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May 5, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Vodafone Homegrown

She was all scrubbed up, and looking her finest. So, on a hot, sunny Saturday, I headed to the water front, ready to fall in love with another music festival, all over again. Vodafone Homegrown… The first-ever showcase of the cream of New Zealand musical talent to take place in the capital city. It was a perfect day for it, with the sun streaming down over the 14,000 rockers, show stoppers, groovers and sweet movers (rhyming, no big deal) sheltering under their free green Vodafone caps, which rapidly proliferated like syphillis at a blue light disco.

With 5 stages, 30 bands and DJs all in the space of just over 12 hours, bars, and a market area that offered clothing, crafts and delicious Krishna koftas, there was almost too much to choose from. And although the event had sold out over 3 weeks before, due to the plethora of New Zealand talent, the event organisers had not oversold, which meant that there was still plenty of space to mill around and relax AND the stages still had ample room for moshing, swaying and crazy legs action.

Unfortunately I missed Auckland band The Coshercot Honeys, but arrived at the Kiwi Fm Indie Stage just in time to see indie rock outfit Motocade, who strutted their stuff with a touch of rock’n’roll glam; from leather jackets to heeled boots “you can still get ‘em”, and the infamous glove-sleeve worn by bassist Scott Sutherland. Their rhythmical, punchy guitars, mixed with the melodic, multi-octave voice of Eden Mulholland and adept drumming, got the crowd jumping with tracks such as “Soap Opera”, “Bill Murray Fan Club” and “Bomb Squad”. The stage was set inside Ferg’s Kayaks, and was framed by a collection of rock climbing walls which made the whole experience rather surreal.

After Motocade, we wandered through various bag checks and headed over to the Cadbury Moro Dub and Roots stage. The frequent bag checking was a severe downside of the event. Due to the sheer amount of space that the event covered, which was not made into one cohesive area but several entry and exit points, there were bag checks every time you entered and left a venue. This can be particularly hazardous if you have to conceal a hipflask down your pants every single time you want to leave an area, and involves a lot of fumbling and flashing. On the way to the Dub and Roots stage the soulful sounds of Ladi 6 floated over the City to Sea Bridge, where a crowd of people who missed out on tickets lay, sat and stood soaking up the sunshine. Once inside we bopped to the rest of her set as the bass rumbled through our empty stomachs.

Feeling a little peckish, we soon headed back to peruse the markets, and indulge in some sweet treats (namely Lil’ Orbit’s donuts. Oh sweet Jesus). I was highly impressed with the recycling and rubbish facilities, as well as the event’s “green” ethos. Even the website promoted taking public transport to the event, and gave instructions on how to recycle your Vodafone mobiles (yes, it’s easy. Just take them in to any Vodafone store and you are sorted).

Soon I realised it was nearly 4.30, and raced back to the Indie Stage (via bag check) to watch So So Modern, who wowed the audience in their customised white one-pieces. Fresh from touring overseas, the band let loose with a combo of new, twisted electro-core tracks, as well as extended and improvised versions of better known songs such as “Upgrade your Chassis” and “The New Internationale”. It was great to catch these guys, who are about to head off overseas again, and yet still had time to grace us with their presence.

With ears ringing post-So-So, I headed to the Performance Stage (via St Johns ambulance to pick up some ear plugs, LOOK AFTER YOUR EARS!), where the audience was delighted by the tight rhythmical rollicks of Brazilian percussion group Batucada Sound Machine, which kept our feet tapping whilst Brazilian dancers, including a man wearing a ‘faux shirt’ (i.e. no top on, just a collar and cuffs) kept us entertained with saucy hip movements. They were also joined, at one point, by an eager passer-by dressed in a Buzz Lightyear suit/fanny-pack combo.

The Performance Stage was also a haven for those seeking a little bit of hip hop culture, due to the severe lack of hip hop artists at the event itself. With break-dancing battles and live graffiti, by some of Wellington’s most talented street artists, the Performance Stage was a definite favourite, especially as it was frequented by a mesmerising groover with one eye, who I and some fellow Homegrown-ers lovingly nicknamed one-eyed dancing Danny. A must at any house party.

A good few hours were spent at this stage, watching head spins, body poppin’ and some sweet break battles. Followed by fire poi, a massive plate of food and a beautiful sunset over the sea, it was fair to say that Vodafone Homegrown had surpassed all my preconceptions. But there was still more to come… However, with the event being so close to town, we decided it would be good to have a little break before the big finale acts, and headed chez moi for some serious drinking, and a clothes change due to the rapid departure of the sun.

Roaring to go, we returned ready for the headliners! Shihad played at the TSB arena, aka the Jim Beam Rock Stage, which was completely packed out. God these guys are fucking good live. They got the whole crowd into it, and had everyone singing and dancing to favourites such as “My Mind’s Sedate”, “Home Again” and “Wait and See”. They were even joined by an extra drummer for a few tracks, which gave the music added depth and pace-setting rhythm.

Sweaty, and slightly weary of angry members of the crowd who mistook a push-past for a grope, we headed back to the Mint Chicks, through the bag checks again, headlining at the Indie Stage. They performed, perhaps for the last time, as a four piece, with bassist Michael Logie joining them. It was everything I’ve come to expect from the Mint Chicks – energetic, fun and impossible not to dance to. Kody wiggled and writhed bonelessly around the stage, delivering a mix of older and newer songs, of which we caught “Blue Team Go” and “Walking off a Cliff Again”. They played a heartfelt, and emotional, encore of “Funeral Day”, which was dedicated to a friend who had died the day before.

All in all, it was a really great day. The bag checks were annoying, and it was really hard to choose who to see because there were so many good acts. However, someone pointed out that if it happens again next year, as I’m sure it will due to the rapid sell-out, the line up will be very similar. So if you missed out this year, or just couldn’t decide who to see, not to worry, I’m sure you’ll be able to catch almost exactly the same line up again next year.


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