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Read: Six60 bare their souls in a new doco

Six60 is a kiwi group that have worked damn hard for over a decade writing music, putting on shows and building an audience.  They’ve produced three number one albums in New Zealand and last year became the first home-grown act to sell out Western Springs stadium in Auckland. 

But, of course, it hasn’t been easy, and the group has had its share of criticism and personal crises. All of this is covered in the just released documentary Six60 – Till the Lights Go Out

It’s a curious film that meanders a little to begin with, but then slowly unfolds a compelling narrative about a group of decent enough guys who came together and created a phenomenon. 

It’s the personal stories that make this documentary good. Perhaps the most compelling is that of Marlon Gerbes whose father shares on camera the the horrific abuse (physical, mental and sexual) meted out to young men like himself in social welfare homes and borstals in the 60s and 70s. This he claims is what lead to the formation of the gangs. It is riveting and disturbing storytelling, but it is the kind of stuff this country needs to hear. 

In many ways the documentary seems like a mea culpa. A chance to acknowledge their own personal demons as well as a desire to make a very public apology to Bailley Unahi, a young woman paralysed in 2016 after a balcony collapsed at one the bands outdoor gigs in Dunedin. All of the group clearly feel a very profound sadness and guilt over the tragedy. 

The film also provides an opportunity for them to give a very firm ‘fuck you’ to the music industry music critics, and the wider media who, they believe have trashed them over the years.

On balance, I think they’re right. In 2012 Six60 received six gongs at the New Zealand Music Awards, eclipsing Kimbra’s five wins. But in the media, it was Kimbra who was celebrated and Six60 barely rated a mention. 

It is clear the band are pissed off about it. And so they should be. Explanations are offered from  ‘tall poppy syndrome’ to racism. It’s hard to know exactly what it is, but three of the guys are Maori.  

Despite that tension, what emerges is a fascinating story of a self-effacing group of men who side-stepped the traditional rise to fame and created their own very successful niche in a crowded music scene. 

In watching this documentary, you cant help but think they deserve all that success.

TILL THE LIGHTS GO OUT 

Starring: Eli Paewai, Chris Mac, Ji Fraser, Marlon Gerbes, Matiu Walters
Directed by: Julia Parnell 

Duration: 92 minutes

In New Zealand Cinemas 26th November 2020 

TRAILER

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