Alien Weaponry set sights on Eden Park with Guns N' Roses
On Saturday night, American hard rock band Guns N' Roses becomes just the second international act to play Eden Park, after Billy Joel graced the stage last weekend.
Opening for the 'Sweet Child O' Mine' performers is a band born and raised in Aotearoa who have gained international acclaim.
Alien Weaponry are known for their intensely energetic performances, belting out heavy metal songs that often feature lyrics in te reo, while headbanging almost constantly.
Although he had performed to massive crowds at festivals around the world, drummer Henry de Jong surprised himself with the way he felt before the band's opening gig in wellington this week.
"We're very used to doing shows at this point, but I felt the nerves for the first time in a while - good nerves. It gets you amped up for the show, it gets you nice and excited."
Guns N' Roses are on their first New Zealand tour since 2017, after Covid-19 got in the way of planned dates last year.
Henry said when Alien Weaponry's management brought up the possibility of an opening slot, there was no hesitation on the band's part.
"Near the end of the European tour that we just did, they let us know, 'Hey, you guys are playing with Guns N' Roses. How do you feel about it? Do you want to do it?'
"And we were like, 'Hell, yes. Absolutely'."
Despite nerves and a delayed start in Wellington due to issues with the PA system, Henry said once the performance got underway, it went off without a hitch.
It was a tight set at just 30 minutes.
Although he loved sinking into longer performances, Henry said the energy Alien Weaponry brought more than made up for it.
"Especially the guys at the front, they're basically swinging their heads around the entire time if they're not singing.
"I think we're all feeling it a lot this morning - the sore neck."
While Alien Weaponry had ticked off many of New Zealand's top-tier venues, including Western Springs, the band's guitarist [and Henry's brother] Lewis de Jong said tomorrow's Eden Park show would step it up a notch.
Lewis was humble about his band's success - they had recently won Best Rock Artist at the Aotearoa Music Awards for the second time.
Aside from the hype that came with playing on the same line-up as Guns N' Roses, Lewis said he was looking forward to having many of his friends in the audience.
After their performance in Wellington, the band slipped into the mosh pit.
"We stuck around, and we caught [the other opening act] The Chats, and we caught Guns N' Roses as well. "It was nice standing pretty front row centre for that."
But there had been no mingling with the Guns N' Roses members backstage.
Henry said although he would be thrilled to meet them, the bands did not cross paths at the Wellington show.
"I guess when you're a band that size, you have to be somewhat private, or you can find yourself in odd situations where you basically can't leave because you're being swamped with fans."
However, Henry hoped Alien Weaponry would always make time to meet any support acts they brought on tour, no matter how big the boys from Waipu became.
As of Friday evening, there were still tickets available for the Eden Park show.
Next on Alien Weaponry's calendar was a European tour early next year with French heavy metal band Gojira.