FromThePit is an annual curated exhibition of music photography, featuring images of New Zealand musicians performing live, captured by some of the best music photographers across Aotearoa.
2023 marks the fifth anniversary of FromThePit and features recent work from over 50 photographers. The exhibition is open to photographers who take images at live music events in an official capacity. Entries are limited to shots of local artists and local venues to promote our homegrown industry.
This year the annual Audio-Visual exhibition is made up of around 100 images carefully selected from the hundreds submitted each year. The aim is to celebrate the breadth and diversity of talent both on and off the stage, showcasing images from established photographers alongside relative newcomers.
FromThePit also has an educational element. Workshops are run throughout the year, and the FromThePit Podcast series focuses on the art of live music photography giving insights and advice for those interested in the genre.
As musicians, venues and the whole creative ecosystem have struggled over the last few years, our images are an important reflection of the power of live music events and a document of our vibrant nation music scene.
FromThePit can be viewed online and in screens across the country during Te
Marama Puoro o Aotearoa | NZ Music Month (May 2023).
See FromThePit.co.nz for more details of this year’s exhibition and events, and
to view our archives.
FromThePit is provided in partnership with Auckland UNESCO City of Music, NZ Music Month, Independent Music NZ (IMNZ), New Zealand Music Commission, Auckland Council, Sony, The Attention Seeker, Epsom, Rock Shop and AgentX.
FromThePit 2023 is designed and curated by New Zealand live music photographers Dave Simpson, Chontalle Musson, Stella Gardiner, Chris Morgan and Maeve O’Connell.
2022 marks the fourth year of the homegrown FromThePit music photography exhibition. This year the exhibition will be digital only and run during New Zealand Music Month (May 2022).
We are excited to announce that we have the work of 50 talented photographers in this year’s curated exhibition. All images feature New Zealand musicians playing live in New Zealand in the last two years.
This year’s exhibition contains stunning images of musicians across a range of genres and includes artists such as Producer and DJ Lee Mvtthews, Kiwi pop legends SIX60, L.A.B and and Benee, Auckland Punk natives Dick Move, Kiwi legend Tami Neilson and rock band Written by Wolves.
Throughout the year, dozens of photographers are usually huddled into music venues up and down the country capturing photos of New Zealand’s vibrant music scene. It’s a difficult and unpredictable environment to work in, but these photographers work tirelessly to capture the magic they see before them.
Part artists, part historians, but all music fans, they all strive to take the perfect photo which reflects how it felt to be at the concerts and communicates the excitement of a live music event.
As we journey through a time where live shows are in short supply, concert images take on a new importance; reminding us of all of the vibrant music scene we enjoy in New Zealand and the abundance of creativity which will always find a way to bubble out.
The exhibition will be available to view online and on select screens across the country during May 2022.
FromThePit is provided in partnership with Auckland UNESCO City of Music, NZ Music Month, Independent Music NZ (IMNZ) and the New Zealand Music Commission, and others to be announced soon.
Find out more about this year’s exhibition and an archive of previous years’ exhibitions at www.fromthepit.co.nz
FromThePit 2022 is designed and curated by New Zealand music photographers Dave Simpson, Chontalle Musson and Stella Gardiner.
I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say it has been a rough year. Personally, I had a lot of amazing plans that got cancelled. I was planning on traveling throughout Europe, seeing the world, touring with my dear friends Ranges and attending festivals such as dunk!festival and ArcTanGent. Then a pesky virus spread around the globe and put an end to all of that. Admittedly we’ve got it pretty good here in New Zealand. We had five weeks of national lockdown around Easter time, and certainly a lot of gigs were cancelled or at reduced capacity, but we’ve still had live music for a lot of this year, which is an absolute blessing.
Even so, I’ve found it hard for a multitude of reasons. I decided to retire from running the blog earlier in the year. But I have some spare time now that I’m on holiday and I enjoy writing these end-of-year summaries, so I’m back in action for this one last article for the year.
As I mentioned, New Zealand has still been able to have concerts and gatherings for a lot of the year, so this has allowed a lot of NZ artists to stand out a bit more on the world stage. Benee is an example of one artist who has garnered international attention and success. The Beths are another group who have gone from strength to strength. Many of us fell in love with their self-deprecating powerpop with debut album Future Me Hates Me, and follow up record Jump Rope Gazers is just as brilliant. It’s more of a slow burner than FMHM, but still proves just as irresistible and catchy after a few listens, and an easy pick for my top album of 2020. The Beths are also great live and I was delighted to catch them live again this year after a number of postponements. They’re in such demand that they played 5 packed out shows over three days in Wellington, and I imagine they could have even pulled enough of a crowd to play a few more shows too.
