New Zealand bands bring island vibe to GLC 

Promoter chased Black Seeds and Katchafire for four years to get them on same bill


Who: Black Seeds, July 8

Who: Katchafire, July 9

What: A New Zealand Showcase

Where: GLC

Walking through the village, you'll think you've stepped through some kind of wormhole in British Columbia and ended up in an Australian mountain town. The Oz are bloody everywhere . This isn't a bad thing, exactly - if it weren't for them there'd be no women in this town.

So what better way to celebrate Aussie pride with - you guessed it! - a New Zealand Music Showcase featuring dub and reggae music.

It makes perfect sense.

"That's fine, the Aussie's can come check us out," said Black Seeds lead vocalist Barnaby Weir, with what may have been a touch of sarcasm. It's difficult to tell with that accent.

"At the end of the day, after the rugby and after the rugby league, we're the best of mates," said Katchafire vocalist Logan Bell.

Both bands are among the most celebrated reggae acts in the world and household names in New Zealand.

And one thing's for sure: Kiwis love their reggae. It's in their blood as an island people, first of all, but the Maori were also very influenced by roots reggae and used it as their voice in their fight for equal rights. Bob Marley's influence has been as profound to the Kiwis as John Lennon's has been in the UK and North America. In the last 10 years, there's been a revival of reggae in the mainstream music scene in New Zealand. Both Katchafire and the Black Seeds were at the forefront of the movement.

"All indigenous nations and all walks of life can identify with (reggae). It's hard to describe the vibe and the feeling," said Bell. "It's just you hear it and you know it. You can't touch it but you can feel it, you know?"

"We like our own specific infusion of reggae music and soul music," Weir said.

Things haven't changed so much for them or for Katchafire; they all still write songs and play shows around the world. It's the industry that has changed.

"When we first started up, there wasn't a lot of competition around, but competition breeds excellence, y'know? I think it's a healthy scene," Bell said.

It's that scene that has kept both bands in their native New Zealand. Their fan-base is largest there. It's home. Rock and indie bands from Wellington or Auckland will typically migrate to Australia because there's a better chance of making it in the industry - like a Calgary band moving to L.A or New York - but Oz doesn't have that same island mentality that feeds so heavily into reggae.

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