Are you cool? Am I cool? Are they cool?

Last night I invited my friend Justin – a Kiwi back from his other home Edmonton – to join me at Q for “Cool Behaviour”. We were ushered into the cosy, warm space that is the Vault … to a table at the front. Uh-oh. My heart skipped a beat at the possibility of having to do the dreaded audience participation stuff. This, before it even started. I distracted myself with the bright thought that Justin was seated in a more convenient spot to be picked. Ha!

With no due warning the play commenced and two bold, quirky, beautiful “Doctors of Cool” burst out on the stage, and there was no time to retreat … to consider an ‘out’. We may not have signed up for it, but we were in. We were enrolled – as students, guinea pigs, dare I say disciples! – at the School of Cool.

For a brief and glorious hour, comedy duo Ava Diakhaby and Frith Horan charmed, chided, humoured and enlightened us through multiple genius acts – with energetic song, dance, rap and more.

I laughed more than I expected to, I had so much fun!

Justin wished to award it “five stars”. I think back to a certain sea of Doritos stars I saw scattered across a dark surface last night, and indeed I feel like showering both Ava and Frith with stars.

Are we cool? Are we even close? Why yes, now that we’ve walked out those doors changed people … I think we are.

Cool Behaviour Fringe Festival Review ‘Cool Fun’

Words Melanie Tito

Are you cool? Am I cool? Are they cool?

Last night I invited my friend Justin – a Kiwi back from his other home Edmonton – to join me at Q for “Cool Behaviour”.

We were ushered into the cosy, warm space that is the tiny Vault … to a table at the front. Uh-oh. My heart skipped a beat at the possibility of having to do the dreaded audience participation stuff. This, before it even started. I distracted myself with the bright thought that Justin was seated in a more convenient spot to be picked. Ha!

With no due warning the play commenced and two bold, quirky, beautiful “Doctors of Cool” burst out on the stage, and there was no time to retreat … to consider an ‘out’. We may not have signed up for it, but we were in. We were enrolled – as students, guinea pigs, dare I say disciples! – at the School of Cool.

For a brief and glorious hour, comedy duo Ava Diakhaby and Frith Horan charmed, chided, humoured and enlightened us through multiple genius acts – with energetic song, dance, rap and more.

I laughed more than I expected to, I had so much fun!

Justin wished to award it “five stars”. I think back to a certain sea of Doritos stars I saw scattered across a dark surface last night, and indeed I feel like showering both Ava and Frith with stars.

Are we cool? Are we even close? Why yes, now that we’ve walked out those doors changed people … I think we are.

Force Field Fringe Festival “Solid & Credible”

Words Wal Reid

Can dreaming of someone and whispering sweet nothings to the world help materialise them? Well, this interesting proposal is further explored and pondered by writers Duncan Armstrong & Isobel Mackinnon – the result posing an interesting supposition with its quasi sci-fi leanings.

Thank goodness there was air-conditioning, this made the performance more enjoyable taking in the show tinged with its audio/visual charm, while solo performer Duncan Armstrong who plays Chris, takes the relationship with his unseen soulmate Fiona firmly by the reins, turning out a solid & credible performance.

Duncan, who also has downs syndrome, is very likeable as Chris. I had no idea what to expect but found myself emotionally engaged with his character. The young Touch Compass dancer’s character eager to find love beyond that of his eternal (and annoying) flatmate/mother who seems to spend more time checking up on him with her incessant phone calling.

As the blurb goes: “All rational thoughts slip when an accidental rendezvous brings him together with the woman of his dreams. Blinded by the euphoria, their language and physical barriers are no match for his attempts to woo her.”

It’s ultra-modern romance that to me bears the markings of Charlie Brooker of Black Mirror fame. It’s definitely a different take on the ‘online dating’ angle that seems to ask more questions that give answers, but therein lies the beauty of this show.