Caspian’s last album Dust and Disquiet is phenomenal. They blew my mind playing that material at dunk!fest in 2018 and I was so upset that I couldn’t see them play again this year after my travels were cancelled. On Circles may not quiet measure up to Dust and Disquiet, but it’s still a solid album, just in it’s own way. It’s a more reserved offering, but this seems somehow appropriate for the times. There’s two songs with singing – Kyle Dufrey of Pianos Become The Teeth lends his voice to one track, and Phil Jamieson’s singing on the titular track is sublime and soul restoring. Something else I love about this album is the interesting tones and timbres they’ve gone for. Maybe they’re in alternate tunings, maybe it’s effect pedals, I really have no idea. But these tones, coupled with some cello and violin on a few tracks, make for unusual yet enticing listening.
Regular readers won’t be at all surprised by this inclusion. It’s no secret that I’m a big IIOI fan. They were the first act that I flew overseas to see live. And the last album, Standards, was a great. Figure is a logical continuation of Standards. Brilliant songwriting, great playing. The drumming is complementary and they’ve continued their exploration into interesting tones.
Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings
Again, this should come as no surprise; Biffy Clyro have been my favourite band since I was a teenager. I almost slept on this one though – I pre-ordered the vinyl record and due to covid related complications it still hasn’t shown up. Warner said they’d send a digital download but never did (same case with their last record Ellipsis too, up your game Warner!) After a few months of waiting I figured that maybe I should do some hunting. I eventually got a copy of the album downloaded and I’m glad I did because it’s been on steady repeat ever since. Biffy have always trodden a fine line, making a point of being weird and alternative (at times inaccessible even, especially during the earlier albums), yet at the same time playing stadium rock and writing songs that earn mainstream radio play (more so overseas). And somehow they’ve managed to continue down this path with success. There’s less of the bland radio fodder that featured heavily on Ellipsis, and they’ve managed to evolve and push their style whilst style true to their distinctive Biffy sound.
Other music worth mentioning
Sam Butler released two great solo EPs this year. I reviewed the first EP, over time.
You may know Hause as the singer of punk band The Loved Ones. It’s almost a cliche how punk singers start solo projects along these lines (Think The Revival Tour). Kick is a great album, hopeful and defiant in the face of oppression. It’s in the vein of singer-songwriter, even country styles, something a bit more chilled out, but still with rock roots.
I have no idea how I came across this album but it just hit the spot. A perfect blend of ambient and electronica. I’ve needed more calming music like this a lot this year.
The state of things in 2020
I’m terrified of the ongoing implications of what will happen to the music scene as a result of this pandemic. Musicians who rely on touring and selling merch for a living suddenly don’t have an income. Venues can’t get by because people aren’t allowed to attend gatherings. No venues means no places for bands to play. And it doesn’t just affect musicians, there’s the roadies and drivers and lighting techs and sound engineers and a whole industry suddenly without work.
Many musicians are resorting to livestreaming performances. [Here’s one that my friends in Ranges did for WherePostRockDwells]. Some people have been able to monetise livestreaming these performances. We will see if this becomes comomonplace in the future.
We all know that streaming is not really the answer forward. Sure, it is a revenue stream, but they pay such a pittance per stream that it’s a joke. Bandcamp have stepped up with Bandcamp Fridays, monthly events that they choose not to take their cut on any music and merch sold in order to help the musicians and labels who need the income so badly now. And it appears to have worked, with millions of dollars worth of transactions happening every Bandcamp Friday.
Thankfully we still have live music here in NZ for the time being. I’ve been paying to a Patreon for our local venue Valhalla because I know that without venues, we won’t have a live music scene.
Live music in 2020
I didn’t see many international acts this year, for obvious reasons. I did see Queen at the stadium (it was a bit of a spectacle but I’m glad I didn’t pay much), I saw Yawning Man at Valhalla, and a few metal bands at Obey The Riff festival at Panhead Brewery in Upper Hutt. My own band also opened for Sebadoh at a sold out show at San Fran in Feb, which was pretty awesome.
