Category Archives: festivals

Been | Splore 2019

T’was the night before Splore and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse …. but I for one certainly was, as I tapped my musical toes to sleep, in eager anticipation for the 20th Anniversary of Splore.  ‘Celebration’ being the theme of the year and which took place amidst the magical spirit of Tapapakanga National Park.

SPLORE – The festival that delivers music, art, food and unexpected frivolity, around every kooky twist and turn. Where the wind literally blows you to a different creative experience throughout the entire weekend.

The three day festival takes place at the sacred home of the mana whenua, Ngāti Whanaunga and Ngāti Paoa.  Where tradition is upheld each year with a reverent powhiri, welcoming artists and attendees from all over NZ and the world to this blessed site.

Performing the sacred powhiri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I begun the day, wary of the mud puddles that were soon encroaching upon us, but with my trusty glitter gumboots,  I was determined to set up camp before the rains came, well prepared for the days merry onslaught.  First musical treat of the day for me, was Tubbs – Christopher Tubbs.  A much revered figure of the Wellington dance scene. Also noteworthy, as the former owner of the cult vinyl-only record co. Untracked (supported by the likes of Mark Ronson and Gilles Peterson).  His upbeat and deep disco selection had even the most sleep-deprived and rookie reveler right back into the spirit of the festival, regardless of the showers that were about to fall …

A newbie to the Splore family was one Marco Alonso, a DJ definitely worth a mention after playing to a jam-packed audience within the Lucky Star tent.  A real crowd shaker with his deep funky house and soul pleasing vibes.  DJ Aroha gave 100% – her energetic and diverse dance music collection was at it’s absolute best at the Crystal Palace, followed by our other native gem, King Kapisi.

The much anticipated London-based drum’n’bass & dubstep outfit – Rudimental, lead the night with an extremely crowded main stage, and despite the persistent deluge that caned us that Friday evening; were completely owning it, with heavily charged performances of some of their more commercially successful tracks, and had the majority of the audience literally, pumping.

Also on the main stage, headliners Orbital’s light display and performance all-round,was phenomenal.  Brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll (based in Kent, England) have been laying down the electronic goodness since 1989;  and whose early beginnings in the acid-house scene and subsequent techno fused dance tracks, combined with their iconic presence, created a euphoric moment that one could not help but feel throughout their dynamic set.

Amazing light display by electronic legends Orbital

Beginning the Saturday a little bleary eyed, I was ready yet again to get amongst it, with the weather and the winds since subsided.  Linda T was a joy to discover at the Crystal Palace stage, with her funky, soul and smooth mixing, and speaking of new discoveries ….  a definite highlight from the extensive line up for me were the R’nB/Soul/Hip-hop duo, Children of Zeus.  Hailing from Manchester UK – they were well supported by our much loved and adopted homeboy, DJ Hudge (if you missed them at Splore you can still catch them this coming Wednesday at ‘Neck of the Woods’ Auckland).

Children of Zeus featuring HUDGE – Main Stage

Saturday night played host to the much celebrated Jungle Brothers, consisting of members: Afrika Baby Bam, Mike Gee and DJ Sammy B, and who were down one Mike Gee on the night (due to an unanticipated return to the States) but the remaining two definitely did not let that stop them pushing the limits of their renowned hip-hop sound, and showcasing their solid history in creating some of the greatest musical collaborations with other artists such as; De La Soul, Mos Def and A Tribe Called Quest

Club Hedonistas Cabaret, hosted by club queen ‘Ronnie Rae-Gunn, was a curation of the most provocative and awe-inspiring burlesque, circus mastery and aerial dynamics – featuring Jair Ramirez, Flow Academy, Dust and the irrepressible Chris Oh! (to name but a few) a hedonistic night sure to push the boundaries of pleasurably risque’ entertainment!

An unexpected (but most welcoming find) was the hidden gem avidly coined ‘Portal’ (lovingly referred to by it’s residents as the ‘Womb’) a quirky pocket of a venue where Bali-based and Kiwi-born LADY FLiC, bestowed on us some of her finest and most vibrant eclectic house/electro for the lucky few that found themselves there in the late hours of the night.  Not one to be pigeon-holed, with her distinctly progressive musical selections, LADY FLiC has weaved a truly unique and impressive DJ career from the club/house scene of NZ to the Dublin Red Bull Music Academy, pirate radio in London and beyond ..

The impressive LADY FLiC @the Portal

Chris Oh! At his ‘boylesque’ best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A surprise visit Saturday by Russian political activists ‘Pussy Riot’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closing the main stage and the most wowing performances of that weekend – we had the brilliant pairing of Brazilian DJ Marky and our very own Tali, who as MC did not let us down, combining her soulful instrument of voice with Marky’s superb scratching and drum’n’bass fuelled beats.
MC Tali in support of the legendary DJ Marky

There were also many heartwarming moments that I unfortunately missed capturing on film; one being witness to a tender instance of hula-hoop unity between a young family, in the warm glistening sun, surrounded by the chilled vibes of the Lucky Star tent, then rounding the afternoon off with some much needed cheesy goodness, provided in the form of the most delectable toasties, food-truck side.

