Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Live music helps Christchurch beat post-quake blues

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

Live music in hastily-built venues has helped shaken Cantabrians beat the post-quake blues, a university researcher says.

University of Canterbury Cultural Studies researcher Kris Vavasour is investigating how music in the city that's spawned top Kiwi bands and musicians, including The Exponents, The Feelers, Zed, Bic Runga, and Scribe, has changed since the devastating earthquakes.

The 39-year-old Masters student wants to know how the city's musical flow has changed, especially in the case of live music venues.

She's following the stories of three venues, in particular: Dux de Lux, Goodbye Blue Monday, and The Bedford.

They've all gone in different directions since the quakes, and tried to keep putting on live gigs.

The Bedford has especially impressed, she says, given that it's been holding concerts in various pop-up venues across the crumbling city.

It was even voted as one of the best in New Zealand by members of the Music Managers' Forum.

And it's been that ability to adapt to the changing landscape, that's kept up the spirits of Cantabs, Ms Vavasour says.

"Music, and live performance, has been a really important part of surviving - having that shared social outlet, to cut loose, relax, interact with other people is so important," she said.

"I've been to concerts in suburban parks, empty building sites, peoples' houses, it doesn't matter where, as long as it's happening."

Her study involves documenting some of the changes to the social and physical landscape and about how popular music not only provides a soundtrack to people's lives, but how it helps them make sense of their altered city.

The researcher also wants to know if the city's musical tastes have changed since the earthquakes, and if songs from or about Christchurch getting airplay on national playlists.

While The Exponents's classic song, 'Christchurch - In Cashel Street I Wait' has been played heavily locally over the latest balmy summer, she doubts it's been as big elsewhere in the country.

And she also wonders if songs that talk about local issues, like dealing with EQC (Earthquake Commission), would appeal to people outside Canterbury.

Ms Vavasour has been spending time on the set of Gaylene Preston's TV series, Hope and Wire, which takes its name from the most recent album by local band, The Eastern.

The album was recorded in a red-zoned house in Dallington and released last year.

Having attended many music gigs in a wide variety of environments and locations around the city, Ms Vavasour said Christchurch has a unique musical identity.

"There is a lot of amazing music being made here and some Christchurch artists are definitely finding interesting and creative ways to make an impact on the popular culture landscape of New Zealand."

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