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September 4, 2006 | by  | in Music |
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Teenager with Charlie ASH and The Actualities

The last time I saw The Actualities play, they were a supporting act on a Low Hum tour, and they had all the hallmarks of one to be filed under Wellington’s never ending list of “bands to watch.” Tonight it would appear that word has spread; they’re tighter, far more confident, and there’s a decent crowd cheering them on. Musically they’ve headed deeper into that territory occupied by Coldplay and the My Bloody Valentine indie-wall-of-sound used by bands like Embrace to hide their inherent boringness, but I seemed to be one of the few in the audience for whom this was a bad thing.

Charlie ASH came on like any one of hundreds of art-school kids with a bad electro-clash hangover. They are Blondie and X-Ray Spex, Be Your Own Pet and the KLF in the appropriate spoonfuls, but in singer/squealer, flagrant drama queen and all-round writher Rosie they have a secret weapon that separates them from the enthusiastic glut of skinnytied, be-vocodered bands who’ve taken over Wellington in the past year. Clad in “emergency ponchos,” they quickly set about systematically demolishing any pretentions of hip-disinterestedness the crowd may have harboured with a sick and sexy set.

Teenager are what happened when Pip Brown left Two-Lane Blacktop and moved to Sydney, collaborated with PNAU! founder Nick Littlemore, and rounded things out with Degrees K’s ex-rhythm section. Which is exactly what they sound like: fuzzed up feedback soaked guitar to make the Jesus and Mary Chain weep, laid over dark funk bass and relentless rhythm, with an incongruous laptop centre stage providing samples, beats and tricks from the playful to the disturbed. Nick seemed barely aware of the audience; his howls and groans were directed inwards, and he sang with a manic intensity, eyes closed and swaying. This was the highlight of the gig, and lasted maybe the first fifteen punk-infested minutes of Teenager. Then Pip’s guitar fucked out for what seemed like an eternity, an eternity where we couldn’t dance and slam our wasted bodies all over the stage, and despite Nick’s best efforts to talk us through it, they lost us. Drunk, messed up kids who want to bounce around have piscine attention spans, and the momentum was lost. I know that at some point they sorted out the technical problems and the show did go on, but by then I was metaphorically gone.

A stupendously great band, nonetheless – and one who deserve packed venues and flawless operating equipment.

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About the Author ()

BORN WITH a cigarette in one hand and The Trial in other, Bea meant to go on as she started. Music wasn’t her first love, but her first love ended in a fight over rightful ownership of a Velvet Underground LP and the kitchen knife, so she chose the kinder option and stuck with it. In her spare time she enjoys casting aspersions, skulking, and making sweeping statements. She never checks her facts: figures it’s a way to live a little, to have arguments with people, then meet them. She’s currently writing a collection of short stories inspired by Schopenhauer’s manifesto of suffering and the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. When it gets published, she’s pretty sure that boy will want to hold her hand.

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