Punk It Up – Kings Arms February 17, 2018

With just a week to go before it closes, music fans celebrated the legacy of Auckland’s Kings Arms with the legacy of Auckland’s AK79 punk scene.

No Tag’s Andrew Boak returned to New Zealand to oversee this celebration of punk’s glory years, bringing together 8 acts, including his own and a rare reunion of the fabled Proud Scum.

I arrived just before 9pm to find the evening already in full swing. As it turned out, the live music began an hour or so earlier so unfortunately I missed Rockets Jocks and Mishap, although 13th Floor photographer Rosie Kestle caught both acts, so check out the photo gallery.

Australian rockers Wolfpack were presiding over the stage when I got there. The three-piece Melbourne band sounded more metal than punk, but it didn’t really matter, they played hard and loud and went down well.

Next up were Wellington’s Flesh D-Vice who paid tribute to their fallen leader Gerald Dwyer with a scorching set that included a most-appropriate version of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues.

The vibe at The Kings Arms was fantastic. The back room was set up to sell vinyl and to commiserate between acts and the weather was perfect, if a bit muggy, to hang out in the garden area. Punks old and new were everywhere and it felt like everyone was realizing that this community was losing its meeting place.

Sporting matching Stetson hats, The Johnny’s came roaring on the stage next with their distinctive brand of cowpunk. They sounded great, and may have been my favourite band of the night, especially when they cranked up The Dolls’ (There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown.

Andrew Boak and No Tag whipped through their set next. It seemed to end before we had a chance to fully appreciate them, but hey, Andrew was a busy guy and anyway, he returned later.

Finally we got to Proud Scum. This is the first time the band has played together since the AK79 reunion of 2008. A decade late and singer Jonathan Jamrag and drummer Bruce Diode are joined by original guitarist John Atrocity, who left the group with some acrimony back in 1979.

As Jonathan noted when he introduced John, “he didn’t jump off the Grafton Bridge”, referring to their notorious song, Suicide 2.

The band was filled out by bass player Graham Hood of The Johnnys and The Normals.

They raced through an 8-song, 20-minute set in true punk fashion. After playing their song, Sid, which seemed to last all of 45 seconds, Jonathan announced that it was in the key of FF, “fuckin’ fast”.

When they got to Suicide 2, he confided that they were unsure whether to play the song as it pretty much insults the newly-returned guitarist. By John was game and the song sounded great, as dis the final two, Reuben’s Coming Back and I Am A Rabbit.

After a few minutes to catch our collective breaths, it was time for the final act of the evening.

The Bankrobbers are an ad hoc group Andrew Boak has assembled to play some of his favourite punk covers. This version featured Jed Town, of The Features, who played bass and guitar. He also sand a fine version of The Pistols’ Submission.

Other faves included Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys), Teenage Kicks (Undertones) and Neat, Neat, Neat (The Damned). For me the highpoint was guest vocalist Lise Wesseling’s version of the X-Ray Spex classic, Oh Bondage, Up Yours. It was good to see a female represented on stage.

Tony Daunt also jumped on stage to sings and the evening came to a close with a rousing version of The Androidss’ Auckland Tonight.

A great night all around!!

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Rosie Kestle:

Proud Scum set list:

  1. Suicide
  2. Boot Girl
  3. Blitzkrieg Bop
  4. Sid
  5. White Man In Hammersmith Palais
  6. Suicide 2
  7. Reuben’s Coming Back
  8. I Am A Rabbit