An Ode To An Important Local Venue: Bar Bodega

Bodega Wellington


Bar Bodega hosts some of my most revered memories.

Florida punks Against Me! played there back in 2011, back when their front man was still a man. Sweat dripped from the ceilings as the crammed-in crowd tussled, swayed and shouted along to the songs. There were stage dives aplenty, but not many came off the stage. My friend Steve and I took turns boosting each other up. We cupped our hands near our knees for the other person to step onto and launch off.

I remember my first time witnessing a Guitar Wolf show. I’d seen Foo Fighters play in Auckland the night beforehand, and struggle to decide which band put on the better performance. Guitar Wolf were almost cartoonish – Japanese rockers fully buying into the stereotypes. They preferred to suffer under intense heat rather than ditch their leather jackets and sunglasses. There was thumb wrestling, human pyramids, and a LOT of noise. The music wasn’t that good, but never mind that, it was about the overall experience.

Cody ChessnuTT blessed us with his smooth, soulful R&B beats on the night of his 40th birthday. I had been awake for roughly 36 hours trying to juggle university assignments around work, but as exhausted as I was, it was worth staying awake late into that Monday night.

I’ve marvelled at my favourite singer Frank Turner as he spread the folk punk gospel from his pulpit, and was inducted into some other-worldly ritual when Killing Joke tried to set off the apocalypse from the stage.

Locals and internationals; punks, rockers, soul-singers, blues-players, beat-layers, rappers, wailers and crooners have all graced the stage, amongst many others. Look around the bar and you will see many records, photos, posters and backstage passes that lay testament to the many musical memories that still linger within the venue. Furthermore are the memories of first bar, from its original site on Willis Street 25 years ago.

Bodega has now followed the likes of Mighty Mighty, James Cabaret, and Puppies by closing up shop. May the memories remain long after the doors have shut.


Joseph James

Live Review: Against Me! at Bodega, Wellington

Against ME Bodega Wellington Poster

Against Me!

w/ Off With Their Heads and The Outsiders

Bodega, Wellington

 Saturday 14 May 2011

Third time lucky, or so the saying goes. After a few failed attempts, Against Me! finally came back to New Zealand for their White Crosses tour. As annoyed as I was when they cancelled the tour last time, the Saturday night show was enough to make up for it.

Local Wellington band The Outsiders were a good choice for an opening act, their shouty style of punk being similar in style to AM! They played a blistering set of punk rock fury that set the trend for the rest of the night. Supporting act Off With Their Heads played well too, but all their songs seemed to sound the same. Not that this is a bad thing, but a bit of variety wouldn’t have hurt either.

Opening song “From Her Lips to God’s Ears” set the crowd off. The highlight for me was “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”, one the major singles from their latest album. I was also quite thrilled to hear “Amputations”, from frontman Tom Gabel’s solo record, Heart Burns. I hadn’t expected the band to delve into Gabel’s solo work to add to their set.

The venue was small, and quite tightly packed. Despite the amount of bodies crammed into such a small place, the heat wasn’t overbearing. The smaller area just made it a better, more intimate show. And, of course, the best part about having so many people crammed into a confined space is that there were plenty of opportunities for crowd surfing and stage dives. The poor stage crew were trying rather hard to keep people off the stage, but many managed to get onstage and yell a few lyrics at Gabel’s microphone before getting pushed off.

The band didn’t move around much, but there was no doubt that they invested plenty of energy into their performance. Gabel was dripping with sweat. And one of the drummer’s crash cymbals got destroyed. All the members shouted the lyrics to the songs with great gusto, as did much of the crowd. A good portion of the audience seemed to know all the words to all the songs, and for those who didn’t, there were plenty of “woahs” and “ba ba da’s” to join in with.

The set was well paced. The band kept the banter to a minimum, and just delivered the goods. Song after song, the crowd was just lapping it up.

The band left for a breather, but after a few minutes of the crowd chanting for more the band came back on for more. Rather than the usual one or two song encore that most bands seem to do these days, AM! played “Stop!”, and then a good four or five songs, leaving the punters more than happy.

This is exactly how a punk show should be: fast, fun and political.
Despite having sung about it during their set, Against Me! certainly haven’t lost their touch


Joseph James