Memory lane: Rebeca Barnes and Victory Band, from left, Dave Arnold, Martin Guy and Michael Eden, pay homage to the '90s in Arrowtown tonight


Some things were easier to get away with back in the ’90s, like sneaking into the pub, aged 17, for a karaoke night with friends.

“You couldn’t get away with that now, they were a lot looser in the mid-’90s,” quips the culprit, Queenstown performer Rebeca Barnes.

But it was that act of mischief that secured Barnes her first professional singing gig – the owner of the pub offering her a job hosting karaoke nights there.

“I had to go back the next day and say to her, ‘look, I really would like the job, please … but I need to tell you that I’m 17 … but can I please still have the job?'”

When she moved to Queenstown from Australia in 2002, Barnes eventually began her own karaoke business, supplying equipment to pubs and events and “helping [sing] when they perhaps are struggling a little bit”.

Equipped with a theatre background, she’s done several performances with Whirlwind Productions and Showbiz Queenstown, including Rocky Horror Picture Show, Twist and Shout, Hair and a “few” shows with Queenstown’s Margaret O’Hanlon.

She was also in Queenstown band, Rock Felony.

Tonight at The Blue Door in Arrowtown, Barnes, accompanied by Victory Band, puts a sound track to the mischief and memories of the quintessential ’90s teen.

They’ve called the evening ‘The Reminiscings of a ’90s teenager’.

“Hanging out with my friends … music was everything to us,” Barnes says.

“We were at karaoke on a Friday night singing, we would be at the nightclubs – but we were just on the dance floor the entire time.

“If we were at our house, we were listening to albums … everything we did had a soundtrack to it.”

Barnes jokes she forgets her kids’ names from time to time, “but if you play a ’90s song I can smash it out like you wouldn’t believe”.

As a teen, she found Alanis Morissette’s album Jagged Little Pill particularly formative.

“Any female that’s around her 40s will tell you Jagged Little Pillwas something that spoke to them about a different way of being female, you know, female empowerment … like a ‘I don’t give a shit about what you think, I’m going to do what I want’ kind of attitude.”

Tonight, Morissette will feature on the setlist, alongside banks like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Garbage.

“Sometimes when people say ’90s, they think kind of ’90s pop girl bands and boy bands, and it’s not so much ‘poppy’, it’s more leaning towards the grunge side of the ’90s.”

Her bandmates for the night – Dave Arnold, Martin Guy and Michael Eden – play regular gigs around town and teach local kids music.

Between songs, Barnes will talk about the songs and how they connect people, trying to stir some nostalgia within the crowd.

“I’m quite excited for it, because I thought, ‘what music speask to me the most?’ and [the ’90s] is what immediately came to mind.”

‘The Reminiscings of a ’90s teenager’ is part of an ongoing series called Tiny Room Concerts at The Blue Door in Arrowtonwn.

Due to Covid restrictions, it’s cabaret style seating and is limited to about 40 people, but Barnes stresses for those who miss out, the group plans to bring the show back in January.

The Reminscings of a ’90s Teenager, tonight, 6.30pm & 8.30pm, The Blue Door, Arrowtown,  Tickets via eventbrite