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Live review: Opposite Sex, Hans Pucket and Astro Children

Friday 4th December 2015

Opposite Sex kicked off their North Island tour at Moon with Hans Pucket and Astro Children. Elizabeth Beattie was there to see how it went down.

Astro Children's Millie Lovelock.

Photo: Elizabeth Beattie

Millie Lovelock stands on the small stage, unplaiting her long ponytail. Drummer Isaac Hickey is wearing a purple silken shirt which ripples under the multi-colour light bulbs suspended overhead. He takes his place behind the drumkit at the back of the stage.

Astro Children is the name of the band and, politely introducing themselves, they start to play.

The Dunedin based duo started making music about five years ago and have been playing live for three of those. Their set is slow-burning, starting with rumbling, dirgy guitar wails and a fierce pounding beat. The band are the epitome of everything that is good about DIY music; inventive, basic, passionate, and rough around the edges - it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with them.

Lovelock has a brilliantly theatrical stage presence. She rolls her eyes, scowls, eyeballs the crowd, saunters the length of the stage in laced up Doc Martins, and thrashes a beaten up Fender Telecaster. She is a walking embodiment of art punk. Meanwhile, Hickey has a mesmerising drum style, broodily sprinkling the beats with light showers of subtle high hat.

Tracks ‘Eden’ and ‘Play It As It Lays’ really show off the band's variety and highlight their ability to cohesively blend raw noise and structure. They are exceptionally tight and they know each other well enough to improvise. They show exactly what can be done with a two piece, and by the time they leave the stage, the crowd is pumped.

Wellington outfit Hans Pucket.

Photo: Elizabeth Beattie

Wellington venue Moon is a cosy place to spend an evening, especially for more intimate shows. They offer a decent variety of craft beer and being there you can’t help but be reminded of Chicks Hotel in Dunedin. It’s the kind of environment that makes you feel like you're watching rad bands play in your hip auntie’s lounge - in a good way. The only point of irritation is that Moon, in their infinite lunar wisdom, have placed a heat lamp to the side of the stage, which glares tungsten light and sweltering heat. Grumbles aside, the staff are pleasant, know their beers, and make the place welcoming.

The next act, Hans Pucket, have cemented an enthusiastic Wellington following, and for good reason. Comprised of drummer Jonathan Nott and twin brothers Oliver and Callum Devlin, Hans Pucket create mini musical symphonies. Edged with punkiness, their sound is best characterised as progressive pop. They draw a wide variety of musical influences, referencing funk, rock, punk, and Britpop, creating tracks which are mesmerising, eccentric and impeccably executed live.

Guitarist and vocalist Oliver has a wonderfully expressive voice and a pleasant, whimsical stage presence while Callum Devlin, who provides sterling bass and vocals, is also known for his prolific zine creations, which include the titles: OMG Are You Guys Twins? and Drunk Selfies. The songwriting duo have a knack for creating songs which are relentlessly catchy and infinitely danceable. Drummer Nott is a newer addition to the band. Adding confident rhythm, his drumming compliments each track and adds a good dynamic to the group. ‘Silent Lions’ and ‘Stranger’ earned their place as standout performances of the night, executed with a good dose of humour.

Lucy Hunter from Dunedin band Opposite Sex.

Photo: Elizabeth Beattie

Opposite Sex took their place next, starting their show with pounding drums supplied by Tim Player. Bassist and vocalist Lucy Hunter has a sassy performance style and she provides character-filled vocals. Reg Norris adds squealing, blues guitar sketches which are rhonchus and refined, tuneful and screeching. The band have a Tarantino-esque dark quirk about their music and they know how to play off the crowd.

As it got later, they cut their prolific setlist short. Checking her watch, Hunter considered final songs they should play because it was past 11:30pm. The band decided on ‘Supermarket’, and a voice from the audience quipped, “Countdown’s already closed”. “Nah, it’s still open!” another voice shouted back.

The song proved a good choice. Thrashing guitar, heavy bass and relentless drumming saw the track through, segueing pleasingly into the final song of the night, which was dedicated to Janet Frame.

The band were met with applause, whistles, and shouts of encouragement. By the time they ended their set, Countdown in Newtown was indeed closed, and all thoughts were focused on the music.

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