Fighting Like Stags - The Poverty Bay Club - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Fighting Like Stags - The Poverty Bay Club

by Warwick Stubbs Rating:9 Release Date:2012-02-20

Local Gisborne (New Zealand) indie-rock band Fighting Like Stags have been around for a few years now, though they purportedly broke up early this year, which I was not even slightly happy about considering their brand of Bloc Party-meets-Arctic Monkeys with a touch of indie dancefloor beats was one of the most promising sounds to have come out of my hometown. Nevertheless, when this 'last ever' gig was announced it was a gig I did not want to miss.

Those who arrive early enough to see drummer Ben Emms and guitarist Joe Alexander take the stage as Das Morden are treated to some casual acoustic numbers, each playing guitar while Emms singing the majority of vocals with some tidy backing vocals and occasional leads by Alexander. It's a great little treat without too much pressure, allowing the two musicians a moment of fun before letting resident friday night band The Residents take the stage and play their extended funk jams to set the vibe for the night.

I've seen The Residents once before and was generally impressed at their ability to stay together through tightly-knit jams, though this night's jams perhaps go on a little too long. Hearing 'Get Up (Sex Machine)' jammed on for (what seemed like) 15 minutes can get a little tiresome no matter how good the band is. And without doubt, the band is good, I just think if they shortened the jams, especially in this setting of opening for another band, they would help the crowd get into the mode of listening and then clapping/cheering rather than listening and then back to talking.

Regardless, they show themselves as exactly the kind of group worth hiring to get a laid-back vibe grooving throughout a venue with their blend of Carribean and mambo-inflected funk. It is a joy to listen to, but not so intrusive that you still can't talk to people around you.

When Fighting Like Stags take the stage, it's like they never left. They launch into their first song, 'I Got Mine', with the gusto of a band on fire - Emms dishing up the beats like it's second nature, Alexander ripping through rhythmic leads, bassist Levi Scott and vocalist/guitarist Gareth Kaiwai holding it together as tebly instruments scream through the punters' ears.

'Dark Baby', 'Dead Leaves' and 'I'm Your V' follow and, at this point, before they're even halfway through their set, there's barely any room at the front of the stage for any late headbangers and dance-wannabes to throw their bodies around on. The crowd - most of who have come to bid farewell to this greatly loved band - stay for the entire set as Fighting Like Stags continued to rock the small stage with a few additional covers including 'Guns of Brixton' and 'Come Together'.

"I love it when it's nice and loose like that," Emms confides to me afterwards, suggesting that the band might not have even practiced before the gig. If anything, it shows just how talented these guys are at being able to provide moments of danceable rock that can get anyone grooving, as well as the occasional introspective moment delivering perfect calm before the ensuing noise riot.

The Poverty Bay Club have done another stellar job at providing local entertainment the opportunity to shine with excellent friendly staff and an environment that anyone can enjoy.

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