Wellington Theatre group Everybody Cool Lives Here are behind this show and while it’s only on until the 24th February, there will be a demand for the show’s short season. I’d recommend getting along to see this futuristic love story that probably will become a reality in the not so distant future.

Crypto Currencies and Blockchain Special – NZ Tech Podcast 375

Here’s a special episode where we dive into Blockchain and Crypto Currencies – with loads of insights, opinions and also some tips on how to get a little hands on and some direction on currencies to consider other than Bitcoin.

Hosted by Paul Spain (@paulspain) and this week’s guests: Bruce Conlon, Sam Blackmore, and Darcy Ungaro.

Listen to the Podcast here:


You can keep current with our latest NZ Tech Podcast updates via Twitter @NZTechPodcast, the NZ Tech Podcast website or the facebook page. Published by World Podcasts and Podcasts NZ

The post Crypto Currencies and Blockchain Special – NZ Tech Podcast 375 appeared first on NZ Tech Podcast.

Ben Folds Review “Bin You’re A Bloody Legend”

Words Leo Koziel/ Photo Brad Holland Vault Media

American Nineties alt-pop rocker Ben Folds brought out the fanboys and fangirls to a packed house at Powerstation last night. He rolled out the hits, as well as some more obscure songs both from his deep back catalogue and also his most recent 2015 album “So There.”

On the night, he was supported by Brit singer-songwriter Lucy Rose who also did impromptu guest vocals on one of the songs. The format of the show was a “paper airplane request tour” – the first half was a setlist, then the second half was requests from the audience written on paper airplanes sent on to the stage.

I’ve seen Ben Folds live once before, in Sydney back in 2011 in a packed State Theatre. Ben’s following in Oz is significant, particularly since he’d lived there for many years with then wife Frally Hanes and their twin children. Yet somehow he’d never made the journey over to New Zealand, so seeing Ben Folds here in Auckland – particularly in a more intimate venue like Powerstation – promised something special.

Ben Folds delivered back in 2011, and last night’s show at Powerstation showed he’s still got it and not slowing down. He’s a powerful and masterful pianist, he chatted and connected at length with a rapt crowd, and was playful and delightful when it came to the request component of the show.

He even mashed up “Rock this Bitch” with a new song concept “Here in New Zealand with Bin” making fun of our Kiwi accents and delighting the crowd. Perhaps he’d thought of the idea halfway through the show when a rather loud audience member yelled “Bin You’re A Bloody Legend!” much to everyone’s enjoyment (I think it was the same guy who at one point requested Ben sing “Tutira Mai Ngā Iwi”).

It was a mostly 20-something and 30-something crowd but you could see the connection the audience had with his work, whatever their age. At one point he had the audience doing four-part choral harmonies as he conducted from the stage. For most of the rest of the night the audience hardly needed his prompting as they sang along and hummed along to tunes known so well by all – he could hardly skip a beat when at the start the front rows tuned in and jumped in on the songs, words and hums. It must be a joy for any performer to see such familiarity from an audience, and last night Ben lapped it up.

Ben didn’t shy from digging down into his earlier works, the Ben Folds Five days when his band was an MTV fave of the Nineties. He told the back stories to “Zak and Sara” and “Rent A Cop” at length, yet at no point did the show drag or did the audience lose interest away from the songs. And how could you not be, with such a long list of previous hits and catchy tunes and regular breakouts into mesmerising piano jams and mash ups – Hava Nagila a particular highlight!

Bin Folds, you are a bloody legend, and here in Kiwi-land you are loved. I saw that when the paper airplanes flew en masse at half time on stage. What a joy to be at a show with an audience so entranced by the entertainer and so knowledgeable and respectful of his deep collection of creative works. The guy standing next to me requested “Philosophy” and was chatting hopefully with his mate at the start of the show – and he and the audience lit up when Ben hit the first bars of that classic song after picking up one of the paper planes.

