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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.