The Others Way Festival – K Road September 1, 2017

Its taken a day for our reviewers and photographers to recover from Friday night’s Others Way Festival. Venues in and around Auckland’s K Road were packed with bands and fans. Here is Kate Powell with her report accompanied by a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk. A second posting will follow later today. 

Internationally, New Zealand has a healthy reputation within alternative music. From the Dunedin Sound and Split Enz to Fazerdaze and Kane Strang, New Zealanders are good at pushing the outer limits of an already quirky genre into new and unchartered territory to create something that has a sense of place and placelessness within a genre that is becoming increasingly multifaceted.

Despite the esteem many of our bands are held in, you’d be hard pressed to hear about their successes in mainstream media.  One of the key things festivals like The Others Way does is it brings together excellent bands with screeds of kudos en masse for one potent evening, which makes news outlets sit up and take notice, even if it’s for one night only. Not only is it a start in the right direction, perhaps more importantly it also brings together an audience as eclectic as its sound in bars and venues up and down the spiritual home of alternative music in Auckland, K’Rd.

Before the night had even started I had found myself in the usual predicament I find myself in every festival I go to: too many bands and not enough time, which is a testament to the fantastic line up carefully curated by Flying Out. I had optimistically highlighted 16 bands I wanted to see across all ten venues. By the end of the night having realised I needed to take into account queues, walking times and a kebab I managed to catch six.

Bic Runga was first on my list. To see the Legacy Award winner and current Silver Scroll finalist perform was a rare treat and an exercise in virtuosity. Her guitar work and vocals were flawless and her deliciously baroque-pop song Close Your Eyes was a real highlight.

Dashing up the road to Wine Cellar the crowd was heaving to the post-punk sounds of Wax Chattels, who expertly built up and smashed down walls of sound with songs such as Stay Disappointed and In My Mouth. I was strongly reminded of early Yeah Yeah Yeahs- mainly their self-titled debut EP and its follow up Machine. They felt raw, completely in the moment and a joy to watch.

Popping next door to Whammy, we caught Wellington-based dreamy surf pop band Mermaidens. Although familiar with their work, I had not yet seen them live and they did not disappoint. This entrancing trio captured the crowd with their ethereally sinister sound. Songs from their latest record Perfect Body merged seamlessly with previous record Undergrowth and offered a great contrast from the set I had just come from.

Back in Galatos, unofficial headliners Vancouver’s The Courtneys had already started up. They wear their Flying Nun influences on their sleeve and have a delightfully shambolic spirit live. Their sunny pop songs about love and longing went down a treat with the crowd, which had the venue filled to capacity.

The first time I came across Unsanitary Napkin, I judged them by their EP cover which featured Donald Trump getting his brains blown out by a flying vagina shooting rainbows. I’ve never been disappointed by them and last night was no exception. They were feeding off of the energy of the crowd spectacularly as they thundered through their set at breakneck speed.

My night ended with Disasteradio. Off the back of Disasteradio (aka Luke Rowell)’s first album in seven years Sweatshop, he made a triumphant return to the Whammy stage last night. Fusing Electric Light Orchestra dramatics with glitchy, Windows 95 inspired pop, Luke was positively effervescent and hyped me up for my Uber ride home.

All up a marathon night of stellar acts that is an essential part of New Zealand’s musical landscape. The breadth of styles and depth of talent on display is world class and needs to be supported more by our own by buying their records, seeing their shows and giving publicity. Many of these bands have been featured on Pitchfork, Noisy and The Guardian before the mainstream New Zealand media even gives them a second glance. Which is their loss.

Kate Powell

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk: