I mentioned last week that I’d be travelling down to Wellington with my husband’s punk rock band Skulls, to watch them perform in the annual Strike of the Beast festival at Bar Valhalla (nee Medusa, nee Hole in the Wall, nee Valve), and see some friends, and have an adventure. Well we got back home about 1am on Sunday night, and an adventure it was!
We left home about 7:30am (after some discussion about leaving at 6am. This did not happen), picked up Ross and Lucas, the other band members, and started on our journey. 8 hours of non-stop friendly insults, power-metal singalongs, lemonade scones, desperate toilet stops, and sleeping later, we arrive in Wellington, just in time to head to the venue for load-in.
Our friend Dave – who we hardly ever get to see – came into town, and my friend Shane joined us also, so after loading in the gear, we went for dinner at The General Practicioner, where we indulged in $10 cider jugs and some exquisite lamb chops. We returned to the venue, by way of ice cream, just in time to catch the end of Red Dawn’s set. Sadly, we’d missed Call to Autumn (instrumental post-metal), Fallen Order and Bulletbelt, but my belly was full, so it was a win.
Red Dawn: I have never heard this Wellington band before, but woah nelly, they are pretty awesome. A great mix of traditional / NWOBHM and thrash influences, they displayed some very fine chops and catchy melodies. Red Dawn are the first NZ metal band to receive support from the Wacken Foundation to record their debut album, Ironhand, which I haven’t heard yet but, judging by the songs they played on Saturday, is pretty fucking mean.
Red Dawn footage from Strike of the Beast, courtesy of Dan Hayston.
Graves followed Red Dawn and pummeled the crowd with their unique brand of brutality. The Auckland-based hardcore punk / metal act took the stage to some of the eeriest red lighting I’ve ever seen at a show (seriously, kudos to whoever did the lighting at this gig, because it was seriously rad). Great to see Allan on drums/. If you want to hear Graves, then check out this Graves / Conniption split on Bandcamp.
After Graves was Bloodfvkk, brutal grindcore from Auckland. I’m not gonna lie, these guys are totally not my thing, but they are exceptionally good at what they do, which is violent wretched noise, and the crowd was totally into it. Great fun to watch and a bit of a brutal pit going on.
Skulls were up next, and their more pop-driven punk sound was perhaps not quite the right follow-up for grind brutality. Certainly, a number of metalheads decided their set was time for a smoke break. Those that stayed though seemed to really dig their sound, especially the song “Daylight Robbery”. Two dudes from a nearby club wandered in and dirty danced with each other. One removed his shirt. It was a strange thing. Check out the Skulls EP on Bandcamp.
Stormforge took the stage around midnight and once again prove that New Zealand fans have been gagging for decent local power metal. A huge crowd gathered, fist pumping, to sing along to songs about eagles and oceans made of stone. Singer Courtney O’Leary pulled out all the stops, despite his spine being fractured in 3 places. That’s dedication to metal. These guys blew me away with their talent – I suspect you will be hearing a LOT more about them in the future. You can preview some of their upcoming Sea of Stone EP on Soundcloud.
The last band of the night, Osnium, hail from Dunedin, and stylistically are following on from Beastwars example with their own brand of down-under stoner doom. Dark and layered and catchy, they were a perfect closer for the show. Check out their debut album, Misery Harvest, on iTunes.
We went back to Dave’s place and slept. In the morning we awoke to this:
And then, because we had a bit of time before we planned to leave the city, Dave took us out adventuring. We saw a war memorial made from an old gun emplacement.
And the town of Dale from the Hobbit films.
Not much left, of course.
We went to pick up Ross & Lucas, who’d stayed with Steve (the show’s organizer). Turns out one of the other dude’s staying with Steve had brought some drunk dude home with him, and that dude had spent most of the night trying to piss in every place in the house except the toilet, so I delighted in telling them all about the pancakes and the adventuring and the warm bed and lack of drunk people at our digs.
Because I am a bad person :)
Off we went home, via an Indian restuarant and my husband’s favourite bookshop, where he bought a book about steam trains and Ross bought this:
Halfway home, this happened:
And we had to turn off the highway in National Park and run into the Station Cafe all soaking wet for dinner. Roast dinner. It was a bit of a Shining moment with all of the rain outside and the way the cafe had suddenly transformed into a fancy restaurant and bar.
And then, at 1am, we got home, finally. And went to bed. And that was my weekend. How was yours?
All of the wicked images from Strike of the Beast in this post are courtesy Putrid Media.