Three distinct stages. Sixty acts from home and abroad. Thousands of good-looking party people. All watched over by the most spectacular of alpine ranges. Rhythm and Alps 2015 was ready to go. But first I had a tent to pitch.
After solving that Rubik's Cube it was time to meet the neighbours. I'm mentioning this because for the next two days we were a community of thousands working towards a common goal - having a fuckload of fun. Whether it was the Brits next door ready to go large or Eli the Naked Fat Guy down the way, for the next two days we were all in this together.
I could hear the summery tones of Son's of Zion wafting toward the campsite from the main stage. It was time to get amongst it. Perhaps it was Zion's silky jams or the smell of dank bud in the air, but arriving in the main arena there was a noticeable calm across the crowd. Perhaps this was the calm before a perfect storm.
Katchafire followed on the main stage, getting everyone up with their radio-friendly brand of roots music. The sun was starting to set as they warmed up a cool afternoon with their much-loved concoction of harmonies and horns.
Having filled my quota of reggae for the day I headed across the field for my first of many visits to The Cabin - which as the name suggests is quite literally a wooden cabin. Inside I was treated to a dope set from Onehunga rapper Spycc. His on point rhymes and old record samples, took me back to the feel-good jams of 90's hip-hop. Spycc had a lot of fun with the crowd too, making sure we were in a party mood.
Next up in The Cabin was local disc jockey Ribera, who right from the outset reminded everyone present what we were there to do - dance. Dropping floor destroyers like Benzie Box, Digital Rust's Loophole, and A Fine Way to Die by GRiZ, his nasty grooves got lips curling and glad eyes shooting left and right. The perfect way to take us from dusk into the dark night.
Cue the WTWTA stage. Looking like a spaceship that had touched down in the trees, this was ground zero for some of the bottom-heaviest beats of the festival. Lit up at night it drew stray punters in like moths to a flame.
This was the scene for an international DJ lineup that would have any drum and bass fan frothing at the mouth. First it was the turn of Brazilian liquid pioneer DJ Marky to take the controls. His uplifting rhythms killed it fifteen years ago and continued to kill it that night, with the help of a couple of hip-hop bootlegs for good measure.
Marky was followed by future bass vanguard Dub Phizix along with his right-hand-man MC Strategy. This was a sound from the cutting edge of the genre, where bouncy synth stabs and glitchy melodies collided headlong with the most obscene break beats.
The third on this list were the indomitable Ed Rush and Optical. The drum and bass dons turned it up and smashed it out to the appreciation of the hordes below. Following on from Dub Phizix they felt a bit dated, but that wasn't bothering the crowd whatsoever.
Back in The Cabin things were about to shift in another direction with the arrival of German duo Âme. Their's was a deep house set of the highest order. Featuring plenty of the euphoric tech beats they're renowned for, the set eventually graduated towards hands-in-the-air bangers like the Kaytronik remix of Seven Davis Jr's Sunday Morning. By this stage The Cabin was not a place for the claustrophobic, but rather the carnal.
It was about bloody time I made it back to the main stage. And for good reason too - Weird Together were on, and they were fucking awesome. Overflowing with energy, this band of musical misfits pull together rhythmic styles from the heart of Africa to the nightclubs of Europe. Like an exuberant high priest, Nick Dwyer hyped the crowd with an infectious passion for the beat. This was a highlight of the first day proper.
Details get a bit sketchy at this point, so rather than confuse you with the ramblings I left on my phone, I'll put Day One to bed, and return to my tent for a well earned nap.
It seemed like only a minute had passed when I woke up gasping for oxygen in my superheated nylon cocoon. This is an obvious hazard with a summer festival, and even though expected, is still a brutal dilemma to deal with. Shade became an absolute priority at this point. I was lucky enough to find some on a couch back in Wanaka where I could get a couple more hours shuteye. Somewhat recharged, I was ready to delve straight back into a very hot Day Two.