It was to surmise, most definitely a ‘celebration’ and one that I was thrilled to be a part of, catering to both families and the most passionate party-goer with its multitude of art installations, stalls, music, workshops for both adults and kids alongside general good vibes.  Splore is constantly growing and evolving, and in doing so I just hope that it still manages to retain its intimate and quirky bohemian charm, without giving way to increasing commercialism, which is fast becoming a natural hazard for many a successful festival.

And to sign off my friends, it is fair to say that I am now officially SPLORED!

Colourful and whimsical art installations throughout the site …
Capturing the beautiful beginning of sunset as we depart the regional park.

 

 

 

 

 

SFS | 5 mins with Jess B

NZ Hip Hop Queen, Jess B is quickly making a name for herself on the NZ music scene. Racking up over 450,000 streams, she has quickly established herself as a powerful festival and international support act. Catch her in her coordinates as she makes her full live Splore debut this February.

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words…
Sunny, colourful, collective

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up
Missy Elliot
Erykah Badu
Spice

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?
Performing is something I love doing, and I also love to connect with people who connect with my music in any way 🙂

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?
Toast by Koffee

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?
Take It Down ft. Rubi Du

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?
Depends what playlist!

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track?
I don’t have any guilty pleasures. I like what I like!

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram

Who do you follow and where?
I follow no one anywhere, I am trying to create my own lane 😛

What’s your go-to festival outfit?
A co-ordinate set of some sort.

Word association:
MusiC – life
Festival – fun
Camping – family
Fashion – expression
Roadie – friends

Situated in a beguiling bay on the shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park, Splore is an annual, boutique and arts festival like no other. Described as New Zealand’s greatest dress up party, this three-day entertainment extravaganza promises a good time, good vibes, and hot showers! Better yet, this magical music festival is just a short drive from Auckland city.

Splore 2019 takes place 21-24 February. The 2019 edition of the festival has SOLD OUT.

been | Laneway Festival 2019

Another scorching Auckland Anniversary day and another Laneway Festival done and dusted. The fashion, the food and of course the music was on point on the day and so was the weather! Apparently there was a heatwave on the way! And it was their tenth birthday at the sold out festival, sweet way to celebrate and throw a party!

Having only recognised three of the acts in the 20 plus lineup we found some new favorites on the day! Gallivanting from stage to stage trying to at least catch a few of the songs was definitely a workout! Luckily we had access to the Friends & Family section so we avoided queues and mingled with fashion royalty, sipping on ciders.

Bene, images by Jess Gleeson

Arriving at around 3.30pm we were just in time for Aucklander Bene at the Thunderdome Stage. Delivering a sweet, chilled out set. Although there were some sound issues, the whole street was completely packed out!

Jorja Smith came through with the goods at the Rotunda Stage. Playing hits from her gorgeous Lost & Found album with her band and finishing off with the garage infused track On My Mind!

Jorja Smith, images by Jess Gleeson

Masego was one of the highlights on the day! Unfortunately slight clash on the schedule with Courtney Barnett which meant we only caught the first bit of her set! Great energy from what we saw and would love to have stayed a bit longer to catch the whole thing. Masego though was brilliant! Saxophonist, singer and rapper he was amazing to watch on stage!

Courtney Barnett, Florence & The Machine, images by Jess Gleeson

Headliner Florence & The Machine played at the first ever Laneway Festival here in Auckland. It seemed fitting that they returned on the festival’s 10th anniversary to as headliner. Florence Welch is always a delight to watch, commanding so much presence although she tells us on stage she is very shy. Transforming into a sprint queen that darts across the stage almost levitating in places to later appearing on the side among the crowd for a surprise performance. Definitely a great way to finish off the night.

Florence & The Machine, images by Jess Gleeson

We were guttered we missed out on Mitski, DJDS, Lontalius and many more but such is a music festival. Here’s hoping they return back to good old Aotearoa for more summer festiveness.

SFS | Laneway Festival 2019 Lineup

This year’s Laneway Festival is proving to be a special one with Florence & the Machine headlining. She of course played the very first Laneway Festival here in Auckland almost ten years ago when it was held at Britomart. The festival has since grown, and moved to various locations around Auckland, including Aotea Sqaure and Silo Park,  before eventually finding a home in Albert Park.

Florence Welch and her band are currently touring Australia and have opened to rave reviews such as “Florence’s vocal masterclass blows Perth fans away” (Sydney Morning Herald). Apart from their Laneway Festival appearance, the band will be putting on a show at Spark Arena in Auckland on January 30th (buy tickets).

