One brave woman tried out the Max Key VIP experience and lived to tell the tale.
The Wireless have in the past, sent me to quite a few events that I have reluctantly agreed to go to. But never before have I so instantly regretted saying yes, than when I agreed to attend Max Key’s All The Way tour in Auckland.
I arrived, with a friend in tow, at the Roxy at 10.15pm, a quarter of an hour after the VIP ticket stated the party would begin. Entitled you to “go All The Way with Max Key”, we would get a gift bag, VIP concierge treatment - and we would get to party with Max Key.
As we approached the entrance the bouncer looked with disdain at our denim attire and dirty sneakers. His mouth said “There’s a $10 door charge”, but his eyes said “Are you sure you’re meant to be here?”
With full confidence I told him that we had tickets. He asked me for ID and examined it, umming and ahhing like he was checking the quality of an old woman’s blue diamond necklace. After what felt like 84 years, we finally made it in.
It was empty.
I gleefully steepled my hands like Mr Burns as I surveyed the empty club. No one was here and I had my angle.
This is going to be easy, I thought to myself as I ordered a drink. That was until the bartender told me that we were here far too early and people don’t usually arrive until midnight and I realised how fucking old I am.
In what could only be a typical Auckland coincidence, my favourite Spinoff writer Madeleine Chapman was there too, doing the same thing as I was: Reluctantly writing about Max Key’s All The Way party for fear of losing her job. She had bought/bribed a friend too, so there we were four women in a completely empty bar and not a single sign of Max Key at 10:30pm.
We had figured out where the VIP section was and were given wristbands to indicate to the rest of the normies in the club that we were more important than they were.
Two drinks later, Madeleine enquired about our promised VIP gifts and within minutes we were presented with four pristine gift bags.
Inside the gift bags was: a good quality A2 sized poster of Max Key promoting his All The Way Tour, four cards that had download codes to his two songs, and the thing that had the girls screeching: a commemorative, premium, embroidered Max Key bandana.
As the hours ticked by painfully the club started to fill up. Despite rumours that Max was supposed to DJ at 11pm, it was already 11:30pm. The club was packed and I was longing for my bed. I wandered away from the VIP section, leaned over the balcony rail and waited for Max to arrive.
I started to think about all the things I needed to do when I got home: washing, cleaning, finding a new flatmate… Then I felt a weird sensation in my back of my mind, something was happening behind me. I spun around and came face to face with a t-shirt clad bicep.
At the stroke of midnight, Max Key was finally at his All The Way party.
He was surrounded by a small entourage and I gently touched his arm to get his attention. He turned and smiled at me warmly, his new dangly Jesus cross earring glistening in the club lights, trademark bandana perfectly askew on his head. I asked him if I could get a photo and he happily obliged.
I nervously fumbled to open my phone, apologised to him about being annoying which he laughed at and said it was “no problem at all”. I got my friend to take the picture which turned out blurry and awful, but it didn’t matter. Max Key was with me and he was nice.
But I was going to ruin this perfect moment. I knew that this was going to be my only chance to tell him something that I’ve wanted to tell him for two years.
I sheepishly turned to him and said “umm, I actually drew a picture of you ages ago ... of you and your dad?… it was…” his face dropped from a look of bemusement to sudden realisation. He narrowed his eyes and gritted his teeth into a half smile.
“Yeah. You’re Lucy”.
He turned his back and melted back into the crowd of his bodyguard and friends, leaving me dumbfounded, with an un-useable photo in my hands.
I awkwardly made my way back to the VIP room. My mind was racing, he knew who I was? But how? He’s Max Key.
The VIP area was now packed full with tall beautiful people throwing suspicious looks at me. I didn’t belong there but my wristband said otherwise.
The next few minutes were excruciatingly awkward. I was standing near him and he didn’t seem happy. He brushed past me several times and wouldn’t make eye contact.
I was being ghosted by Max Key.
Already planning to end this piece on a sad note, I was ready to leave. But just as I was grabbing my things, a young guy stepped away from Max’s group and approached us. He introduced himself as Marty and, with a genuine smile, said eight magic words: “Put anything you want on the bar tab.”
Marty explained that he was part of the group and music was his thing. He was friendly, charming and above all, was really intelligent. I also met another guy called Sam who was one of Max’s best friends, working fulltime in marketing for a large home hardware chain. He was equally as friendly as Marty and just as smart. He animatedly held a conversation with us for quite some time before politely excusing himself to take a piss.
I watched Max stand around the VIP area chatting to his friends and fans, looking tired, a little disconnected but holding up a well-practised smile. As he happily posed for what seemed like the 100th fan photo of the night, I couldn’t help but think about how much more appealing his friends were.
They were friendlier, better-looking and far more charismatic than Max was. They had real goals and real dreams and actual jobs. Max seemed to have everything, but I wanted more for his friends.
This isn’t to say that Max Key doesn’t deserve the fame and the following that he has. What I saw that night was a polite, patient guy, working hard to create a brand and following his passion of music - aware that if he doesn’t do something big right now, he might forever only be known as some ex-prime minister’s son from ages ago.
I left early and was surprised to see the huge line waiting to get into the club. Maybe they were there for Max’s party, maybe they were just there for a normal Saturday night, I don’t know and I don’t care. As I snuggled my weary body into the seat in my Uber home, feeling like Lorde in her latest music video, I reflected on my night out. Max Key’s All The Way tour party at Roxy was a success. Even if I was initially being a jerk and hoping for it to fail, I’m glad I was completely proven wrong.
If I was young kid and a fan of Max Key, then the VIP ticket would have been worth it, even without the gift bag. But for the $59, did I go All The Way with Max key?
Maybe just the tip.