Concert review: Stink Fest 13, Christchurch

By Chris Cudby

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Commander Robot.
Photo / Erin McNamara
Commander Robot. Photo / Erin McNamara

Stink Magnetic Records might be New Zealand music's best-kept secret.

They've always worked on the periphery putting out work by musicians united by a love of scuzzed-up party sounds, songs about cool stuff and getting boozed. Or, as the catalogue for Stink Fest 13 put it, "No shit bands".

Over one weekend in Christchurch the label celebrated its 13th birthday, marking its transition into the tumultuous teens with style and a shitload of fuzzed-out guitars.

Full disclosure is important here - I played at the festival with my band Golden Axe. So take these words as you like - objectivity's pretty much out the window. We flew in on Friday, missing out on what was by all accounts a killer first evening headlined by local hero Delaney Davidson.

The second evening at great new venue The Darkroom was opened by I Drink Your Blood who hypnotised the crowd with his sharp space-vampire attire, smooth dance moves, hauntingly echoed vocal grunts and catchy, dubbed-out organ melodies.

Next up was Christchurch legend Richie Venus.

Armed with just his singing voice, a customised gold jacket and some superb backing tracks, Venus showed the audience what live entertainment is all about. Stink Magnetic banner act Planet of the Tapes packed the house and brought the party with their "esoteric space trash" surf-rock'n'roll, a festival highlight. Last up was Golden Axe, and we had a great time zooming through eight songs in 18 minutes to meet the 1am closing deadline. The audience and the bar was awesome - you can drink beer while browsing records at neighbouring Galaxy Records!

The final evening was located at the new Dux Live venue. Kicking off with one-man-band Monosonic, he kept the bar high with reverbed vox, skronking guitar lines and cool songs about topics such as drinking a cup of tea. Next up was the mysterious T.A. Maracas, creating a Twilight Zone of sound with just organ, voice and minimal percussion.

Eerie vibes and Suicide-like no-wave energy spikes - apparently "polarising" to jerks who don't know. Compeer Bad Evil maintained a smooth transition between acts with snappy wit and hot guitar. Boss Christ was another festival highlight - mesmerising guitar, an unreal voice and truly passionate songs about topics close to his heart, like tractors. His acapella song and dance was a show-stopper. I somehow missed the Grand Chancellors - what a dick.

Closing up was The Bloody Souls, tearing it up through Andrew Tolley's epic songbook. Things were pretty bleary by that stage as Stink Fest 13 was finished on a heavily distorted, beer-soaked note.

Too many great bands, what a sweet weekend!

What: Stink Fest 13
Where: The Darkroom/Dux Live, Christchurch
When: Thursday, December 15 - Saturday, December 17

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