live review

Homegrown 2010

Homegrown 2010

February 20 2010
Wellington Waterfront, Wellington

Reviewed by Courtney Sanders
29th March 2010

One would think a festival held on what is usually one of the most brilliant weather days in Wellington (the promoters are consistently so lucky year after year) at a time when first year students are eagerly arriving into the city, as much to study as to precede it with said festival, at an outdoor location surrounded by more bars (if there weren’t already enough within festival locale) would end in, um, tears. And who knows, maybe there was something in the water last year when I watched people being shepherded into police cars and friends holding their female counterparts up and slowly ushering them away, but this year, Homegrown 2010, that is, heralded a well behaved crowd, a better set-up, and in a pleasant twist of stage preference.

I’m not going to lie to you, my photographer and myself spent almost the entire day at the Indie Stage, and for several reasons. Firstly, it had been relocated from a boat shed near the Rock Stage end of things to a grassy knoll in Frank Kitts Park, and as a result the surrounding and backstage areas were pretty much beautifully arranged as natural-as garden bars. Secondly, the comparative option was to spend time at the Rock Stage, with a line-up of tragic late ‘90’s early 2000’s hit-makers (The Feelers, Shihad and I guess even The Datsums sort of fall into this category) who are irrelevant on our diverse and exciting current musical landscape. Add that to the fact that from dawn till dusk the Rock Stage employs both a blacked-out interior and lighting extravaganza, and it becomes hands-down one of the least pleasant environments at a summer festival.

We went there once though. We conquered. Well, not conquered but saw a display that surmised everything about the band who performed it, the punters, and the Rock Stage more generally. It was about 1pm and an appropriately intoxicated Goodnight Nurse were doing their thing (crap pop punk?) to, at a guess, maybe 2, 000 people. Finishing a song they herald the follow-up with “this isn’t one of ours but you guys have all been asking for it,” before launching into a cover of Kelis’ “Milkshake”. It turns out they have it up on their Myspace and everything - a cornerstone of their career apparently. It was horrible – kind of awesome to watch purely for the entertainment value of watching something that bad – but horrible. However, the crowd were hysterical – I don’t think Goodnight Nurse could have done more to whelm them if they tried. Which makes my point: from two years of Rock Stage attendance, the experience isn’t really about watching good bands, it’s about getting super intoxicated and remembering when bands were, well, quite good at least.

So to the Indie Stage. Knives at Noon, honestly? Sounded like a bad version of The Killer’s reciting disco covers while attempting to look simultaneously sexy and pained. But enough of that negativity, because the bands that followed summed up a group of NZ acts achieving due success here and looking abroad to continue their rise. Motocade had the biggest crowd of the Indie Stage for the day bar The Checks, and deservedly. Delivering a solid, tight (these words are not being employed for lack of better adjectives btw, they actually sum up their performance perfectly) set filled with the quirks – doubled up vocals, front-persons incredible range, change in time signature et al. that sets them apart .

During a set that engaged the crowd through all of their C4 radio-rotated singles and kept them equally as enamoured during a few new tracks, Matheison skulled red wine by the glass like it was the ‘elixir’ (haha…) of life. Which, given his pained, somewhat Ian Curtis delivery – super captivating and one of Collapsing Cities’ trump cards – one could seriously start to believe it was.

Bang! Bang! Eche! followed up and delivered a vocoded perfectly syncopated mess of scuzzy post punk synth driven party tunes – nothing’s changed then for the rambunctious (now) four-piece from Chch.

Listening to Pluto outside while drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette reminded me of younger days, coming to Wellington purchasing, Pipe Line Under The Ocean and being obsessed with ‘Long White Cross’. And then they played it and my reminiscence peaked until post performance Milan returned backstage to a group of fans hanging over the fence cajoling him for signatures and drum sticks and feeling a little bit sick that I was potentially that person six or seven years hence.

And, as always happens, double ups in gigs on the same night meant they were the last act I saw / listening to in their entirety – bummed to miss Liam Finn as his instrumental preparation looked accordingly weird and exciting, AND The Mint Chicks who I could hear on my walk to SFBH. So, the end of a day filled with a few highlights, and a few cringe-worthy, as aforementioned decade-ago memories. So off to HEALTH…who were amazing…but that’s for another review…


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