Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: Auckland Birthday Party On

The timetable and map for Monday's Auckland Laneway festival are out and besides the usual agonising scheduling conflicts there are one or two notable changes on the site.

The most significant is a shift in the orientation of the smaller Cactus Cat Stage, which typically hosts the more dance-oriented acts. The site itself was levelled over the winter, taking out the rise where people crowded to get a view of the stage. The stage now sits further back and points at 45º rather than directly at the silos, opening up a wider viewing area. And it will sound better: the PA will be flown, not stacked sidestage. 

(Small potential downside: when the site was levelled, some small trees were planted. These may cause a little grief.)

Also, the "Friends and Family" bar, home base to sponsors, musicians, journalists and sundry industry wankers, has been moved back to its former position along the east fenceline. Council landscaping to increase capacity (more bumps flattened) had already taken out the grassy area, so it doesn't seem like any real loss to paying punters.

On the upside for those punters, the promoters are promising 1500 sq metres of shade, which will undoubtedly be welcome on what's set to be a hot, sunny day.

But perhaps the idea of a "main" stage doesn't apply so much this year. As off as Flying Lotus will undoubtedly go when he closes the Mysterex Stage, St Vincent, closing Cactus Cat at the same time, is a big artist. Her album peaked at No.12 in the US last year and she won a 2015 Brit Award. Her performance at Glastonbury last year was splendid. Apart from Courtney Barnett being on so early, that's my only major scheduling woe.

I'm delighted to confirm that Jackson Perry of our Capture blog has been granted media accreditation this year, so we'll have grand pictures of the event. You'll be able to add your own in the thread for his post.

Otherwise, the Laneway 2015 app is here on the iTunes App Store and somewhere at wherever Android users gets their apps. See you there.


It's also worth noting that Laneway is just one of a multitude of events happening on Auckland's waterfront this Anniversary Weekend. Of particular note (for me, anyway), there's Norman Jay headlining a fine and funky-looking Silo Sessions, noon-6pm on Saturday.

Here's the map of the various event locations and the changes to road access for the three days (the bottom of Queen Street and part of Quay Street are totes car-free). 


In other news, my talk programme for Splore next month is coming together nicely. I've confirmed a half-hour chat with Mr Scruff for Saturday's The Listening Lounge.

Other details from the press release I wrote:

The keynote of Saturday's session, The Listening Lounge, is 'Imagining Auckland', a panel discussion on the shape of the city most Splorers will return to after their weekend at beautiful Tapapakanga Regional Park. Zoe Lenzie-Smith, one of Generation Zero's leaders, Transport Blog's Patrick Reynolds and artist Ross Liew, who was recently appointed to Auckland Council's public art advisory panel, will discuss a better future with Russell -- and with the audience.

 The Listening Lounge will also feature a series of Pecha Kucha talks from the likes of former Splore boss – and now sustainability consultant – Amanda Wright, and a chat with Mr Scruff about the state of things.

On the Sunday, Art & Soul will take a more personal tack in conversations with the Phoenix Foundation's Samuel Flynn Scott, secular celebrant Hilary Ord, Australian artist Marcus McShane, poet Dominic "Tourettes" Hoey and teenage musical prodigy Eddie Johnston, aka Race Banyon.

 "All these people have stories outside what they do that inform their work," says Russell. "Marcus is a cycle courier, Dominic lives with chronic illness, Sam is a family man in a business that sometimes makes that hard. It's Sunday: a time to talk about family, community, creativity and soul."

So, from the most personal of journeys to the future of a million: that's the span of it.


No contest for local video of the week this week. Frances Haszard and Louis Olsen's haunting animation for @Peace's 'Gravity':


New on Audioculture: Redmer Yska's Popshows and the transformation of New Zealand pop includes pictures of The Who and the Rolling Stones, but also this amazing image of fans swarming Mr Lee Grant in 1967:

And Gareth Shute has a really interesting profile of Arch Hill Recordings the label founded by Laneway co-promoter Ben Howe and home to Street Chant, Doprah, Don McGlashan, David Kilgour and many more.

Also, Manu Taylor has written some words around examples from 95bFM's Extended Play series exploring classic New Zealand EPs.

