Concert Review: Miss June – Tuning Fork, December 7, 2019

Miss June brought their high-energy blend of punk, rock, and pop to Auckland’s Tuning Fork last night, performing for an all-ages crowd with blistering intensity and an undeniable display of charisma.

It’s been a phenomenal year for Miss June; the four-piece, distorted-pop punk-rock band embarked on their world tour to support the release of debut album Bad Luck Party in September, with more than 30 shows between Wellington and San Francisco. You’d forgive the group for running on barebones energy following such a ferocious tour schedule, but even with a mild, all-ages crowd at Tuning Fork last night, Miss June showed no signs of fatigue in either their performance or sound.

Opening for Miss June were Blu Fish and Church & AP – the former taking to the stage 30 minutes following doors opening, and performing to a scattering of eager – if subdued – fans. It always breaks my heart a little to see opening acts perform to a tiny crowd and, while I always feel fortunate to catch these might-as-well-be-private performances, it demands a lot from the musicians wanting to feed on the energy of the audience.

Blu Fish did a phenomenal job of powering through their set, from the opening Closet Jimmy to Beech Forest and Up/Down showing a trio of extremely young musicians not far away from finding the perfect groove in their sound. Drummer, Cameron McCurdy, performed with notable exception, holding together every song in their set with precision and the perfect level of controlled volume on the drums and trumpet.

Filled with gorgeous echo guitar and overlapping walls of noise, much of their set wasn’t technically perfect or balanced in volume, yet still managed to reach the ambitious summit it was aiming for. Blurring vocals of The Cure with a Dandy Warhols-Muse-Pixies vibe in their guitar and rhythm, the only real downside was an imbalance of vocal volume – when these songs hit their high-points, lyrics were swept beneath the distorted guitar and thumping bass.

But then, the trio are young – song intermissions were filled with awkward silence, and they announced a heavy cover of Dick Dale’s Misirlou as ‘a song written by’ – and possess a natural talent and unique sound that will no doubt develop well over time.

Church A&P

Following Blu Fish were hip-hop rap duo, Church & AP, who performed a selection of songs from their album, Teeth, with standout numbers in Oligarch, Knock Knock, and Ready or Not. There were some minor technical difficulties – an absolute trainwreck collapse of sound in the second song – but the duo managed to laugh the moment away with just enough self-confidence to maintain the energy filling the room.

Their lyrics are local and relatable, while their beats are occasionally hit-and-miss – but just as I saw with Blu Fish, these are young artists finding their feet in the New Zealand music scene, pushing themselves and embracing their passion while developing the maturity in their sound. When they do find their perfect niche in sound and lyrics, Church & AP will undoubtedly develop into a highly formidable rap duo.

Headliners, Miss June, took to the stage just after 10 p.m. diving into Enemies through heavy guitar distortion and the solid, powerful drumming of Tom Leggett. Perhaps the luke-warm build-up throughout the evening had jaded my energy, but I wasn’t immediately pulled in by the high-energy physicality of the group. It took Matriarchy and 2 Hits to finally make me feel captivated by the set, with the remainder balancing a collection of playful crowd-address moments by bassist, Chris Marshall, and vocalist and guitarist, Annabel Liddell.

Miss June are undeniably charismatic, and ferociously unapologetic in their high-intensity performance and lyrical style, best displayed last night through the drum-kit-destroying number I Don’t Wanna Be Your Dog and the penultimate Polio, which saw Marshall toss his bass guitar into the air and to the floor, leaving a heavy wall of distortion filling the venue. There were also moments of pure beauty in this performance – guitarist, Jun Cheul Park, building into a wild solo on Clyde through perfect instrumental cohesion with the other band members, and Liddell’s growling, borderline-feral vocal delivery in Orchid.

The high-intensity nature of their performance does well to complement the ruthless, raw intensity of their lyrics – and this is where Miss June are truly exceptional. There’s a ferocious, cut-throat energy to many of their lyrics, which distil remarkable heartbreak and angst while never losing the feeling that, more than anything, they are empowering and inspiring. Together, they combine the powerful energy of rage-filled punk rock with relatable, unapologetic narratives – leaving you always wanting more, and unable to take your eyes from hypnotic charisma poured out on stage.

~Oxford Lamoureaux

Click any image to view a full gallery from each artist. All photos by Rachel Webb

Miss June

Blu Fish

Church A&P

Miss June Setlist
2 Hits
Waste My Time
I Don’t Wanna Be Your Dog
Best Girl