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Gig Review: JUNK FEST


Friday 7 June 2024 

Full feature by Elle Daji 

Photographs by Joel Armstrong 

A line of docs, skirts over pants and miscellaneous Aotearoa band tees spilled out of St. Kevins arcade and onto Karangahape Road. For what, you might ask? Only JUNK FEST, featuring a lineup of artists that fill an alternative listener's wet dream. The music gods had blessed us once again with the opportunity to a collection of acts spanning a mind-bending range of genres. Standing in line, I attempted to calculate which artists I wanted to indulge in a full set and which I would have to sacrifice. However, once I had walked down the stairs to Whammy Bar. I found myself roaming the hall, following my ears to the next enticing tune instead of consulting the handy dandy timetable. Although it was rather fun to leave one venue and follow my ears to the next stage. The festival proved that the music in Aotearoa is far from a monolith but a cacophony of eclectic genre-bending sounds. 


I trotted into the wine cellar's warm embrace for the evening's first act, Awning. To be greeted by the opening strums of ‘Gold Star,’ rather calming rainbow-coloured lights and a tightly packed swaying crowd. Christian Dimick’s vocals floated easily and lingered with one of the gentler guitar soundscapes of the night, and I am spellbound. From what I caught, it was a lovely melancholy and authentic performance, A gold star to the Te Whanganui-A-Tara-based songwriter. 

Elliot and Vincent

A stark contrast from Awning, was the rather angsty and indie-rock, punk world of Elliot and Vincent. The duo draws the crowd into their eclectic realm of restless drum and guitar. It is easy to forget that just two are on stage. The audience is brought into the band's house party origins as Elliot introduces the band in a modest fashion. Almost taking you out of their indie-rock sound. Elliot Finn’s breathy vocals jump out and pop in, in an improvised manner, showcasing her wide range. Their energy engulfs a packed Whammy Bar, the audience moving with Finn’s swinging hair. The duo communicates through fiery eye contact and body language as they perform. I am left wanting so much more; please release some music! I can’t keep listening to the 95bFM podcasts!

K M T P 

Walking into their set, I heard the opening strums of ‘First Date’, which is probably my and a lot of others' favourite K M T P song. The familiar sound of Keria Paterson’s voice is so intimate that it mimics a conversation with close friends. Backed up by layers of twangy guitar sounds and finally some keys, I feel transported back to an early 2000s coming-of-age film. Paterson calls out, “who here loves emo music?” before breaking into ‘2021 Was Fun.’ I thought to myself (and said out loud), “this is so swag”, in true nostalgic fashion. A highlight of the set was when Paterson is accompanied by Ali Burns’ vocals, which layered so nicely.


This was a stand-out for the night. I had no idea what to expect as I walked into the cellar aglow with the flashing green band logo. The indie noise-sounding band conducted the crowd with ease. At times, in fact most of the time, I could hear the crowd singing along with the band. Following on with the theme of nostalgia, I felt transported to a warm, flat party surrounded by old high schoolmates, with interspersed chatter rising from the crowd. In true underground fashion, a couple of technical difficulties get brushed off by wolf whistles and cheers from the crowd. Vocalist Lilith’s sound blends into a tapestry of distorted guitar and reverberating drums. A brassy trumpet accompanied the band during ‘Acetone’, cutting through their otherwise guitar-heavy sound. The end of their set had a surge of energy and sent the mosh into a boogy-down spin. I will be seeing them again.

Soft Bait 

When I got back to Whammy’s main room, it was packed to the brim with head-banging dancers in unison. The post-punk band commands such attention and energy that it’s infectious. Vocalist Joshua Hunter treads around the stage (and sometimes into the crowd). Testing out largely new music from their first album, a highlight was ‘No Bad Days’. Such high-energy, dense guitar motifs frequently make an appearance accompanied by the plucky bassline. There is a definite shift in the air from the more indie sounds that came before. Heartwarmingly, many of what looked like parent-child duos danced together. Soft Bait marked a graduation from indie to the darker, grungier sounds to come. 

Salt Water Criminals 

In my notes, I wrote down the mosh was moshing. You cannot get a more apt description of the liveliest dancers of the evening. Reuben Scott, the second frontman of the night to jump into the crowd, bumped and pushed his way through the crowd. In a pretty raucous set, the band leans into the rock side of their sound, resulting in a loud amalgamation of distorted guitars. 


It’s “bloody good” to perform in Tāmaki Makaurau, says Ringlets. A ‘Fever Dream in Broken Swedish’ stood out from the rest. The band intelligently cuts in and out of their jangly guitar sound and has such a robust and consistent rhythm to build tension in the bridge. I am reminded how much more powerful music can be live as energy builds to an extremity. Employing a wide range of different voices depending on the tone of the piece. I can die peacefully now, knowing that I have heard ‘I Used to Paint’ live in concert!


After thinking I had missed Tooms, I realised they had just started late. Still, only one band out of thirteen did not start on time, which is such an accomplishment. In a night full of big guitars, the drum and bass duo (not to be confused with DnB) strangely don’t make me miss the extra six strings at all. It was an intimate performance, with audience-band repartee and lively heckling. Drummer Dorian Noval asked for a tequila shot, and the audience provided one song later. To the music, bassist and vocalist Nich Cunningham is wicked on bass. The casual attitude towards performance provides the contrasting atmosphere for a dance to the second-noisiest rock noise of the night. 

Power Nap 

A little amuse bouche for your listening pleasure. Chris Cudby provides a psychedelic electronic breath of fresh air in the backroom. I have never seen such trancelike dance to the endlessly groovy house music. If your dancing shoes would not last till Caru’s set, Cudby provides a disco-like alternative. 

Grecco Romank

The most exciting performance vocally of the night. Billie Fee’s range has me wondering if she was classically trained with an operatic vibrato that cuts through the techno soundscape. Also, that pink puff sleeve extravaganza (Billie’s dress), chef's kiss. Damian Golfinopoulos, donning aviators, contrasts Billie in his rather robotic delivery. The atmosphere is like an artsy disco, with the girls packed to the brim in sweaty rave cave fashion. I trudge back to Whammy’s main room from one rave cave to another, deeply regretting the heels. 

After what felt like a night of being tossed around the Alice and Wonderland rabbit hole, I am thoroughly satisfied. The best showcase of Aotearoa’s underground talent, literally underground. It was such a treat to have so many great acts in one place over one night. It was a gig where you could see musicians of various levels of establishment, see your old favourite or find something novel to add to your listening roster. I chowed down on some kai from the White Lady, reflecting on the music that had caused some slight tinnitus. I implore you all to purchase some airplugs before your next gig. I sincerely hope this is not the last we see of Junk Fest; I will be refreshing the gig guide till I see the next one.