Australian tourists are the worst.
Ozzie travellers can be found making nuisances of themselves in all corners of the world - Bali, Thailand, America, Europe and everywhere in between, Australians flock en mass to run amok and piss hostel beds. If you join a band you might even be lucky enough to travel and piss the bed under the guise of art – or at least slip it under the rug as collateral damage as a requirement of your job, we (Mini Skirt) took full advantage of this luxury on our most recent jaunt overseas. Obviously I use the term job very loosely as any consideration of us as professionals is laughable, but still, my point is Thrills sent us overseas recently to play some music with our good mates Liquid Face and we had an almost disgustingly good time doing so.
Given the amount of shit that went wrong on this trip, we are so god damn lucky we didn’t try and make it to any of the long haul locations listed above – I guess we must be smarter than we look, we know our own incapabilities and we know not to test them. So, being the smart bunch we are, we found our own fun right here in our (almost) own back yard - we went to New Zealand baby! Yep, you heard it, New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud, the home of the Kiwi’s, Hobbiton, Middle Earth and let me tell you - what a place it is.
Mini Skirt first came to NZ on a last-minute tour about 3 years ago with Melbourne mates Dumb Punts and Charging Stallion, we had so much fun on this trip that we ended up forming our own Australian version of it a year or so later, we added a bigger bus and the sweetest men in Australian Music Pist Idiots and called it The Coin Toss Tour. This tour nearly broke us in every conceivable way and we somehow made it through with our livers, jobs and relationships still intact but that’s probably a story for another time.
As I said before I started getting nostalgic, we had been to NZ before and had been talking about going back almost every month since, when Thrills came to us and said they wanted to throw a party over there for Amazon Surf Shop (not those big fancy online retail guys) we dove right in, we turned it into 3 shows, Auckland, Raglan and Tauranga - a bunch of shit happened, (New Zealand weather reports lie) and we decided to cancel the 3rd show. As I said a lot of shit went wrong – we hadn’t even left the country yet and the wheels were falling off. I’ll just get all the negatives out of the way now and we’ll get back to the fun stuff, Botched car bookings, shit phone plans and shit phones, lost guitars, food poisoning, roadside spews, fights at shows, fights on the street, unreliable weather reports and fucking U2 playing a show in Auckland the same night meaning that the entire country (like 45 people or some shit) were trying to find a place to stay too – I’ve always believed that Bono personally had it in for me and this was about all the proof I needed.
The first show was at Whammy Bar in Auckland – if you’ve never been Whammy is about as good a venue as you can get, it’s down a pretty swanky little tiled arcade on Karangahape Road and then down 3 flights of stairs in to near oblivion, it’s completely blacked out and as dingy as you could ever want – it’s a rabbit warren if you enter through the back so try and avoid that because we all got split up for a good hour trying to load in which kind of fucked our set times for the night.
We were lucky enough to have a brother and sister duo called Grown Downz join us from Tauranga, they opened both shows and were so sick, check them out if you get a chance.
If you’ve been to New Zealand or happen to have a few kiwi pals you will know their reputation when it comes to being possibly the nicest bunch of people on the planet – not tonight folks, these kids had well and truly lost the plot. Halfway through Liquid Face’s first set, the place had descended into madness it was all hands, heads and jaws swinging left right and centre. I watched on happily as LF front man Cal burnt up every ounce of his patience when his mike smashed him in the face 10 times in 1 song. The crowd peeled out immediately after that and I started to think we’d be playing to the bartender, but, lo and behold the room filled back in, all somehow twice as “eager” as they were before. We had a fight break out mid-set which sucked, we stopped playing and asked the bouncer to get them out – being in NZ the bouncer was the biggest sweetest Māori guy ever and he dragged them both up the stairs with what looked like one hand – I may be glorifying this but I swear that’s what I saw. We kicked back into our set and; I just typed “sweat” accidentally and I think I’m just going to leave it at that because that’s basically all we did for the last half of our show.
After witnessing another fight on the street, most of us bailed home but a dedicated few mosied on up the street to a prominent LGBTQ bar for a spot of Karaoke. The plan for a few wind down drinks post-show skyrocketed after a much-anticipated rendition By Liquid face bass player Jack of Midnight Oil’s “King Of The Mountain”, helped along somewhat by the discovery of a multi-tiered super club in the back of the bar…. Seeing Auckland from sun up to sun up again, we were all pretty keen to get out of the city and take in some of that sweet sweet New Zealand nature.
Rolling out of the city our first glimpse of the New Zealand countryside was a big beautiful green mountain range, with a HUGE U2 logo burned into the side of it – you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me!!! With Auckland well and truly ruined by the Irish we raced on down to Raglan, we introduced the LF guys to a driving game we always play that involves guessing songs while drinking beer, we were lacking on the beer so stopped off at what we thought was a bottle shop to grab a case of New Zealand’s finest drop Waikato Draught. It turned out to be a pub, “The Whatawhata Backyard Bar and Eatery” – what a spot! The owner insisted we come in for a beer, we left 30 minutes later 2 schooners up and 5 shirts and stubby holders down – the old guys in the front bar fleeced us for all our merch but we couldn’t say no. From here we headed to a waterfall to do some good old fashioned touristing and a bit of nude swimming in the creek. The countryside on this drive is non-stop beauty, there’s an amazing view just around every bend, and speaking of bends? There is plenty of those little pricks too!! The roads are so windy you’d have even the most iron stomach reaching for the door handle – we had to pull over a couple of times on the drive down and back from Raglan – trust me they’ll get ya!
Raglan is a little surf town a few hours south of Auckland, it’s famous for a long left hand wave that breaks a bit of a drive out of the town but it should be famous for the pub and for the Yot Club. The pub is a big double story beauty right in the heart of town, the Yot Club is a tiny little…. “not so beauty” right across the street. You stay at the pub and you play at the Yot Club - what a perfect scenario.
When we were here a few years back it happened to land on one of the locals 30th birthday’s which brought about 100 or so people to our show who probably would never have known we existed. By chance or possibly even fate, it turns out we’d done it again, the exact same weekend 2 years later. He turned up to celebrate, again and he brought the same 100 people who had to be reminded who we were, again. If we thought Auckland had gone wild the night before there was no way our hungover asses were ready for Raglan, Cal got hit in the face with the mic so many times he front kicked the guy off the stage, people hung off the rafters, I think about 100 stage dived and we all sweated into the ground again.
We wrapped this night up in the same fashion as the one before, most of us went to bed but a few of us stayed on to drink with the world’s most passionate tiki bar owner Andy – I think the sun was close to up before everyone was in bed again.
We woke up to a siren @ 5am that morning I thought it was a Tsunami siren, I couldn’t find the van keys and nobody else seemed to care so I had to accept my fate, I was going to die here in a pub hotel room – it turned out it was just the local firies and that shit happens all the time so nobody cares. We all woke up surprisingly fresh after that, given the cancelled Sunday show we now had a full day of leisure, team Liquid Face sat on the pub balcony with long necks where they stayed until they kicked us off that night, Mini Skirt all went to the beach for a few hours to try and keep up that positive tourist attitude but eventually, the pub balcony got us too.
We were due to fly out of Auckland at 1pm on Monday, it seemed fitting to finish up the tour the way we started, a couple of spews, some nice green scenery, 2 cancelled flights, 1 re-scheduled flight to Melbourne that was meant to be to the Gold Coast, another flight to Brisbane and finally, a shuttle back to the Gold Coast at 1am – New Zealand sucked.