The night closed out with “Rocking the Suburbs”, preceded by Ben’s lengthy telling of how his band was once compared unfavourably to Korn in the 1990s. Ben Fold’s wit, intellect and humour shone through the entire night, so what better song to close off the night to a rapt and sated audience.

Queen Review – “Out of Body Experience”

Words Wal Reid

Even without the mercurial Freddie Mercury (pun intended) who’s birth name defies belief (before settling on his namesake), the show was a total success.

In every aspect of the word, the pulsating audio/visual effects, high definition big screens and impressive lighting were worth every cent of admission. Throw in two legends in the guise of guitarist Brian May & drummer Roger Taylor with the phenomenal Adam Lambert on vocals and it was akin to an ‘out of body’ experience.

Unabashedly camp, Adam Lambert made his mark early in the piece strutting the stage in style in ‘appropriate hiking boots’ as the band teased with the familiar intro to We Will Rock You before launching into Hammer to Fall from the Highlander movie. Hard to believe the film came out in the early 80s. Time it seems, has no bearing even on these timeless hits.

Resplendent in bright pink admitting he was up there in the ‘gayest fucking suit you’ve ever seen’, his vocals were simply spellbinding. Whether hitting the high notes on Under Pressure, rocking it up on Fat Bottomed Girls or dumbing-down on quieter numbers like We Are The Champions, Lambert’s vocal range impressed the full capacity crowd, even getting a chance to breakout with his radio hit Whataya Want From Me.

It took six songs before singer Lambert broke silence to rapport with the crowd. “Auckland” he wailed into the wave of heads in the silhouetted lights, “How’s my fat-ass bitches? All my sisters? It’s a term of endearment I promise” he sneered before the band sparked up Killer Queen & Don’t Stop Me Now, giving time to pay tribute to the man himself, Freddie Mercury, encouraging those around him to “celebrate” the outrageously talented performer.

Former band mates also paid homage to the singer, as video and images were flashed intermittently around the arena to good effect, it was hard not to include him. A touching moment was shared with the audience as guitarist Brian May was on the runway singing Love of my Life glancing back reflectively to the big screen as Freddie Mercury was singing with him. It’s hard to ignore his influence on the band, even years after his passing.

Drummer Roger Taylor was sublime, his drumming on Radio Gaga and Another One Bites The Dust retro-perfect, his lead vocals on A Kind Of Magic admirable, his drum kit moved in the audience for an acoustic set, as the talented band threshed out hit after hit. “Here’s another one you might know” Lambert shouted before laughing, “As if you didn’t know the other fucking songs.” It was like Queen karaoke with the best bits put together on a fan’s playlist.

Brian May’s guitar solos are miniature songs and just as memorable as the actual tunes themselves. The songs lending themselves as if animated by his fluid playing. Throw a dart at the playlist and it will land on most of the hits his guitar features on. It would be hard to imagine Queen songs without the memorable guitar parts on A Kind of Magic or I want To Break Free, they are almost as integral as Freddie’s presence on the band.

All in all it was a fabulous night accented by a very vocal crowd and Lambert’s skilled repartee. The crowd flayed in the warm Arena, as the airco took a while to kick in but that didn’t matter too much, as the crowd lapped up the evening. Lambert’s ‘family friendly’ humour, a stark contrast to band mates May & Taylor is a winning formula, a consummate performer in every sense of the word.

The crowd got what they ‘wanted’ from the outlandish performer, I’d imagine even the big “F” would’ve given a tick of approval.

Airport trials virtual officer, Drone carries passenger, Intel laser projection Smartglasses – NZ Tech Podcast 374

This week – AI Airport officer Vai, Android P (Android 9) update, Samsung talks innovations, Apple HomePod arrives, Electric cab company to shut, 2degrees ending 2G/GPRS, DAB Digital Audio Broadcasting, Drone carries passenger, Intel’s laser projection Smartglasses.

Hosted by Paul Spain (@paulspain) and this week’s guest: Paul Brislen.