Having grabbed a cool rum cocktail I headed under the trees of the WTWTA stage to catch the Kumara Funk DJs. Moving from 80's funk jams like Cameo's Word Up, to some proper old school jungle, it was a nice introduction into New Years Eve.
Enjoying another cocktail, I watched on as Lakes District locals Arma Del Amor took to the main stage. What followed was a stunning set of glittering soundscapes and soulful vocals, which included a spectacular cover of the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter.
Arma Del Amor provided a perfect entrée to the next course on the main stage - psychedelic Sydney skankers Sticky Fingers. This set really woke the festival up from their hangovers. Soon enough they had the crowd's hands in the air and babes on shoulders. With anthemic tracks like Just for You, they drove their congregation into hysterics. A few fans of their earlier work were lamenting an abandonment of their ska roots for a more indie sound, but I was feeling it, and they left the crowd chanting for more.
After those heights the next act on the main stage needed to deliver in a big way. Fortunately the next act was Jurassic 5 baritone Charli 2NA, and delivering big was no problem for him. With enough charisma to fill the entire Cardrona Valley, the self-professed ‘verbal Herman Munster' got the crowd bumping with his famously low-pitched rhymes. Along with his funky-as-hell 3-piece band of keys, DJ, and a bass guitar with I don't know how many strings, Charli took us on a sonic education through his musical influences, landing on legends such as Michael Jackson and Rick James, while we waved our hands in the air en masse. As the sun went down and the stage lighting took full effect, he finished us off with a blast of Jurassic 5 heat, including notable bombs What's Golden and Quality Control.
Main stages can be difficult things to schedule at the best of times. Organisers book the acts then figure out how the puzzle fits together. So even though it was a bit strange to follow Charli 2NA with Kiwi rock stalwarts Shihad, before the big man Carl Cox took over, I understand why, and ultimately it kind of worked.
Shihad once again produced a flawless set, albeit with some minor tensions with the sound crew mid-performance. Shihad do what they do well, and finished their time on stage with an epic cover of Motörhead's Ace of Spades, in honour of the recent passing of legendary lead singer Lemmy.
New Years Eve was now only minutes away. It was time for the consummate showman Charli 2NA to hit the stage once more and count us down to 2016. On the stroke of midnight Carl Cox appeared behind the decks and immediately sent the already delirious crowd into higher states of frenzy, with Chemical Brothers stomper Sometimes I Feel So Deserted, pitched-up to all buggery. For the next two hours the British big room specialist absolutely slayed the dancing throngs with colossal monsters of house and techno.
As the night continued on I felt myself pulled once again towards the pulsing light of the WTWTA mother ship. Earlier I'd caught a wicked set of trap beats, hip-hop samples and ghostly bass-heavy grooves from Thanks. A few hours on and everything was dialed up a few more notches with Sticky Buds on deck. Featuring rave-style break beats with plenty of sub-bass, these were the sort of tunes you wanted to be dancing to in the middle of a field. The crowd lost their shit numerous times, not least of all to some top notch bootleg action featuring Luniz's I Got 5 On It and N.W.A's Express Yourself.
The next day as I watched our city of tents slowly disappear, and I blew the last of the black boogers out of my sunburnt nose, I looked back on an incredible two days. What will stay with me about R&A 2015 was how much of the music borrowed from what's been before, and how well the crowd responded to that. This isn't to say it was retro or looking backwards. This was a fresh reimagining of music and culture. Needless to say, R&A 2015 showed what was great about music festivals is still great today.
One of our writers sat down with Amy Mansfield, writer of I Didn’t Invite You Hear To Lecture Me, ahead of the Basement shows. Most students throw out their study notes, but not Amy. She has kept hold of them for the past 20 years--vertibiam quotes from her lectures that are too good to ever get rid of. The play was shown throughout the Auckland Fringe Week 2018, and even in some personal living rooms, the vibe is very independent and witty.
