Roadtripping to Smakdown

Hamtown Smakdown is an annual hardcore show in Hamilton that is spread over two days and usually features the best current hardcore bands in the country. Over the years it has seen reunion shows, one-off cover bands, and final shows.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Entrails from Wellington.

The first Smakdown I ever attended was in 2005 and I headed along to see The Bludgers and Cinix as they were the only bands I had heard of that were playing. I had never really been to a hardcore show before and I was blown away by Evil Priest, Fever Lake and Kill Me Quickly in particular.

When I think about it, Hamtown Smakdown 2005 and those three bands are responsible for me getting into hardcore and going to shows. After the show I bought both Evil Priest CDs and listened to them over and over for weeks.

Photography by Alex Meagher

A van full of smelly dudes.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Sunnies on, beers in hand. (L to R: Me, Kalem, Face, Cam, Fuzz, John, Chris, Fraser, Linus & Mark)

Every year since then I have made an effort to go to Hamtown Smakdown, this year excluded. Last year I made the journey up to Hamilton with two of the Wellington bands that were playing. In our rental van we had four of the guys from Entrails plus Linus, Kalem, Mark, Face, Chris and myself. And in the other car that joined us for the return there were the three girls from Shock Futuro and Harriet.

We left from Wellington fairly early with everyone meeting at Lorne Street  except Chris who we picked up in Paraparaumu on the way. Conveniently Moore Wilsons is also on Lorne Street so we stocked up on beers for the road.

As we got into Paraparaumu we could see Chris waiting for us outside McDonalds with his skateboard in hand. Once we got on the way, beers were opened and we got to drinking to pass the time. The route we took had us going around the back of Lake Taupo and into Hamilton via Te Awamutu stopping here and there for toilet breaks.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Taking in the sights.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Linus chilling out with a bee.

During one of these toilet stops a bee found its way into the van and to everyones amazement Linus tamed it. Linus has worked as a bee keeper before and after being stung countless times has no fear of bees (I hate them). He scrapped a bit of honey from a squished bee on the front of the van and let the bee in the van land on his finger to eat it, he then took it back out of the van until it had finished eating when it just flew away.

Both Entrails and Shock Futuro played at the start of the second day, so the first night we all partied. Amongst catching some of the bands a lot of time was also spent drinking and skateboarding in the carpark around the side of the venue, as is almost tradition at Smakdown. We stocked up on $5 bottles of wine from Pack’n’Save before the show, we quickly discovered that Cameron and $5 wine don’t mix well as he got a bit fighty and even took a slow motion swing at Mark. After which we decided to put him to sleep in the back of the van.

Photography by Alex Meagher

The carpark, a place for drinking and skating.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Chris likes Suicidal Tendencies.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Doing some skates.

As I was the sober driver for the night, after the show I drove the van to John Strange’s flat where we were staying and began drinking to catch up with everyone. Half of our group had dispersed to various other parties around town so the ones of us that were left drank at John’s. Then came the bonfire and people jumping over it which provided great entertainment for the rest of the night.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Lloyd jumping the fire.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Enjoying the entertainment for the evening.

The next day there was a photography exhibition of some of Aaron Sami‘s show photos and a record swap at Void, so we woke Cam up who had slept in the back of the van all night and headed down there. We had a bit of stuff to sell there so sat around for most of the day listening to Evil Priest and looking at what everyone else had to get rid of. The guys from void had set up couches and a projector in the show room so I caught part of American Hardcore before heading out for a few drinks before the show.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Records and merch for sale.

Photography by Alex Meagher

The work of Aaron Sami.

Shock Futuro kicked of the second night of Smakdown most excellently, playing groovy punk rock with Spanish vocals. I used to really enjoy seeing Shock Futuro play so it’s kind of sad that they aren’t around any more. If anyone feels like listening to them you can hear some stuff HERE and buy their ‘Ruido Destructivo’ 7″ HERE.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Shock Futuro from Wellington.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Shock Futuro from Wellington.

Second up for the night were Entrails with their blend of metal, hardcore, stoner rock and d-beat. Sadly this is another band I enjoyed seeing that is no longer playing shows, you can stream their full length HERE. It was great to see the crowd getting into their fast paced set outside of their home town of Wellington.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Entrails from Wellington.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Entrails from Wellington.

The night carried on with many bands still to play and the plenty of drinking to do at the party afterwards. The next morning a few of us woke up nursing hang overs for the trip home. We headed on our way after driving around town to pick up the stragglers and meeting the girls in their car.

Along the way we made a few stops. Once on the side of SH1 to jump from the rocks into Lake Taupo and a second time we took a side road to see what we might find, this lead us to a dam where we all through rocks into the water before heading on back home.

Photography by Alex Meagher

The track from SH1 to the jumping rock.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Kalem jumps into Lake Taupo.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Followed closely by Fraser.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Adventuring the dam.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Liz at the dam.

Only stopping once more to fill up on KFC before passing the small Wellington sign and turning the corner to see the lights of our city. Hamtown Smakdown weekend 2011 would be up there with some of the best road trips I have been on, but no doubt  I will write about the others in the future.

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