live review

Body Corporate 'Howlaround' Release Gig - The Adelaide, Wellington,

Body Corporate 'Howlaround' Release Gig - The Adelaide, Wellington,

November 15 2008
The Adelaide, Wellington

Reviewed by Emily
29th March 2010

My first thought, on hearing that Auckland band Body Corporate would be playing their Wellington release gig for debut album Howlaround at The Adelaide, was: ‘well, that’s a little random’. The Adelaide is what I would tend to describe as a ‘seedy old man pub’ on the outskirts of Newtown, one of Wellington’s dodgiest suburbs (slowly becoming the height of contrary cool for the mere fact of its dodginess).

As it turns out, I was right - ‘random’ really is the best word to describe it. But that, however, is precisely the point, drummer Paul educated me (myself being newcomer to this whole alt-indie business). Preferring to steer clear of the mainstream masses and play just another standard bar like just another standard band, they purposely seek out the random backstreet pubs wherever they go - which, after their launch gigs in Auckland on Friday (November 14) and Wellington on Saturday (November 15), will soon be including some gigs in Australia and the South Island as well.

Well, random is certainly what they got. My friend and I arrived painfully early due to my chronic over-punctualness (really must work on the ‘fashionably late’ thing!), but there was a certain enjoyment to be found in watching The Adelaide metamorphose from old man pub to… well… old man pub with some devoted and swaying indie fans in it. The place is a strange breed of venue - it has the atmosphere of an old school English local where the village drunks go on a Sunday to shoot pool, have a nosh up and drown in beer - and yet, high above, the walls are scattered with gothic photography of girls crying blood with flesh-stained teeth. As my friend said, you kind of get the feeling that at midnight the place becomes some kind of vampire coven, ghouls crawling out of the walls to drink each others’ blood. Even the girl behind the bar sported the blue hair of anarchy and damn-the-man-ism, and we arrived to be greeted by a lot of pirate speak, before the barman admonished the punters to ‘leave the normal people alone’.

Being preceded by quality toe-tapping to fairly fun and vivacious Wellington band Cougar Cougar Cougar (who seem to be invariably described as a ‘dirty 3-piece rock ‘n’ roll act’), drummer Paul exited my barrage of questions to join his Body Corporate mates in playing a sweet but very short set for the oddly assorted ‘crowd’ that had accumulated. Trying to blend in to a crowd of at maximum about 14, each doing their own little unique sway in an audience about three meagre lines deep (highlights being Random Old Drunk Guy Who Hates The English and the chick with the Emilie Le Strange hair cut who proclaimed to all and sundry that her beer was ‘cumming’), I was reminded of two things. Firstly I couldn’t quite escape flashing images of the closing credits of that Simpsons episode where grungy audience members sway morosely to the Smashing Pumpkins. Secondly, I kind of had the feeling like I was hanging out at my mates’ place, watching a bunch of guys jam in the back of the garage and sharing a beer. Which I found myself enjoying rather much more than feeling like just another skirt on Courtenay Place.

Their all-too-brief set was followed by an all-too-lengthy one by Wellington indie-progressive-rock band Captain Sergeant Major, playing what Paul described to me as ‘math rock’. I dunno about that - all I know is there was a hell of a lot of long boring guitar and not much else. The drummer himself proclaimed somewhat indignantly after the first song “You all sat down! We made you all sit down!” Technically proficient certainly - but not exactly foot tapping or even hold-your-beer-and-sway inducing.  Just not my cup of tea, I guess.

When I told Paul that his band should have played longer, he told me that it’s best to be considerate when there is a band on after you. He had told me previously that the band was really just an excuse to have a good time with mates and play a bit of music. The debut album itself was released only on vinyl (complete with mp3 download voucher - as the 3 News article said “They may be romantic about the vinyl, but they are not stupid”), ensuring only a particular subset of people with a certain dedication to their music, and to music in general, as buyers. And finally I realised that, rather than some misplaced modesty or typical Kiwi tall-poppy-avoidance, perhaps this choice of album medium and release gig venue was exactly what they were after. Who wants hordes of meat-market teeny boppers wielding made-in-China CDs hoping to hear something just like the band that played last night, when you can carve out a little niche of truly dedicated fans and experiment a little? Sure, it means you’ll be playing about 4 songs to a ‘crowd’ of 14 in a seedy old man bar to release your album which most people don’t even have the mechanism to play (download notwithstanding). But it also means you’ll be playing whatever the hell you want to play however the hell you want to play it, and your fans will feel like they’re part of some special little club that includes you. It also helps when they buy you beer.

Somehow though, I couldn’t quite escape the feeling that they could back themselves just a little bit more. Maybe they don’t want to be music for the masses, but surely they could at least play more than 4 or 5 songs for those dedicated enough to brave The Adelaide and its resident Old Drunk Guy to see them perform. A good night - but one that left me feeling like I wanted more. Which, come to think of it, is probably not a bad result at all.

www.myspace.com/thebodycorp - Aussies and South Islanders keep an eye out early 2009 for the post-Christmas leg of their release ‘tour’!

Review by Emily - read more here



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