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The Relaxomatic Project - Every Other Sunday

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Gig Review: Pony Baby

Pony Baby at the Grey Lynn RSC

Friday, 8 March 2024

Words by Lou Morris 

As someone who lives over in the North Shore, I will admit that I don't tend to take too many trips over the bridge and into the other side of Tāmaki Makaurau. But here I am, once again, making the exciting trip over to see the collaboration that is Pony Baby.

Pony Baby is a super creation of two respectable solo artists in their own right: Jazmine Mary, a folk singer and winner of Taite Music’s Prize for Best Independent Debut on their album The Licking of a Tangerine; and Arahi, described by Banished Music as one of their finest up and coming original artists.

I panicked for a moment as I heard live music coming from within the building. I thought I had gotten there early enough, but quickly realised there was another gig going on in the venue below - Jesse Wilde. As I entered, they sounded pretty decent, playing a classic Kiwi hit by Dave Dobbyn, and a mighty strong man was sitting in the corner greeting those that were coming in.

On the stairs was an old stair lift attached next to it, clearly (and to my disappointment) not working. It seemed to be more a historical piece of art than a no-longer-functioning item that had yet to be replaced.

Getting upstairs, it felt like I had stepped into a small town community fundraiser event at the nearby church or town hall. Folding chairs were arranged on the floor with a small pathway to the front of the stage, which was aptly decorated by a singular Pony Baby merch t-shirt they had on sale at the trestle table at the entrance. The lighting was dim, saved by the warm glow of the gorgeous 60s/70s lamps that hang on the ceiling. (I will admit, I considered the various ways I could knick one and take it home with me). Somewhere towards the back was a spinning disco light, truly adding to the homecoming dance vibe.

After drooling over the architecture, I decided to go sit down in front of the stage. I ended up sitting next to a lovely couple and briefly connected over music as the opening act had suddenly appeared on stage. He stepped up looking like he had come straight out of a country record, with his Western shirt on and hair slicked back, his guitar up and ready to go. He introduced himself as Dave, and quickly went on into a series of covers from classic folk and country artists. With the spinning disco lights in the background occasionally hitting Dave’s face, amplifying the feeling of being at a small town fundraiser event at the local hall. Everyone here seemed to know someone else, it had a sense of community once again. Half way through he pointed out his mom in the back of the crowd, beaming like a proud and happy kid.

Pony Baby were quick to enter the stage after Dave, and it seemed a bit of a surprise to the audience, who were clearly engaged in conversation with their peers. It took Jazmine to speak to the audience, and politely tell us to shut up before the audience calmed down.

They kicked off with the first song from their debut album Pony Baby, aptly titled Pony Baby, and from the get go it was a fascinating introduction to how the two artists connected together in their space. It was more noticeable that Jazmine seemed more comfortable opening to the audience, belting out on occasion as well as making thorough eye contact with the audience. Arahi, on the other hand, seemed more comfortable in his own space, deep in thought and engaged with the music they were performing.

I absolutely love it when the artist you go to see perform their song; the one song they are best known for. In this case, ‘I think I’m Falling in Love’, was Pony Baby’s. As soon as Jazmine introduced it, the audience seemed to break their silence with joy, and it felt like another shared and connected moment with one another.

It brought me an immense amount of joy when they brought out the banjo part way through the gig, and as Jazmine was tuning their banjo Arahi took a turn to introduce the next song. They mostly played songs from their album, with the exception of a cover sprinkled in the mix.

Jazmine often did have to tame the audience throughout the night, but did so in a way that was both poetic and also slightly cheeky, like an old friend would. A gig as intimate as this one requires more engagement from the crowd, and the crowd appeared to be just as engaged in conversation with one another as with the band.

Their words played softly throughout the air that night, and I went home very content, happy to fade off to sleep in the aura of their performance.