Listen to the Podcast here:


You can keep current with our latest NZ Tech Podcast updates via Twitter @NZTechPodcast, the NZ Tech Podcast website or the facebook page. Published by World Podcasts and Podcasts NZ

The post Airport trials virtual officer, Drone carries passenger, Intel laser projection Smartglasses – NZ Tech Podcast 374 appeared first on NZ Tech Podcast.

Escaping an unseasonably dark and rainy Auckland evening, a friend (Jenanne) and I made our way to the ASB Theatre to check out ‘Another Frickin’ Festival’.

Presented by Comedy Central, the festival featured an intriguing mix of high profile local and international comedians including Rose Matafeo (Funny Girls), Paul Foot (Never Mind the Buzzcocks), Guy Williams (Jono and Ben), and Comedy Central’s own Rony Chieng (The Daily Show).

The festival arrived with a lot of fanfare and expectation via seemingly endless plugs on television and social media and although the show was brand new, the consistently brilliant line-up and venue (the ASB Theatre is a great venue for a comedy show) make me how that this event will be a mainstay on New Zealand comedy scene.

The night kicked off with Guy Montgomery. The moustachioed MC got the ball rolling right away, launching into rambling anecdote after anecdote with a pleasingly frenetic pace and urgent energy. You never quite know what you’re going to get from Montgomery (that’s all part of his charm) as he weaves in and out of what can best be described as comedic stream of consciousness.

The comedian, perhaps best known for his internationally lauded podcast, The Worst Idea Of All Time, was a great choice of MC for the festival. His quintessentially Kiwi persona offered a strong contrast to the international guests (hailing from the US, UK, and Australia), while his high energy delivery helped balance out some of the more deadpan acts (such as Angella Dravid and Alice Snedden).

The first act of the night was comedian and TV personality Guy Williams. Those that know him best from television will have expected the loud charm and quick-fire jokes that he brings to Jono & Ben, though as Jenanne pointed out, they may have been caught off-guard by his heavily political set that covered everything from Trump and Jacinda, to racism and immigration

While all the local acts on display delivered on the night, there were a few big highlights for me were Alice Snedden (it’s hard not to be won over by her impeccable writing and sardonic wit), Mel Bracewell (her self-deprecating quips of dating while being awkwardly tall had me in stitches), and Rose Matafeo. Matafeo’s performance deserves special mention. Her effortless charm and spot-on comedic timing ensured that she went down as one of the highlights of the night. Rose was probably Jenanne’s favourite Kiwi comic on the night, calling it “the perfect act”. She particularly loved the Michael Jackson-inspired lip-sync.
Rose Matafeo is a comic on the rise and last night provided further evidence to why she’s crushing it over in the UK (not that we needed any).

Angella Dravid and Two Hearts (Laura Daniels and Joseph Moore), rounded off the remaining Kiwi acts. Dravid took home the prestigious Billy T Award at last years New Zealand International Comedy Festival and fans of her deadpan delivery and anxious persona would have likely enjoyed her set. While not a polarizing comic by any means, neither Jenanne nor I seemed to connect with the performance with Jenanne going as far to say that she spent more time feeling uncomfortable than laughing. Two Hearts comic-pop act provided welcome contrast from the standard stand-up fare and they were certainly having a lot of fun on stage (their energy was infectious). Their writing is always great (especially a song which sees Daniels waxing lyrical about the late Alan Rickman), but I did find that of all the acts, their performance was probably least suited to the venue and could have benefited from the smoke and lighting effects that usually accompany their set. Jenanne commented later that while she enjoyed the set very much she felt it plateaued quickly.

The internationals included Ronny Chieng (the best on the night), Ray Badran (blokeishly charming), Sam Campbell (more miss that hit for me), and Paul Foot (charmingly surreal). Ronny Chieng was the pick of the bunch for Jenanne and I. Ronnie is a seasoned pro and benefited from his time spent in the Melbourne comedy scene which enabled him to quickly read the room and get the audience onside throughout his criminally short set. His misanthropic demeaner and penchant for a tirade (mostly at the expense of the United States) had Jenanne and I in stitches and you could tell that Ronnie was enjoying himself out there and was audibly disappointed to find out that his time was up – we could have kept watching him all night.

