Nod to mental health

Chemical Damage, Iain Johnstone on guitar and vocals, Grant Scott on bass and Gary Bent on drums,...
Chemical Damage, Iain Johnstone on guitar and vocals, Grant Scott on bass and Gary Bent on drums, are supporting men's mental health with a gig at the Crown tonight. Photo: Roger Grauwmeijer
It should be news to nobody by now that the gender binary is broken and sucks for everyone. Those that feel comfortable identifying as male are saddled with expectations of stoicism and strength, which in turn leads them to end up disproportionately represented in positions of power and suicide rates.

On the other hand, those comfortable identifying as female get walked over by a society that values their appearance above their agency and considers male power the only thing really worth valuing. And people outside of this binary just aren't considered at all.

Dismantling the gender binary probably isn't why some local punk bands got together for a free gig to support men's mental health, but trust me, it's related.

The idea came about when Iain Johnstone (Chemical Damage) was inspired by Matthew Peppercorn's (Psycho King Dogs and Kill Martha) mental health work and contacted him with the idea of a fundraiser gig.

The charity they chose to support is a relatively new group called Tough Talk that, according to their Facebook page, seek "to improve the mental health of New Zealanders by removing the stigma surrounding men expressing feelings, and providing therapeutic tools for the community".

"They go round the country, basically, and talk to these guys and create video blogs," explained Iain. "It's a lot of social media things, they create tips and things. They create these resources that men can use, not just men but generally men.

"The old traditional way is going to see a counsellor or whatever but sometimes that can be a bit intimidating for men - it's one person on one person and that can be a bit awkward - but these video blogs are quite easy to access, obviously."

Through regularly sharing these resources they've racked up about 2500 Facebook likes. Tips such as "often the solution is not solving a problem with logic, it's having the strength to be empathetic and feel together" might sound like common sense, but go directly against what men have been conditioned to be.

"The perception is man must be `this', you can't talk about emotions otherwise you're not being masculine or whatever, so I think it's quite important."

As far as the gig itself goes, it's looking to be a bit of a showdown between punk and metal. Iain's band, Chemical Damage, is an old-school classic punk band complete with stabby shouted vocals and three or so chords. Your Face are a similarly old-school punk band with rousing anthemic choruses.

On the metal side will be Anarchy Drive and Blood Evil. Blood Evil are heavy metal, Anarchy Drive play instrumental progressive rock/metal and have recently changed their name to Ashes to Battle.

"There's no door entry, it's just koha at the bar, so I encourage people to come along and have a listen," Iain says.

"A concert by bands who want to support this works well, because we do what we love; play loud original music, while we all gather together as mates, socialise and have a good time enjoying the original Dunedin music of others."

Coincidentally, tonight there's also a fundraiser for Women's Refuge at 50 Gorillas featuring the wonderful Lacuna (previously The Burps), Hot Donnas and Soaked Oats, which should be pretty banging. Maybe try to go to both. Either way you're guaranteed a good time in support of a good cause.

The gig

• Stomping for Health, tonight, 9pm at the Crown Hotel. Koha at the bar. 

• "9016", Fifty Gorillas, tonight, 9pm. $25 on the door. 

 - Fraser Thompson

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