runga!” an excited fan exclaimed as Bic and Cass Basil took to the stage for the first time as King Sweeties at Auckland’s Hopetoun Alpha.

One has to wonder where this startled fan thought she was, after all Bic is scheduled to perform tonight as both the opening act and as a member of Opossom with her partner Kody Nielson.

With a trio of singles recently released and an EP on the way, the duo clambered up to the stage, Bic behind the drum kit and Cass holding her mighty bass guitar.

I will assume you know Bic Runga and you should know Cass as she’s been a part of both Tiny Ruins and Carnivorous Plant Society, holding down the low end for a number of years.

For this show its just the two of them, Bic on drums, Cass on bass and both singing.

The short set began with We Are The Bosses, which, I believe is the title track for the impending EP. Bic drumming style is relatively rudimentary leaving plenty of space for Cass’s bubbling bass.

A synth line seems to come from nowhere during the second tune, possibly titled, Restless Feeling.

Unfortunately that restless feeling seemed to take over as the pair proceeded with the repetitive Little Sunflower. One could feel the excitement of moment slip away.

Lydia was next and seemed to get the best reaction of the evening, but with precious little interaction with the audience and a tendency to slip into a mild funky groove I’m afraid I lost interest by the time they wrapped up with Tonight We Could Go Out Dancing and Let’s Just Stay In Bed.

OK, well, it was their first gig….but one can’t help thinking that the songwriting was something of an afterthought here.

On to Opossom, who haven’t played a show in eight years.

Kody and co released Electric Hawaii back in 2012 (it seems like a lifetime ago).

The iteration of the band performing tonight consists of Kody Nielson on guitar and synths, Michael Logie on drums and percussion and Cass and Bic return to play bass and sing.

This should be cool…right?

The first half of their hour-long set is drawn from the 2012 LP with Bic’s voice chiming in on tunes such as Blue Meanies and Outer Space.

Watchful Eye has a slightly psychedelic feel to it while Getaway Tonight is breezy and light.

But then, again, the energy seems to leave the room.

The band eventually dons white haz/mat-style suits and masks over their mouths (not conducive to expressive singing) and the addition of a vocoder-like effect to the vocals only puts more distance between audience and musicians. Again, there is very little stage banter and much chattering among the attendant crowd.

The last half of the set seemed to feature new songs that I would best describe as “limp disco”. A nice, solid beat (Cass’s bass was a standout), but little energy or emotion.

Half the crowd seemed to want to dance while others were heading for the door. I was tempted to bail out myself but stayed to the end.

With Kody, Bic and Cass involved in so many different bands these days (I think there is a new Silicon album waiting to be released) one can’t help but wonder if maybe they’ve stretched themselves a bit too thin.

The groove was good but the songs seemed non-existent.

Marty Duda

Click any image to see a full size gallery. All photos by Veronica McLaughlin Photography, except  photos of Opossum in masks, snapped on Marty’s phone.


King Sweeties