Upon entering the Town Hall concert chamber I almost expected to be sat in seats in front of a stage to watch a show. That was not the case. We entered into the Town Hall and had to fill in a form first –  Due to the virus they wanted our details for what is supposed to be our safety. Everyone obliged and hand sanitiser was supplied at the entrance as well. Considering what is happening there was still a decent crowd.

There was a large dark curtain blocking off the entrance to the concert chamber. As the curtains were pulled away, you made your way into the dark room. There were leaves  at the entry which you almost didn’t notice until you heard the crunch under your feet. Entering the room there were things set up in the middle off the room with seats set up either side and some on the stage. Sounds of the forest wrapped around you as you found a seat. 

Waimihi Hotere kicked things off at a mic stand in the middle of the room. It was as though she was having a conversation but it wasn’t clear. That was intertwined with a range of different sounds and tones. As she did this Horomona Horo continued to contribute to the soundscape from the entry to the room. He used a range of different taonga puhoro. There was even a large Totara log in the middle of the room which was surrounded by Kawakawa leaves. Sitting between Waimihi and the Totara tree was a pile of ferns and kawakawa. It felt as though it was an offering of some sort.

After Waimihi did her bit the lights went completely out and one light lit up Whirimako Black. Her vocals were almost haunting in the way they echoed around the room  and felt more somber. Almost a sound of mourning. It was quite beautiful. Then came the use of the Totara log in the middle of the room by Warren Maxwell. Occasionally as he used the log to create sound, a voice would play over the speakers touching on how “society is clinical”. I felt like this really made you think and contributed to the idea that at night we really are thinking about a lot. The log was not only a tempo instrument, it had also been turned into somewhat of a guitar and cello combination. There was something incredible in the way this hollowed log was used because rather than shaping it into your standard instrument, it was used in it’s raw form, almost an acknowledgement to nature for its contribution.

As the show progressed, each person became more involved into it all seemed to merge. They even used different levels of the room with Whirimako on the stage and Horomona on the circle seats above the room. The creaking of the floor as they moved, though not purposeful, was quite nice. It felt like an inclusion and acknowledgement to the space. You just couldn’t help but close your eyes, as some audience members did and really take in all the different sounds. I had been closing my eyes since the start, not only to take in the sounds but it was also somewhat emotional. I don’t know if being Maori myself contributed to that but seeing all these elements of sounds and items I am very familiar with and relate to home almost made it very immersive for me. 

Some parts it felt like a celebration and some it felt dark and like we should be mourning. The night is very much like that whether you are just having fun, creating or simply deep in thought. The performance felt very transcendent and just so beautifully done. The night is its own experience and I think this really affirmed for me, I am a child of the night.

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