Auckland was rockin’ last night with a trifeca of acts including Ratso, Elliot & Vincent and, live from New York…SUO. The 13th Floor’s Simon Coffey was there. Here’s his report.
Saara Untracht-Oakner is a Brooklyn-based multi-medium artist, in photography, furniture, paint and music. Part of American indie rock group BOYTOY, who seems to have been on hiatus since 2018, she has her own ‘band’ SUO with an album and several singles under her belt. Fresh from NEST FEST in Hawke’s Bay (and a few other engagements around Te Ika-a-Māui/The North Island ) SUO made it to Tamaki Makaurau for a mid-week show, with a couple of local acts to showcase her synthesis of 70’s pre-punk and 80s alt-pop rhythms.
It’s been a while since I saw RATSO live, in the time they opened for Jack White in Christchurch/Otautahi and released the LIVE IN ŌTAUTAHI album (a recording of the show) digitally. Playing first on a Rāapa/Wednesday night during the summer holiday season is always a hard ask, but RATSO burst out with all their usual fervour one expects from them, twin guitars and dual vox in a Richard Hell/MC5 style kick-off, the obligatory boxes are out on the dance floor for JB to project himself (though not exclusively), and later the signs come out for the last few songs in a bit of mirthful kiwi self-deprecation.
At one stage in the show, JB is dirty dancing with some hapless fellow, at another, a band member is on his shoulder, and then there is the invoking the ancestors of Aotearoa dirty rock n roll: The Henchmen, Nothing At All!, The La De Da’s and more. Their energy really does spill over into the modest-sized crowd, dragging everyone to the party, and there is only one question to be asked, the question for RATSO is, where is 2024 going to take them?
Elliot & Vincent
From five onstage, Elliot & Vincent strip the stage presence to two. The start is a little halting and miscued, but it comes together, as the atmospheric darkened and at times dissonant noises meld. Elliot & Vincent purposely follow each other carefully, the laidback backbeat is core, it allows Vincent to swing and create a sonic boogie. Meanwhile, Elliot’s smooth and sultry vocals reminisce of Chan Marshall and PJ Harvey, and at times, her drumming evokes Martin Atkins efforts on Public Image’s Flowers of Romance.
Towards the end they whip out ZZTop’s Sharp Dressed Man, an edgy staggered version that works well (I personally would’ve preferred something from Tres Hombres of Fandango!) If there is a flaw, it is alike tempo that pervades their songs, and yes, while their last song is a bit pacier, perhaps they could slow it down for a moment, a song, get down and dirtier. Still, they are the band to experience in a broken down bar at 2am.
Onstage, Saara Untracht-Oakner is joined by bassist Josephine (The Josephine Network), drummer Max Hersh (Dirty Fences) and Nat Brower all of whom have their own or another group. Onstage they project all manner of punk glam style, (Saara’s shoes are the bomb) circa 1974 just as punk is being created out of the collapse of Woodstock, and the disillusionment caused by the Vietnam War.
Saara Untracht-Oakner’s Brooklyn drawl is endearing, and fruitions comparisons to Blondie and early GoGos, as SUO play through their first two songs, it’s clear that they have grown on from the much poppier sound of their 2018 album Dancing Spots and Dungeons. The dominance of the guitars in a style characterised by comparisons to early Tom Petty, Mink De Ville and Television, delivers a much edgier SUO.
The surprise of The Ramones I’m All Screwed Up (Brain Drain 1989) is a crowd pleaser and pleasure. Their robust, crafted set includes selections from Dancing Spots and Dungeons: Suffer, Spell in The Night and the magnificent Time junkie, the newer songs, including their latest release Don’t Catch Me, a ramblin rocking ballad and the encore Blue Evening Goes away. Throughout the set, there is definitely a retro 1970s pre-punk vibe and laid-back connections with the audience, with bassist Josephine asking for weed and offering a promise to be your friend and hopefully a promise by SUO to return.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery: Thanks to John Baker for shooting some of the SUO shots!
Elliot & Vincent:
- Wax Chattels & Cable Ties – Whammy Backroom: February - 24 February 2024
- Holy Fuck – The Mothership: February 16, 2024 - 17 February 2024
- Totally Unicorn + Twine – Whammy/Wine Cellar: February 15, 2024 - 16 February 2024