Riots, rain, and rock ‘n’ roll are the topic of discussion as Hawke’s Bay Today reporter Mitchell Hageman chats to members of iconic Kiwi band The Exponents ahead of their Nest Fest debut in January.
“Holy s**t it was like the biggest fight I’ve ever seen,” Harallambi recalled of the carnage.
“It would have been July of ‘82. Cars were overturned and set on fire,” Luck said.
It all started after the band’s opening set for fellow Kiwi music icons The Screaming Meemees.
“The fight started breaking out before the end of the Screaming Meemees’ set. It was a riot of a gig and the crowd was fantastic. The bar people shut it down, and kicked everyone out, but it ended up going into the street,” Harallambi said.
“At one stage there were even two cops standing on top of the cop cars and people trying to get them off.”
Safe to say it was an interesting start to the pair’s long-spanning love affair with Hawke’s Bay, a region Harallambi affectionally describes as their “home away from home”.
In January they’re back to rock the Bay for the mother of all summer gigs - the heaving event that is Nest Fest.
It probably won’t quite be the incendiary experience of Cabana’s past, but that doesn’t mean the band are in any way slowing down.
“That’s kind of been like all of our gigs in Hawke’s Bay. Not a riot, but they have been pretty outrageous,” Harallambi said.
The pair have spent the better part of 40 years in the group’s many iterations, delighting audiences with their timeless pub-rock charisma and record-breaking discography.
“Our last Black Barn gig was a killer, wasn’t it? Such a perfect night,” Luck quipped, reminiscing of their recent April gig in Hawke’s Bay where rain was supposed to bucket down.
“It was the stormy night that looked like all doom would break loose and it just stayed away,” Harallambi added.
Quite possibly the oldest band on the Nest Fest lineup, they are in no way the least explosive.
Anyone who’s seen Luck and his merry men onstage before knows they are in for a glorious night of spirited singalongs, crowd interaction and dance moves that’ll put David Byrne of Talking Heads to shame.
Hits like Victoria, Why Does Love Do This To Me and Who Loves Who The Most will no doubt appear in the bands set, with Luck and Harallambi teasing it will probably span two decades of music.
“I’m thinking this will be an amalgam, from the beginning to the end and the end to the beginning,” Luck said, promising the best of The Exponents, Dance Exponents and more.
“We’re a base-covering band that’s for sure,” Harallambi added.
The pair said they enjoyed playing festivals and opening slots, as it gave them the chance to really get the full gig experience. It’s no surprise given they’ve played alongside the likes of David Bowie, Bryan Adams and Toto to name a few.
“The difference between playing at festivals and playing as your own act is that it’s all on you. At festivals, you get to see these other bands play and enjoy the event yourself, as well as learn something new every time. We love them both though,” Harallambi said.
The support from Hawke’s Bay crowds isn’t lost on the pair, and they said they found it particularly enlightening how broad the fan base continued to be.
“Take Black Barn for example, there were kids there. There’s also that audience of the over-30s that have stuck with us all the way,” Luck said.
“You find a whole lot of music teachers my age or younger that have actually been teaching their kids Exponents songs,” Harallambi said.
“These kids come along to the shows and when they have children, I’m sure they’ll be teaching them the same songs that they loved. The spectrum is quite amazing.”
There’s hope the ecosystem will play ball in January so the pair can experience what they called “the best weather in the country”.
.I’m looking forward to it, I’ll bring the sunblock and my hat,” Harallambi said.
And what about the ever-lingering remains of Cyclone Gabrielle? The Exponents will make sure to whisk away those cyclone blues.
“We’ve heard about the dust. We’re a dusty old band so it’s kind of apt,” Harallambi joked.
“We’ll bring the sound system and knock the dust off everyone there.”
Who: The Exponents
What: Nest Fest Hawke’s Bay
Where: Tōmoana Showgrounds, Hastings
When: January 5 and 6, 2024
Tickets can be purchased at www.nestfest.co.nz.
Mitchell Hageman joined Hawke’s Bay Today in late January. From his Napier base, he writes regularly on social issues, arts and culture, and the community. He has a particular love for stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.