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Festival Review: Homegrown 2018

10 Apr 2018 // A review by LoraThompson

It was a cloudy yet thankfully calm Saturday in beautiful capital city when we arrived at the waterfront at 1pm. After collecting my pass, the first stop was up-and-comers Dead Favours on the Rock Stage. Vocalist and ex-Steriogram member Jared acknowledged the crowd and told them to come up to the front, and they kicked things off with and energetic performance, breaking into their hit single High Flying early on as the punters rolled in.

Next up on the Rock Stage were the Christchurch based 4-piece Decades who have recently released their new music video for their songThe Truth – for those who haven’t seen it, it involves full body lycra, which was certainly on display in their live set.

Front Woman Emma Cameron surprised the crowd a great cover of The Cranberries' Zombie, in memory of their singer Dolores who passed away earlier this year.

Next up were Skinny Hobos, fresh off a show with I Am Giant and promoting their new single Jacked Like the Ripper. The two piece performed a high energy set with guest appearances from myself on the guitar for their track Settle, as well as Kyle and Jared from Dead Favours on guitar and vocals respectively – who performed a cover of The Datsuns' song Mother Fucker From Hell.

Next up on my agenda was to rush over to the Electronic Stage to catch Tali and Aroha. For those who haven’t been to Homegrown before, both the Electronic and Dub Stages are located a reasonable distance from the Rock Stage – I had previously laughed when someone had told me it might be a 20-minute walk – turns out they were right, and consequently I missed their set which I was quite upset about.

On the upside, it gave me the opportunity to check out local singer songwriter Mitch James on the LAB Stage. I hadn’t previously heard Mitch at all and was immediately blown away. As his band took a break he performed a solo acoustic cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' song Under the Bridge that had the audience captivated. His band came back on and then he went on to play, among other things, a brilliant mash up of Ed Sheeran tracks, who he also opened for a couple of weeks ago.

After this I checked out Che Fu and the Krates set on the City Stage. I hadn’t seen Che Fu perform in years and was impressed by the remixes and new adaptions of old favourites, for example, his mash up of the classic Scribe track Not Many into his own classic hit Fade Away, which he nailed vocally.

It was a shame that the front of house sound on the City Stage was a bit hit and miss throughout the day, but he didn’t let it shake his performance in the slightest.

Back on the Rock Stage I managed to catch local rock veterans The Feelers play a few of their hit songs before starting the trek back over to the Dub and Roots Stage to check out Kora and Fat Freddy's Drop - just as Villainy were setting up with their truckload of inflatable beach balls and inflatable furniture.

As I arrived, the crowd for Kora was just dissipating and I again missed out on one of my favourite acts due to the walking distance which I was not happy about. Sunshine Sound System were warming up the crowd and getting everyone ready for Freddy’s with some Al Green and other classic Soul remixes before Freddy's took to the stage.

Fat Freddy's Drop played one of their notoriously drawn out live jams, followed by a couple of well-known tracks including a personal highlight Blackbird, which they extended into a long jam at the end that went for well over 10 minutes. I was surprised by the fact that they didn’t have a live drummer or bass player with them, as they had when I had seen then previously.

Ladi6 and MC Tali made guest appearances on their song Roadie from the 2005 album Based on a True Story. (Originally performed by Hollie Smith).

I still hadn’t seen anything on the Electronic Stage, so I managed to catch some of the high energy set by Dubstep/Bass music duo Truth. The production in the Electronic Stage was excellent and though I only caught the end of their set they delivered high energy beats to an enthusiastic crowd. The lights and projection completed the experience for me.

I wasn’t too impressed with the fact that I had to choose between Shapeshifter and Devilskin, as they were on at exactly the same time at opposite ends of the festival but given that there were already lots of other reviewers lining up for Shapeshifter, I decided to start making my way back to the Rock Stage.

On the way I managed to catch some of OpShop's set on the City Stage. Unfortunately, the sound was a bit off and though they had a decent crowd, it seemed like they had some technical difficulties. They played their single Nothing Can Wait, which was a lot more guitar heavy than the recorded version, which I personally enjoyed. They also played their singles Maybe and finished with One Day.

I arrived back to the Rock Stage in time to catch I Am Giant’s excellent cover of Dragon’s Rain. I had been lucky enough to catch some of their set at their own gig on Thursday in the Mount prior to Homegrown and I would have to say that are on fine form at the moment touring their new and final album Life in Captivity. They still have dates left in Hamilton and Auckland supported by Skinny Hobos.

Devilskin kicked into gear as the final and biggest act on the Rock Stage. Growing up in Hamilton and seeing this band from its humble beginnings, it always brings a smile to my face seeing them play on a huge stage to a huge crowd. They performed material off their albums Be Like the River and We Rise, and crowd favourites included Voices and Never See the Light. Their high budget pyrotechnic show left an impression with 5 flame throwers at the front and sides of the stage as well as the usual lights and smoke. They finished up on time, but the crowd were screaming for an encore, which they delivered in the form of their hit single Little Pills.

All in all, I really enjoyed the experience of Homegrown. It was a well organised festival which was fairly easy to navigate. My only criticism would be the sheer distance between the Rock Stage and the Dub/Roots Stage which made it difficult to see all the acts I wanted to see.

Review written by Lora Thompson


Other Reviews By LoraThompson

L.A.B. - Album Review: L.A.B
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Needless to say I have seen these boys play live and had long anticipated the release of the self-title album from L.A.
TOI - Single Review: Kiss the Sky
04 Nov 2017 // by LoraThompson
Wellington dub-rockers Tunes of I just never stop. After a crazy couple of years touring their debut album Restless, they're back with the first single off what will be their third release, and EP called Wicked Ways – due for release on the 17th November.
Merrin - Album Review: 1
12 Oct 2017 // by LoraThompson
From first listen, Merrin's 1 has evolved in leaps and bounds from their earlier singles Sin and Mr Dominant the band are now bringing a much heavier and refined hard rock feel than their previous work. The Album begins with the newest single Durty Little Secret and quickly and easily segways into the heavier, riffier Burn it Up.
The Black Seeds - Album Review: Fabric
26 Sep 2017 // by LoraThompson
Fabric (Released September 2017) is the 6th Full-length studio offering from Wellington-based band The Black Seeds – and the 12 track album certainly does not disappoint. The band have been around since 1998, with their Global Breakthrough album generally considered to be their 2006 release Enter the Dojo.
Ryan Kershaw - Single Review: Inspiration
10 Jun 2017 // by LoraThompson
As I downloaded this track to begin listening I really had no idea what to expect. Actually that's a lie,I had heard a few of Ryan's previous offerings – Little Green Dragon (2008), The Lunar Sea (2011) and The Buzz Tapes (2012) - So based on this I expected an awesome display of guitar, and that's exactly what I got – one of NZ's best and highly under-rated guitarists.
The Nukes - Album Review: III
01 Apr 2017 // by LoraThompson
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The debut EP Day to Defy from Poison Skies delivers a familiar pop-punk kick while nailing their powerful and catchy sound. The EP begins with their upbeat single Eighty Six, leading into the heavier half-time thrash of Stop and Breathe – The catchy, melodic chorus in this second track provides a stark contrast against a well-orchestrated wall of noise.
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