THEO presents Raiza Biza, Bailey Wiley, ENO, Who Knows : : Gig Postmortem

It was a typically crisp night in Wellington this past Friday, but the lucky attendees of THEO's debut gig were treated to a night of talent so real it had our little hearts brimming with warmth. Harri and I showed up to the infamous Bodega with only a borrowed DSLR camera, and left on a high of Patrón Tequila with a renewed appreciation for the New Zealand music scene. Who knew Hamilton was capable of producing such grace?

 

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Photography by Harri Robinson for WG

 

The intimate gig was opened by one half of Auckland-based group ENO x DIRTY, a.k.a Eden, who coasted through the smoothest set of the night. Feeling grim about the dusty state of your Soundcloud? ENO x DIRTY will provide the perfect remedy. Easy jazz beats paired with clever lyricism, these guys boil hip hop down to its core ingredients. ENO knew how to prime the growing crowd perfectly. There wasn’t a static head in sight.

 

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Photography by Harri Robinson for WG

 

And then, suddenly, the fearless Bailey Wiley came on. In a dynamic pairing, ENO laid down the beats for an hour of Bailey’s stunning musicianship - leaving everyone absolutely floored. Born and raised in Taranaki, Bailey has clearly come a long way since classical singing lessons at primary school. A contemporary blend of neo-soul, jazz, hip hop, RnB and pop; her sound resides somewhere between the likes of Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse. With a finesse for live performance and a voice like honey, Bailey commanded a respect from the crowd that spanned her entire set. Most tracks performed came from her most recent EP, ‘S.O.M.M’, which she released in collaboration with a number of ascending NZ producers. Bailey’s engaging stage presence saw a good chunk of the crowd join her on stage for her best-known track, ‘Take it From Me’. The audience gave back in appreciation just as much as she delivered musically, with both parties equally stoked to be there. Her technical capacity as a singer was obvious, but her presence as a live performer was what really exceeded our expectations.

 

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Photography by Harri Robinson for WG

 

When the Rwandan-born, Hamilton-raised, Raiza Biza finally graced the stage he surprised all with his soft-spoken demeanor. His lyrics were crisp, but delivered with a resounding calm, and while the audience was practically frothing at the sight of him, Raiza floated through the smoky red hues with the poise of a philosopher. It was at this point in the night that Raiza’s fan-base really pulled through, joining in every lyric they could, celebrating the introduction of each new track, cheering on cue, or off cue, or whenever, really. It was clear Raiza valued the gig on a personal level, stopping in several instances to sincerely thank the Wellington crowd for their loyalty. The venue was charged with an air of mutual respect between performer, collaborator and spectator, this being a defining element of the night. The highlight came at the close of the gig when Bailey joined Raiza for their collab track ‘IXL,’ with producers ‘Who Knows’ (Jay Knight and VI NE) on the decks. The energy was explosive. At one point I remember Coco Pops flying around the room like confetti. Bailey’s chorus oozed soul while Raiza grinded out raw talent in the verses. The collaboration left everyone on a hysterical high of appreciation.

 

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Photography by Harri Robinson for WG

 

I personally left the gig sheepishly reflecting on my prior ignorance to the breadth and depth of NZ artistry. If readers of this piece are to take something from my (very white, probably irrelevant) account, I hope it’s the slightest motivation to actively seek out more local stuff. Next time you roll your eyes at a Homegrown lineup, or whine about how “no one ever comes to NZ,” look a little closer. Our very own music scene is alive, well, and pulsing with talent.

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