Concert Review with PHOTOS: Listen In Festival

Photos by Leah Victoria

By Lisa Diedricks

Date / Venue: Friday September 28th, 2018 - Spark Arena - Auckland

If you had the weekend I had, you’ll still be reeling in from Friday’s incredible mini indoor festival. A handpicked line up of Hip Hop and Electronic music's biggest acts that took the stage for one night only here in Auckland. Being the sibling of Australia’s Listen Out, this was New Zealand’s first taste of the huge festival, and out first insight as to what the masterminds behind it was all about. With the last minute cancellation of US rapper Lil Skies; QUIX, Skepta, B Wise, ASAP Rocky and Skrillex were ready to kick off the night. Just that line up alone is enough to make any one scream. It was the night for it, and Auckland was ready. Filling up Spark Arena to the brim, the crowd flooded in from all angles to watch the magic happen, all came dressed to impress and with the show impressively moving on schedule all the enthusiastic patrons of the night were spoilt for night.

As the night moved along, even more bodies poured through the doors in anticipation for one of the first big acts of the night.

From North London, Skepta is a name that is known for its grime and filthy feels. Running on stage in yellow hoodie, sunnies and more energy than anyone was ready for. Hits like “Ghost Ride” and “Gingerbread Man” had the crown chanting his every lyric and it was apparent that the star had his loyal fans here in New Zealand. Working the entire stage, Skepta had the crowd moving as one, and was definitely the perfect act to get us all hyped for ASAP.

The set up however, did take a little longer than everyone anticipated, which looking back was probably best, people needed to re-hydrate fast! And of cause a cheeky re shuffle to those wanting a better view.

Set to come on at 8:30pm we were all still waiting by 9:10pm, but as those lights dimmed, an abundant roar swept through the arena.

Dominating the stage as always with his hype, charisma and totally over the top stage production was the man himself ASAP Rocky. Being his second time here in Aoateroa, ASAP brought it all back for one night, performing all his hits from his latest album “Testing” that was released earlier this year. ASAP, has always lived in an elaborate world of his own creation, and he is known for bringing that creation and visual intensity to hi shows, and with sharing the night with other artists it struck no ones surprise that he jam packed his set with hit after hit, flame after flame and had the crowd screaming and jumping all night. Between the crash test dummies in the crashed out cars on either side of the stage, a 5 piece band were lit from behind with incredible graphics and video representation of ASAP’s name. The set list consisted of old and new, soft and hard, the US rapper had the crowd in the palm of his hands all night, with tracks like “Kids Turned out Fine” which to be was actually really intriguing to see perform as the lyrics have a very deeper meaning than I first realised, “Telephone Calls” moving to “Tony Tone”. But it was when the more hardcore tracks such ad “Fxxxin Problems” “Joyde 2” and the number one global hit “Wild For the Night” that the crowd had the entire arena pulsing till the end.

What seemed like only a brief moment later, we were witnessing the final, and headlining act of the night, Skrillex. With his usual 3 stripes behind him and a sound system to blow any stage into a frenzy, the Grammy award winning DJ emerged from the smoke and the sound of the New Zealand Haka being performed started, and as it got to it peak, Skrillex did his thing and Skrillex-ed the yell out of it. It was crazy. It was amazing. It had everyone in the room to their feet.

Despite only being thirty years old, Skrillex is a god of the music scene, having been involved in several projects since 2004 and then changing his name to Skrillex in 2008; and with his performance that night, it is obvious to see why he is still at the top of his game. ‘Timeless Line’ melting into ‘Levels’ by Avicii before air raid sirens once again came through the arena, and the night to be had officially begun. Skrillex mixing tracks together so smoothly it was mind-blowing, and even act times jaw dropping on my part, and even better this time around than the last time I saw him perform. I had to stop myself from dancing for a second to appreciate the fact that amongst all this craziness that was happening, Skrillex maintained his mysterious aura in the pitch black - with the crowd only seeing flashes of him when the lasers and lights made an appearance, you’ve gotta give the man credit, no one was distracted by anything, just the music. Skrillex is an artist that likes to put himself into everything wholeheartedly, jumping on top of his mixing desk and asking the crowd to scream as he dropped ‘Sicko Mode’ by Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Humble’ making a very welcomed appearance.

Post Malone’s ‘Congratulations’ segued into another nod to New Zealand as the crowd was bathed in green lights for Lorde’s ‘Green Light’ before Skrillex displayed his love for us by waving a giant Silver Fern flag in the air to the Skrillex and Diplo version of Justin Bieber’s ‘Where are Ü Now’. He certainly saved the best for last, with his. huge hit ‘Bangarang’ bringing the house down as lasers reached across the room and dinosaurs morphed into hyper stylised memes on screen. Before finishing the night, Skrillex addressed the crowd with a message of love, as the final line from Coldplay’s track ‘Fix You’ played and then leading into the Benny Benassi song ‘Cinema’, the room filling with positivity and good vibes. The perfect way to end an amazing night.

If this is the quality that Listen In has to offer us, there is no doubt that New Zealand will be welcoming it back with open arms. Soon I hope!