It was a cold bleary eyed Saturday night as the clock struck midnight, and counted towards 1am… the time set forth to conjure Richard Shaw, guitarist for legendary UK black metal act Cradle of Filth. We talked ahead of their sold out, first ever performance here in New Zealand.
NZ is about to get OBESSED, with the newest in kiwi music. Local Tauranga sweetheart, Amelia McNabb comes to us fiercely, independently, and with more fire in her lungs than I've heard from any kiwi artist in while. THIS is what we’ve been waiting for.
Elgusto, one part of the innovative electronic/dance music duo, Hermitude, sat down with one of our interviewers this past week; chatting about their loaded schedule, the bands ethos, how they communicate an instrumental show, and their creative collaborations.
Catching up with friends who are musicians at their gigs is always an odd, awkward, rushed affair between sets, pack-down, or a series of inaudible shouts as another band plays. So with the release of the new Seas of Conflict single Monachopsis, I thought it was time I simply scheduled time for a chat, not only once but twice--due to technical issues--with guitarist Declan Storrie.
I recently ventured back to my old festival haunting grounds - or at least the successor thereof. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and after juggling band members between their Festival One main stage duties and their prior commitments off-site, I managed to sit down with the guys and gal from Amanaki - one of the few hardcore-metal acts to perform at the mostly radio-friendly festival.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
Featuring Future of the Left members Andrew “Falco” Falkous and Jack Egglestone, with the addition of Damien Sayell from the St Pierre Snake Invasion, the Cardiff outfit will be playing venues in Wellington and Auckland this January.
Andrew Fagan returns with a satirical take on today’s social media preoccupied society. Being an amateur social anthropologist, it is a topic close to his heart. Listen to new track On Channel Me below, off Fagan’s forthcoming solo album Act Normal, due for release in October on Southbound.
Brisbane’s own indie rock royalty, The Grates, have been invited along for the ride, and will treat their hometown crowd to classics from their extensive and impressive catalogue of tunes including 19-20-20 and Turn Me On.
Pixies, one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time, have announced a second show for Brisbane fans due to overwhelming demand. Following on from Melbourne’s second show announced on Friday (on sale 12pm today!), Brisbane fans have been just as eager to see catch the influential music pioneers, selling out the Fortitude Music Hall date on March 13. A second show has been added at the same venue on Thursday March 12 as part of their mammoth world tour, Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa.
The Ugly Kings, featuring Devil Electric guitarist, Christos Athanasias, are four powerhouse blues rockers drawing influence from an eclectic and dynamic musical background. They offer a powerful injection of energy and emotion to the modern rock scene, formulating what can only be described as power blues. They have released a new music video for Black Widow, featuring an award winning burlesque dancer Ferri Maya. Plus announced a live show this weekend!
Fame and fortune on the Kiwi music scene are a step closer for the top 10 acts just announced in Smokefreerockquest, New Zealand’s biggest live, nationwide all original music event for high school students.
Pluto’s nascent trajectory has covered the spectrum of the New Zealand musical stratosphere, bursting brightly onto the scene in 2001 just to have their star seemingly burn out just as abruptly in 2009. It would have been a suitably intriguing end to befall one of the finest, most exciting and alluring bands New Zealand has ever produced.
Exhilarating and high energy New Zealand rock band, Written By Wolves, have just released their killer new track, Tell Me What You’re Running From? This is the first single from the band’s upcoming new album, set for release later this year.
Australia’s foremost authority on progressive rock, Caligula’s Horse, are just weeks away from kicking off their Let It Grow tour which will celebrate their cult classic The Tide, The Thief & River's End and breakout progressive masterpiece Bloom by playing them back to back!
Within the four walls of The Fortitude Music Hall, lies The Outpost. Brisbane’s newest 300 capacity multipurpose venue that will feature a diverse program of artists, an impressive drinks menu featuring a cocktail list curated by the talented team at Proof & Company.
