One Night Band

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

15/04/2023 - 15/04/2023

Production Details

One Night Band is created by Liam Kelly and produced by Squash Co. Arts Collective.

Squash Co Arts Collective.

Kia Ora Theatreview,

Squash Co. Arts Collective are thrilled to invite you to come and see One Night Band, on April 15th. We’re able to offer you two complimentary standard tickets to the show.

Created by Liam Kelly, One Night Band takes place over twelve hours, with a live band writing and recording a new song every hour. All this done with the suggestions and help of the audience. By the end of the twelve hours we will have a fully recorded and mixed original album made by (and probably featuring) audience members. It all culminates in a listening party at 11pm, where we sit back in the BATS Bar, and listen to the album we’ve made.

One Night Band (originally called How to Write an Album in 12 Hours) debuted as part of the 2018 ‘Summer of 77’ Masters of Fine Arts theatre festival. It had another season as part of that year’s New Zealand Fringe festival, where it won the NZ Fringe PANNZ Tourmakers award, the NZ Fringe most innovative work award and was nominated for the Best Directed Chaos award. It then went on to be performed at the 2019 Auckland Fringe festival and the 2019 Hutt Winter festival.

For more info please check out the BATS page,

We hope to see you at the show!

Production Managed by Anna Barker and Produced by Jack McGee. Head of Marketing, Merch, and Set by Sarah Burton. Marketing assistant, Ben Kelly. Featuring performances from band members Pippa Drakeford-Croad, Peter Hamilton, Tessa Dillon, Lennox Grootjans and Ben Kelly.

Music , Improv , Theatre ,

12 Hours

Feels more like a Happening, or a night at someone's house party, than a concert in the traditional sense

Review by Cordy Black 15th Apr 2023

For a show about sound, One Night Band has a surprisingly distinct visual flair. A well-stocked merch table, vibrant branding in 2010s-style flat graphics and a cohesive colour palette tells us right away that this show is well-iterated, tried and tested.

The ambience is casual yet curated. Sets and Marketing specialist Sarah Burton dresses BATS’ Dome stage with extra bohemian cosiness. Instead of the traditional seated rows, she lays out about half a dozen couches, breaking down the traditional barrier between spectators and performers. The overall feel is reminiscent of a primary school’s area for arts and crafts activities. It’s apt, considering the show format – one that invites everyone present to play, but one that also observes, tests and records the results for later assessment.

Here is One Night Band‘s central premise, as explained to us in the form of a short introductory jingle (one that is done in multiple genres to avoid repetitiveness):
At the top of each hour, a timer starts.
The pit band must devise, rehearse and record a coherent song based on audience prompts.
And then they do it all over again, for twelve hours.

The sound crew have this routine down to such a fine art that by the start of Hour 4, the finished and mixed song from Hour 1 is already live and listenable online. It’s an impressive feat. Sound techs Leroy Paton-Goldsbury and Esteban Jaramillo are unsung stars in this production, slipping discreetly among performers with deft adjustments and advice that doesn’t disrupt the breakneck creative process.

MC Liam Kelly’s true role, aside from warming his guests to their task, is to keep everyone engaged during the song-writing part of the show. This is the trickiest part of any improvised music format – composers and performers naturally huddle together for frantic devising and writing, which can turn off a live audience. One Night Band’s response is admirable – they show the whole process right onstage, while nipping any incipient boredom in the bud.

Kelly migrates from couch to couch, getting bystanders to open up about their life plans, make jokes, suggest themes to go into song lyrics and rummage in their bags for inspiration. Better yet, he relays all the details back to the performers, sharing the vibe of the audience and reconnecting the musicians and lyricists back to the communal nature of their task.

Many audience participants stay in the theatre for more than one hour. This is where many of the more interactive elements of the set design and activities come into play. Not only does each song-writing segment come with its own specific challenge for the band – and associated gamesmanship around how well the band rises to the challenge – there is also a massive easel for people to contribute to the cover art for the day’s album.

The programme doubles as an activity and colouring-in book for people who want a bit of downtime. Helpers even come around with water and lemonade to freshen up both the band and anyone else who needs it. The event feels much more like a Happening, or a night at someone’s house party, than a concert in the traditional sense and it is all wonderfully refreshing.

In the hour this reviewer is present, the challenge involves enlisting audience volunteers to play instruments, write and sing with the band while being physically taped onto one of the band members. This makes for a simpler chord progression and song format than the previous hour’s pleasant bluegrass-toned single, which is to be expected when piano, drums and so on are all playing with three hands apiece. All the audience volunteers can attest to how rewarding yet taxing this kind of musical improv feels after just an hour.

There could certainly be less mania and more breathing room in the sometimes overstuffed programme. All this interactivity sets up a strong promise to the audience, that their ideas will always get accepted and integrated and the performers will say Yes to as many offers as possible. This may make for complicated songs or for tired songwriters over the endurance race of twelve entire hours. Are too many of the games coming out of the box too soon in the afternoon? Perhaps have a listen to the final album, once it is released for all to hear, and judge for yourself.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo