Gig Report – Newtown Panda Battle, Adelaide Hotel, Newtown, Wellington, NZ, May 1 2009

By Steve McCabe

Newtown Panda Battle, May 1st & 2nd 2009
Newtown Panda Battle, May 1st & 2nd 2009, Lower North Island, New Zealand
We arrived in Newtown after a 10 hr drive from Auckland through the scenic wasteland that is Godzone North, Maui’s Fish, Te Ika O Maui.


At the Adelaide a live rugby match (Blues vs ‘Canes – ‘Canes shredded the Blues 45-27) was on the big screen at the opposite end of the pub to the stage.

Axemobile“Nothing happens till after the rugby” we were told cheerfully by more than one person. We went out for a nibble.

When we got back Angel Dust, playing first so as to maximize available drinking time, had started soundchecking and this eventually evolved into their set.

Angel Dust

The ‘Dust played a hard-rocking, suitably shambling set without descending into wallowing to an appreciative and diverse audience.

Roddy Pain

The congregation consisted of various Wellington radical / fringe factions come to support their favourite local bands and take in some of the out-of-town action on offer (Angel Dust, Hairdos and Axemen), punters left over from the rugby, and a few pandas who kept pretty much to themselves.

Angel Dust: Disorder out of Chaos
Angel Dust: Disorder out of Chaos

Panda Battle Battle Panda: Iron Maidens
Panda Battle Battle Panda: Iron Maidens

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Panda Battle Battle Panda: They blacken our eyes, they blacken our ears

Next Panda Battle Battle Panda had started setting up their ironing board and roar-checking the mikes.

Their set was a beat laden layercake of subsonic bass and drum beats overlayed with primitive roars screeches and squeals breaking into sloganised snippets of singing – kinda like the Slits and Crass jamming with Cabaret Voltaire in the jungle…

Panda Battle Battle Panda
Panda Battle Battle Panda

After ironing out a few technical issues, they pressed on through their set with crowd pleasers like ‘blacken our eyes’ and ‘what is she wearing?’

Auckland’s Hairdos (pronounced Hare – dooz), widely touted as the next big thing in perky kiwi punk-pop, played next.


Their set covered a range of their material and the slightly B-52s reminiscent “Night Creeper” was one of the many highlights of an energetic audience friendly set – lots of dancing



 The Hairdos: Perky punk
The Hairdos: Perky Punk Prototypes

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Newtown: So good they named a town after them
Newtown: So good they named a town after them

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Playing in their eponymous hometown, Newtown were the home team favourites.The 2-piece played their cheerful enthusiastic punky numbers to the delight of their audience contingent and the out of town-ers alike.


Kirsten and Greta (celebrating their second anniversary this very night!) swapped instruments mid-set showing their dexterity and making a nice dynamic change.


The Axemen were next on the agenda. Not having played in the capitol city for years, they were joined by their resident capitol city guitarist, Dragan Stojanovic to complete the classic 4-piece Derry Legend album line-up.


In keeping with the dairy theme promoting the recent ‘Big Cheap Motel’ re-release, they screened ‘Milk’, the new Sean Penn movie on the sports screen at the far end of the bar.

Ernie Abbott, R.I.P.
Ernie Abbott, R.I.P.

Time-travelling through a range of material spanning the last 2.5 decades, they finished of with an epic version of the highly suitable and relevant ‘Ernie Abbott‘, a chilling song about the caretaker killed in the trades hall bombing in Wellington in 1984.

Axemen: Old Farts Never Sleep
Axemen: Old Farts Never Sleep

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