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The Chick's Project Gig Number 2, Refuel, 5/05/2012

The Chicks Project is back again for another year, with a whole new group of bands. For those of you who don't know what on earth this is, it's essentially a mentoring programme where young musicians are given the opportunity to work one-on-one with experienced local musicians and play in venues around Dunedin. This is a great way to keep the Dunedin music scene flourishing and we've been provided with some awesome bands from this project in the past, some of which have gone on to have notable success locally, namely A Distant City and Astro Children.

This year's group of kids are a diverse bunch, with musical interests varying from the Foo Fighters, all the way to One Direction (I think you see what I mean by a diverse lot now). At the first all ages gig of the year, we saw the bands Thoughtful and the Mighty Heart, Outright, HC, and Ladiez First. I have to say that I was blown away by some of the talent I saw on the Refuel stage that night.

Let's work our way through the set list. Up first was Thoughtful and the Mighty Heart. Three-piece bands are wicked, some of my favourite local bands have only three members (Cult Disney, Brown and For the Quail, just to name a few). These guys had a solid rhythm section and well-crafted songs. I recommend keeping your eye on them, if they push themselves hard enough, there's definite potential.

Up next was the five-piece, Outright. I have to say that I was dubious while they were setting up upon observing the three guitars on stage but then again, there are several success stories with similar lineups including Radiohead, Switchfoot and the G3 tour (the brainchild of Joe Satriani). Outright have an almost British sounding pop-rock-funk sound going on with clever lyrics, a tight rhythm section and good stage presence. The problem I've often noted with bands in the Chicks Project is that they get really nervous and forget that the audience likes to know what you're doing and that talking to them puts you more on the same level. Outright's frontman kept up good banter with the crowd and made the silence between songs interesting.

Following Outright, with a very different sound was the hard rock/metal band from Balclutha, HC. Their first song was a cover of Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water' which they pulled off, right from the opening riff. There were a couple of tempo issues during their set but nothing too noticeable. They have are awesome to watch, so much energy on stage especially for their last song, Rage Against the Machine's 'Freedom'. The line-up was altered slightly, and it worked really well for the song.

The last Chicks Project band for the night was Ladiez First and right from set up I was excited, I am always happy to see keys on stage although it was not a keyboard set up I'm used to seeing in a live performance setting; using a ironing board as a stand for a MIDI keyboard and laptop to control the voice. Their set was a solid one, technically really good, they delivered several upbeat pop rock songs, but they were slightly lacking in stage presence on the whole. The final song of the set took things down several beats per minute and made me feel like I was in an American prom film.

Two Cartoons jumped on stage and played a wicked set, really showing the Chicks Project kids how to interact with an audience and the kind of energy you need to have onstage. Believe it or not, I actually saw couple of teenagers 'crumping' in the corner during 'Technicolour Turncoat', it was an awesome sight. Luckily for Isaac, he broke his guitar strap towards the end of a song and just before Brad switched instruments with him. It has been a busy week for these guys but they still played really well and with just as much energy as I've ever seen. I hope that the young bands took a lot from their set, including wise-words-of-advice on what to do in the event of a strap breakage.

Last band of the night was previous Chicks Project band Astro Children. This was the first time I've seen them sans Steph and wasn't really sure what to expect. I guess it just goes to show that two incredibly talented musicians can do more than 10 fairly average ones, same goes with Two Cartoons. Isaac (another similarity) is an awesome drummer which was evident straight from their first number, 'The Tribal Song'. One of the stand out songs for me was the song Millie introduced as 'the really loud one'; the rhythm and melodies intertwined almost perfectly and all the transitions were seamless.

So, the moral of the story is: keep an eye on these young bands. There is a lot of potential there and room for growth. Things are already good, and they'll just keep getting better. Big props to Jess Young who has done (and is still doing) an amazing job at co-ordinating the project, the Dunedin Fringe Trust, Scott Muir, Alac, Danny on sound and AJ for making sure everything runs smoothly. More articles


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