Category Archives: music

been | One Love 2020

One Love 2020 kicked off the new decade with one of the best line-ups in the festival’s history. Held in the sunny Tauranga Domain over Auckland Anniversary weekend, New Zealand’s favourite Reggae festival delivered on all fronts.

Another year, another exhilarating music party, featuring an incredible array of international big hitters and local talent. Good vibes, hot sun, Reggae & Roots music, and pure love sums up my One Love experience which kicked off on Saturday 25 January with a high of 29C and nothing but clear sky and a light breeze, and 20,000 people just having a good time.

The scorching heat didn’t keep us from dancing, while others preferred sitting down and chilling out; watching from the edges of the dance floor. Water mist canons were placed around the domain, a much-needed relief as people moved and danced.

International stars such as Sean Paul and Shaggy, as well as Kiwi favourite’s Katchafire , L.A.B, Sons Of Zion, Nesian Mystic, and Fiji were among the 26 artists and bands to perform over the two fun-filled days.

Sean Paul’s dance hall goodness included banger after banger took us back to the good times early 2000s with the dutty wine dance moves.

Shaggy our favourite Mr Lover Lover had the crowd singing and dancing along to every song; each one of them serving the Jamaican flavour.

My favourite Bay musos L.A.B owned the stage on the second day. Saying they deserved to close out the festival is an understatement, they carved up the stage and the crowd’s reaction to the live performance was undeniable.

We had the pleasure of Nesian Mystik reuniting on the One Love 2020 stage – they’re a group who owned Kiwi summers in their day and when they hit the stage, it was like they never left. We’ve missed you guys!

Other highlights included Jackson Owens’ joining Sons of Zion on stage as their new vocalist – I’m looking forward to seeing more of what he brings to the band. They certainly knew how to get the crowd moving.

Jaro Local is a fast-rising Pacific star, making waves internationally with his unique blend of modern island music and reggae. He had great crowd interaction which they repaid by knowing his music and songs.

THIRD WORLD is one of the longest-lived Reggae bands of all time, and one of Jamaica’s most consistently popular crossover acts among international audiences. Mixing in elements of R&B, funk, pop, and rock and, dancehall and rap, Third World’s style has been described as “reggae-fusion” – We certainly felt their energy on Day One; what an epic experience!

Stan walker with his Yummy challenge was better in real life than Instagram also when he was joined on stage with Hamo Dell and Ria Hall and Tawaroa Kawana; there was no shortage of pure talent in their performance.

International reggae stars Fiji had the crowd vibing out with Sprawnbreezie and having the crowd singing word for word.

Each one of the performers did justice over the weekend – there was plenty to love about One Love Festival 2020. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us at One Love 2021.

Images by Meenal Maharaj.

Photos + interviews coming soon.

been | Laneway Festival 2020

Laneway Festival served up a great diverse lineup this year! There indeed was something for everyone. It was a scorcher of a day and thankfully the Duck Island Ice Cream truck was present to cool us off. Having only recognised a handful of the acts in lineup we found some new favorites on the day that have been added to our Spotify playlists! 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 danced to Linda T’s eclectic mixes.

Kaiit made her first appearance ever at a NZ music festival this year at Laneway. Last time she was in Auckland she played an intimate gig at Ponsonby Social Club in 2018. Winning an ARIA last year for Best Soul/R&B Release, she served up a great performance and scored herself many new fans. Singing our favs Natural Woman and OG Luv Kush Pt. 2 we hope this isn’t the last time we see Kaiit here in New Zealand.

Having played last year at the Thunderdome Stage, Bene returned to Laneway Festival this year with an upgrade on the Princes Stage. With fans packing out the street, Bene delivered a more confident set this year singing radio fav Soaked and in Te Reo too.

With a slight clash this year with Bene, Mahalia was a definite must-see at the festival. With What You Did on constant repeat on our Spotify, a song she sings with fellow Brit Ella Mai and in which she samples Killa Cam’s Oh Boy we were quite looking forward to her set. She sang mostly from the Love and Compromise album and delivered her hit songs Simmer and Do Not Disturb. She ended her set with I Wish I Missed My Ex with the crowd singing along. She did promise us she will be back in Aotearoa so we cannot wait!

Bringing it back to basics and with an incredible band, Marlon Williams was a highlight at the festival. Dedicating Make Way For Love to Kobe Bryant, it was hard not to be moved by the beautiful performance. A last minute replacement for Fontaines DC which pulled out just a week before the festival, we are so grateful the stars aligned and Marlon was able to step in.

