Rhythm & Vines 2014

By Eve Cheesmur & Anya Whitlock

December 29 - 31, Waiohika Estate, Gisborne

Day 1

Aaaaaaaaand, we're back!

The history of R&V goes way back to the initial birth of the festival, where we were privy to a teeny tiny crowd, one simple amphitheatre stage, and Scribe. Yes, it was way back when he had a music career and Popsicles were 90cents.

Consecutive road trips down to Gisborne to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Waiohika Estate and the varied musical line ups continued for the following 3 years. By that point, the groups of hippie loving, sarong dancing and fire poi dancers had existed stage left perhaps for a quieter countdown to the New Year.

Gluttons for resurrecting the amazing times we'd had previous years, we foolishly attending R&V and stayed at the Bay Watch campsite for the 7th festival. Boy, oh, boy was that a disappointment. Arriving back to our tents after a petrifying bus trip, full of vomit, potty mouths and skirts which could have passed for belts to a tent completely destroyed by fire works - apparently the offender had decided to extinguish the fire with their own urine, and to be sure the embers were dead, covered it with vomit.

When we were invited to review this years R&V, hesitant, would be a word that comes to mind. Still, we're gluttons for punishment, and the possibility of a redemption... we packed up the car and headed down to Gizzy for one more roadie... definitely older, and potentially wiser.

Arriving at Waiohika Estate was a blast from the past, memories of bonding with friends while skipping through the vines came flooding back and a smile beamed across our faces. Perusing the line up in the car ride down didn't have us frothing at the bit, however there were certainly some big draw cards and we felt excited at the prospect of mincing it up with the crowds for those headliners.

Tent up - check. Blow up mattress erected - check. Drinks poured - check. it was time to get in there...

The air of the evening felt electric, and the masses descended through the dust and up the hills to check out the R aspect of R&V. With bad memories of school assemblies, we decided to skip the powhiri and mingled with a very (drunk) and optimistic crowd before heading to the Rhythm stage for Jagwar Ma. The stage looked incredible and to be honest, the event's layout was better than it's ever been... just wish I could pay some more compliments to Jagwar Ma who were decidedly average.

The sound was incredible, and we admired the view of the heaving crowd who were frothing at the bit for the next act - Danny Brown. He's picked up quite a bit of following over the past few years and with his first performance In New Zealand at Laneway earlier this year, his music has spread like the tinea I've picked up from the showers. But, why wouldn't it? The guy is pretty flippen talented.

With the mood lightened after a good act, we all milled around for the headline of the night, NetSky Live. He was ok. Just ok. Not that anyone really minded, the lacklustre was disguised with an abundant consumption of alcohol and everyone got into it.

The stray bodies laying half in and out of tents this morning was testament to the kick off of another epic R&V, and we're stoked with anticipation for what the coming 2 nights will bring.

Day 2

We launched our night at our tent, sipping on G&T on inflatable couches which were nestled among the grapevines. A glorious sunset and bass driven house music spun a web of atmosphere around our nest.

We heading into the throng around 8pm and immediately got sucked into the oonst oonst at the Arcadia After Burner stage where Link was mixing up a storm. He was positioned on the first stage level rather than in the spherical DJ dome half way up the steam punk octopus structure where most DJ's sit. Link waved his arms around a lot which made for a more intimate dancing experience with the music and music maker.

We then hightailed it off to Chet Faker on the Rhythm Stage. He was a few songs into an electronic and solo voice set, playing keys and an array of toys at which he was more than proficient. His set lost us in some places when he dipped into what can only be described as the slow jams of pop which did not work so well - less Elton John please Chet. Just as our attention was waining, he came in with No Diggity and Drop The Gameright on top of each other. The entire crowd was going ape shit bonkers and eating out of his sweaty palms again. Gold was another highlight from Chet's set, and overall the sound quality was amazing but was a bit too heavy on the bass which drowned out some interesting melodies in the lower registers.

We then had a delightful drum and bass interlude at the Fridge. A minuscule venue where you are trapped into a 2 x 3 metre box with 30 people and a DJ. It was hotter than bikram yoga in there and almost as awkward - bodies thrashing about trying to find a centimetre of space to bust out some finger bumping moves. It was an awesome experience, but also a relief to step back into the cool country air to a mini dance party which had congregated around speakers blasting the same tunes, into the rows of vines.

We then headed back to the main Rhythm stage for Chase & Status... it wasn't hard to find, as the whole congregation was in attendance. People were losing their shit to the beats, which were bang on. It was a bit like going to a Michael Bay film; you don't go for the story, but for the shock and awe factor. The bass was so excessive on the main stage, that watching Chase & Status was a visceral experience as much as a visual and audio one.

At one point, where all we could think was 'Oh gosh, our feet are sore, this music is loud, and we want to go home", we did just that. And it was an excellent time had by all.

Day 3

Our fancy was tickled from our second night at the Rhythm and Vines by the quirky, fun atmosphere at The Fridge, so we started our evening adventure at the minuscule venue. DJ Belleville was doing an epic set, spinning luscious gypsy beats with a whole lot of techno swing thrown in for good measure. He was adorned with a hilarious Turkish sorcerers hat and fed lollies through the grill to the punters in the sealed Fridge unit.

We then fought the masses to get to the main Rhythm stage for Broods who were a few songs into a well rounded set of cascading lyrical melodies and steady driving bass. The crowd was in ecstasy as Georgia Nott's angelic voice undulated around the field, while her brother Caleb balanced it out with dropping some serious low range in there. The classics like Bridges were played and the crowd crooned along, it was a nice and mellow performance and everyone enjoyed the brief hiatus of chilled sounds.

London's Bastille was up next and there were a fair few fans waiting in anticipation as they took the stage. Their performance did not disappoint, they were energised and engaging throughout the show and resembled a youthful version of The Killers.

Next it was Haere ra 2014 and Kia Ora 2015, queue fireworks, new years lashes along with hugs and high-fives from randoms. There was a 30 minute interlude where the energy wained after the New Years supernova and many in the crowd stood around awkwardly wondering if they'd laid it all on a bit too thick at the stroke of midnight.

We thought it would be an excellent idea to check out some of the smaller venues on campus so we formed a congo line (by far the best form of transport at a festival) and were treated to some chilled out house music at the Jagermeister stage and then some dirty old school drum & bass on the Arcadia Afterburner stage.

The sun began to rise and like vampires we scuttled back to the tents, trying to pretend we might get more than two hours sleep in before we sweated out the cheap alcohol in our sauna abode.

In conclusion, it looks like we've leant many things the hard way on our adventures to festival life over the years and feel like R&V 2014 was the perfect playing field for us to utilise our festie skills. Overall, R&V this year was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, not just for us it would seem, but for everyone who attended.....WIN!