© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Dunedin Sound Today

Nepia Ruwhiu
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We all know of the ‘good old days.’ The days when you would rock up to The Captain Cook or The Empire to watch your favourite band.

This went on for years and years with the Dunedin record label Flying Nun around.

But by the start of the 90’s those kinds of gigs had almost phased out. Since then Dunedin sound hasn’t been anywhere near the same. Until now. Are we seeing a resurgence on the New Zealand alternative music scene?

Until recently, ‘Dunedin sound’ was almost nothing. But recently we have seen huge growth of bands, duets and solo artists. Not only from Dunedin but from outer regions as well. The prominent threat to this kind of music now a days though is also the growth of DJ’s and the genre of Drum and Bass.

A lot of this movement has been a push from the venue’s point as well. The Captain Cook is still open and running gigs frequently and making a huge push to get a younger audience. But the venues a lot of us used to know and love are now gone. Not just from Dunedin, but throughout out the country too, such as ‘The Gladstone’ in Christchurch, ‘The Adelaide’ in Wellington, and even ‘The Gluepot’ in Auckland where Mick Jagger even played a free 30 minute set. But with the losing of old venues comes the creation of new ones, it just comes to being able to find them.

Once again, Dunedin truly is taking the charge on the venue scene. Still running gigs at ‘The Cook’ as it is called by the students, ‘U Bar’ which is under the university campus, and ‘Fifty Gorillas’ which is in the octagon. Also small places like Invercargill giving it a huge crack too by giving ‘The Southland Musicians Club’ a complete lift by redoing all the interior and their sound gear. We can see the progression of all these potential venues for musicians all the way up the country. 

Of course the music isn’t quite the same as some our greatest alternative 80’s bands such as The Bats, The Chills, The Clean, Strait Jacket Fitz and more. But when we look at the ‘Dunedin Sound’ wikipedia page it defines the sound as ‘"jingly jangly" guitar-playing, minimal bass lines and loose drumming. Keyboards are also often prevalent.’ And when we look at it, majority of the bands coming out of Dunedin at the moment fit these specifications perfectly. Bands such as Gromz, Hot Donnas, Summer Thieves, Tinsy Pam, Albion Place, The Butlers (Christchurch), Mako Road (Christchurch), The Dense (Invercargill) and loads more. Dunedin Sound is coming back!

Although it still is only in the rebuilding phase Dunedin Sound is definitely on the way back in.