Happy Valley at Newtown Festival. Image: Will Not Fade
Some of my favourite Wellington bands at the moment are Happy Valley, Planet Hunter and Adoneye, and I managed to see them all play a few times.
It’s a real shame that Spook The Horses had their European tour cancelled, but I was stoked that they asked my band to open at their album release and they killed it. They livestreamed the night if you want to go back and watch it.
Spook The Horses album release at Meow. Image: Will Not Fade
A real indication of how much things have changed is when I went to see local speed metallers Stälker recently. It was packed. Certainly a big change from reduced capacity shows that I’d been going to a few months earlier. The mosh pit was pumping and you couldn’t move because everyone was squeezed together so tightly. I used to live for nights like that, but it felt so uncomfortable after avoiding being too close to others for most of the year.
Stälker at Newtown Sports Bar. Image: Will Not Fade
It’s hard to say what next year holds for us. Guns n Roses have announced a stadium tour in NZ. Is that too ambitious? Only time will tell. Hopefully the covid vaccine is effective.
Beastwars have held an Obey The Riff festival at Panhead Brewery in Upper Hutt over the past few years and it’s been successful. I’ve heard rumours about the potential lineup for 2021 and I’m excited about that. I’m not holding my breath about seeing any acts from overseas anytime soon though.
In terms of releases, I’m looking forward to a new Amy Shark album, and hopefully Adoneye release their debut (bass player Jesse is recovering from wrist surgery). There may also be a live DVD from Opium Eater (Jesse’s other band) and Glassblower are dropping their debut grindcore album. My own band Secrets of the Sun will have an album out at some stage early next year too. Sora Shima are coming back so I’m hoping to see them again, and fingers crossed for some new music.
What are your favourite albums of 2020? What are your predictions for 2021? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts!
You’ve got to love people who embody a DIY ethic, and Hamish Morgan certainly fits that description. Wellington has been facing the loss of many local venues in recent years, including youth hub Zeal which was vital for the all ages music scene. Obviously with less venues available, bands have fewer places to play, meaning that the local music scene suffers as a result.
So Hamish took it upon himself to provide a place for local bands to play: his living room.
He recently wrote a piece about it for our homies The Mousai:
For over a year now, Hamish has been hosting house shows at his flat in Hataitai. He provides a backline (amps, PA, microphones, drums etc), a venue (his living room) and advertising on Facebook and with posters.
Hamish playing with his band Happy Valley. Image: Will Not Fade
It’s a risky business. Maybe it wasn’t the wisest decision to name the events “Hataitai Homewrecker”. Yes, it is located in the suburb of Hataitai, but I’m sure that he doesn’t want his home destroyed. He limits the events to only once a month, noise proofs the space as much as possible and tries to enforce a strict curfew so as to not upset the neighbours too much. On the wall is a framed warning notice from Noise Control, who had been called out to the very first Hataitai Homewrecker event, but the other events have been mostly uneventful in that respect.
These events have become a right of passage of sorts for many bands. Hamish was the first person to book my own band to play, and many local Pōneke bands first cut their teeth at a Homewrecker. Plenty of musicians from the punk/hardcore etc scene in Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton and even as far as Sydney have made the pilgrimage here to play as well.
This is more than just providing another place for bands to play. A bonus that some people may not realise, local artists are getting some good exposure from the posters. My personal favourite is from Daniel Vernon (of the band Dartz), who did this amazing hipster Hulk poster. I’ve since been noticing his artwork popping up all over the place.
I’ve had a few chats with Hamish and he’s stressed to me about how he wants to avoid it becoming a “sausage fest”, and wants to ensure there is a variety of gender representation. And he’s done pretty well, with plenty of wahine featuring in the lineups of great bands that play his events. I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but like me, Hamish is an early childhood teacher. Males make up a very small minority in that area of the teaching profession, so we are very aware of the impact it can make.
It’s been a great success, with Hataitai Homewrecker events having occoured monthly for over a year now. And Hamish is showing potential for branching out, having recently organised a free local show at a skatepark (sadly this was canceled due to a horrendous storm) and currating a stage for the upcoming Newtown Festival in March 2020.
So major tautoko to Hamish for taking it upon himself to provide a place for local musicians and sustain the music community.