Parrotdog Brewery

Parrotdog is run by Matt Kristofski, Matt Stevens and Matt Warner and is  a craft beer brewing company that has been gathering momentum since winning a range of awards at beervana and the beer awards last year. Over the last few months I have been documenting the set up of their new micro brewery situated at 29 Vivian St, Wellington.

It has been great to see the transformation from big empty warehouse to fully functioning brewery with the help of various cranes, heavy machinery and hard work.
Photo by Alex Meagher
Not to be missed is the fact that the three Matt’s have made this brewery happen from the ground up, literally. They have been heavily involved in the set up of their dream, picking up the tools and doing the hard yards themselves rather than contracting out. They can be seen in these photos digging out the drains, pouring concrete, loading in the big tanks, and stressing out while watching expensive machinery be lifted off the back of a truck.

It takes a lot of courage to leave your day jobs and begin a project as big as this, to be the ones that pick up the tools and lay the foundations for their future.

A big thank you to the boys at Parrotdog for letting me be a part of this. Last night I attended a sneak preview tasting session and I must say, the hard work has been worth it. Head down to Hop Garden tomorrow for their public launch if you want to get your hands on some and have a taste for yourself.

Parrotdog launches Saturday 21st July at Hop Garden, just two blocks away from their brewery.

Keep an eye out for Parrotdogs full range at some of the best bars in Wellington and soon the rest of the country.
http://www.facebook.com/parrotdog
http://www.parrotdog.co.nz/

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.

Thrash Palace

Photography by Alex Meagher

Loading gear into Thrash Palace

Thrash Palace was the best thing happening in Hamilton when I lived there. It was kind of an anomaly, a house in a residential area that had a big empty lounge for bands to play in and at times would have 2 or 3 shows in a week, yet very rarely had noise control (well, that I noticed anyway). The Palace existed as a DIY venue/party house for a while before I moved to Hamilton, so I don’t really know a whole lot about its beginnings. But I did attend some great shows there and had many good times.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Working the door in the cold

Photography by Alex Meagher

Cockroaches try to escape the noise

When I first shifted to Hamilton we lived just around the corner from Thrash Palace. I remember being there one particularly cold winter night, everyone in the lounge wearing hoody and jacket combos and shivering while watching the bands play. These freezing cold nights never stopped shows at Thrash Palace from turning into a party.

Anything you could climb on top of you could jump off of also, people would climb on to the mantle above the fireplace and dive onto the crowd or would scale the door frame for a better view. At particularly packed shows the hallway would fill with people not able to get into the main room and people would stand outside watching through the open windows behind the band.

Photography by Alex Meagher

The Burial at Thrash Palace

Photography by Alex Meagher

The Burial at Thrash Palace

One thing was always certain about Thrash Palace, any show was going to be a good time. Due to the nature of this DIY “venue” only bands affiliated in some way with the people that lived there would play,  meaning the bands were always great and full of the best people to party with.

Photography by Alex Meagher

The kitchen at the Palace

Photography by Alex Meagher

The nights line-up

The final show at Thrash Palace came as the second night of Negative Numbers, with a full house and about seven bands playing. Just before the last band of the night started one of the occupants picked up the mic and informed everyone of the fact this would be the final show at the infamous Palace.

We were also informed about a new venue in the works to replace it, this time something a lot more professional without losing the DIY ethics we were used to. This came in the form of Void, still locally operated and providing a great venue for local and international bands that want to play all ages shows.

Photography by Alex Meagher

Cry Wolf at Thrash Palace

Photography by Alex Meagher

Wasteland at Thrash Palace

http://www.facebook.com/void651
http://void.org.nz/void/

That time Converge came to New Zealand

I’ve decided to go back through some old photos over time and tell some stories about shows and things I have photographed. To start that off I decided to write about the time that Converge came to New Zealand.

Converge were a band that many of us in the hardcore scene had wanted to see for the longest time, and in their 20 years of existence they have only graced our shores this one time. Needless to say there was a lot of excitement around their shows here. The tour started out with just two R18 shows, in Auckland and Wellington with an extra all ages show added for Hamilton at the last minute.

The Converge flyer
I went with my two of my flatmates at the time, we traveled to all three of their shows in NZ. The first of which was in Auckland at Kings Arms, with Arc of Ascent and Wasteland opening. After leaving Hamilton at an early hour which should have allowed for a lot of spare time we soon hit roadworks. This turned our normal 1.5 hour trip into a 3 hour one, thankfully we still arrived with plenty of time, however heard of people being stuck for up to 5 hours just by leaving an hour or so after us.

