There were a number of options including the BaseFM 10th birthday celebration gig - featuring local Hall of Fame contenders King Kapisi, Che Fu, and P-Money among many others - at GalatosLive, but having already been there on the Friday I decided once again to go somewhere I'd never been before.
Ginger Minx in Mt Eden - just off Dominion Road - is an unlikely venue for live music. The venue has two distinct zones, or bars, and the lounge area where live music is played ultimately feels rather more like a student flat than it does a space for bands or DJs - with an open fireplace, a couple of large couches, coffee tables etc. But that's just part of its charm and despite the relatively low ceiling, the "lounge" was surprisingly very sound friendly.
I'd chosen Ginger Minx because local ska/rocksteady favourite Moisty Atsushi - who I've blogged about before - was playing a live set with his band. I'd previously seen him in a solo/acoustic context and certainly the addition of a second guitarist, a bassist, and a drummer allowed for a much fuller sound.
What Atsushi lacks in terms of vocal subtlety - and it is perhaps only a minor issue - he more than makes up for with his commitment to producing an authentic ska and/or rocksteady sound. His guitar playing was more dynamic (and electric) this time around and his passion for ska is beyond doubt. His set was a mix of originals - his releases can be found here - and covers.
If I have a moan (and I do) it is about the late start. The gig was advertised “from 8pm” and while I would normally expect an hour or so of pre-band DJ support and the gig to start around 10pm (at latest), it was at least 11.30pm by the time the band started playing (I suspect the late arrival of its drummer was the issue). It was just a little frustrating watching Atsushi repeatedly wander up, sling the guitar over his shoulder, sound-check the mics, only to then take the guitar off and return to his seat by the fire.
I also think when your band is playing a gig at a venue a little off the beaten track, or at a location where no alternative venues or clubs are within walking distance, then it should be obvious that those in attendance haven’t just wandered in by chance. They’re there for the gig, not part of some wider pub or club crawl (unlike more centrally located venues). You either play before they leave or you let them know that you’re not far off from starting.
That said, it was a “free” gig, and any frustration on this occasion was largely mitigated by the presence of a couple of pretty good DJs who kept the warm rocksteady and rootsy reggae vibes ticking over during the near three hour wait, among them local legend and 95bFM favourite DJ Dubhead - another guy I’ve seen play “live” before, albeit several lifetimes ago …
Overall, it was a pretty good night, and more generally it was great to have a couple of nights out in unfamiliar Auckland surrounds for a change.