Notable mentions, The 1975 and Charlie XCX.

All images provided by David Watson.

been | We Will Rock You

Thunderbolt and lightning! The NZ Musical Theatre Consortium and Bruce Mason Theatre bring the magnificent musical production ‘We Will Rock You‘ to the stage over the next two months.

Created by the lords of rock ‘Queen’, not to mention the genius of ever-evolving writer, Ben Elton –  this West End musical comes to our shores, with the help of an outstanding cast of actors, ensemble and exceptionally talented band.

With an auditorium packed literally, like sardines, the draw and excitement that enveloped the filled-out crowd was almost tangible.  The audience are immediately drawn in to this musical odyssey with flashing projection of words and visuals to set the scene, and to provide a narrative that is reminiscent of the sci-fi classic ‘Star Wars’, with a somewhat post-apocalyptic feel ….

The orchestra (or band) are also projected above the imposing stage.  An element of this stage setting, that I found both impressive and artistically effective.   A chorus of dancers with costumes emblazoned with the song title “Radio GaGa’ were visually striking and immediately piqued my attention as they set the pace for the rest of the show, as did the eponymous ballad  ‘We Will Rock You’, welcoming us to a musical anthology  full of historical humour, that we were set to enjoy for the remainder of the performance.

We Will Rock You is full of hilarious rock-references and clever dialogue that reflects the glory of a by-gone era of music.   With futuristic themes and cleverly placed classic Queen ballads throughout.  One most noteworthy track being ‘Killer Queen’ which sets the stage for  NZ’s own musical royal, Annie Crummer.  Annie exercises her theatre chops with unexpectedly brilliant and powerful delivery!  She is perfectly cast as the arch nemesis of the ‘Bohemians’ a group of misplaced yet passionate rock-loving, breathing beings.  The main protagonists in said group (and indeed the entire musical), are portrayed by William Deane as ‘Galileo’ and his love-interest, ‘Scaramouche’ played by Bridie Dixon.

They are supported by other key members of the Bohemians: ‘Brit’ (Caleb Muller),  ‘Buddy’ (David Mackie) and ‘Oz’ (Rebecca Wright), who alongside the Killer Queen’s right hand man ‘Khashoggi’ and of course the star-crossed lovers Galileo and Scaramouche themselves, entertain the audience with such convincing character portrayals, and moving vocal performances from Queens catalogue of hits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The choreography, lighting and set-design of  We Will Rock You is fantastically polished. The sheer attention to detail, for a production of this magnitude, is no mean feat and the creative team of: Director Emma Carr, Musical Directors, Mark Bradley and Edwin Randall and choreographer, Rebekkah Schoonbeek-Berridge should be applauded for their success!

An ambitious production on every scale, but that is brought together so brilliantly with the energy of it’s entire ensemble, the faultless score from the show’s musicians, and of course Annie Crummer’s seemingly limitless vocal-range.

‘These are the Days of our Lives’ is performed by the entire chorus towards the end of the show, an ominous ode to demise of the legend himself (Freddie Mercury).  Yet within it’s words are a message and a lesson, in living your life whilst also being true to yourself.  A fitting piece of classic Queen to wrap up this musical journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*4.5 Stars!

We Will Rock You is currently playing at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna:                                                              20th August – 7th September

 

 

heard | One Love is back and bigger than ever

New Zealand’s much-loved ONE LOVE Festival will kick off a new decade with the best line-up in the festival’s history.

ONE LOVE is without question one of the most popular two-day festivals in Australasia. And today promoters have revealed that an array of international big-hitters are set to perform at the summer extravaganza.

Presented by Mai FM and Pato Entertainment, ONE LOVE 2020 will be held in its long-standing home at Tauranga Domain across Auckland Anniversary Weekend on January 25 and 26, 2020.

Earlybird Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, July 3 at 7pm on the official website: www.onelovefestival.co.nz

With demand expected to be huge, punters are urged to get in quickly to avoid disappointment. The 24-hour Early Bird special runs from Wednesday, July 3 at 7pm until Thursday, July 4 at 7pm and all tickets purchased in that 24-hour period will receive a ONE LOVE t-shirt.

As in previous years, VIP tickets will also be available for purchase. This year, LAYBUY tickets are also available, which allows punters to purchase tickets on the day and pay across six payments. This option will be available when you reach the check-out when purchasing tickets.

It has just been confirmed that some of the biggest names in the reggae and roots world will appear at the 2020 festival, including Jamaican dancehall legend Sean Paul; iconic reggae superstar Shaggy; the OGs of reggae Toots and the Maytals; as well as Californian reggae royalty Common Kings; Jamaican singer Etana; the incredible dancehall act, Collie Budz; and reggae legends Third World are all on the line-up.

