The Hollywood is bubbling as Foley take the stage.
It's 9-ish, Saturday night and the pop duo are third on the bill at Openside's first headline show of the year.
The gig in Auckland's oldest cinema, a neo-classical gem in Avondale, is about three-quarters capacity as Foley open with an unreleased track, a throng of fans at their feet.
The crowd swells as Ash Wallace and Gabe Everett power through an eight-song set, latest single Stranger a mid-point peak on the way to closing anthem Talk About It.
Hundreds-strong, the crowd sing along to the songs they know, particularly when Ash proffers the mic in their direction.
At one point she turns to Gabe, singing as he plays bass, eyes closed, lost in music. At others, each extends an arm over the front row to meet hands raised in supplication.
The gig says much about Auckland's live music scene: An eager crowd, a heritage venue in a suburban area where noise is a concern and at least one band — Foley — who bounce around rehearsal rooms because they struggle to find affordable spaces to practise.
Live music is key to the Auckland Music Strategy, a new blueprint for ensuring the city has a vibrant music sector delivering cultural, economic and social benefits.
Steered by heavy hitters from the industry and local government, it was developed after Auckland secured Unesco City of Music status.
The economics are crucial. The strategy cites a 2016 report by analysts PwC which found that nationally the music sector generated $543 million to GDP each year and the equivalent of 4697 fulltime jobs.
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Compare that to Melbourne, where a 2017 census found that live music alone generated more than $1.4 billion in spending at events, with significant spinoffs for restaurants, hotels and transport companies.
The economics extend to ensuring musicians can carve out a career. The tortured artist might be a romantic cliche but it doesn't pay the bills.
Key tangible actions for Auckland include a census of venues and a live music taskforce to tackle tension around development, gentrification and regulation.
But that can wait. Foley are buzzing. They stick around, to celebrate Openside's success and mingle with the music community.
Their night's not too big though. They've got to pack their gear and get it home. Then it's back to the day job on Monday.
Another Saturday in Auckland, a diverse city with diverse tastes.
Today's menu includes Trinity Roots on Waiheke, Kids Music In Parks in Henderson, purveyors of "hard-hitting well-hewn body rock anthems" Sea Mouse at city centre Whammy Bar and a Celtic Family Concert in Oratia.
Some should make money, some aren't meant to. All aim to entertain or excite, to connect the audience with the music.
Connection's a big thing for Mark Roach, a key figure in Auckland landing Unesco standing and the resulting strategy.
"I've always found that music has that ability to heal and to connect people — it's that universal language. Call me an old leftie but hopefully the social outcome is that we have that community bond."
A self-confessed "failed musician", whose biggest claim to fame was supporting English political punk folkie Billy Bragg at the Powerstation, Roach has run his own label, co-founded Independent Music NZ and started the Music Managers Forum.
Now running special projects at Recorded Music NZ, he oversees the New Zealand music hall of fame with artist advocate Apra and manages Missy, a "dark electronica" act signed to the burgeoning Big Pop label.
Roach fizzes when he talks about music. Auckland's scene is "great", Jess B a "revelation", Maori music "genius".
His vision means Auckland is now among 30-odd music cities in Unesco's Creative Cities Network . Others include Liverpool (The Beatles), Memphis (Elvis) and Nashville ("Music City").
All up, the network contains 180 cities recognised for multiple creative disciplines. Dunedin, a City of Literature, is the only other New Zealand representative.
Auckland's journey began when Roach became intrigued by Adelaide's bid to become a music city. He tracked their progress and sought their advice. They introduced him to people in other music cities, including a "massive Flying Nun fan" in Germany.
He got Tracey Williams involved at Auckland Council and the idea was signed off by councillors. Then the wider family of council-controlled organisations — including Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (Ateed) — threw their weight behind the application.
Unesco accepted Auckland in late 2017. The strategy followed a year later . Key aims include strengthening the "music ecosystem" including promoting the role of grassroots venues, championing Maori music, supporting music in the Pacific, and preserving music heritage, including heritage venues.
Overseen by a governance group chaired by Roach's boss at Recorded Music, Damian Vaughan, and Ateed's GM of economic development, Pam Ford, it's aimed at supporting and celebrating community groups as much as hit-makers.
Protecting and creating jobs doesn't just mean the likes of Lorde. It's the songwriters and producers; the concert promoters and security; the record companies and royalty wranglers.
Most of them start in the live scene, learning their trade, soaking up ideas, making contacts. The strategy is necessarily open about the major threat posed by Auckland's growth.
"The heart of Auckland's music ecosystem is its grassroots venues. But the urban intensification that occurs in large cities places their survival in jeopardy …"
There's limited detail on the way forward so far, but actions for the first year include the live music taskforce, the census and concrete steps to promote heritage. Each will have its own working group, with membership confirmed in the first week of May.
Ideas for later include more performances in public spaces, perhaps even on public transport, maybe even a museum.
Live venues, stresses Roach, include recording studios, rehearsal rooms and places where recorded music is played, such as DJ-dominated nightclubs.
The taskforce will be the "real engine room", advocating for musicians and venues, and improving two-way communication between the industry and local government. Licensing, noise control and other regulation are all on the agenda.