Manu recently stepped down as bFM's general manager after six years and while bidding him farewell, it seems worth noting that the way has been opened for the station to be refreshed and reinvented. I think there will be some good applicants for that job -- and there should be. It's the kind of job that will be both maddening and extremely fulfilling.


The tunes ...

Race Banyon seems certain to pack the Thunderdome for his half-hour set at Laneway (same time as Courtney! Waah!). If you don't make it in, there's always the 20-minute downloadable "takeover" mix he did for George FM this week:

Something new involving Eddie's other identity too: Alex Young has taken the 59 sweet, sad seconds of Lontalius's 'Maybe His Smile Will' and worked it up in to a longer song of his own. This in an interesting way to do a collab.

British DJ-producer Jon Hopkins plays a whole hour (5.25-6.25pm) on Laneway's Cactus Cat Stage on Monday. He's also the latest curator tapped for the long-running Late Night Tales series. Preorder here in all formats, taster thus:

One of the bonus tracks from the new "deluxe edition" of St Vincent's eponymous album:

A brilliant take on 'White Lines' from Copycat's new Catch Wreck EP, available at a very good price on Bandcamp.

The Sonics, the original 1960s garage rockers, have their first album of new material in nearly 50 years ready for release. They posted a taster this week:

On TheAudience, another precocious talent from Wellington. Sixteen year-old Leon van Dijk and his quiet tunes:

And finally, a lovely Karim Chehab dub of an all-time house classic. Click through for the free download:


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We can make things better here

It was nice to get up this morning and see that the Herald's editorial today has acknowledged last week's post here about the walking and cycling infrastructure improvements going on around the the major transit projects on the edge of our suburb. I saw it as a little effort at local reporting. The kind you can only really do on a bike.

And I like the tone of the editorial in general. This kind of coverage is in itself an incentive for the people who make decisions on walking and cycling infrastructure. The editorial concludes:

There will be inevitable grumbling from motorists, but in many instances the needs of all can be accommodated by careful redistribution of space taken by traffic islands and median strips.

This weekend much focus will be on the water, with the Anniversary regatta, but Auckland is not just a city of sails, it is a city of shores, given its isthmus setting between two harbours. The public programme of making it easier to cross that isthmus and to reach more points on the coast has been a welcome plus.

The completion of the Waterview Connection project will include, quite remarkably, a foot and pedal path across New Zealand, spanning the isthmus from harbour to harbour. It will connect with the SH16 cycleway. That's the beginning of a real cycle network. The new "greenways" on the Point Chevalier side of the northwestern motorway are also part of the deal.

It's vital to note that these things didn't just happen – they were the result of the advocacy of groups like Cycle Action Auckland, which eventually obliged NZTA to build or fund the overground stretch of the SH20 cycleway traversed by the new tunnel.

The progressive extensions of SH20 also gave rise to the cycleway that stretches alongside the existing motorway. By the same token, it would have been difficult to improve the SH16 cycleway without the Causeway upgrade (which is in part necessary to take the traffic from Waterview). The raising of the Causeway also means that for the first time, there will be proper capture of run-off from the motorway, so pollutants don't enter the part of the harbour where we swim. When the project is completed, there will be longer, wider bus lanes and a dedicated SH16 busway seems likely in the longer term.

The authorities have unfortunately baulked at times – the daunting 1km climb northbound to Hillsborough Road on the SH20 cycleway is a showstopper for commuters and weekend cyclists alike – but the principle of major roading projects meeting the needs of walkers and cyclists is an important one.

So I wasn't entirely down with Paul Little's column in the same paper on Saturday, damning the Waterview Connection to hell:

Although no one has actually been seen embracing them, the stand of six 80-year-old pohutukawa on Great North Rd near the SH16 interchange works could use a hug right now. Auckland Transport has approved their removal to widen a road we don't need.

Hugs would also be welcomed by a lot of Aucklanders who have recently begun to see all too plainly what a hellish plan is being put in place between here and the Waterview connection (cost $1.4 billion). The pillars and overpasses can now be seen to be on a scale so colossal they appear not to be made with humans in mind at all.

And all to make the city even more dependent on cars and less likely to get decent public transport, because, well, sorry, but do you have any idea how much the Waterview connection has cost?

