I joined a new band a month and a half ago: The Bravo Uniform Mikes. Pottsy – the guitarist and singer- had organised a tour about 6 months ago, so I had to learn a set fast.
I drove to his place most weekends so we could rehearse, and before long we had put together a decent set. Pottsy and I worked together to organise the gigs, creating posters and material to promote the tour. We even spent an afternoon at Massey Studios last week, recording two songs to be used as singles once they have been mixed.
Joining us for the five-date tour was fellow local band Cherry Punch, a pissed-off punk band with plenty of energy and aggression.
Paisley Stage, Napier
w/ Mirrored Walls
Friday 26 May 2023
The first date of the tour was Napier. I met up with Pottsy’s mate Adrian and we drove to Pottsy’s place in Shannon to pick him up. Adrian is off work with a bust ankle so was keen to come along to escape the boredom of bumming around at home as he recuperates. He is also a keen lighting tech, so was eager to use his skills to enhance our shows during the tour.
We arrived in Napier without a hitch. Our venue for the night was The Paisley Stage, a homely space filled with rugs, couches and an assortment of memorabilia. The walls were lined with books, which served both to at to the homely feel of the room, and also help with acoustic treatment. I also enjoyed the countless lava lamps dotted around the place.
Our sound tech tonight was named JR. He looked the part, with long hair and a big beard, and was very friendly. The stage was generously sized with loads of lighting options. I played a cool green Pork Pie branded drum kit.
First up was local act Mirrored Walls. I had some great chats with them before the gig, finding out that two of the members were teachers, like myself. Their sound took me back to my teenage years. Remember when that emo/metalcore style was all the rage? You’d hear bands with one clean singer, and another vocalist who did the screamo bits. They were very tight and technical, all playing to a metronome. I was especially impressed with the lead guitarist, who was a great singer, but also a real wizard on the guitar, adding nice mathy elements to the music. One member, Sophie, couldn’t play because she was unwell, so the band dressed up a life-sized skeleton in their band merch to represent her as her prerecorded singing parts played through the backing tracks.
Our tour mates Cherry Punch were up next, delivering a sear punk rock set. Front woman Cherry was all over the stage, climbing the rigging, throwing herself on the floor… JR even had to ask her to climb down off some speakers. They’d released their debut single today, and were on fire as they played.
I felt that Pottsy and I played well. It was only our second gig together. It was incredibly hot work and I think we will need to request fans for our future gigs. But we pushed through it, and I feel it went well. Two pretty girls got up onstage to dance during our last song, the aptly titled “Boogie Song”, and the locals gave us great feedback after the gig. One guy requested the stick that I’d broken during the set, and looked so chuffed when I handed it to him.
We were unable to find affordable accommodation in the Napier area. Most places were booked out because the Warriors were playing a game there on the Saturday. So we figured we could do a late drive and find somewhere to stay in Gisborne – the town that we were playing next. I was nervous about this drive – everyone I’d talked to had said that road was hard to navigate at the best of times.
Well the East Coast had been impacted badly earlier in the year by severe cyclones. Many bridges had been badly damaged or washed away by rivers swollen with detritus, and the roads had also been impacted in places. The road from Napier to Gisborne had been closed for months, and only recently reopened.
Turns out it still needed repairs however, and the road was closed from 9pm-5am. Not that either band realised this…
We arrived at the road closure and had to figure out our next step. Cellphone reception was limited so loading online maps was proving difficult. The alternative was about a 7 hour drive to Taupo and right around to Gisborne. We opted to just camp out in the cars overnight. It made sense just to wait until the road reopened at 5am, and take the shorter route. We were due to arrive in Gisborne around the same time either way.
The road was indeed treacherous, but we were rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise. The Bravos arrived at our accommodation at 7.30am, and went straight to bed.
Smash Palace, Gisborne
Saturday 27 May 2023
I’d hoped to go to the nearby Rere Rock Slide, a formation in the river that served as a natural water slide. I even had a boogie board in the car. But we needed sleep after such a big night of driving, so didn’t have the time to go there.
We ventured into town for some kai, and then to the venue for load in.
Smash Palace is awesome! It’s like a cross between PICA in Melbourne and 5Tapped in Blenhiem. Situated in an industrial area, near metal scrapyards, it’s a great wee bar with a local community feel. The inside is littered with interesting bits and pieces, and the outdoor stage has a plane over the top of it!
Darryl the owner is a legend, according to everyone I’d spoke to over the past few weeks. Smash Palace is a local institution, and was well set up for live music. They even have a radio station and livestream performances when bands play.
Our opening act tonight was Spikey – the new solo project from Cory Newman. Cory is best known as the frontman of Sit Down in Front. He’s done a lot for someone so young, and was sharing stories about touring with the likes of The Chats and Jimmy Barnes. He’d roped in local musos Ryan and Ali to join him for his Spikey project.
Interestingly enough, Spikey featured two bass players. Ali the drummer had recently injured his right hand so was playing with just one hand, which I found especially impressive. The three of them are clearly well known in the local music scene and had a bunch of friends and family show up to catch their debut. My favourite song was a catchy one entitled “Don’t Touch Stuff On My Desk!”
Cherry is from Gisborne, so we thought that they’d like to headline tonight. I’m pleased with how the Bravos are playing, considering we have been together for such a short amount of time. Tonight went well, although we played some songs exceptionally fast, and I’m surprised that I could keep up with the speed.
Cherry Punch rounded off the night with more of their furious music. They’re a force to be reckoned with and I’m glad that we didn’t have to follow their set.
The return drive to Wellington was largely uneventful, although we did get a better glimpse of the cyclone impact during the daylight. I was well and truly ready for bed by the time I got home.
We play New Plymouth on Friday 2nd June, and Palmerston North on Saturday 3rd.