My pick for the most underutilised venue in Auckland (well, this or Point Chevalier's The Ambassador)? The Winchester is the closest you can get to a Melbournian corner pub venue here in our fair city (ie: the kind of place where all the good bands usually play), but the really memorable gigs and events where it opens its doors are few and far between.
Although the competition with the Panther And The Zoo gig at the KA the same night (oh, and apparently there's some other event of some sort happening tonight) means it's a far-from-capacity crowd, this might be another one to add to the slender tally.
First off: it's the Drabs' night - their EP release, printed up by none other than Jack White's Third Man pressing - so it makes sense that the openers are of a piece, odd curios that appear to have stepped out of some mystical New Zealand past.
We're treated to a brief but wonderful performance by a lovely older gentleman on the musical saw, for a start - then we hear from the Hollow Grinders.
For several years now, they've been one of the only peddlers of razor-sharp surf rock in Hamilton. Although I always want these bands to give vocals more of a shot (if only because D-Super remain one of my all-time faves) their chops are lean, mean and to the point. It's a privilege getting this sporadic opportunity to see them.
As for Karl Steven and Co - well, what of it? On the one hand, the DDR's live show hasn't changed a lot in the past year in terms of energy and style (or, 'you had to be there'). On the other, that's what makes them the best live prospect in Auckland.
Steven and Caoimhe Macfehin are, by now, a positively lethal call-and-response team (the mannered but exquisitely weird frontman/frontwoman antics of classic punkabilly act X come to mind).
The songs on A Fistful of Doo Riffs are still hot, as both the EP and the performances indicate, and here they're augmented by occasional trumpet and throwbacks that remind us what a good run they've had since 2009. They're unequivocally world-class nowadays. We should be so lucky to keep them in our grasp.
Who: The Drab Doo-Riffs w/ The Hollow Grinders
Where: The Winchester, Auckland
When: Friday, September 9