"I think a lot of people know the problems that venues face but what I really want to do is hear directly from the horse's mouth — what exactly are the things that will improve your business?"
The census will be rigorous and provide hard data that allows analysis and sets a benchmark that future surveys can be compared against.
"We always talk about needing more venues," says Roach, "but how many do we need, what size do they need to be and how many can you sustain in a city this size?"
Heritage projects have one eye on civic pride, another on music tourism. There's talk of something like the English Heritage scheme, which puts blue plaques on notable buildings.
An easier win is getting Auckland libraries to collect posters, flyers and tickets for contemporary music, as they already do with classical music.
A general move to promote the strategy will include a series of videos celebrating Auckland's musical past.
"These things will evolve," said Roach. "We're on the right path. I'm genuinely excited by the possibilities."
From sticky shoes to nifty views. Last year's closure of The King's Arms, that beer-slicked bastion of the grassroots, heightened perceptions that much-loved venues were at the market's mercy.
The Newton venue continues to inspire devotion. Auckland artist Hed Byte has released an EP called The Death of the Kings Arms. Packaging on a limited edition cassette version includes wallpaper and dust from the tavern.
It's being replaced by a 100-plus apartment complex. The inner-city fringe, trumpets the marketing blurb, is one of the most established, coveted areas in Auckland.
Loss of venues isn't just a new thing (think the Gluepot, Box, Mainstreet) or a New Zealand thing. The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers said the number of nightclubs in Britain fell from 3144 in 2005 to 1733 a decade later. Familiar bogeymen included developers and gentrifiers.
Tom Anderson knows more about that than most. The co-owner of Whammy Bar, a hotspot for live bands and DJ gigs on K Rd, was at the hui to identify the strategy's opening objectives.
The 37-year-old also works as a sound engineer, touring musician, production manager and promoter rep: "Music filters through every single thing I do."
There are multiple challenges running a venue, he says, even one as ostensibly successful as Whammy.
Money: "While house prices are skyrocketing, that translates to rents across commercial properties. We're not a gastropub sitting there serving food during the day and clearing the tables at night. We're a specific live music venue. We don't stop paying overheads just because we don't have a show that week."
Red tape: "Music venues operate differently than other licensed premises but don't get treated differently than them."
Noise: "We don't struggle that much with noise because we're a basement venue, but having worked in venues for the last 20 years, that is a big one."
In summary: "You're up against everything all the time, whether that be the council or landlords or property prices, whatever, it is a struggle, I don't know anyone running a venue up to any size that these things aren't an issue for."
Roach describes grassroots venues as the "R&D labs of the music sector".
"If you don't have those, you don't have people to ply their trade and learn."
Ultimately, Auckland Council has a big say in the health of the live scene. It determines how land — and the buildings on it — can be used. It has a major role in regulation and licensing. It polices noise complaints. It sets rates.
Council arts and culture manager Richard McWha, a former dancer and performing arts teacher, says music can bridge gaps between Auckland's 1.5 million people and 220 ethnic groups.
"We've all got a relationship with music whether it be culturally, faith-based, recreation or entertainment or artistic. It's very close to my heart in terms of being a very democratic art form."
McWha says the commitment to elected members — and, by extension, ratepayers — was to do the work within existing budgets, at least for now. He acknowledges the threat to live venues.
"We really are changing the way that we live. That poses some real practical issues that council has to deal with and developers have to deal with day to day. We do need to deal particularly around noise and the fact that your neighbours are much closer than they used to be.
"It's much more preferable to be dealing with that at a planning stage and understanding how communities live together as opposed to waiting for a complaint to come in and sending someone out to remove a stereo, shut down a party or close a band."
A solution may be moving towards new, purpose-built venues instead of repurposed heritage buildings.
"It's not like we can suddenly create a bylaw that fixes the issues," says McWha.
Overseas the so-called agent of change principle has helped protect existing venues.
Newly enshrined in the UK's National Planning Policy Framework, it means anyone introducing a new land use must manage the impact of that change.
So, if someone builds apartments next to a venue, for example, it's up to the developer to limit the impact on the new residents.
Can Auckland's music strategy withstand pressure from elsewhere in local — and national — politics to provide much-needed homes, particularly with no sign of the agent of change principle being adopted here?
"The strategy gives us the mandate to sit around the table and discuss the impact," says McWha.
"We're prepared to have that conversation and to understand the pressures and what can be achieved, and what is too difficult. But at least we're round the table."
If Auckland is to be a true city of music, surely a venue like Otara Music Arts Centre will play a major role.
During its 30 years, the centre has become indelibly linked with hip hop and pop musicians like OMC, Adeaze, Savage and King Kapisi.
As one of only two local government-funded community centres in New Zealand with an industry-standard professional recording studio, it's somewhere musicians can meet, rehearse and take a class or two.
Since 2011, it's also been home to Sistema Aotearoa.
Run by an independent charitable trust in partnership with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Sistema Aotearoa — not to be confused with the company that makes plastic lunchboxes — uses orchestral music to promote "social change, community empowerment and personal growth" for children from disadvantaged areas.