Here are some of the other acts that we’re excited to catch at this year’s Laneway Festival:


Jorja Smith


Ravyn Lenae


DJDS


Courtney Barnett


Mitski

 

Of course you’re bound to fall in love with some new bands on the day so get around the various stages and have fun!

More information can be found at www.lanewayfestival.com.

See you there x

Doc Edge 18 | Spielberg

United States | 2018 | 147 min | English | Susan Lacy

Stephen Spielberg had always wanted to be a director, but when he watched Lawrence of Arabia at age sixteen he decided to give up on his dream because the perfection of that film had set the bar too high. How, he thought, am I ever going to make anything that good? Thank God, he changed his mind.

No director has ever made so many films that are universally loved. Especially if you grew up in the 90s, Spielberg movies were a huge part of your childhood. Blockbuster hits like Jaws, Jurassic Park, and E.T. made him a household name. The documentary Spielberg, directed by Susan Lacy, explores the person behind the Hollywood living legend. It provides illuminating insights into Spielberg’s relationships, personality and life experiences.

This documentary is extremely interesting in a surprising way. You know all his movies, so you almost feel as if you have grown up with Spielberg and that you know who he is. Spielberg may be a movie-making machine, but the documentary does a great job of revealing how human he really is.

The famous director talks openly about how nervous he gets each day he walks on set and his insecurities when he was young. Making films was a way he could focus and escape from his anxiety – a kind of therapy. “When I had too much time to think, all those scary whispers would start up. It was not fun to be me in between ideas or projects”, says Spielberg. When you understand his personal life, including that he was bullied as a child and the divorce of his parents, you realise how he has weaved those themes of the underdog and family ties into his movies.

It is amazing to see someone so revered reveal such vulnerable and sensitive aspects of himself. However, one would have to be sensitive to be able to create films grounded in humanity that speak to the audience the way Spielberg’s do. The documentary features interviews with his peers, such as directors and producers Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Martin Scorcese and Kathleen Kennedy. All say that Spielberg has a natural, intuitive talent for the art of telling stories through images like no one else. That is why he has such popular appeal.

The producer Walter Parkes said it best: “Stephen is arguably the most commercial director in the history of motion pictures. And I think it’s because he has a deep understanding of how the language of cinema elicits an emotional reaction in an audience.” Spielberg’s road to success was by no means smooth and paved with moments of doubt, but he persisted because he knew that film was his calling and there was nothing else for him.

Spielberg has come a long way from sneaking into Universal Studios to learn how to make films. Fascinating and endearing, the documentary Spielberg is an intimate look at one of the greatest directors of all time.

5 Stars

 

Spielberg is showing at the following times in Auckland as part of the Documentary Edge Festival 2018:

Rangatira/Q Theatre: 3 June, 6.30pm.

Doc Edge 18 | Dealin’ with the Devil

Dealin’ with the Devil – New Zealand / 2017 / 102 mins / English / Phil Davison

Phil Davison, accomplished New Zealand song-writer and blues aficionado, tells the story of his influential friend and musical mentor Ralph Bennett-Eades, as he makes the harrowing descent to his untimely death, through the sultry and often dark sound of the blues.

Phil’s background as a Film Editing lecturer clearly shows, as he uses effective and visually stimulating animations, including a scene of aliens coming down from their galaxy to jam with his alter-ego Dr Marigaux – genuine Dr of Theology, within the barren walls of his ramshackle home in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.

The ‘Blues’ – characterized by it’s lyrics, bass lines and instrumentation.  All things that Davison certainly brings to this documentary through soulful genre and his unique mode of story-telling, as he takes us on a journey of human reflection and personal heartbreak through animation and music.

He references such greats as; BB King, Muddy Waters and Johnny Lee Hooker as he taps into the life of his loved companion Ralph and the journey his life took after he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.   Not forgetting a notable mention to his trusty guitar named Hazel.

A vibrant, colourful man and like most humans, flawed.  The film speaks of Ralph’s decision to make a deal with God to start playing Gospel, and in doing so he would relinquish the blues, if only he should be allowed to keep living.  ‘Dealing with the Devil’ so-to-speak, while his closest friends speak of his final days and the darkness that would often creep in after his fatal diagnosis, and Ralph’s inner-most fear of the ‘Man in Black’ …

Phil Davison, himself a talented and inwardly-thinking musician, sings the blues in his definitively hoarse, morose and poetic style. But with doses of dry humour that make the journey that little more entertaining.  The tracks ‘Embryonic Blues’ and ‘Hotel’ being such examples of his signature style of story-telling.

