Wednesday, September 28, 2005

mestar & ghostplane - wunderbar 23/9/05 [live review]

Three differently styled indie-rock bands played at the Wunderbar last Saturday. The combination of these three certainly wasn’t oddball – they seemed to fit each other quite well.

The New Originals started the evening with their dense (but messy) style of jangly/sloppy indie rock. As is usual with the local four-piece, the drums need to be pushed back in the mix (a lot) and the bass needs to stay in time. But I’m always a sucker for this messy sound – the keyboards add a particularly nice touch. If better paced and more subtle, their sound would work a lot better.

Mestar love cartoon alligators, hot air balloons and probably picnics under sycamore trees, which is okay with me, especially when they write adorable, melody-soaked songs about them. If their overall twee aesthetic of gorgeousness and delight isn’t their strongest aspect, then that’s probably Mestars biggest strength – exuberant harmonies and melodies consistently across whimsical, dreamy and tune-filled indie pop songs of the perfect length and pace. Embracing elements of noise and distortion they keep things rocking, while still taking quieter moments in between. They take the kindergarden memories of The Fiery Furnaces and coat them in cuteness with fuzzy guitars and image-laden lyrics. And they were terrific, again, in a live show that seemed to contain more energy than last time. Though their sound best suits drives in the country or lying in long grass, it translates really well to an energetic live show. Plus, their lead singer John White bears an uncanny resemblance to Dick from High Fidelity (I know I’m not the only one to notice this). It’s a good thing, by the way.

It’s been over year since Mestar played in Christchurch. Last year’s New Zealand Music Month saw them play a great show at the Dux, and in that same week, I remember being decidedly under whelmed by the band that followed them at this show – Ghostplane.

And they were a lot better than I remembered them this time around. Still, despite a meticulous brand of indie rock with some interesting instruments adding dynamics to the mix, the quintet still came off a little drab after a few songs. A consistently tight and well-paced set was marred by the fact that their general aesthetic was a little too regular. For every great song it seemed like the next was comparatively forgettable. At times they sounded a little like The Phoenix Foundation, but without the lush organics. Ghostplane’s more produced sound tended more towards the solid, tried and true blend of guitar based rock that has intricacies that are better heard on their recordings. Following a quirky, interesting indie-rock band like Mestar whose sonics are more endearing made for a tricky contrast. But they were still good – just not as interesting or engaging as one would hope.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

huh, what gig were you at? new orginals were utter bollocks, mestar were outstanding and ghostplane suffered from bad PA but did bloody well considering...

richard said...

what was so bad about ghostplane's pa? it sounded okay to me.

Anonymous said...

i played with my band a few months ago and the pa was useless. it is only good for straight ahead rocky stuff.

richard said...

ah, i see. you mean the wunderbar in general? i guess it leaves a bit to be desired. i thought it sounded alright, though, for ghostplanes sound. but maybe that's why they were a little bland. who knows.

whats yr band?