O for Otautahi

“Christchurch . . . in Cashel Street I wait”. It’s no “Dominion Road” but Christchurch probably isn’t easy to write a song about so props to Jordan Luck for giving it a go. What is easy to write about is Otautahi music – we may have a bit of a rep for being conservative but our music resoundingly does not. In the pop world we gifted the country early trailblazers Max Merritt and Ray Columbus and in the 90’s you couldn’t tune a dial without running into Bic Runga Anika Moa Zed Stellar* or our bona fide rock star bad boys the feelers. And that was commercial radio a place that usually relied on Crowded House and Dave Dobbyn for local content. In the music scenes outside of the mainstream we’ve staked out territory before the rest of the country even knew it was coming and this is a tribute to those acts and the mind-blowing performances they’ve delivered over the years. The thrill of watching the glasses above the bar at the Dux do a suicide shuffle to the thunderous bass and heady sax of Salmonella Dub back when Tiki was behind the mixing desk. Hearing Shapeshifter play the same venue in the semi-final of the RDU Roundup competition and dancing really dancing to the first live drum and bass band we’d ever seen. Spending the next week telling everyone they’d win. They didn’t. And then there’s the girls packing out the Jetset lounge and singing along with Sheelahroc as they deliver their anthem: “Well the boys look so good but their minds are not ready.” The girls sing it like they mean it and the boys look sheepish. Shapeshifter again but ten years later at Main Divide held in the Pegasus Bay Winery. I’m stomping out the beats on a muddy slope watching Sam step up on electric guitar and there it is P-Digsss singing “Screwtop”. Wearing gumboots and a raincoat I witness a collision of drum and bass and rock like no other – Shapeshifter covering Shihad – and the ground churns beneath me. And let’s not forget the repeat performances from bands who have settled in the flat city and who thrill our ears on a regular basis. Veterans like Into the Void whose swamp infested soundscapes capture something of both the bleakness and the beauty of winter in the city. And that’s why there’s a CHARTFEST because Christchurch music is worth celebrating and nurturing – whatever the genre and whatever our role be it musician or fan. And with live performances from some of Otautahi’s best live acts across five stages there’s bound to be a few that are going to reach out and grab you around the ears. Sharon McIver - MusicWrite