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Magic to happen at beer festival

What goes with beer? Music, that’s what. Smooth, noisy, off the wall, thoughtful, rockin’ — it’s all good; it’s all part of the brew at the inaugural Gisborne Beer Festival on April 20. Not unlike the craft beers lined up for the day, the fest’s band line-up is an eclectic selection.

“Most of them are friends,” says festival organiser Ricky Boyd. New Zealand is a small town so it was just a case of asking if they’d like to come. A mate in The Phoenix Foundation has sung in Boyd’s Boomshack Band so he was up for a solo spot.

“Interest grew and now the whole band is on board,” says Boyd.

The Temple of Grunge’s bass player Dan Fulton has also performed with The Boomshack Band. Indie disco duo Spaghetti Toast, and blues-based muso Big Rich Alexander are local acts so shoulder-tapping them was just a matter of leaning out the window.

Wellington act Beastwars is cooler than heavy metal alone, says Boyd.

“I’d call it heavy sludge rock. The singer is captivating. He’s like a wizard. He waves his arms around like Gandalf and magic happens.”


Indie rock band The Phoenix Foundation, known for what one reviewer describes as their “lush, cosmic abstractions”, rise again to bring their artpop sound to the beer fest. Last year The Phoenix Foundation and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra teamed up to celebrate 20 years of the band’s music.

“We thought we were an orchestra back then, so this seemed apt,” said band member Samuel Scott.

TPF also created soundtracks for New Zealand film director Taika Waititi’s movies Boy, The Hunt for the Wilderness People, and Eagle vs Shark.


Sludge metal band Beastwars’ 2011 self-titled debut album has invited comparisons to Soundgarden, Mastodon, and Unsane. The group has opened for Mastodon, High on Fire, Fu Manchu and Kyuss. In 2012 the sludge metal act performed at the Big Day Out music festival alongside international acts such as Soundgarden, Röyksopp, and Kasabian. In 2011, Hallertau Brewery produced a custom-brewed pale ale called Beastwars IPA. The brew was a limited release so unfortunately is not on the beer fest menu. Plenty of other crafty elixirs are though.


The Beatles, Tame Impala, Connan Mockasin, soul and disco music are among acts Gisborne two piece Spaghetti Toast cite as influences on their sound. Look forward to psych-pop-rock, bass octave guitar pedals, drums and cymbals, reverbed vocals, and good times.


The Napier-based tribute band brings the sound of grunge-era bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice In Chains, Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden to the beer fest.

“Grunge era rock in the 90s is generally remembered for the funky style of rock that hadn’t been seen in the 1980s with its big guitar solos,” bass player Dan Fulton told The Guide in 2017.

“Grunge came along and stripped the sound back to its punk rock roots. We were all teenagers when grunge came out. The Temple Of The Grunge began as a nostalgia trip.”


Known in these parts as a bluesman Big Rich’s sound is blues based but he isn’t necessarily a blues purist.

“What I’ve found about music is its constant journey of discovery,” he once said.

“I can do pure Delta blues, and a lot of people make the assumption that’s what I do. I’ve got some soft acoustic stuff and some upbeat driving stuff.

It’s a wide range — from Abba to ZZ Top. I take it all on. If I hear something in a song — a line, a lyric, a musical hook I pick up on it.”

LUSH: The Phoenix Foundation — come one, come all. File picture