By Eve Cheemur
Date / Venue: Saturday April 8th, 2017 - Woodhill Forest, Muriwai
With tree canopies as a visual backdrop and Underworld as the stage headliner, Oro '17 was set to be a music festival the likes of which Auckland had never seen.
Autumn had well and truly settled in to the 09 and prepping for the 12 hour festival out in Woodhill forest wasn’t for the faint hearted: To gumboot, or not to gumboot? Oro '17’s premise was that reminiscent of 90’s rave, and I for one, was pretty pumped to rehash my fire poi twirling days to some arm flailing beats set amidst a forest of fruity festival goers.
Bit of background on the land before getting into the music; local iwi and owners had worked in unison with festival manager Dave Roper (one of the founders of FuBar) to provide a unique setting which we all love and respect. With a clear understanding for the land and restrictions around protecting it, Oro '17 had lovely intentions, but transport logistics were a headache. Shuttle services were set to pick up and drop off punters every half hour, which is good for environment and good for the pocket, but best laid plans proved worse than ineffective.
Panic was set on a number of peoples faces… perhaps due to bad acid, or perhaps due to the claustrophobia of knowing there was no escape once you were inside the venue. It made me wonder how many people actually considered walking the route back to Auckland, and of those that had followed through with action to the idea, how many of them are still walking now.
The set up was pretty good, although AWOP was present, and I have yet to meet a single person who is a fan of that payment system. A small range of drinks and a few eat stands to choose from, everyone was catered for. Patchy cellphone connection was a bit shit, as were the amenities. And then there were the queues (which are always to be expected) but it seemed like the organisers of Oro '17 were expecting a far less thirst crowd.
But enough of the gripe, there was also some pretty sweet music to offset and dance to while waiting in lines for hours.
New York hip hop legend Jeru the Damaja was one to note, just when the crowd seemed to lack energy he hit us with beats so fat you’d almost want to refer to them as PHAT. Bangers like 99.9 Pacent and Come Clean had us all break into a dance and in turn, quite a sweat, which cooled quickly in the fresh forest air.
The trees swayed and we all swayed along to the electronic and diverse beats of DJ Phil Hartnoll of Orbital. With an arsenal of tracks to choose from his 10 years on the music scene, the crowd really got into his vibe and he took us on quite the journey.
World-class house musician and producer of famed artists such as Bowie, Petshop Boys and many more Dave Seaman pulled his plethora of vinyl and hit us with some pretty chilled but fun beats.
With local artists like Greg Churchill and DJ Dubhead, everyone felt at home and bopped along to our own homegrown legends. Up n comers SoccerPractise were a bit of a wowee too – hearing them at Splore earlier in the year, it was wicked to see them come to their own on stage again with funk/reggae and hip hop melting to the audience.
But in all fairness, we were all there to see Underworld, and they did not disappoint. Underworld's set began with a light display that was pretty amazing and really added to their performance. It took our breath away and the crowd was erupting in anticipation and elation at seeing the legends take to the stage. It was almost a spiritual experience when Born Slippery played – a track that is the stuff of legends.
Shit eating grins, even though we had a bus ride back to the city with some pretty dilated peoples, Oro17 was a festival worth the effort. Here’s hoping to more tree hugging, forest stomping for an Oro18.