More roads for cars do long-term damage to Auckland as well as the regions. It deprives the latter of public funds for development and funnels their people into the mega-city, at a time when many regions' main industry is filling in benefit applications because they have no jobs left.

As I noted in last week's post, the expansion of the St Luke's Road overbridge, opposite Western Springs, is part of the same wider project as the Waterview Connection and the Causeway upgrade -- but is worse in almost every way. With two local boards, NZTA and Auckland Transport all in the mix, it lacks purpose and vision and any real connection with the local community. The potential loss of the six heritage pohutukawa and the buggering up of of an already bad intersection for pedestrians are functions of that.

But hey, I'll say it: I live right on the edge of the Waterview Connection and I'm mostly okay with it. Yes, it will get me to and from the airport more quickly -- but in a way, it's the reason for that that's more important. The time saved will be saved because the Waterview Connection will take traffic off my local roads. Half the journey time to and from the airport is curently the grind through streets and intersections designed for local traffic, not airport transits.

From 2017, I expect that traffic through the middle of my suburb, especially on Meola and Point Chevalier roads, will decrease notably, because there will be no direct access to the Waterview Connection via Point Chevalier. I worry about that St Luke's interchange, but I'm pretty happy about the prospect of fewer traffic jams on Carrington Road.

I'm also undaunted by the scale of Waterview. Indeed, I'm somewhat in awe of the engineering going on. Yes, there will be lanes high in the air at the north end, but they're in the space over the existing motorway. Waterview residents will have their own views about the degree of mitigation embodied in the project, but people I've heard from seem fairly happy with it.

Anyway, in conclusion: three dates for you. One is at 9am tomorrow, for the opening of the new Oakley Creek bridge alongside the motorway and a little ride around the new infrastructure in the area.

At 6pm tomorrow there’s a public liaison meeting with the contractors representing Auckland Transport and NZTA at the Western Springs Community Centre opposite the park. If you're concerned about the pohutukawa or anything else about the redevelopment of the St Luke's Road interchange, this is the place to air those concerns.

And finally: Friday's deadline for submissions on the Skypath across the harbour bridge. No, it should not be relying on private funding, but it's still a fairly exciting development. We can make things better here.


Friday Music: Wild in the country, cool in the city

In an extremely colourful account on Audioculture, Colin Hogg records that in 1994, Straitjacket Fits took the stage to deliver "a fearsome performance that must have put a quiver into all those black jeans out there" in the crowd at the somewhat infamous Mountain Rock festival of that year.

I'd have been happy to take Colin at his word, but it turns out there is documentary evidence. My buddy Andrew Moore has tracked down the video he shot of the Fits playing their last song, 'Dialling a Prayer', and uploaded it to YouTube. It is rock 'n' roll and it is blinding.

Andrew says his tape of the show (there's around half an hour in total) had been accidentally discarded years with a bunch of mouldy old videocassettes, but he'd made several copies for the band at the time and, happily, one of those had been transferred to DVD. It was shot on a Panasonic MS1: "It was a big old SVHS camera. But those cameras have amazing sound -- a really good mic."

He had arrived during the afternoon to "this mad festival – millions of people in the middle of nowhere and everyone's pissed and security's a bit lax. It was pretty freaky.

"The weather was insane on the night. About three quarters of the way though through you can see me retreat a bit because the camera was getting soaked. The band were worried they were going to get electrocuted. But it looked amazing."


Moving to more recent country fun, I confess to being bemused by the hostility of the Thames Coromandel District Council towards the Chronophonium festival held on private property in Tapu, on the Coromadel Peninsula, this past weekend. The council's press release on Friday indicates it was concerned about a repeat of the New Year riot in Gisborne, but it really doesn't seem that fear was well-founded

For a start, the claim that 1500 people had paid to attend is wrong. That's the number of people who clicked "like" on the festival's Facebook page. The sold-out ticketed number was actually half that. And it also seems evident that this groovy, arty, non-profit sustainability-oriented party wasn't really anything like the boozy, riotous BW Festival in Gisborne.

And then there was this:

Community environment manager Marion Smith says they will be “going to court - we will be prosecuting.”

“The event was abated not to start and they ignored that,” says Marion. “The fact that they ignored it meant they put themselves at risk of breaching the district plan's noise elements.

