, who has been to the last three b.net awards on the strength of his online schmoozing with NZ music industry big-wigs, this year managed to get both he and me tickets to this year's awards. He just asked the organisers, and they coughed up!
(The b.net awards
, for you non-NZers reading this, are the 'alternative' NZ music awards organised by what used to be the student radio stations, but which are now a mostly commercial nationwide radio network
So, we took Friday off work to get ourselves up to Auckland and to the event itself, which, for some reason that eludes most everyone, is traditionally held outside the Auckland CBD, on the North Shore, at Takapuna's Bruce Mason Centre
Noizy, having had some perilous transport issues at previous ceremonies, insisted we get there 'nice and early'. Three hours early, it turned out. Auckland has transport woes? Our bus whizzed from central Auckland to Takapuna across the bridge in less than 20 minutes. After getting our bearings and scoping out just where the Bruce Mason Centre was, we had over two and a half hours to burn. We went for a quick walk around the Takapuna shops, and, before I could even say "Let's go for a walk on the beach", Noizy had spotted a sports bar, and declared his intention to go in and watch whatever was on. I ventured in the door with him, but was repelled by the wall of cigarette smoke, so left him to it, and strolled down towards the waterfront, where, I had been told, there was a lovely beach.
On the way there, I spotted the Takapuna Public Library
. And it was still open! There's nothing I love more than scoping out a foreign library, so I went in.
And it was dead. I was literally the only patron in there. I gave myself the quick tour, taking particular note of their signage - a particular hobby-horse of mine - and giving them a mental tick for their (mildly) informative local elections display. Upstairs in the magazines section, I couldn't find one single mag I wanted to read. It was the end of the week, I suppose, and all the good stuff would have been long gone, so I settled with a six month old Vogue, and had a couple of reference books lined up for perusing, when a gentle East European accent flitted into my ear...
"Excuse me Miss, ve are closing, you vill haff to leaf."
Oooh, their security guard was quite tasty indeed, in a slightly-better-looking-than-Tim-from-The-Office way.
"I thought you closed at 7.30?"
"No miss. 5.30 on Friday. 8.30 on Monday and Thursday."
Where the hell had I got 7.30 from? Anyway...
"Oh, sorry, I'll be off then."
"Zis way miss."
He beckoned me to follow him down the steps. Somehow I had missed the rest of the staff shutting up shop, so when we got downstairs, I saw that the main gates had been closed, and there was nary a librarian to be seen anywhere. Foreign Tim was ushering me towards a side-door, and in the dim light of the powered-down library he looked even more handsome. I was on the verge of asking him for a drink somewhere after he finished locking up, but then I clonked my head on the door, which had failed to open when I put my shoulder to it. I had missed the fact it had a door release button. Foreign Tim kindly pointed at the red button in the wall to the right of the door, with only a slight hint of a smile on his lips, and I let myself into the Takapuna night, alone, cheeks burning bright red, and nursing a bump on my temple.
I continued on my way down to the beach - still with an hour and a half to burn. Takapuna Beach is indeed very nice. I strolled up and down it's sandy shore, breathing in the brisk sea breeze, taken aback, as always, by just how fantastic Mt Rangitoto looks perched in the middle of the harbour like that
. I was so enraptured with it that I totally failed to notice a giant kite screaming down the beach directly towards me at about 60km/h. It was attached by a couple of 50m guide-wires to a guy on a surfboard, who had presumably seen my predicament, and managed to pull up the kite before it ploughed into me, or, worse, decapitated me with the guide-wires. I had thrown myself into the sand regardless, and came up with what I hoped was a fury in my eyes, but the offending kite-surfer was already half a kilometre down the beach, and much further out to sea.
There were actually three of these high-speed wind bogans zipping up and down the coastline, and there must have been a good 30 or 40 people on the beach at any given moment. I wondered if there ever were any collisions or decapitations of the sort that had nearly happened to me. Surely. I waited and watched for a few minutes, and, despite a couple of semi-close calls, my thirst for bloodlust went unsated. Still, it wasn't for lack of opportunity - the beach was like a thoroughfare with a steady stream of joggers and walkers making their way past me. I can go for a walk around the south coast of Wellington on a pleasant evening and maybe have to walk past a dozen people in total.
God, away from home for a half a day and homesick already...
It was starting to get cold and dark, so I headed back into town to find somewhere warm to hunker down. I considered trying to find Noizy at his sports bar, but the mere thought of a smoky blokey pub on a Friday evening was enough to put paid to that thought. There were a few nice looking bars down the road a bit, so I picked the warmest looking one, headed in, took a bar stool with a view of the footpath, and sat on a gin and tonic for a good hour or so, only having to rebut one drunken approach by a heartily unattractive suitboy. Ugh.
I had to laugh when one young bunch of lads wandered by a few minutes before the awards started. They looked like real fanboys, dressed to the retro-nines and with suitable late 60s scruffy hair-dos. They looked like they'd just finished school and had decided to dress up like their favourite British Invasion band of yesteryear and head down to the Awards for a laugh. I surreptitiously followed them down to the Bruce Mason Centre to see if my suspicions had any foundation in reality. They were waved in with nary a second glance from security, and were immediately swarmed upon by a swarm of Auckland's hipsters and scenesters. Aha! Turns out they were the Checks
, hot young things on the Auckland music circuit right now, and who are indeed fresh out of high school. So cute.
In fact, of course, the whole place was crawling with NZ music and entertainment celebs. I developed a massive case of shrinking violet, and rather than introducing myself to a few of the people I had at least had some email correspondence with, sat on a couch on my own and watched the movers and shakers, err, moving and shaking.
The bell rang to alert everyone to move into the auditorium for the ceremonies, at which point I finally caught up with Noizy, who had been comparing young dad notes with his childhood friend, and now musician-producer extraordinaire Dale Cotton
. Turns out we were out separate tables anyway, he being thrown right down the back, and me just a bit in front of him with a bunch of extraordinarily befrocked girls that put my knickerbockers and blouse combo to shame. They were all very accommodating to the out-of-town girl though, and having downed the complimentary Jagermeister and Red Bulls we were in good spirits for the events to come.
Which were all a bit tame, to tell the truth. The live acts, with the exception of two-piece electro-rock outfit The Fanatics didn't exactly light my fire. The Fanatics
, in fact, were great, although I'm pleased I was situated as far back as I was when the lead singer started hurling water and beer bottle about the place and then leapt onto one of the VIP tables at the front
And the various awards and acceptance speeches were all a bit ho-hum - a bit like any Awards ceremony you see on the telly I suppose. Any sort of suspense was also removed by the girls I was sitting with, who managed predicted every single
winner before the official announcement was made. I asked them: "How did you know? Are you the vote-counters or something?" They laughed: "It's just obvious, isn't it?" Apparently so. They did get one wrong, I must admit, the best compilation award, which went not to Return of the Boomschwack, but A Low Hum
, which brought a tremendous whoop from behind me, as Noizy knows the publisher of the compilation/magazine Blink
(yes, I live in a world of boys who use their website usernames in real life) quite well.
Before I knew it, the ceremony was over, and the assembled glitterati started moving in dribs and drabs to the fleet of shuttles and taxis (and one ostentatious limo for the hip-hop label boys) that had gathered outside. Noizy informed me he was feeling sick and tired, and wanted to just go and crash, and had scored a lift with the lovely Lil Chief Records
crew, leaving me at something of a loose end. I looked around, wondering just how I was going to get back into town on my limited funds.
Actually, what happened after that is worthy of a whole other story. Perhaps for another day