Ray Badran is unapologetically Aussie and his blokey demeanour was warmly appreciated by the crowd. Badran has a sort of pleasing aloofness which saw him muse about the everyday oddities of everyday life. Badran did enough to make me want to see how he’d handle an hour-long set. We were both impressed by what we saw.

Jenanne wasn’t as impressed by what we saw from Sam Campbell though. Ever the diplomat, I could see how his “loose” delivery could work for a lot of people – enough people to see him nominated Best Newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival – but honestly, it fell flat for me. Talking after the show, Jenanne’s take was a little blunter: “He seemed way out of his depth out there. I would have thought he was an amateur if I hadn’t googled him just now”.

The night wrapped with the enigmatic Paul Foot (UK) whose impish delivery and ridiculously surreal musings has seen him build a cult following around the world. At this point in the night Jenanne had a migraine so wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening, but I for one loved his mix of surreal observational comedy. Prancing around the stage, his beguiling stand-up had the audience equal parts confused and amused.

Leaving the show, thoroughly entertained, we could only marvel at the diverse range of comedians that Comedy Central had pulled together. There was a little bit in there for everyone to enjoy and enjoy it we did. ‘Another Frickin’ Festival’ heads down to Queenstown tonight, playing venues across town over Friday and Saturday before wrapping up in Wellington at the Opera House on the 11th.

Comedy Central Presents Another Frickin’ Festival Review

Escaping an unseasonably dark and rainy Auckland evening, a friend (Jenanne) and I made our way to the ASB Theatre to check out ‘Another Frickin’ Festival’.

Presented by Comedy Central, the festival featured an intriguing mix of high profile local and international comedians including Rose Matafeo (Funny Girls), Paul Foot (Never Mind the Buzzcocks), Guy Williams (Jono and Ben), and Comedy Central’s own Rony Chieng (The Daily Show).

The festival arrived with a lot of fanfare and expectation via seemingly endless plugs on television and social media and although the show was brand new, the consistently brilliant line-up and venue (the ASB Theatre is a great venue for a comedy show) make me how that this event will be a mainstay on New Zealand comedy scene.

The night kicked off with Guy Montgomery. The moustachioed MC got the ball rolling right away, launching into rambling anecdote after anecdote with a pleasingly frenetic pace and urgent energy. You never quite know what you’re going to get from Montgomery (that’s all part of his charm) as he weaves in and out of what can best be described as comedic stream of consciousness.

The comedian, perhaps best known for his internationally lauded podcast, The Worst Idea Of All Time, was a great choice of MC for the festival. His quintessentially Kiwi persona offered a strong contrast to the international guests (hailing from the US, UK, and Australia), while his high energy delivery helped balance out some of the more deadpan acts (such as Angella Dravid and Alice Snedden).

The first act of the night was comedian and TV personality Guy Williams. Those that know him best from television will have expected the loud charm and quick-fire jokes that he brings to Jono & Ben, though as Jenanne pointed out, they may have been caught off-guard by his heavily political set that covered everything from Trump and Jacinda, to racism and immigration

While all the local acts on display delivered on the night, there were a few big highlights for me were Alice Snedden (it’s hard not to be won over by her impeccable writing and sardonic wit), Mel Bracewell (her self-deprecating quips of dating while being awkwardly tall had me in stitches), and Rose Matafeo. Matafeo’s performance deserves special mention. Her effortless charm and spot-on comedic timing ensured that she went down as one of the highlights of the night. Rose was probably Jenanne’s favourite Kiwi comic on the night, calling it “the perfect act”. She particularly loved the Michael Jackson-inspired lip-sync.
Rose Matafeo is a comic on the rise and last night provided further evidence to why she’s crushing it over in the UK (not that we needed any).