The star-studded cast of legends will perform at ONE LOVE alongside a packed line-up of other international festival favourites and local heroes, including Katchafire, L.A.B, Sons of Zion, FIJI, Israel Starr and Josh Wawa.

Spawnbreezie, Mike Love, 1814, Ardijah, Latasha Lee, Ria Hall, Conkarah, Lion Rezz, FIA, Jaro Local, Victor J Sefo, DJ Jayraski, DJ Hemz complete the first line-up announcement.

Promoters are also excited to reveal that the much-loved Kiwi act Nesian Mystik, whose hits include ‘For The People’ and ‘Mr Mista’, will be reforming for a special performance at ONE LOVE.

ONE LOVE has sold out for the last four years in a row and with today’s announcement, it is expected that tickets for the festival will once again be in hot demand.

“We are very excited to bring one of our biggest line-ups yet. The hype is so big, we are expecting to sell out faster that previous years,” says promoter Pato Alvarez.

Earlybird Tickets are on sale Wednesday July 3 from 7pm until 7pm Thursday July 4. All tickets purchased in the first 24 hours will receive a free One Love t-shirt – www.onelovefestival.co.nz.

Check out our review from One Love 2018.

been | Billie Eilish at Spark Arena

INSANITY. That is the only way to describe witnessing Billie Eilish perform at Auckland’s Spark Arena last night. I had little idea what to expect when I arrived for the performance – I’ve been listening to her music on repeat for months, but nothing could prepare me for what I saw.

At 17 years old, Pop music’s terrifying and prodigious singer-songwriter already had the venue completely sold out. It’s her third visit to New Zealand after playing The Tuning Fork in 2017 and at Laneway in 2018 on the back of her critically acclaimed EP Don’t Smile At Me.

Seeing the arena packed, it hit me how massive she really is, but when she finally appears on stage wearing her signature oversized sweatshirt and bootleg Gucci shorts, the loud screams that bordered on desperation; one comes to understand that “BILLIEMANIA” is a “thing” – a Generation Z take on “Beatlemania”. No, I’m not really “that” old, but I am a Millennial, which currently feels like light years away from Gen Z.

The entire audience, comprising predominantly of teenage girls, sang back her songs word for word, screaming at times, and she’s only just released her debut album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO”. It was incredible.

She opens the show with her latest track “Bad Guy” and as her voice warms up, you could clearly tell she was under the weather – the audience is happy to help by singing along. As she belts out her every hit to date, her energy levels soar and she’s dancing around in typical Billie fashion – influenced by hip hop and a heavy dose of horror aesthetic. The Exorcist comes to mind. I love it.

Her pop influences are a-plenty and can be heard in her playful, word-association lyrics, and her precociousness has earned her comparisons to Lorde – however her vocals along with her deadpan stare and “no fucks given” attitude for me personally resonates with early Fiona Apple, who was around the same age as Billie when her debut album came out.
The moody singer of her generation, Fiona has already said everything Billie is repurposing long ago, namely at the MTV Acceptance speech:

“This world is bullshit! And you shouldn’t model your life–wait a second–you shouldn’t model your life about what you think that we think is cool, and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying and everything. Go with yourself. Go with yourself.”

Sound familiar?

Perhaps a redux, an amalgam of influence, nonetheless you can’t deny the Billie effect and what she represents for her own generation. She even has Dave Grohl talking about her:  “The same thing is happening with her that happened with Nirvana in 1991”. Pretty big stamp of approval there.

As she wraps up her third track of the night “Lovely” – Billie addressed the crowd:

“This is f***ing crazy. No, for real. I’m standing here trying to think if this is a dream or not because my dreams be trippin’ sometimes and this seems like one of my dreams. There ain’t no way this is real. I’m not even gonna get into it because I’m gonna break down…”

And she manages, just about.

One of the many highlights of the show was the pared down and her first-time performance of “I love you”. As she sits down with her brother she serenades her audience expressing her rawest emotions and giving you the “feels”.

Towards the end, she pleads the audience to put down their phones and be present, be in the moment with her. Be it the current age of social media or 17th century Europe – François de La Rochefoucauld comes to mind here: “We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves.” She speaks the truth. And with that, her last song of the night “Bury your friend” I put my phone down. Finally…whilst being “in the moment” I get it.

Billie gives her final bow, tears up and walks off stage.

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.