The Beths, The Hollywood, Avondale, Saturday, November 16, 2019
"We're the Beths and we're from ... here."
So says Elizabeth Stokes, singer and guitarist in the band that takes her name after two songs of their Saturday night all-ages set at Avondale's Hollywood cinema.
Normally, she explains, she has to say they're from Auckland, New Zealand. She's had to do it a lot. They've been away most of the year touring 2018 album Future Me Hates Me across Europe and the US what looks like several times.
Setlist.fm has them down for 122 gigs in 2019. And now they're home. And razor-sharp. And there's a lot of love in the room.
If you're reading this, chances are you know a bit about them. And if you don't, you should. They're smart and self-deprecating and at that amazing stage of a band's career when they've wrung every last drop out of their first album and people still love them and can't wait to find out what's next.
The inevitable descriptor applied to them is indie-pop. That's fine, but I reckon history will show it to be an over-simplification. They rock and they transport and they glisten and they make you feel good.
They looked really happy too. Stokes and guitarist Jonathan Pearce did some deadpan chat between songs. They did the hits. They did some new stuff. And they did a Crowded House cover.
The details aren't really important, not least because I was off the clock and enjoying myself and not taking notes. But I wrote this because I wanted to tell people how much I enjoyed it. They made me dance and they made me smile, and neither of those things happens all that often.
It's a great venue and the sound was clean. Opening act A.C. Freazy had more than a bit about them too, some sway, maybe a little wistful, some lovely guitar work.
The niggle with the Beths? Or, more accurately their crowd? Maybe it's the outdated and/or just plain wrong take of an old bloke who can't quite quash the mosh, but there was a hint of an audience with rather than a celebration of.
Whatever. They encored with Little Death. Two nights before they played it to open the New Zealand Music Awards where they won two prizes, including best group. They performed it for a sit-down audience with varying levels of engagement and they did it well. At the Hollywood it soared and shook and we shimmied and punched the air.
Then they looked really, really happy and said they'd be in the foyer afterwards if anyone wanted to say hello.
The Beths play a second and final show at The Hollywood tonight.