Angella Dravid and Two Hearts (Laura Daniels and Joseph Moore), rounded off the remaining Kiwi acts. Dravid took home the prestigious Billy T Award at last years New Zealand International Comedy Festival and fans of her deadpan delivery and anxious persona would have likely enjoyed her set. While not a polarizing comic by any means, neither Jenanne nor I seemed to connect with the performance with Jenanne going as far to say that she spent more time feeling uncomfortable than laughing. Two Hearts comic-pop act provided welcome contrast from the standard stand-up fare and they were certainly having a lot of fun on stage (their energy was infectious). Their writing is always great (especially a song which sees Daniels waxing lyrical about the late Alan Rickman), but I did find that of all the acts, their performance was probably least suited to the venue and could have benefited from the smoke and lighting effects that usually accompany their set. Jenanne commented later that while she enjoyed the set very much she felt it plateaued quickly.

The internationals included Ronny Chieng (the best on the night), Ray Badran (blokeishly charming), Sam Campbell (more miss that hit for me), and Paul Foot (charmingly surreal). Ronny Chieng was the pick of the bunch for Jenanne and I. Ronnie is a seasoned pro and benefited from his time spent in the Melbourne comedy scene which enabled him to quickly read the room and get the audience onside throughout his criminally short set. His misanthropic demeaner and penchant for a tirade (mostly at the expense of the United States) had Jenanne and I in stitches and you could tell that Ronnie was enjoying himself out there and was audibly disappointed to find out that his time was up – we could have kept watching him all night.

Ray Badran is unapologetically Aussie and his blokey demeanour was warmly appreciated by the crowd. Badran has a sort of pleasing aloofness which saw him muse about the everyday oddities of everyday life. Badran did enough to make me want to see how he’d handle an hour-long set. We were both impressed by what we saw.

Jenanne wasn’t as impressed by what we saw from Sam Campbell though. Ever the diplomat, I could see how his “loose” delivery could work for a lot of people – enough people to see him nominated Best Newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival – but honestly, it fell flat for me. Talking after the show, Jenanne’s take was a little blunter: “He seemed way out of his depth out there. I would have thought he was an amateur if I hadn’t googled him just now”.

The night wrapped with the enigmatic Paul Foot (UK) whose impish delivery and ridiculously surreal musings has seen him build a cult following around the world. At this point in the night Jenanne had a migraine so wasn’t really paying attention to what was happening, but I for one loved his mix of surreal observational comedy. Prancing around the stage, his beguiling stand-up had the audience equal parts confused and amused.

Leaving the show, thoroughly entertained, we could only marvel at the diverse range of comedians that Comedy Central had pulled together. There was a little bit in there for everyone to enjoy and enjoy it we did. ‘Another Frickin’ Festival’ heads down to Queenstown tonight, playing venues across town over Friday and Saturday before wrapping up in Wellington at the Opera House on the 11th.

Oppo vs iPhone, Amazon Alexa is here, Could China lead in Autonomous Vehicles and EVs? – NZ Tech Podcast 373

This week, Oppo vs iPhone, Amazon Alexa lands in NZ, Tesla’s missing self-driving test results, BizDojo sold, no cellphone radiation risk, Tesla solar/batteries hit mass market retail, free iPhone 7 repairs, Could China lead in Electric and Autonomous Car tech?

Hosted by Paul Spain (@paulspain) and this week’s guest: Theo Gibson.

Listen to the Podcast here:


You can keep current with our latest NZ Tech Podcast updates via Twitter @NZTechPodcast, the NZ Tech Podcast website or the facebook page. Published by World Podcasts and Podcasts NZ

The post Oppo vs iPhone, Amazon Alexa is here, Could China lead in Autonomous Vehicles and EVs? – NZ Tech Podcast 373 appeared first on NZ Tech Podcast.