After spending the past year pulverizing the world with their stupefying live performances, Tropical Fuck Storm return home to tour their new album Braindrops and put the Antipodean public to the sword! Braindrops, the follow up to 2018's epic odyssey, A Laughing Death In Meatspace, will be released on Flightless Records in August
It’s been 20 years since The Flaming Lips released the one-of-a-kind aural hallucination that is The Soft Bulletin. To celebrate the anniversary of its release, The Flaming Lips will play a special show at Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall.
15-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer Alicia Keys makes her musical return with the powerful track and visuals for “Show Me Love,” featuring Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and producer, Miguel via RCA Records.
Backstreet’s back, alright! Get your group together, because the biggest selling Boy Band of all time (100 million albums), the BACKSTREET BOYS are heading back to New Zealand in 2020 for a show at Auckland’s Spark Arena on Saturday, May 16.
Platinum-certified independent singer, songwriter, producer, and pop visionary Lauv has released new single 'fuck, I'm lonely' with Anne-Marie today. The track will be featured on Lauv’s forthcoming debut album titled ~how i'm feeling
Frontier Touring and Roundhouse Entertainment are excited to announce that Norwegian pop icons a-ha are returning to Australia for the first time in 34 years, before heading to New Zealand for the very first time! They’ll be joined by very special guest Rick Astley at all February & March 2020 shows, taking in Sydney, Melbourne, and Christchurch, as well as a day on the green events in Australia and New Zealand.
Hitting a massive nine centres on his regional tour this September, Stan will take the stage to perform songs from his impressive catalogue plus his brand new pop smash single Give (co-written by Matiu Walters of SIX60) for his beloved fans. The Springboard tour will also boast three of NZ’s most up-and-coming new artists – Lepani, Niko Walters and Jordan Gavet.
TEG DAINTY and THE MISSION ESTATE WINERY CONCERT announced today that global superstar Michael Bublé will return in February 2020! Accompanied by a 36-piece orchestra and ready to to thrill his New Zealand fans for one night only; this will be Michael Bublé’s only show in New Zealand.
Elton John will perform a third and final show at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium, to satisfy New Zealand’s insatiable demand. It has also been announced that, due to a scheduling conflict, three of Elton’s sold out New Zealand concerts have been delayed by one week. Rescheduled dates affect the second show at Mission Estate Winery, and the first two Mt Smart Stadium shows in Auckland.
Vocal prodigy RUEL is returning to New Zealand for one show in Auckland at the Bruce Mason Centre in May. Counting Elton John and Khalid among his fans, RUEL is taking the globe by storm, smashing show records, and he’s only 16 years old.
Exactly six years to the day since the release of Vance Joy’s debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing, Liberation Records are pleased to reveal an extremely limited run of the EP have been pressed on vinyl for the first time ever for release on Friday 26 April. Vance Joy has also announced he will bring his Ukuleles For Kids program to Australia in a new partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia. Launched in the USA last year the program delivers ukuleles and how-to video tutorials lead by Vance Joy to children’s hospitals.
LA two-piece Moby Rich have announced two headline shows on their debut Australian tour this May. With their latest single Blink bringing further attention to the duo, this Australian tour is the perfect opportunity to catch two indie stars on the rise. Support on the tour comes from yergurl in Melbourne, whose lo-fi beats and unique pop style made her a Triple J Unearthed favourite. Sydney support will be from Hoodlem, a streaming sensation with her mix of experimental soul and future R&B.
Darren Middleton (POWDERFINGER), Mark Wilson (JET), Davey Lane (YOU AM I) and Kram (SPIDERBAIT) have joined forces to become ARC, one of the most collectively celebrated and successful supergroups in Australia’s rock history will be performing Abbey Road live, commemorating 50 years of existence.
Abbey Road, The Beatles' swansong and their crowning achievement as a recording group - is a stately, majestic, playful yet fiercely rocking masterpiece of pop music, regarded as one of the greatest records of all time.
TEG Dainty and Nice Events are excited to announce that Emmy-nominated television personality, podcaster and hairstylist to the stars, Jonathan Van Ness, will bring his Road to Beijing world tour to New Zealand
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.