8 December 2017
It's interesting walking along K'Rd on a Friday night in summer. It's warm and lots of people are out for a night on the town. These days K'Rd is brimming with offerings; Lebanese, Malaysian and Indian have been there for years, and the cheap food halls remain, but now joined by the a new range of cheap eats, like Moustache cookies, Pie Piper and the ethically branded Lord of the Fries. St Kevin's Arcade has had a facelift, and there's a new sheen to the recycled clothing shops. The sleazy precinct is now confined to half a block and a few random buildings.
Funky restaurants like Coco's and Gemayze St are defining a new more cosmopolitan and more than just a little bit hipster era for K'Rd.
And yet, there's a bit of an edge still there. I passed one bar where a drunk was trying to pick a fight over an ashtray. A homeless guy walked through St Kevin's muttering about something sinister. It's a street that is still in transition and its history isn't far below the surface.
Back at the Wine Cellar for a gig. Hermione Johnson delivered the opening act, performing a conceptual piece with two keyboards. I have to say I didn't get it. Her set felt to me like a blend of Bach, Jean-Michel Jarre and atonal elements fused into a single composition which spanned some 30 minutes.
I probably should have left the "I don't get it" thought bubbling in my head, but towards the end of the performance I was joined by a former colleague and her friend. It must be said we did spend a bit of time talking about just how much we didn't get it, with one view that it was the soundtrack to her anxiety. Unfortunately Hermione was nearby and heard, and came up to us, said "sorry" and headed out of the performance space.
Not my proudest moment. It's her art, and not getting it is my problem.
Then came Shayne Carter. I really struggle to describe Carter's sound, so I asked my nephew, Chris. He texted "it's dark, brooding, usually long driving sounds but not ashamed to draw on pop, funk and soul influences. Like if James Brown got taught guitar by Jimi Hendrix then was sent to live in a cold house in Dunedin for a couple of decades."
Yeah, what he said.
In a small space packed with followers, Carter delivered a fast paced gig that had everyone moving, with the exception of the piano-based tracks that provided a reflective counterpoint. He never seems to purse his lips in concentration, he puckers them and revels in the showman role. That cold room in a Dunedin flat spawned a genius.