One Question Quiz
Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, Lorde, Harry Styles and Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis (Image: Archi Banal)
Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, Lorde, Harry Styles and Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis (Image: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureMay 8, 2023

Auckland crowds adored Lorde and Harry Styles. Red Hot Chili Peppers, not so much

Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, Lorde, Harry Styles and Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis (Image: Archi Banal)
Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus, Lorde, Harry Styles and Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis (Image: Archi Banal)

Surveys suggest Mt Smart is not that loved as a concert venue – and that Pavement need to work on their dancing.

If you’ve attended a show in Auckland at a council-owned venue, you might get a request to fill out a survey in the weeks following: what did you make of the show, the venue, that sort of thing. In one example, the question lines extended to how you rate the dancing. Curiosity pricked, we asked Auckland Council for some of the results.

The good news: More than nine in 10 respondents across events held at venues run by Auckland Stadiums said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the event. (Auckland Stadiums, part of Auckland Unlimited, includes Mt Smart and the Outer Fields at Western Springs, but not Eden Park.)

The lowest satisfaction, at just shy of two-thirds, was for the group first assembled more than 40 years, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and their appearance at Mt Smart. Most satisfied overall were punters at Lorde and her much-delayed Outer Fields show, with My Chemical Romance and Harry Styles trailing close behind. For Lorde, a whopping 77% said they were very satisfied, with 20% satisfied. The corresponding numbers for Harry Styles: 60% and 31%. 

Audiences were also surveyed for a “Net Promoter Score”. For the NPS, respondents are asked whether they would recommend an event or venue, with the score calculated as promoters minus detractors. On this count, the verdict is not rosy for Mt Smart. The NPS for the venue from both the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Harry Styles concerts was in the negative, at -16 and -27 respectively. Issues that “plague” Mt Smart events are recorded as “being able to get in and get out of the venue” (only 37% considered it easy) and issues with “communication and signage around entrances and gates”. Concertgoers on the whole felt less safe, too, with 70% saying they “felt safe and able to enjoy themselves”, versus 80% for Western Springs and 86% for Outer Fields.

People preferred the Outer Fields of Western Springs, which tallied scores of -9 for Jack Johnson, 45 for Lorde and 33 for My Chemical Romance. The Outer Fields was “a venue that attendees enjoy and rate relatively highly”, liking “the open grassy space” and relative ease of access. Despite MCR’s popularity, though, “sound quality was noted as an issue and has come up for a number of other events [at Outer Fields], too”.

The events were scored, too. Here, the Red Hot Chili Peppers sneaked over the line to +4 as did Friday Jams, which was staged at Western Springs stadium. Those results were disastrous, however, when compared with Jack Johnson on 71, MCR on 78, Harry Styles at 83 and Lorde in excelsis on 85.

What dulled the taste for Red Hot Chili Peppers concert-goers? “The songs performed were not ‘fan favourites’ (ie known and loved) but instead new and unknown,” was the summary of survey responses. And: “The time the Chili Peppers played for was notably shorter than the audience expected (only around an hour).” The 64% satisfaction rate was “notably lower … compared with other events measured so far in 2022/23”.

A constant gripe, which will surprise almost no one who leaves their home in Auckland, is transport to and from venues. Here, Mt Smart scores poorly, with just 37% saying it was easy or very easy to get in and out, compared with 56% for Western Springs and 72% for the Outer Fields. Though Auckland Stadiums emphasises that it is outside its purview, it notes that “the lack of public transport continues to be a major issue with events held at Mt Smart”.

Another survey returned as part of our official information request related to Pavement, who played the Civic on the same night that Harry Styles was at Mt Smart. For this one, the response rate was low – 59 in total, compared with anywhere from 350 to 2,000 for the above – so take these results with a grain of salt, but they’re pretty compelling. Not just the NPS, which comes in at a stonking 86, and a satisfaction rating of 95%, but a series of other questions.

Such as: How would you rate the quality of the music/instrumental performance. To which nobody chose “very poor”, “poor”, or even “good”, with 9% “very good” and 89% “extremely good”. A confused two per cent of respondents said “not applicable or don’t know”. The numbers were almost as strong for “quality of the singing”, though here 4% judged Stephen Malkmus’s efforts as merely “good”. 

Better still, respondents were asked how they rated the quality of Pavement’s dancing. To which 68% said “not applicable or don’t know” and 2% cruelly – but arguably admiringly – said “very poor”. What about the quality of the acting? Implying, perhaps, that all they saw was pure indie rock authenticity, 87% ticked “not applicable or don’t know”.

Disappointingly, there was no survey question for any of the shows on the pressing issue of whether artists should stop the nonsense with encores.

Keep going!