25 Mar 2019
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Gig Review: Cross Street Festival @ Cross Street, Auckland - 02/03/2019

05 Mar 2019 // A review by Lou Clement
It’s a balmy March day and the sun lit the side streets of central Auckland. I arrived at Cross Street, a road parallel to Karangahape Road. It’s well known for its eclectic market and today it played host, for the first time, to a one-day street festival. The street was lined on one side by a car park and on the other side, by the back of the shops and bars which bordered one side of K Road. It’s sort of an unlikely space for a festival; it’s concrete, brutalist and with high rises on both sides. But it turns out it’s the perfect place for an ever so slightly hip street party takeover. There are colourful murals on the walls and the tropical themed graphics of the festival posters were the perfect contrast to the dark street corners. The line-up for this event includes hip hop and soul act Ladi6, psychedelic rockers Racing and creative and electronic music wonder Julien Dyne, amongst others.

The street had been set up with places to sit, buy food as well as a long bar, the stage filling one end of the street. The indoor market was also open, full of interesting ephemera, handmade perfumes and, for future note, an excellent spot for a coffee. There was a relaxed atmosphere as people danced to Auckland-based four piece Racing who took to the stage with their brand of big beat, raucous, energetic and noisy rock. Worth noting was that the sound system used throughout the event was spot on.

At dusk, the festival vibe really began to come alive. I think I felt and saw what the director envisioned when she designed this event. There was a fun, relaxed atmosphere. This was perhaps because the crowd had been warmed up and the place had really filled up, but not to the point where it was too busy; it was enough to get lost in your own dance moves, which I happily did. The benefit of attending an event like Cross Street Festival, was that I felt like I was in my own neighbourhood, and I was being treated to a well curated day of outdoor live music and an atmosphere which felt both jubilant, cool and exciting. As well as the acts there was a DJ playing remixes between sets, and a few hip hop classics were sampled which I particularly enjoyed.

Julien Dyne was an unlikely live act hit for me. I liked his clever and interesting electronic sound, but the performance was about entertainment and even more about an expert talent. In front of a backdrop of glamourous disco-influenced yellow lights a drum kit was set up. Dyne came on stage and unceremoniously began to play, while in the background recordings of his electronic compositions played. The dancing picked up pace. Soon after the set began a little girl dressed in pink came on stage. She started dancing. I assumed it was Dyne’s daughter, but I’m not sure. It was pretty charming, she was a little shy, but, reflecting the tone of the event, soon the crowd were happily copying her moves as she, encouraged, playfully jumped, swung her arms around and spun about. Surely nothing beats the joy of a child dancing around, and it was a vibe we all embraced. It was pretty wonderful. The music, I’m happy to say, was just brilliant.

It was time for food and drink, and then the evening continued and included a standout performance from Ladi6. Her vocals reminded me of a lot of my favourite soul and urban female singers. An after party was booked across the street at Neck of the Woods, where although I’m sure the party vibe continued, I didn’t make it to - next year I hope. Cross Street Festival was perfect pocket sized city event, with a varied and intelligent curation of artists, as well as the event overall, it offered a local celebratory summer experience. For me importantly the space to take a breather from the dancing too.

 

Other Reviews By Lou Clement

Gig Review: Milk & Honey @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 08/03/2019
11 Mar 2019 // by Lou Clement
International Women’s Day, in my experience, is often not marked by celebrations other than something official in the news – something with flowers and over-privileged celebrity-like figures at the mic. It’s the first year I’ve lived in Auckland for it though, and to find that celebrations planned for the occasion with music performances taking place as part of a curated event were exciting.
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Festival Review: St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2019 @ Albert Park, Auckland - 28/01/2019
31 Jan 2019 // by Lou Clement
Laneway was a different kind of festival. It’s an international touring event, taking in Australia and Singapore.
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Gig Review: Dead Little Penny @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 25/01/2019
27 Jan 2019 // by Lou Clement
Three-piece Dead Little Penny were the second act on stage and headlining at the Whammy Bar on Friday evening, launching their new single Depression. The venue was packed out and the fans did little to reduce the temperature of the basement venue.
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Gig Review: Soaked Oats @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 19/01/2019
24 Jan 2019 // by Lou Clement
Dunedin-based Soaked Oats took the stage on a warm Saturday evening, as part of their Shuggah Doom tour. The four piece are made up of lead vocalist Oscar Mein, guitarist Henry Francis, Max Holmes on bass and Conor Feehly on drums.
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