He films this documentary right up until Eades’s final days on his death-bed, echoing the sound of the deepest roots of the Mississippi as he sings of redemption and salvation, right here, in our backyard of N.Z  – while the fiddles and guitars of his backing group unite in the name of Gospel, this performance being a tribute to his dear friend and mentor, and a promise to him, he vowed to keep.

‘Dealing With The Devil’,  was at times quite an undertaking to follow, with the sadness and decline of someone suffering from an incurable illness.   However, I enjoyed the philosophical essence of the film as a whole, and found it absorbing with it’s visual content, as well as it’s welcoming moments of humour, that provided refreshment from the dark subject matter.  With an uplifting sense of peace towards the end, it is a loving tribute to a man who has lived his life to the brim and his wish to leave a lasting legacy that truly reflects who he was/is.

Ralph Bennett Eades had a wicked sense of humour as he clearly demonstrates,  even from his death-bed, with a mischievous hoax that defies gravity …

***3.5 Stars!

 

 

 

 

“Dealin with the Devil’ – is now showing in Auckland at the following times:

Loft / Thu 31 May 8:30PM
Rangatira / Fri 1 June 4:30PM

 

Doc Edge 18 | George Michael: Freedom: The Director’s Cut

United Kingdom | 2018 | 113 min | English | George Michael, David Austin

As glamorous, provocative, sexy and recognizable as the subject of this documentary herself; Kate Moss (global supermodel) presents the film, in a swinging director’s chair all George Michael fans will recognize from the infamous ‘Fast Love’ video.

A'still' from the opening of the documentary film.

Singer Adele’s haunting rendition of ‘Fast Love’ plays as the credits roll out to us from the screen, of all who have contributed to the production of ‘George Michael: Freedom: The Director’s Cut’, most poignantly the man himself, who died not long before the final takes were edited. On Christmas day 2016.

The film launches straight into the early stages of George’s burgeoning career.  From short-lived beginnings in a start-up SKA band called ‘The Executive’s’ with his formative music partner Andrew Ridgely, to the formation of WHAM in 1981.  George’s earlier life and upbringing are somewhat missing in the introduction as to how this superstar came into being, while it focuses instead, on the man post WHAM, the subsequent trappings and downside of fame and fortune, as his solo career reaches unprecedented heights.

It describes the parallel’s of the upbeat, whimsical sound of WHAM, to the seriousness of the political situation in the U.K at the time, during the late Thatcher years.  A band whose success was insurmountable with hits from their 1983 debut album ‘Fantastic’; ‘Club Tropicana’ and ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’.  Which was later shadowed only, when George’s own image and personal achievement surpassed that of the ban

George Michael was a man very aware of his superstar status (a fact which is also evident in his decision to narrate the majority of this story himself).  He also reveals that his motivations from early-on, were driven by his desire for fame and recognition, and with a film that features running commentary from the toast of pop-culture, fashion & music’s finest; Stevie Wonder, Jean Paul-Gaultier, Nile Rodgers, Naomi Campbell and Mary J Blige, to name but a few …  His successful pursuit for stardom and the impact he left among his  dearest friends are not left in question.

We are then taken on a musical history tour throughout his solo years, as he decides he needs to create a new character alongside his equally as famous contemporaries; Madonna, Prince etc …   From 1984’s  ‘Careless Whisper’ to the soulfully beautiful ‘One More Try’ (1987).  He experiences unrivaled fame in the U.S as the audience resonates with the sound of this t’deep, honest and profound lyricist’.

His R&B connections ran even further to collaborations with such soul greats as; Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett and of course, Stevie Wonder.

Freedom: The Directors Cut,  also touches on the heartbreak and low-points throughout George’s most formative years.  With the heart-breaking loss of his first love to AID’s, his clash with the management at SONY records driven by his need to break-free and refusal to longer self-promote, to the death of his beloved mother …  It also describes the loneliness and emptiness that comes from such unimaginable levels of fame.   Yet with such heartbreak emerges such artistic brilliance, with his 1996 album entitled: ‘Older’ that follows the equally as symbolic ‘Listen Without Prejudice’ (1990).   A record which he proclaims to be his “Greatest achievement yet”.

The film, is a tribute to George Michael’s hall of fame of hits, and their often very deep relevance to his situation at the time. eg – ‘Jesus To A Child’ (a ’94 ode to his lover Anselmo Feleppa).

However, as much of George Michael fan as I may be,  I just did not quite understand the visual mash-up at the end, with it’s juxtaposition of videos and highlights throughout his extensive and colourful career.  I suppose to me, it may have seemed slightly self-indulgent.  Yet perhaps it was necessary, to create a lasting image as vivid and captivating as the artist himself.

*** 3 Stars

George Michael: Freedom: The Director’s Cut – is part of the Doc Edge Film Festival 2018.

Screening in Auckland:

Loft / Tues 29 May,  8.15 PM
Rangatira / Sun 03 June,  4.00 PM