Modelled on a programme started in Venezuela in 1975, Sistema reached Otara in 2011.
Since then, around 2800 local youngsters have been to community pre-school sessions, concerts and lessons in and after school. Eight years on, there are 445 students in six orchestras.
Without Sistema, Viliami Hoeft, 13, Eve Tuuaga-Taitia, 13, Penina Iosefo, 14 and Enyah Talamaivao, 15 say they'd be playing more video games and wondering how to spend their time.
Instead, they use instruments, get free tuition, play publicly, sometimes alongside professionals, watch performances by local and visiting artists and sit formal exams.
Eve, Penina and Enyah are aiming for a career in music; Viliami's not sure, saying his focus at Papatoetoe High will be on passing exams because that provides a good foundation for future choices.
Kids, parents and staff say there's huge potential for Sistema in a City of Music, but it comes down to funding and planning.
"The Government needs to put more funding into community programmes that really impact, in a positive way, on our kids," says Enyah's mother, Linah Talamaivao. "As parents, we've all seen the benefit to our kids of being part of this."
"They fund sport," chips in Viliami, "because they see a future there. Well, music is exactly the same…"
Critically acclaimed and commercially successful, Tom Scott has been vocal about the financial volatility of life as a musician.
In a series of tweets last October, he noted that in the two months after his latest project, Avantdale Bowling Club, reached number one, he'd made "a grand total of negative $14,000".
"I must've spent easy 10 grand of my own money recording that album, will never get it back. there's no way to make a living in this country doing this."
This week Scott won the annual Taite Music Prize for outstanding creativity in an album. In an eloquent, humble and humorous acceptance speech he thanked "New Zealand on Air and Work and Income New Zealand On Air".
The notion of the struggling artist might be a romantic staple, but it doesn't pay the rent.
Five months since those tweets, Scott's album has been repressed twice. He's chipper, still in love with music but standing firm.
"I think the reality in New Zealand is that you can't really make a living doing music unless you're someone with real mainstream appeal — and I can count those on one hand. Most of the artists that I admire have a job on the side."
Foley's day jobs are in the music industry so at least they learn while they earn. Gabe works in promotions at a record company, Ash juggles a part-time role at Apra, which collects and distributes royalties to musicians among other things, with university studies.
But many of their muso mates work in hospitality.
Like Viliami, Scott says investment is vital.
"If you put money into the arts, I'm pretty sure it grows. The more opportunity there is for kids to take a career in the arts the more artists there'll be, but if all the money's in rugby then all the kids will be dreaming about being All Blacks."
But as McWha says, at least music's got a seat at the table. Depending where the strategy governance group meets, it might be the table in Ateed's boardroom, with its sweeping views of the Waitematā.
It's there that co-chair Pam Ford explains how the strategy fits into her role.
"Economic development to me is about making people's lives better and making Auckland attractive to people, to live here and to work and to invest.
"We get involved in bringing people in to build hotels. It's not hotels that attract people it's the content of the city that makes people want to come and that's where music's really important.
"Music is a really core part of all of our major events if you think of Pasifika and Lantern Festival and Diwali."
Ford, whose first concert was Split Enz at the Founders Theatre in Hamilton, has a particular interest in New Zealand's growing music tech sector. World-leading DJ software company Serato started here; US giant inMusic Brands is investing heavily.
She sees great potential for a strong music economy to create "sustainable careers". She talks of helping make council-owned buildings hubs for musicians. She says in Toronto, another music city, public libraries loan musical instruments.
But like Roach and McWha, she's straight about the challenges facing parts of the city going through rapid development.
"You can't interrupt the market, which is why venues will close, but what we do is provide business support and build capability of business owners."
What about people who move in to the city then complain?
"If you move into a city you've got to expect noise. It's like people who move into the country and then complain about cows."
Some will be cynical about whether local body officials can really "get" grassroots musicians.
But so far the strategy appears to be striking a chord.
Whammy's Tom Anderson: "I feel better that there's a taskforce, I feel better that I was able to sit at a table with councillors and discuss ideas around setting up noisy areas, specific music precincts."
Foley's Gabe Everett: "Overall it's a really positive step. This is the first thing I've seen that's addressing the problem. It shows at least some level of commitment to the live music scene."
Tom Scott: "This might be a little idealistic but we can't be cynical, we've got to give it a chance first."
There's encouragement from overseas too.
In Toronto the industry has been working well with local government since 2011. Amy Terrill from Music Canada, the equivalent of Recorded Music NZ, says achievements include helping negotiate a new noise bylaw.
Other gains include a moratorium on fines against venues for putting up posters advertising events and encouraging venues to work co-operatively.
"It's been good to have music represented at the table rather than being excluded from that process," says Terrill.
In Adelaide, City of Music spokeswoman Beck Pearce says there's better communication about how residents and venues can coexist.
"It doesn't mean that it's an easy fix but it's a more proactive discussion."
Which all means Roach can keep fizzing.
"Auckland has a great music sector and a really great music community. There are definitely things we can do better but everyone's cognisant of that and we're working now towards this common goal."
— additional reporting Dionne Christian