Pop CultureSeptember 4, 2017

All killer, almost no filler: The Others Way, reviewed


Last Friday night, The Others Way festival took over almost every music venue in the K’Rd area. Henry Oliver and Don Rowe were there. This is what they can remember about it.

Henry Oliver: I arrived late, delayed by a busy parenting schedule and not-as-tired-as-they-should-be children, to see Tiny Ruins play at Galatos. She was great, and my slight dissatisfaction with her set was entirely my fault – I had expected unreasonable things (quiet, subtle things) that are impossible in a festival setting, even when the festival is split over a number of smallish venues. My feeling is that Tiny Ruins is one of those artists that really needs her own show with her own candles and curtains and whatever else. I’m obviously going to have to see her play some refurbished suburban theatre sometime.


Helpfully, the backdoor to The Studio was open, so after warm glow of Tiny Ruins ended, it was an easy slide to Sneaky Feelings. I gotta say, I thought it was pretty boring. I mean, they sounded fine, better than fine even (and their pop hits are, um, heavenly), but from where I was standing, unless you were a huge fan, you were talking through it – the exception being their performance of ‘Strangers Again’ sung by Bic Runga. Damn Bic Runga is good. This song was salt in the wounds for having missed her earlier in the evening.

Lawrence Arabia (Photo: Henry Oliver)

Ran into some friends so missed The Courtneys but got back into the swing of things for Lawrence Arabia, who I hadn’t seen in years. The set was, for me, equal parts nostalgia – ‘Talk About Good Times’ takes me back to a the K’Rd of the early-’00s (“were they really good times?”) and then again for the late-’00s (fuck, it’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since Chant Darling, featuring tonight’s closer ‘Smoke Too Much’, came out and Lawrence played an early-evening record release set at D.O.C.) – and new live experiences of songs I’ve only appreaciated via recordings. Hard to tell if the lesson is to keep going to see artists you’ve think you’ve seen a lot, because you can blink and realise you haven’t seen them in a better part of a decade, OR, maybe don’t see anyone very often and every time you do, it’ll feel super special and fill you with joy? I don’t know.


Speaking of which, next I filed through to see Street Chant play a all-killer-no-filler set at Galatos. Shit, they’re just a really good band and it was nice to see them again after going to what I thought was their goodbye tour. That’s the kind of thing that would usually bug me – don’t tell me ‘last’ if it’s not – but with Street Chant, I don’t care and if they want to play their bangers, I’m happy to bob my head and grin like a MF. If memory serves me right, they closed with ‘Scream Walk’ and I will again assume it’s the last song I’ll hear them play but, again, I hope I’m wrong.


Throughout the night, I’d been telling everyone I ran into that they should go see Micronism at the end of the night and to meet me there if they were still out. By that point, all of my friends had dropped off, so I went solo up to Encore to see what the Friendly Potential DJ thing was about. The music was great, but the attendance was sparse (was it not indie enough for the festival or would it be taking off as the night turned into morning?) From there, I went to the Galatos basement to see Micronism, for me a completely un-nostalgic way to end the night. I’d heard people talk about his album Inside a Quiet Mind for years, but hadn’t ever really thought about it until it was re-released a couple of months ago and have been listening to it ever since. Anyway, he was great. It was loud (but not offensively so) and twisted my by-then malleable mind. A fitting end to one of the best festivals I’ve been to in years.


Don Rowe: I’ve thought K’Rd was the coolest part of Auckland since my first falafel from the Little Turkish nigh on 10 years past, but only recently have I migrated from the provinces and been able to actually experience the place after dark. Mates, she hums! No wonder it’s long been reputed as a haven for the deviant/different/legitimately fun.

The Others Way festival took all the best parts of a nice K’Rd rinsing as I understand it and delivered them in one tasty package: wholesome, home-cooked musical acts, venues ranging from nightclubs to what felt like sex clubs, and the collective excitement of something happening in your city. That air of enhanced possibility of things good, bad and unexpected is a hell of a buzz.

Now I don’t pretend to be in possession of exquisite tastes or a well-curated record collection. I never watched the rise of whatever the indie band is of the month. But I do know fun, and for my money, Yoko-Zuna went in. Enthusiasm takes you a long, long way in my books and combined with the seedy underbelly of Galatos’ basement vibes, it was a personal highlight. And a little less…blurry than what followed. Clear images of tolerant bouncers persist also – on ya, lads.

But overall the event was charged with the energy of a group with shared purpose, at least slightly beyond pounding a few beersies. It felt like a community, albeit one I was watching from the fringes. But scenes don’t happen on their own, you gotta get out and get stuck in. Join the walking trains, talk to strangers, ask for a cigarette, have a little kanikani regardless of whether it makes you feel like a dick. It’s fully worth it, even if it sets you up for some good, old-fashioned Monday blues.

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