0. Prologue: Split Enz, Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth (1993)

THE Ur-New Zealand band, on their 20th anniversary tour, in all their erratic, costumed, ageless in greasepaint glory.

Under 12s get in for free. Me mercifully pre-pubescent at 13.

Noise. Lights. Finns (two of them). Weird smells. Out past bedtime. And people everywhere. Doing THINGS. Oh man the things.

What things (I hear nobody at all ask)? An impartial observer would probably sum up the things as “a bunch of small town New Zealand bogans getting pissed and yell-pashing* each other” but to a pudgy bookish 13 year old it was like if Bosch had painted Woodstock.**

A voice cut into the PA several times during the set to warn the punters clambering onto the forestage area that it wasn’t safe. They must all retreat through the murky waist deep bond to the their assigned seating. The stage couldn’t bear their weight. It would collapse and they’d all be thrown into the soupy pond and drown in the accumulated shit of a 1000 generations of waterfowl. Their bloated gawp-mouthed corpses would be seized by the New Plymouth City Council Parks Department and fed to the vicious black swans, with their well known penchant for human flesh.

The stage failed to collapse. The defiant dancers danced. The band played on. Everyone appeared to be having a great time.

Strike one, disembodied voice of authority.

On the way out we passed by a woman, insufficiently clad, hugging her knees, wet, shivering (covered in duck shit). “She’s drunk” was the verdict from the supervisory adults.

“Well that doesn’t look like any fun at all” thought I.

*to use the academic term

**the original, not the Limp Bizkit one. The man had limits.

 
 
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