Splore 2010 19th - 21st Feb.
With just the right balance of good vibes, friendly faces and fantastic entertainment, Splore is a must attend festival suitable for the entire family. It's a biannual event running for three days and situated in the idyllic Tapapakanga Regional Park, a slice of heaven on the coast just 30 minutes drive south east of Auckland. Splore 2010 was an extravaganza of creative flare and contemporary music enjoyed by people from throughout New Zealand and around the world. The multifaceted entertainment on offer invigorated, inspired and engaged on many levels.
After a moving Powhiri, Tahuna Breaks kicked things into gear on the main stage with tasty grooves and a smooth jazz influenced brass section, breaking into well-rounded solos. Retro style keyboards and percussion driven reggae got people into a summer party mood.
Jamie Lidell was particularly suited to his time slot and the good vibes kept rolling in. Close your eyes and you would think you're listening to the vocals of a 1960's African American artist. One of New Yorks finest!
Lupe Fiasco continued the theme with 80's influenced samples in a techno based performance of new wave, hip-hop and funk, testament to the ever-evolving medium of music. Things were warming up as people enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
Minuit emphatically called to the audience and they responded with enthusiasm to the eclectic mix of sharp, synthesizer driven, paranormal techno. Love or hate them, Minuit is vastly significant in the New Zealand sound spectrum.
With the dance area now packed, Basement Jaxx rounded out Friday night at a respectable 2:00 AM with earth shattering, particle breaking floor fillers. Well-crafted key changes in song breakdowns were especially good. And that was just day one on the main stage.
Festival-goers had plenty of places of interest to visit on the site including the Rumpus Room (circus style workshops and kids entertainment), the Rum Shack (exceptional DJ's) and the Living Lounge (yoga, dance and human interest events) to name a few. The Art Trail had interactive installations including an environmentally friendly bicycle-powered movie theatre; walk through sculptures and a talking robot. People were engaged amused and impressed with a plethora of exquisite creativity. The surrounding sound scape of giant xylophone, human weight-tuned walk on sculpture and experimental music awakened the senses. The Time Machine, a barn like Dr Who tardus had cameras, projectors and triggered samples, which explored the symbiotic relationship between technology and nature. The interactive displays were testament to the extensive talent of the visual arts team.
Saturday started with Electric Wire Hustle's subtle funk; an easy and soothing beginning to another full on day of music. Their sweet reverberations and the glorious day drew campers down the goat track to enjoy the soulful tunes at the main stage beside the sea.
Herbaliscious reggae from Zoh Zoh had West Afro beat-jazz spiked with a clever sprinkling of calypso rhythms. Front-man Yaw Boateng also conducted an excellent workshop about the relationship of the drum and the human voice.
Working the crowd, Six60 delivered their special brand of soul/reggae with inspired lyrics from Matiu Walters. Duo guitar solos intertwined in an old school meets new mash up. Electronically driven with synthesizers in the second half of their set, the load occasionally drowned out the drums.
Olmecha Supreme's parasympathetic songs made one feel fine. One of the highlights of the day being the tag team of beat boxer King Homeboy and drummer Myele Manzanza. Cool and technically superb, they had no genre specific musical boundaries. B boys and girls applauded the break-dancer who pulled out all the stops. Band leader Imon Star's infectious smile worked with massive effect! Gorgeous party people, with their groove on, danced in the nearby waves getting refreshed and ready for the night of festivities ahead.
Hip-hop rap from King Kapisi towered high and the audience responded with mad respect.
Sola Rosa's well performed; consistent and solid songs were very suited to the setting.
Dub FX nicely shifted the sound spectrum for the day with perfect beat box timed loops and powerful singing.
Spectrum at times minimalist and explorative kept the good times going.
Pitch Black was delicious!
The much-anticipated Midsummer Nights Dream, with a 2050 theme, was a cornucopia of exquisite burlesque dancing and sexual innuendo tastefully performed. The fire dancing, fire eating and fire breathing of extraordinary dynamics, was matched only by the fantastic acrobatics and displays of incredible strength. Colourful and flamboyant, both the performers and audience, were there to party. Then the trapeze artists of Fuse Circus made the flying rig come alive with a death defying aerial performance. Their immaculately timed, daredevil acrobatics were perfectly in step with the soundtrack.
On day three Dubhead's easy tones reverberated through the mellow crowd encouraging them into another fantastic morning and afternoon of enjoyable events.
Easy Intent cranked it up a notch with sweet funky rap from a tight ten-piece ensemble. Re-energizing the good vibes.
Then blissful jazz funk from Nathan Haines' tenor sax, reverberated out over the crowd and the water to the ten or so boats moored in the bay. With a good mixture of effects throughout the set, the soundman worked hard to keep the levels perfect. Nathan indicated song changes, which were precisely executed. Joel Haines' guitar spoke passionate phrases while soulful backing vocals and keyboards warmed the sound. Professional in every respect their music was a delight.
Nickodemus brought the high flying audience back down to ground with plenty of time left in the day to pack for the journey home, well satisfied.
As with many festivals, some on site amenities could have had more planning and attention. The hot sun and thirsty music lovers caused the bars to occasionally run out of lubrication. At times the sound system on the main stage did not do justice to the artists performances although most were blissfully unaware of any technical issues. Overall DJ sets were consistent and performances were well enhanced by VJ's (Video Jockeys) intimate with the material. Generally campers respected the request to leave no trace of their presence and revelry in the idyllic setting and festival security was discreet but effective.
Gatherers at Splore 2010 enjoyed a variety of fantastic entertainment and great music, stunning weather, light coastal swells and mild nights, all conducive to having a great time camping in the best country on earth; Aotearoa. Splore certainly helps to form such opinions.
Reviewer - River