six60: till the lights go out

★★★

director: Julia Parnell (debut)
documentary

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

SIX60 made history as the first Kiwi act to sell out New Zealand’s largest venue, playing to an audience of 50,000 people. This is their incredible story of never giving up.

If you’ve never heard of SIX60 then you’ve been living under a rock. The Kiwi grown band is not only a firm fixture on the summer music scene here in New Zealand but their music has become a part of the fabric of our culture. In SIX60: Til the Lights Go Out the film makers attempt to take us behind the curtain and while the results are entertaining and at times insightful, you can’t help but feel that it's only just scratched the surface.

 

SIX60 are a phenomenon. Their incredible story, from a Dunedin student band to becoming the first and only Kiwi act to headline Western Springs Stadium in front of 50,000 fans, will surprise even the band’s most ardent followers. For the first time, SIX60 open up about their personal battles, the lack of critical acceptance and the challenges of staying together.

 

From humble beginnings to becoming the biggest band in New Zealand, the members of SIX60: Matiu Walters, Chris Mac, Eli Paewai, Marlon Gerbes and Ji Fraser, show incredible fortitude, self-belief and good humour. This is the compelling story of five men maturing and coming to terms with both themselves and their changing relationships with each other, as they set about forging their own identity and looking to the future. 

 

You’ve got to hand it to SIX60. Whether you’re a fan of their music or not, their achievements are phenomenal. Going from essentially a student band in Otago to selling out Western Springs not once but twice is incredible. 

 

And where SIX60: Til the Lights Go Out is the strongest is when it focuses intently on the five band members. As their stories are told you begin to realise that SIX60 isn’t just some band but a cross section of New Zealand society, our full, shared experience, co-existing in one band. To see where they have come from personally and what they have achieved together is phenomenal. 

 

Unfortunately the deep, searching and investigative parts of the documentary are only a small part of the whole and there are other parts of their story that appear to be only touched on briefly such as the band conflicts, going from a drinking culture to a more professional one in the band and the balcony collapse during their impromptu street concert in Dunedin. 

 

Overall SIX60: Til the Lights Go Out is a love letter to a band that has risen above adversity and defied the odds to become a Kiwi success story and it's damn entertaining to watch. 

 

In SIX60: Til the Lights Go Out the film makers attempt to take us behind the curtain and while the results are entertaining and at times insightful, you can’t help but feel that it's only just scratched the surface.

★★★

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