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May 26, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Live Review: The Mint Chicks

Bar Bodega
Wednesday 9th May

Who would have thought the Mint Chicks were from Auckland? In stark contrast to the Mod-esque Jagger-strutting youths that frequently dominate the Auckland/Devonport Music scene with their cooler-than-thou airs and coke-rimmed nostrils, the Mint Chicks present a refreshing alternative. Their sound can only be described as a curious juxtaposition of frenzied and melodic pop music that claws at itself until its bloodied and battered, damaged beyond repair through too much LSD and art school naval gazing. Crazy? Yes it is, but Dumb? Definitely not, as the boys carry on the proudly held tradition of the post-punk “Dunedin Sound” that their record label Flying Nun is infamous for. Furthermore, this sound translates well from CD to live performances.

Having never seen the Mint Chicks perform before, and hearing hedonistically debauched rock ‘n’ roll stories of chainsaws, selffl agellation with microphones and bloodied fingers this reviewer didn’t know what to expect with a Mint Chicks gig. But they proved to be, well, Mint. Bad puns aside, their performance cemented the Mint Chicks as one of New Zealand’s finest live acts and quite at home in the raw ranks of the Detroit garage-art pop scene that boasts the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Admittedly we missed The Transistors, but by all accounts they were good, so we’ll leave it at that rather than attempting to come up with a bunch of potentially irrelevant superlatives.

In an interview with Salient’s Sophie Barclay, Mint Chick’s front man Ruban Neilson said of their new, stripped down sound to expect a “torrent of sound, colour, and energy, when it comes it will be entertaining, instant, cheap, and plentiful” when it came to their live shows. They weren’t lying either. The set proved to be a good cross section of the old and the new, the quartet and the trio that all fused together to create a wildly flamboyant cacophony that has become synonymous with the Mint Chicks. Ruban channelled the spirit of Iggy Pop and the Energiser Bunny on acid as he minced and writhed around the stage yelping deliciously dada-esque lines such as “Don’t cut your wrists, you have beautiful fists,” stopping every so often to curl up in the foetal position and scream. It certainly proved entertaining, and the reaction from the crowd was instantaneous, with the vast majority of punters already jammed cheek to jowl prior to their arrival onstage erupting into a mini-riot, resulting in a mosh pit rarely seen for local acts. Kudos must be given to the guy who tried to open up a circle and throw down even though it was the wrong genre. Go back to Hamilton. On that note, it must be said that The Mint Chicks seem to transcend musical demographics, with every sub genre kid to top 40 enthusiasts in that room.

The Mint Chicks played with no signs of fatigue. There was only tight, frenetic drumming, discordant guitar work that flicked between psychotic and brooding and, when required, a solid bass line that intertwined to make one believe that they had been together for much longer than seven years. The Mint Chicks rowdily bashed out all their hits at a breakneck speed, dragging the eager crowd along with them, before shuddering to a halt and playing their new, considerably more mature, slow-burning songs which was met with quieter, albeit no less fervent appreciation by the crowd.

It’s nice to know that within the world of shiny, mass-produced pop music, there are still some genuine trail blazers left, and the Mint Chicks are definitely one of the brightest hopes for the New Zealand scene. Their passion for their craft was evident for all, and they put on a show that was energetic and entertaining. They played like it was their last chance to be famous, but something tells me they are only just getting started.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Karl Bronstein says:

    This is a new low, seriously bad.

  2. Brock Cranfield says:

    Hmmm this amatuer writer needs a lesson in originality…!
    Agreed with karl, new low

  3. lili says:

    Its not Ruban who curls up like a fetus, its Kody

    Foetal position? The Thesaurus cant save this one

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