Don Rowe travels to Auckland’s Flea Bottom to hear Game of Thrones‘ Hodor – aka touring DJ Kristian Nairn – drop some beats.
I was dropped at a carpark on Liverpool Street in Auckland, our version of the seedier part of King’s Landing. A forlorn prostitute leaned against the wall, smoking and waiting and staring up at the city lights turning the clouds orange. From Liverpool I turned right onto K’ Road, listening for the clink of chainmail or a gown rustle. At the front door of Neck of the Woods I heard boots strike the ground, but they were just Doc Martens attached to the bare legs of a girl in a plaid shirt.
I’d been drinking a few kickstarter Woodstocks from a Coke bottle and felt sufficiently primed for tasty beats and cosplay, so I descended the stairs and grooved into the crowd. “Nobody knows you’re here alone,” was the mantra. The room was blue and warm and smelt like Red Bull. Here and there were a dancing Daenerys, a couple of Jon Snows and perhaps a Margaery Tyrell – but she might have just been a hipster.
My girlfriend confirmed a Max Key sighting at 1885, and I wondered whether there’d be a Joffrey in the mix, but he was nowhere to be seen. It seems there’s a bit of a divide between serious cosplayers and ravers, and perhaps understandably so. It’s pretty hard to demonstrate how your armor is excruciatingly faithful to the original under strobe lights. Easier to just wrap a foam sword in glowsticks and call yourself the Night’s Watch, which a few people did. I’d imagined something more like a renaissance fair on ecstasy, but there were few corsets to be seen and very little mead.
I danced on the edge of the crowd, standing on my toes and craning my neck every now and again, pretending to look for people I knew weren’t there, just in case I was being watched. I didn’t want to be pitied like someone eating alone in public, so I moved about the crowd frequently, burning up the floor in several places with some sick moves, reminiscent of a freshly reincarnated white walker.
Contrary to the mostly pisspoor costumes, the tunes were exceptional. Deep house beats, light on Top 40 fluff and sufficiently heavy to kept the crowd moving. The room sounded great; warm and balanced with ample bass and reasonable volume. A couple of DJs came and went before Hodor himself took the stage with a synthy rendition of the Game of Thrones opening theme.
Nairn’s physicality contrasted with the upbeat, slightly-cheesy tracks with which he’s made his mark. I was kind of expecting the equivalent of some Northern European death metal, based purely on the fact that Hodor is from Winterfell and that’s cold and snowy like Norway or something. Close your eyes and it could have almost been Ministry of Sound. That’s taking nothing away from Nairn, however. He’s serviceable on the decks and plays the sort of stuff you’d expect from a guy who was resident DJ at a Soviet-themed gay club in Belfast.
It might be a beneficial gimmick for Nairn to market as Hodor from GoT, but his music really has nothing in common with the show. His stage presence bore resemblance to Hodor only in that Nairn has a beard and is 6 foot 11. Overall, the night felt more like a decent nightclub set than a ‘Rave of Thrones’, but maybe that’s appropriate considering Nairn’s been making music since before high fantasy became cool again.
Eventually I left Neck of the Woods and headed back to Liverpool Street. The prostitute was nowhere to be seen.
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