“We had offered them another place (Thames Racecourse) to hold the event because they weren't going to get resource consents soon enough, and they didn't take the offer up.”

Marion adds: “Council will prosecute because it's a blatant disregard. They had time to reorganise and we had offered a suitable site for them that had already had a resource consent.

“They were determined to go down the path they wanted to do, it didn't matter what we said.”

The festival organisers have posted their detailed response here, noting that:

Although Chronophonium’s resource consent is still pending, all plans submitted to the council were executed professionally with due care to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Three security guards patrolled the property and found no trouble over the three days. There were no major accidents, and the six qualified first aid personnel had time to enjoy the music and are excited to work with us again next year.

To be honest, if I felt I'd acted in good faith and was faced with an ultimatum to transfer my bush festival to a racecourse or cancel it, I'd be inclined to just carry on too. There were two noise control complaints, but they seem to have complied with officers on that. ("The seizure of sound equipment ended peacefully and festival goers enjoyed quiet acoustic music for the rest of the night.")

There are photos, reviews and a few videos from the weekend online, including this great-looking clip in which Thundercub get their throb on.


Laneway lights up Auckland's Silo Park area on Monday the 26th of this month. But in the days before Auckland and Wellington get sideshows from Flying Lotus and Wellingotn gets Little Dragon and Royal Blood.

Note also this haunting new Flying Lotus video.

But there's something pretty special on at Silo Park the Saturday before too. For Silo Sessions on the 24th, DJ curator Hudge is joined by the much-loved Turnaround crew and London groove legend Norman Jay. It starts at midday and there will be craft beer, food and a special Pasifika-themed market. And it's free.

What is a Norman Jay show like? Here's an utterly gorgeous video from Notting Hill Carnival 2012. It fills my heart with joy.


And finally on the festival front, the Ruapuke Roots Garden Festival in Raglan boasts a very impressive lineup of dub and reggae sound system action next month, with crews from around New Zealand and France, Germany and the UK.


Andrew Schmidt has a remarkable insight into Christchurch music folklore published on Audioculture this week: the Mollet Street story, featuring The Doomed, The Vauxhalls and more.

An update from The Guardian on the forthcoming Kurt Cobain doco, Montage of Heck, executive produced by his daughter Francis Bean and including "dozens of Nirvana songs and performances, as well as previously unheard Cobain originals”.


Whoop! New RocknRolla Soundsystem edit! Free download!

Another week, another sweet, sad Lontalius tune:

Wellington's Paddy Fred has posted a lovely flip of the Marvin Gaye classic.

On TheAudience, another doing-it-all young woman from Christchurch:

And another. I've posted this track before but I played it on 95bFM last Saturday and I think it's one of last year's sleepers (note the free download on the page):

Righto ...


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Works in progress

As I have noted before, we in Point Chevalier are living on the edge of some fairly major works. The big one, The Waterview Connection, hit the halfway mark last week.

And it in turn is a factor in subsidiary works: the raising and widening of the State Highway 16 causeway and the raising and widening of the St Luke's Road overbridge, which will become the chief portal for traffic between the Waterview Connection and the inner western suburbs.

It's not all good, especially in that last case. The new overbridge threatens a stand of heritage pohutukawa and the non-automobile benefits (a better shared path over the motorway to the SH16 cycleway) do not seem to match the costs (the trees; and that intersection becoming even worse for cyclists and walkers than it is now).

It seems to me that the St Lukes bridge expansion suffers badly in comparison to the much larger projects at Waterview (managed by a group of companies and agencies as The Well-Connected Alliance) and the causeway upgrade (The Causeway Alliance) in its lack of a proper communications plan. It's a muddle of two local boards, Auckland Transport and NZTA, with varying agendas and different parties responsible for different pieces.

By contrast, Cycle Action Auckland, my go-to for this kind of information, hailed the Causeway Alliance team as "outstanding" this week and notes that there will be an informal opening of the new Oakley Creek "boardwalk" (really more of a nice concrete bridge along the mouth of the creek) at 9.30am next Wednesday.

So there are reasons to be cheerful, especially with respect to the causeway project, which will bear fruit first (by contrast, land ownership issues mean the new Waterview cycleway probably won't be in place until 2017, the same time the motorway and tunnels are commissioned).

