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March 15, 2004 | by  | in Music |
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(Live Review) Sommerset and The Bleeders

Eastside, Wednesday March 3rd

Wednesday night of Orientation saw Auckland bands Sommerset and the Bleeders aurally dismantle a satiated Eastside, note by crunching note. Few were keen to turn down the opportunity of seeing these two passionate live artists for free, so Eastside was momentarily transformed into a dense sauna of sticky and sweaty bodies. Even fellow Orientation artists turned up to relish the impressive music of their fellow countrymen, and impressive it was.

Emerging act the Bleeders hit the stage first. Described as an “innovative sound, drawing influence from punk, hardcore and rock”, the up-and-comers took it straight to the quickly expanding crowd at full throttle. The improvement in the band’s live performance is remarkably striking. Front man Angelo Munro rallies his troops compellingly with strong vocals and an onstage intensity befitting to the sharp and talented musicians that surround him. Forty minutes of mayhem came to an end with the sing-along anthem ‘A Bleeding Heart’, concluding a fervent set with a fervent song.

Sommerset were last seen in the capital on August 30th with Kitsch and Missing Teeth at Indigo. As usual it was a great show, but I couldn’t help but feel that they left something to be desired, especially after the hype surrounding their much improved live performances – a product of their constant international touring. All doubts were laid to rest on Wednesday night.

The atmosphere at Eastside was perfect. Sommerset wasted no time before pelting out a tight and concrete set of songs fast and furious, both old and new. The crowd was quickly won over when the new single ‘Inside’ transformed Eastside into one vast mosh pit. The band refused to relinquish the pace, performing older fast-tempo favourites and many new songs which will be on the upcoming, soon-to-be-released album. This new material was especially impressive, some melodically catchy, some in-your-face and some heavy and memorable riffs, solos and hooks.

Small technical difficulties were not enough to disappoint a faithful audience as vocalist and guitarist Ryan Thomas attempted solo country ballads to fill the void. Eventually, an hour of intense guitar riffs, thumping drum beats and wailing vocals came to an end with a demanded encore, to which the band did not refuse. Rip It Up once said that Sommerset are the band to take over Pacifier as New Zealand’s flag bearer for rock. While I still think that may be somewhat of an overstatement, the flag is certainly there for the taking, and Sommerset certainly have the capability to take it.

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