Tunes of I / Melting Faces / Soul Society - The Poverty Bay Club - Dome Room - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Tunes of I / Melting Faces / Soul Society - The Poverty Bay Club - Dome Room

by Warwick Stubbs Rating:10 Release Date:2012-02-10

It’s rare to see three bands live for the first time – to even hear them for the first time – and have your hips swinging and toes tapping to the rhythms without any input from your brain. But this is what these three New Zealand bands achieved Saturday night at the Poverty Bay Club’s Dome venue.

Wellington has a knack for bringing together varying musicians to create some highly original crossover bands. The melting-pot of styles and influences that creep into that artistic culture can be felt all across New Zealand as well as some near and far corners of the globe. With Jazz schools available and musicians travelling to Wellington to soak themselves in that culture, bands coming out of that environment are always worth seeing, even for just the experience. Thankfully, neither touring bands Tunes of I and Melting Faces disappointed.

And neither did Gisborne band Soul Society who managed to transcend the basic roots-reggae sound that they had built their popularity up on. Performing a short set of about half-an-hour, Soul Society began the first two songs with solid mid-tempo grooves that much of the local audience couldn’t stop themselves from dancing to. There was a strong dub vibe that overlaid their sound through both the keyboardist using a trumpet and the lead guitarist using a saxophone (when he wasn’t playing the guitar) to bolster the sound.

Third song ‘Summertime’ brought the tempo up slightly and saw almost the entire floor filled with bodies dancing. The following number saw some of those numbers drop away, but highlighted just how versed this band is at shifting styles by being a funk rock song with a blistering guitar solo to boot. These short sets are some of the hardest to pull off due to the act having to choose whether they want people dancing all the time or showcase your talent as musicians. Soul Society brought the tempo down with a 12/8 soul rhythm and show how they could do both by giving the punters a chance to slow-dance while exploring highly melodic passages with soulful singing over the top.

Naturally, after being so impressed by the local band, I set my expectations pretty high for the following band Melting Faces. As a four-piece, with the middle-man playing both saxophone and Taonga pūoro, it was quite astounding just how much they rocked. And then, later, grooved! 

What started out with a straight-up indie dynamic and space-rock vibe mutated into a stunning display of fun grooves that felt like songs, if not mere frameworks of songs, on which the rhythms insisted on being danced to. What impressed me the most was that the band powered through huge crashing and thumping build-ups like a Sonic Youth explosion, while the flute – being looped to provide ambience – rarely got lost. There is no doubt that while dealing with the end-leg of their tour, Melting Faces still put in the effort and showed just how good they were at bridging the alt-rock style with dance grooves supplemented by funky sax lines and ambient flute.

Okay, so I’m not a huge fan of dub reggae, though New Zealand band dDub have recently had my ear. Straight off the bat, Tunes of I reminded me of The Black Seeds. And that’s a compliment, even if I don’t listen to the band. Because The Black Seeds are one of New Zealand’s best, along with Fat Freddy’s Drop, Kora and Salmonella Dub.

Where Kora pushed more towards a funk-rock vibe on their first album, Tunes of I are bringing in their full-blown New Zealand School of Music jazz credentials and supplementing their dub sound with fusion and a three-piece horn section – midway through the set the lead guitar pulled out a highly competent jazz solo just to prove the point. Tunes of I have so much going for them, including one of the most beautifully toned vocalists I’ve heard in a long time, and three brass players willing to strip off their shirts for a bit of eye-candy while performing their respective solos – admittedly, it would have been pretty hot up on that stage, so not uncalled for in any respect.

Overall I felt this band had the least amount of variety despite themselves, yet they were still massive performers that were able to rally a call-and-response from the crowd and still pulled off grooves that had everyone dancing. However, there were times I felt their sound got a bit lost in the venue. Maybe that’s the closed venue’s fault, where in a larger outside setting their sound would carry with more separation.

That said, there were a couple of times when the bass and drums locked in with the exact same groove/riff – rather than the bass bubbling away next to the cut-up beats – that displayed a tightness and power somewhat lacking up to that point and showed they could hit all the sweet spots when it counted. The set ended with the crowd cheering for one more song which was happily granted, and no one left the stage or the room unsatisfied.

The Gisborne Poverty Bay Club pulled off yet another stellar night of entertainment with professional acts from outside the city and, with the outside garden bar open, the band members and audience were able to mix and mingle afterwards continuing the positive vibe long after the gig had ended.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles
Tunes of I / Melting Faces / Soul Society - The Poverty Bay Club - Dome Room - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab
Tunes of I - Restless
  • 11/19/2015
  • By Warwick Stubbs