The upgrade to the rest of the SH16 cycleway really has been pretty good. The path has been kept in operation at all times and the respect shown to cyclists by the workers on the path deserves acknowledgement.

I thought I'd go for a couple of rides and take some pictures of what's happening, from the swish new Lincoln Road end of the SH16 cycleway to the new "greenway" path being constructed with zero fanfare on the Point Chevalier side of the motorway.

The new path was required as part of the consents for the motorway work and was subsequently incoporated into the Eden Allbert local board's Greenways plan. It's intended to link up with both the existing coastal walkway at the bottom of Walker Road and the new path being built around the Waterview coastline by the Well-Connected Alliance. You can see more about the Greenways concept here.

I'll conclude by inviting all of you to contribute useful links and information – and also your own photographs. If you want to post a photograph, use the file upload button by the comment window (try and keep your file size to around 1MB). You can add up to three images to one comment, but you need to save each one and then go back in using the edit function on your comment to add the next.


Friday Music: The Two Sevens Clashed

I posted Julien Temple's entrancing film The Clash: New Year's Day 1977, in the discussion for last week's music post, but I think it deserves highlighting here, not only for its musical elements, but for the political and social context in which Temple places them.

Centred on his previously-unseen black and white video of The Clash's gig at The Roxy in London on New Year's Day 1977, it's the kind of impish collage that Temple has been making since The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, but he has so much to work with here.

The result is an impressionistic snapshot of pre-Thatcher Britain: lost, impatient, anxious, absurd, entering the year of the Rasta prophecy. As Temple notes in this BBC interview, some of the BBC and ITV footage "is so twee and old-fashioned it feels like it's the 1950s rather than the 1970s." So much is odd, teetering, a message from a world that changed -- including even the early video medium on which he shot at the time.

Yet I get what he means when he says "I think it's about the future, not the past". And I really cannot recommend this film highly enough.


Late-breaking: this murky, monochrome but compelling 1980 Talking Heads live video recently emerged from some vault:


Part 3 of Yadana Saw's A History of Student Radio airs at 2.10pm tomorrow afternoon on Radio New Zealand's Music 101. This one seems to cover the 90s: and hence the bNet, the ratings and, by golly, Hard News.

The first two eps are here:

Also, a couple of interviews from last Saturday on the way the music business is evolving. The Atlantic's Derek Thompson on 'The Shazam Effect':

And following on that, me on ways of consuming music and their implications:

You never had the best night of your life with an algorithim, did you?


It's good to see indie music festivals in apparent rude health. Chronophonium, today and tomorrow in Tapu in the Coromandel, has sold out.

On February 14, some wags in Tauranga stage Woodcock 2015. Even if you're not able to make it, I think reading The Top 10 Bands to Avoid at Woodcock 2015 is a good use of your time.

In Auckland tonight? Hamish Kilgour and Hollie Fulbrooke play at Golden Dawn this evening, with Andrew Tidball DJing out in the yard.


Via a recommendation from High Hoops, this local producer has some seriously sweet groove going on.

More Music 101. Andre Upston's live recording of Jakob making thunder at Galatos in Auckland late last year:

A DJ called Scumfrog did some further tweaking of The Relfex's excellent re-edit of Talking Heads' 'Once in a Lifetime' and played it to great joy and excitement at this year's Burning Man. He has now made it available for download and it is indeed pretty sweet:

A sweet, sad song, all of a minute long, posted this week by Lontalius:

Plastic People, the small, famous basement club in Shoreditch, London, closed down last week, after more than 20 years. Floating Points and Four Tet played the final night and have posted the recording of the whole evening (just shy of six hours of it) to Soundcloud:

The Guardian's story helps explain why the place was special.

Making some holiday-season waves at TheAudience, the jazz exotica of Emily Rice:

She's playing this month at the Christian music festival Festival One, at Mystery Creek.

And, finally, I've been listening to Lennart Nout's Laneway 2015 playlist on Spotify to get myself schooled in advance:

Any further contributions to Laneway prep are welcomed in the comments below. If you want to embed a YouTube or Vimeo clip, just paste in the bare URL and the site will automagically embed it for you.


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