GORILLA BISCUITS - LOOKIN’ UP - WIZZ KIDS - SUPERIOR VISION - Kings Arms, Auckland, New Zealand - 26 September 2015
Well, this was a band I never expected to see, and certainly not here in New Zealand. Some 25 years after the release of the classic ‘Start Today’ album, New York City upstarts, GORILLA BISCUITS get back together to sing those same youth anthems, only with the perspective of being an entire generation older. It could have been a total train wreck of tough-guy Straight Edge elitism; a jaded parade of has-beens milking a final few bucks from the sacred cow (or ape as the case might be); or, it could actually be one to remember for all the right reasons. While it wasn’t either of the former, it didn’t get off to a good start...
Auckland locals SUPERIOR VISION chugged out some lurching down-tuned crossover Metalcore riffs and instantly bored me. They were proficient at what they did, and I guess if you groove on chugga-chugga riffs and growled vocals, this is for you. The two vocalists worked OK together; one with a traditional Hardcore shout, the other with a more growled/ barked delivery. Within three songs, I’d moved back to the bar - both to avoid the sounds but also the hilarious wind-milling, karate-kicking dancing. I saw that about 15 years ago at STAMPIN’ GROUND gigs and it still makes me laugh. I’m sure they’re very sincere, but I’d rather mainline a speedball than attend another gig.
Thankfully, Hamilton band WIZZ KIDS was up next playing non-down-tuned, non-chugging Punk Rock. This four piece cranked some serious and sneering Garage Punk jams that brought to mind SHITTY LIMITS minus the artiness but with added direction, siphoned through the intensity of NEW BOMB TURKS and THE SHIRKS. A few tracks stood out, but ‘Bad Economy’ was the one that really grabbed my ears. Apparently there were a lot of new songs played, but having not heard much of the band’s material at all, it was all knew to me and very impressive. After all the posturing of the previous band, it was great to see four guys just get up there without pretention and rock, without appearing to give themselves haemorrhoids.
Next was another Auckland band, LOOKIN’ UP. While these guys had a bit of that chugging-guitar going down, they had more raging, Hardcore beats and dynamics going on than the openers. The band’s sound certainly brought to mind the brutality and intensity of the best of SICK OF IT ALL with a screamed vocal from an incredibly visual vocalist. The songs were short, the delivery intense and dynamic brutal. Unfortunately, there was also the return of the windmillers. Song titles? No idea - they went by in a blur.
And so, GORILLA BISCUITS. Naturally, the horns that open the ‘Start Today’ album blared - but before the band was on stage. Walter took control of proceedings, got them replayed and then that crunching guitar came in to herald ‘New Direction’. From there it was a run through of the band’s entire catalogue with highlights being ‘Things We Say’, ‘High Hopes’, ‘Cats And Dogs’ that was preceded by a little spiel from Civ about the pros of vegetarianism and having compassion for all living things, ‘Degradation’ that was also preceded by a spiel from Civ about violence and hatred, and, of course, set closer ‘Start Today’. One surprise in the set was a cover of the CIV track ‘Do Something’.
|Walter - Gorilla Biscuits|
Have to say, the band got everything pretty much spot on, be it vocalist Anthony 'Civ’ Civarelli's enthusiasm or the superb guitar work from Walter Schreifels (now sporting hair somewhat longer than in his original GB days, although still pulling all the moves and jumps) through to the stage presence and energy of the songs. Civ even managed to suggest we here in NZ live in a stunning place that we should keep secret as he marveled about his trip to a volcano and that he even saw a waterfall!! This was all compared with his apartment in Harlem, NYC.
Yep, GORILLA BISCUITS pretty much nailed it. They were better than I expected and, although they obviously looked a little older (with Civ looking a little portly in fact - unless that was staunch NYC muscle of course), they cranked those youth anthems and delivered them with aplomb.