As soon as we got into Auckland we headed straight to the Kings Arms so that John could start setting up for Arc of Ascents set and as time went on more familiar faces started to show up as the boys in Wasteland weren’t too far behind us. After set up and sound check were finished we found ourselves a table outside and waited for the show to begin.

I’m not going to write about the opening bands for any of the shows because I just can’t be bothered. Every opening band on this tour would count towards my favourite New Zealand bands so just go listen to them for yourself. By the time Converge came on the venue was packed and there was not a lot of room to move. I found myself a nice spot to the side of the stage as my foot had been tattooed the day before and I did not like the idea of having it stood on, thankfully this provided me with a great spot to take photos from.

Photo by Alex Meagher
Photo by Alex Meagher
Photography by Alex Meagher
They started off their set with Concubine, the first track from what is possibly their best known album, Jane Doe. I’m not really writing an in depth review of these shows as my memory is not good enough for that (which is kind of why I am into photography), however I did swipe a set list at the end of their set and I still have it in my possession. As you will see below they mostly covered songs from their last four albums with a focus on Axe To Fall and No Heroes, and a nice treat from The Poacher Diaries thrown in to the mix.

After playing their encore of The Saddest Day, Converge announced that there would be a third show in the tour, an all ages show to be held in Hamilton at Void, a great locally run venue set up by some people sick of not having good venues in Hamilton. The third show had apparently been organised at the last minute during this first show.

Converge Set List
After the show was done we loaded Johns drum gear back into the car and headed back to Hamilton for the night, as a way to break up the long drive that would follow the next morning.

We left from Hamilton just before mid day, passing through the Desert Road around 2PM, the six hour drive was a little daunting after the late night return back to Hamilton. With plenty of time to kill when we arrived in Wellington we headed straight to HMPCO!!?!? (now more commonly referred to simply as Lorne St). This was to be our base while in Wellington, so we dropped off all our gear and had a few drinks with the locals.

I headed down to Bodega a little early so I could catch Converge for a quick photo, which was exactly that, a quick photo as they had to do sound check. Due to this it didn’t come out so great. but that’s OK.

Photography by Alex Meagher
Everybody started arriving just as Neon Bastard were about to start, including a large number of people I had seen at the Auckland show. It was great to see so many people traveling for these shows. There was an uncertainty as to whether or not Strangers were going to play as Rhydian had been sick, but they pulled through and took to the stage before Converge.

By the time Converge were on Bodega was looking very full and I had found a nice spot near the front of the stage. They played an identical set list to the night before but with a change in the encore song, this time playing the title track from Jane Doe, which was a nice, unexpected treat.

Photography by Alex Meagher
Photography by Alex Meagher
Photography by Alex Meagher
After the show one of the promoters was asking Hamilton and Auckland people he knew from shows if they could help get gear back to Hamilton as they didn’t have enough room in the van for it plus the band as they had flown to Wellington but would be driving back. We ended up with the back drop banner of the Axe To Fall cover as it was all we could fit in the tiny car we were in.

We returned to HMPCO!!?!? to sleep and found that we were sharing the large downstairs room with a few other people and room was running out with two people asleep upright, beer in hand on the couch and Ben setting up on top of the half pipe. I managed to spot a mattress used for sound proofing and pulled it down to sleep on for the night.

Photography by Alex Meagher
Photography by Alex Meagher
The following morning we hit the road once again. This time with an additional passenger. We contemplated keeping the giant banner in the boot of our car but decided against it. We also thought it would be fun to open it up on the Desert Road and let it blow in the wind, which we also decided against.

Photography by Alex Meagher
After another 6 hours of driving we arrived back in Hamilton. Headed straight home for a much needed shower and change of clothes before heading down to Void to catch Cry Wolf. Everyone at the Void show looked exhausted, with the majority of them having also attended all three shows.

Converge must have noticed that they had a lot of familiar faces from the past couple of shows and really mixed up their set for us at the third show, taking requests and playing songs they very really play anymore. With some members commenting at times that they couldn’t remember how some of the songs went but after a quick reminder from other members gave it a go anyways. Included in these songs were Plagues, Lonewolves and Homewrecker. This made the third show undoubtedly the best of the lot.

Photography by Alex Meagher
Photography by Alex Meagher
Photography by Alex Meagher
After 16.5 hours of driving over three days, spanning over 1280km up and down the North Island this is a very memorable tour to me and I feel that we really accomplished something going to all these shows. Hopefully we will see Converge in New Zealand again before another 20 years pass.