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Mess Esque (Aus) Touring New Zealand In March

Mess Esque (Aus) Touring New Zealand In March

Chris Cudby / Thursday 1st February, 2024 5:00PM

Revealed this week to be on the outrageously excellent bill for Lyttelton's Port Noise festival, Australia's Mess Esque have announced their first ever nationwide tour of Aotearoa. The collaborative project of multi-instrumentalist Mick Turner (Dirty Three) and the spellbinding singing / poetic spoken word utterances of Helen Franzmann (McKisko), Mess Esque's 2021 self-titled debut album (via Milk! Records / Drag City) was recorded between both artists' home bases in Melbourne and Brisbane during the lockdown era — in fact they didn't meet in the physical realm until after their long player was completed. Recent tour mates with Kurt Vile and Big Thief, Mess Esque will be playing intimate headline dates as a four piece in Tāmaki Makaurau, Featherston, Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Ōtepoti (at new venue Pearl Diver). Do not dawdle in scooping up tickets for these very special limited capacity shows...

Mess Esque (Aus)

Wednesday 6th March - The Wine Cellar, Auckland*
Thursday 7th March - Common Ground, Featherston (tickets from venue)
Friday 8th March - Vogelmorn Hall, Wellington*
Saturday 9th March - Port Noise Festival, Lyttelton∞
Sunday 10th March - Pearl Diver, Dunedin*

*Tickets available HERE via UTR
∞Port Noise tickets available HERE via UTR

Experience Mess Esque's 'Sweet Spot' from their self-titled 2021 debut album...

Press release:

Mess Esque features Mick Turner and Helen Franzmann. The duo, whose base is both Melbourne and Brisbane, and who recorded an album before ever meeting in person and another soon after, released their second album - simply titled Mess esque on Milk! records (and Drag City in the US). Things quickly moved along with an Australian, American and European tour. Their debut album landed in Jeff Tweedy's Top Ten of 2021 and led to a coveted invitation to Wilco's Solid Sound Festival in Massachusetts where they also played in Will Oldham's band. Tours with Kurt Vile and Big Thief followed.

Mick Turner of course is best known as one third of the Dirty Three. He has played guitar for years - going back to outfits like the Sick Things, the Fungus Brains and Venom P Stinger, and a stint in the Moodists along the way. He's collaborated with loads of talented others; and he's also released several mostly instrumental releases on Drag City. His last record, 2013’s Don’t Tell the Driver, found him departing from his solo norm by employing a rhythm section and brass charts and collaborating with a vocalist, which clearly set the stage for Mess Esque.

In 2019, Mick was introduced to Helen Franzmann through a mutual friend who’d produced the last McKisko album 'Southerly', McKisko being the name Helen has worked under over the past dozen years, garnering a deep and loyal following on the Australian underground scene. With a plan to get together and make a record, they sent ideas back and forth - but when the getting together part proved impossible, they continued to collaborate from a distance.

In mutual isolation, something special took flight, electrifying in the air between them. Helen rode the drift of Mick’s tracks, a dazzling brew of guitars, organs, bass and drums. Her song writing altered their meaning, which inspired Mick to make revisions, for Helen to respond to again. And so the music grew.

Mick and Helen eventually met a year or so later when they were invited to open for Ed Kuepper and Jim White at their opening night Comedy Theatre appearance at Melbourne's Rising Festival. The show went well and Mess Esque were able to plan for more.

By that first show, the first Mess Esque album Dream #12 had just been released on Sydney indie Bedroom Suck: it was released in a limited edition of 300 LP, with hand-screened covers in April 2021. Having finally played together, a second album - the newer self titled one - soon followed.

Through a patient balance of improvisations and a focused pursuit of something that wasn't fully there at the start, Mess Esque willed themselves and their world into verdant, lustrous being. For their first time in Aotearoa Mess Esque are going to recreate these special songs with Keeley Young on bass/vocals and Greg Cairns on drums. The results will no doubt be as captivating & mesmeric as they appear on the records.


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Mess Esque (Aus)
Wed 6th Mar 8:00pm
The Wine Cellar, Auckland
Mess Esque (Aus)
Fri 8th Mar 7:00pm
Vogelmorn Bowling Club (Downstairs), Wellington
Port Noise Festival 2024
Sat 9th Mar 4:00pm
Various Lyttelton Venues, Lyttelton
Mess Esque (Aus)
Sun 10th Mar 6:30pm
Pearl Diver, Dunedin