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Green Party Launch Youth Policies; Host Rock Music

Green Party Launch Youth Policies; Host Rock Music
By Ian Steadman

"This is a plan that shall bugger up this conspiracy of thieves," states, firmly, Metirea Turei, Green MP and party spokesperson on 'Youth' (amongst a smorgasbord of other policy areas). Her speech is given to a room of about fifty numerous party activists, curious bystanders, dreadlocked twenty-somethings, and a wandering, crawling small baby. Somebody couldn't get a babysitter, but it made a good prop. Her speech was on the theft of the future generation's opportunities by the current generation's tax-cut hungry politicos, via an abridged anecdote telling of the moment she lost her virginity. It was an endearing choice of opening topic. Throughout I was stood next to a man in a hemp hooded sweater; he smelt like he'd been gardening.

The evening was to launch the Greens' youth policies for the upcoming election, and a fundraiser with a few of Wellington's more environmentally-conscious and 'alternative' bands. Grassroots campaigners and young members running on the party's list had a chance to show off their use of viral videos on the internet and to passionately extol the dangers of losing this chance to save the rainforest/the rivers of this beautiful country/the political interest of the young/the world in general. Some of the ideas were no-brainers for a party so clearly reliant on the younger vote – raising the minimum wage, cheaper public transport, reforming drug laws and treatment programs, a universal student allowance. Slightly more interesting is the proposal to trial paying people if they spend their gap years working, "for the environment or an NGO." Add to that the idea that their student allowance would be at the level of unemployment benefit, for any and all aged 16 and above, and that's quite a comprehensive financial security blanket for young people (although no mention came of how this was to be paid for, exactly, although that'll probably come through later). After Ms Turei's speech finished, and after the video of young candidates recruiting amongst the ex-pat kiwi community in London (150,000 potential voters, apparently, though the latest UK census sternly disagrees), the fundraising gig aspect of the night could proceed.

The Opera House is a relatively grand venue, but an all-seated gig is always a touch-and-go affair for creating a suitably wild atmosphere. So when the Thomas Oliver Band set the tone for the evening – gentle, melodic indie rock with a touch of country - the acoustics of the building came through but many people clearly fidgeted their way through the slower stuff. Little Bushman are a bit better at holding our attention – the light show is suitably psychedelic (to back up a hell of a spaced out jamming, man), and lead singer Warren Maxwell played around with the host's political convictions. The planet's burning, and it's bad, right? Right. He smiles and seems tongue-in-cheek sincere.

Cassette come on, and hit us with some more lovely gentle indie rock with a hint of country/country with a hint of gentle indie rock. Despite some slight organ failure they manage to get people onto their feet – this helps to improve what was semi-lacklustre audience participation in an otherwise enjoyable series of sets so far. It also means that, by the time the Phoenix Foundation come on, most people have clearly been fed up of sitting twiddling thumbs and, realising the alternative that's more fun, cram themselves into the small space between the stage and the front row and dance with wild abandon. The Phoenix Foundation are stalwarts of the local music scene, and on stage run through their set with precision and passion. They sound a lot (a lot) like Wilco, but that's not a bad thing, and they have enough sweetness to overcome any accusations of predictability. Plus, one of them had just come from watching his wife give birth, meaning beaming smiles and general sincere joy all round.

A pleasant time was had by all; except for the bands who played the mostly-empty upstairs foyer, as evidently nobody had been told that they were up there. Still, they (Isunray, Silenzio & the Swift) gave it their all, and that's all that can be asked of people and bands in this disconnected world we live in.


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