Primacy, Broke, & MK Ultra – LIVE at Totora Street, The Mount


I had long anticipated this gig, for two reasons; one was the chance to see Jason 12109203_1040317479345680_8548340854443641639_nMcIvor’s new band, Primacy, perform live. The other reason was to see the Wellington band, Broke, who were on the bill. The band that I didn’t know that were opening the night was MK Ultra, which was an extra treat, as they performed very well and have such a polished, unique sound all their own. It’s a blend of hard rock, punk, and metal…. very cool ! I’ve seen them before and they did not disappoint this time round either. Great local Tauranga band, up there with All Hail the Funkillers and Liberated Squid.

It is definitely worth mentioning a few words about the venue, Totara Street (at the Mauao Performing Arts Centre). Just in the last few months/weeks Jay and Ross have worked really hard to upgrade and improve the venue, and they have done a fantastic job. I’ve been in a few times over the last month to meet with Jay and he’s showed me round their new facilities. Absolutely stunning ! The stage has been extended out the front and the P.A is now suspended above from the horizontal truss, which also now holds most of the lighting. 12116021_1040317399345688_1451178046121746233_nThe large speaker subs are morphed into the front of the stage and they have also added a very large black curtain which covers the entire back of the stage, which extends quite high up to the ceiling. It looks impressive and on an international level. No wonder that big name bands are wanting to play here. There are also improvements made to the mezzanine floor with an upstairs bar now open and ready for business and a kitchen for bar food is soon to follow. Other improvements worth noting are the acoustic insulation and ventilation added along the right hand wall. This was a concern for both the acoustic resonance in the building and the air ventilation for punters. Ross has ‘tuned’ the PA to the new room acoustics and it is sounding massive. I noticed a vast improvement in the PA sound and room acoustics for this Primacy gig. Ross Shilling is a very experienced sound engineer and his mixing of the bands on the night was superb. This is fast becoming the ‘go to’ venue for local, national, and international bands. The venue has its grand opening this Friday night (30th October) which marks the official branding of the venue under the name ’Totara Street’.

Broke soon followed MK Ultra with a spectacular set that had me utterly entranced! I’d seen these dude’s 12115549_1040317526012342_3499719268838442996_nbefore down in Wellington about 2 or 3 years ago and I was really taken by them back then. I really related to their eclectic blend of rock, metal, funk, punk, and jazz. Not many bands can pull this kind of melting pot or tapestry of styles off, but Broke are masters at it. I’m a big fan of bands like Faith No More and Mr Bungle, but these guys lay waste to those bands, (not exaggerating). So, I was excited to see them again, and they did not disappoint; seriously, I can not put it into words with how damn good these guys are. I was mesmerised with their performances. Their sound was ear candy to my ears, with such energy but controlled tightness. This time round their set was heavier and punkier than what they played 3 years ago in Wellington, but so damn tight and professional. Like I said, I can’t find the words to express how fricken good they are. To give you some background about their musicianship and experience, the two brothers in the band, Jesse & Matt Hill, were students at the Jazz Conservatorium in Wellington. Jesse’s bass playing is very accomplished, choosing a 5 string fender jazz bass as his weapon of choice. His singing, which has a smooth jazzy edge to it, really suits the quirky flavour of the group. Matt’s guitaring is nothing 12079099_1040317539345674_3634017553326707297_nshort of first class. He has a beautiful execution and feel to his playing which fits Broke like a glove. Another musician in the band who really adds energy and charisma to the band is Noe, on acoustic guitar & vocals. Somehow he plays that acoustic guitar as though it’s a fully fledged hard-rocking instrument from hell. His energetic rhythm style really adds and builds on the whole Broke flavour. Also, his backing vocals are brilliant and gel so damn well with the rest of the band. Sam does a superb job on drums and locks in perfectly with Jesse’s bass. All in all, these guys are a must see ! If you enjoy superb musicianship, quirky songs that rock, and a sense of humour, then this is your band !

12074595_1040317722678989_3006755776003313455_nPrimacy were on next and I could feel my anticipation growing even more. I’ve played several of their songs on my radio show, (The NZ Hard Rock Show), such as ‘The Luminary” and their brand new single ‘ Shade Black’. So, my expectations were high, but these guys did not disappoint. They fully delivered a 1st class Primacy show, despite the lack of audience attendance. Full points to the guys for soldiering on anyway and executing a fine set. Highlights of the set were Shade Black and The Luminary, as well as another new song, Aftermath. I was very impressed with how they managed to pull off the fatness of their studio sound on a live stage… it was ear candy to the point of audio orgasms. Really stunning sound quality and a sheer international performance from Primacy. Everything about their musicianship was sharp and of international quality… their duel guitars filled out the sound creating a 10906445_1040317762678985_4053606511933127132_nhuge wide wall of sonic greatness. The bass playing was also top class as I watched the guy noodle around the bass neck with professional ease. Will Stairmand’s drumming was very tight and on the money, and Jason’s lead vocals were as good as always, building on his vocal stylings from his previous band, Heathen Eyes. Even more impressive considering he told me his voice was feeling a bit stripped from the night before. These guys are true pro’s and it was a pleasure to experience their music live. They deserve to be billed alongside bands such as Devilskin, Villainy, and Silence the City.


Written By: Kingsley Smith

11698738_863144057127011_2405087280752936379_nKingsley Smith is a veteran musician who cut his teeth in the Hamilton music scene 25 years ago. He has been in dozens of original and cover bands. Has opened for Tania Donnelly, Anika Moa, Pluto, Renee Geyer, and The Black Seeds. Has 3 solo albums and recorded keyboards for other artists including Cassidy and Max Creepy. He is a multi-instrumentalist in his home recording studio and has been working hard this past year on new material for a new studio rock project known as Audio Storm. Kingsley also produce’s and DJ’s a music radio show called the NZ Hard Rock Show featuring the latest original hard rock from all around the country. It is played on 12 FM stations around NZ and also overseas on Rock Bandom Radio.

Photography by Baz Mantis:

Baz Mantis Artbop AvatarBaz Mantis is a Tauranga based photographer, recording artist and film maker who has been the chief photographer for ARTbop Alternative since 2014. Alongside his passion for experimenting with visual imagery in multiple genres, he is also a musician and has  released an album and several music videos as The D-Day Saints, which features 7guest vocalists from around the North Island. In betweenphotographic assignments, Mantis is busy writing and recording new material for the Saints as well as crafting the sequel to his 2012 underground cult horror/comedy film Chair Evil, and he has a website @

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