Musician Kingsley Smith reviews the early December Sidewalk Empire gig in Tauranga and gives you all a taste of who and what you’ll find when ARTbop alternative launches online for February 2015. (And, in the meantime checkout ARTbop alternative on facebook to see what alternative editor Dhaivat Mehta is putting out there.)
I was really looking forward to this gig, for two reasons. One reason was my good mate Curtis Reid was playing lead guitar for Sidewalk Empire and the other was because this was my first time attending the new Mauao live venue. I’d heard good things about this venue and was excited because Tauranga was in need of a new live original venue. It was great to see a good number of people in the audience including several local musicians who were as curious as me. The venue is definitely a cool one. Lot’s of space, both for the audience and the band on stage. Really decent size stage with a good look to it. The only problem I had was the acoustics of the building washed out the mix a bit. High ceilings with not enough acoustic paneling, but I’ve been told that the good people at Mauao are intending on improving the acoustics. They’ve already hung a couple of cool looking drapes over one wall which help the sound and the appearance.
Vinyl Biscuit opened the show and gave a very strong performance. Very cool sound. The singer was sensational throughout their entire set. She gave an energetic performance and really brought it home with her vocals. With a voice similar to Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, she projected such power and soul.
Sidewalk Empire exploded on stage with their set. Right from the start they were a very tight unit. This band has really got their act sorted and deliver it like well seasoned veterans. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, especially the second half of it. The songs seemed to get better and better toward the end. They were incredibly polished and super slick. Some great songs in their repertoire with a style and sound that perhaps can be compared with NZ legends Ardijah, but with a contemporary edge. They oozed with NZ flavour. The singer is superb and just got better and better as she warmed up. Her voice was akin to Betty-Anne from Ardijah.
Sidewalk Empire are in fact a 6 piece band featuring Keyboards, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, drums, and lead vocals. The backing vocals were faultless and the rhythm section is very impressive. Curtis Reid features in the band on lead guitar and he adds an extra level to the band with his very fine lead playing. I was further amazed to discover that this was only their second ever live gig. Definitely sounded like they had been around the block. A must see if you can next time !
In The Meanwhile…check out a video of their performance here: