The little red devil looking down on the inaugural Rockfest at Totara Street on Saturday 26th November 2016 would have been a happy little person by the end of Saturday night and organiser DJKingz aka Kingsley Smith musician, promoter and ARTbop contributor and interviewer would have been the same.
Regular ARTbop readers will know all our ARTbop contributors have significant individual arts and creative practices. Kingsley Smith described himself to me as a “veteran muso” – he’s been in several bands including Knightshade. Kingsley has also created and developed the NZ Hard Rock Show which is heard across many late night New Zealand radio stations. For me as the Editor of ARTbop it is Kingsley’s excellent creative arts journalism and his skill as an interviewer for ARTbop alternative that I am most familiar with. But tonight he’s Kingsley Smith ROCKFEST promoter – 6 bands + 6 hours + $10. and it’s a charity gig for the Cancer Society.
Over the weeks preceding Saturday’s event I’ve received numerous emails and promotional videos and information from Kingsley. I also found him delivering the posters he’d created around the Tauranga town – I’ve got one of those for my collection of graphic art. So when Nicci Baxter wife of the Carradine’s and Liberated Squid’s, John Baxter stands in her kitchen telling me I have to get along to Totara Street, and laughs when I tell her “I’ll be the oldest person there” I relent. After an ARTbop editing and uploading session at the new and wonderful Greerton Library, it’s down to Countdown for some water and $10. for my ticket. When I tell ARTbop’s Dhaivat Mehta I’ll be showing up he tells me to ring Baz Mantis to get advice on “what rock chicks wear”.
My dentist has broken his wrist and his locum is in Rotorua for the day – so I face a Monty Python-teeth weekend. I eventually drag myself out of bed about 4pm on Saturday, shower, feed the subversive cat and dressed in my usual clothing totter off to Totara Street where Kingsley tells me “we’re not open yet”. I make him let me in, just in case I don’t manage to live to whenever opening time is. Dhaivat’s going to be on the door and he arrives dreds flying to take over the front of house. I use all our ARTbop advertising flyer tins to hold down the promotional info for forthcoming gigs – you can thank the subversive cat for the tins, although she now won’t look at tinned catfood of any description.
We won’t mention the rain, the gazebo, how lucky I am to have my gardening parka in the truck box in my boot or the outstandingly close physical presence of thousands of dollars worth of superb chrome and leather – an Indian Scout When Kingsley says he’s doing a fundraising sausage sizzle but there’s no-one to do it, pain forgotten– I say I will. It’s only after he thinks that’s a lifesaving idea I remember I’ve never worked one of those gas barbeque things. Come to think of it I don’t remember ever being responsible for incinerating the food on it or removing the post-barbeque blackened residue.
In the long-established, now sacrosanct, New Zealand cultural tradition – I buy food, I make food, I create condiments and accompaniments, drinks and sauces but I’ve never, ever, ever touched the controls of “the barbeque”. As this one is initially parked outside the entry to Totara Street I worry I’ll gas the participants or start a venue conflagration – New Zealand has a strident focus on social health and safety which must be having an unhealthy effect on me tonight. The lovely young man who is the security for the evening denies knowing how to operate the barbeque controls so Kingsley looks at me and says “it’s not hard” – you push this little button while pushing in and turning one of the big buttons. This is not the time to tell Kingsley I was frightened of my first food processor in case the blades broke the plastic and I was cut to shreds in my own kitchen or that I initially tried to operate the microwave controls with a long stick or that I have a documented history of breaking lawnmowers.
I look at the two huge bags of sausages and carton of bread and wonder if Barnum-like we may be over estimating the stomach capacity of the crowd. Ross Shilling stores one of the sausage bags in the chiller and makes me put the one I’m going to use in a chilly bin (health and safety!). Following the process I’ve observed the Village Radios sausage sellers – I put on my vinyl gloves and interleave piles of bread with simple white paper napkins/serviettes. I cover the pile with tinfoil – it’s now academic that Kingsley has brought along a collectable Denbyware plate for the bread and a Portmerrion-design sandwich tray for the sausages. If he was my kid I’d slap him! I unscrew the nasty little lids on the special sauces and we are ready to rockn’roll.
It’s interesting how many opinions there are on how you blacken pre-cooked sausages. In deference to the slight forward tilt of the equipment I start lining them up so they won’t roll down the grill bars onto my feet and/or the concrete – that’s not how it’s done. I do as I’m told and watch as they slowly slide towards the edge. Then a well-wisher tells me I should be using the solid hot-plate: I deflect that suggestion by saying I’m doing as I’ve been instructed. I use the bigger pair of tongs to bat them slowly back up the bars – I could be practising for the ASB classic. Like any battlefield general I give these boys regular R&R on the sidebars away from the direct heat of the devil’s flame. Despite my determined observation I manage to significantly discolour one line of six little soldiers while vinyl-gloved I’m completing the degree-course task of interleaving more bread with paper napkins.
Against all culinary odds, people eventually start to buy my little mystery bags. Kingsley has hash browns for vegetarians but for hours no-one wants them and the first two I cook gradually take on the appearance of cobblestones (don’t fret someone eats them). Those who announce they are “gluten free” tell me to hold the bread and take their offerings away sauce-smothered in a paper-napkin – I do as I’m told but wonder which has more gluten, the bread, the sausage, the sauce or the paper napkin.
Kingsley has made my job unnecessarily complex – brown or white bread and three choices of sauce – traditional tomato, hickory or steak. The delightful Ross Shilling of Totara Street has added to the confusion by giving me a large squirty bottle of tomato sauce. It’s only towards the end of the evening when people are getting bold that someone has the temerity to tell me “why hasn’t Kingsley got onions”. I rely on my mediation training to temper my response.
As the evening progresses the scarily capable Shilling is outside the venue’s perimeter with a noise meter and the fabulous bar staff patrol the area collecting small bottles and “glasses” which turnout to be heavy-duty plastic.
The event is running faster than anticipated: Dhaivat informs me there will be a 20 minute break before the next band and there will be a promotional announcement “for the sausages” – so I go for broke – I clear all the cooked sausages onto the sandwich tray, cover them with foil and then cover the entire grill area with fresh little sausage bodies – it’s like New Year’s Day at the Mount. And it works there’s a rush on – I can’t believe it people shout their orders at me. And God Bless the person who had all three sauces at once and the person who ate one au naturel!
The penultimate band Primacy is in full howl when I notice that my face is hurting again – I’d found my lost Panadol and generic penicillin tablets still pristine in their self-seal bag in the bin under the table but they’ve long worn off as I was only coming to take some photos and then crawl back home to bed. I tell Dhaivat I’m going home – so I pack up my stuff and wait for the set to end. Despite the throwaway line from the throng “they’re cold and burned” (“I know”) – I discover that some desperate humans have eaten the six charcoaled sticks I’d left hidden under the foil on the warming plate to show Kingsley the full horror of my evening as Queen of the Barbeque – Fried Green Tomatoes it was not.
Great effort Totara Street, Kingsley, the band members and the audience. When you do it again next year DJKingz – I’ll do the food – even if I’m too scared to turn on the gas, now I know how to push the start button.
Dhaivat Mehta will write a more usual event review. He shot some video he’ll upload. There were three photographers there including PixelFaerie and Baz Mantis Photography. Here’s some of the images I took. Apart from one all female outburst of abuse prompted by the exposure of a very generous bust in a very low-cut top the crowd at this event was better-behaved than most family Christmas dinners.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
Watch out for the New Year’s Eve gig that DJKingz has on at Totara Street: