19 May 2021

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Gig Review: Noisia & Kanine @ Riccarton Park Racecourse, Christchurch - 21/12/2019

13 Jan 2020 // A review by Gareth Heta
When pioneering musicians Noisia announced in September 2019 that they’d be disbanding in 2020, it sent a ripple through the electronic music scene. 20 year's worth of multi-genre dominance, 3 record labels, countless releases - it was understandable that their final appearance on South Island shores would be met with excitement and a tinge of sadness. Hype levels only increased when promoters Cream and Red Rum Touring set the venue as Riccarton Racecourse Park, in order to properly cater to the hordes of fans keen to experience drum n bass history.

The weather gods smiled and produced a cracking day, and as I strolled along the tree-lined driveway leading to the Park entrance I could hear the distant pounding of speakers and excited chatter from groups of summer-attired ravers ready to dance the day away. Coming into the staging area I was immediately hit with summer festival vibes: refreshment and shelter tents, a freshly-mowed dance area and a massive central stage flanked by speaker stacks and video displays.

Chiccoreli, host of long-running Base FM institute Liquid Lowdown, was warming things up with cosy summer vibes and impeccable liquid steez featuring deep female vocal samples and staples such as Be True by Commix and Broken Dreams by Lenzman. On the latter he was joined by collaborator and partner MC Tali, fresh off winning Best Electronica Artist at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, and she complimented his selections by singing along to the soaring hooks (“I choose you baby, I choose you…”), interspersed with soulful freestyles and reflections on drum n bass and the role it has played in her life. Like the headline act, Tali has been plying her trade for 20 years and it showed in her seamless flow and buoyant, authentic stage presence.

Auckland trio Sly Chaos (brothers Mike and Andrew Enderby and Conor Till) have been on the scene since 2015 when they took out the 09 heats of the now-defunct Rumble In The Jungle competition. Alongside veteran Jabz MC on expert hype duty, I was hugely impressed by their high energy, Andy C -influenced mixing and full spectrum selections, covering a gamut of fresh cuts from the lovely Guitar Track by Kings of the Rollers (perfect for a sun-drenched outdoor gig), to the wobbly future jungle of Document One’s Vibration, and massive screechers from Critical Impact and Turno. Their obvious enthusiasm for the music and the effect it has on a heaving crowd of ravers marks them as future superstars.

Bassfreaks honcho Tony Vincent aka T-Bone dialled things back with a host of half-time steppers in preparation for the main act, or as Jabz MC put it, “this is the jiggy shit before the heavy-ish.” I took the opportunity to stock up on liquids and have a hot meal, navigating my way through the fields of cigarette butts (darts, like mullets, are way back in fashion). There was a brief interlude while CDJs were unplugged and laptop installed, a murmur of anticipation dropping over the park grounds, the racecourse grandstand looming large in the fading Canterbury light.

A ponytailed Thijs de Vlieger, one of three artists making up Noisia (stylised as VISION backwards), dropped straight into heavy, intricate, neuro-tech darkness, with gnarly, whiplash-inducing transitions giving the gurning crowd a massive case of bassface. For a performer on the verge of retiring (at least under the Noisia moniker), de Vlieger was having a lot of fun, waving his arms like a conductor and wielding a microphone to deliver peppy lines to an adoring audience. “This is the last time I’ll play here. Been coming here a decade. How crazy is that?!” Not half as crazy as everyone went when he dropped the halftime VIP of Noisia and The Upbeats seminal Dead Limit, followed by a further selection of monstrous halftime tunes including a massive dubplate forthcoming from NZ’s own Shapeshifter and The Upbeats, and a collab between Noisia and the infamous Skrillex (“this is only the second time I’m playing this”). Although by this stage I’d had my fill of the more experimental/down-tempo strain of drum n bass, it was an expert performance that left smiling faces and weary bodies, and as nightfall sent a chill wind blowing off the plains, everyone huddled tighter, a seething mass of happy fans ready for a final push.

UK artist Kanine has rapidly ascended the ranks with just a handful of releases, demonstrating precision production over a wide spectrum of subgenres, with an assured and friendly stage presence and talent for massive double-drops. He judged the appetite of the late-day crowd expertly, ripping through a series of some of the biggest tunes of 2019, from Ben Snow screechers to Kanine’s own epic Sundown, along with classics like Bunker by Sub Focus and Moon In Your Eye by Serum, Paul T and Edward Oberon. As the massive shuddering bass and haunting vocal of the latter track rang out (“All I ever wanted was thiiiis…”), I dragged my weary but satisfied body out the gates. It had been a special day no doubt, and as a troubled decade wound to a close, there was a real sense that a collective love of this beautiful, multi-faceted music could, for at least one sunny day in middle earth, transport us all somewhere better.


Other Reviews By Gareth Heta

Anna Wild - EP Review: WOOL
22 Dec 2020 // by Gareth Heta
WOOL is the first project from Wellington-based artist Anna Wild, and it comprises 3 ambient/electronic instrumental tracks in conjunction with a 10 minute short film providing visual accompaniment. This visual EP was created to go hand-in-hand; while the music can certainly be absorbed on its own, it’s through the film (directed and animated by Taizan Yamada) that the depth of meaning shines through.
Oakley Grenell - EP Review: Style Dem Ripe
18 Nov 2020 // by Gareth Heta
Oakley Grenell caps off 2020 with a wicked dancefloor-oriented EP showcasing a range of vocalists over bouncy, bass-fuelled tunes with a trademark reggae flair. A few years in the making, it’s another solid addition to an already impressive discography.
J Plates - Album Review: Seven Days Of Fire
29 Oct 2020 // by Gareth Heta
2020 has been a big year for J Plates, releasing a string of heavyweight DnB alongside a side project offering ambient and lower-BPM electronic stylings. Dropping just in time for Halloween, Seven Days Of Fire marks his debut, self-released LP, and it’s a fitting collection for the spooky season - massive stabbing bass, crunching breakbeats and haunting atmospheres abound.
Gig Review: Shapeshifter @ Christchurch Town Hall - 18/10/2020
19 Oct 2020 // by Gareth Heta
Two decades deep and showing no signs of slowing down, veteran live act Shapeshifter jetted into Christchurch on the back of a sold out Auckland show and a global pandemic causing havoc for the events industry. Showcasing their incredible musical prowess with a powerhouse performance, they created a special vibe for those in attendance in a celebration of music, dance, and togetherness.
Biobird - Album Review: Riders
13 Aug 2020 // by Gareth Heta
Crisp production, organic drums, layered percussion and gritty, overdriven bass are hallmarks of Biobird's work: presented here for the first time in LP format, it’s a chance to draw together the specific vibe and tone (developed to great success on 2019’s Count to Ten EP) into a cohesive whole. Title track Riders opens with ominous swells before plunging into a dark, techy workout reminiscent of early-2000’s Drum & Bass staples such as Universal Project and Keaton; the second drop change-up bounces along on a half-time beat.
Biobird - EP Review: Count to Ten
10 Aug 2020 // by Gareth Heta
Biobird has been quietly amassing a solid body of work and growing recognition amongst the New Zealand bass music community, sliding between low and high BPM subgenres with ease. The 2019 EP release Count to Ten leans toward 170+ but retains enough Trap/Dubstep elements to distinguish itself from your usual release.
Fear Not Want - Album Review: Return To The Source
14 Jul 2020 // by Gareth Heta
Fear Not Want (stylised as FnW) is off to a strong start, with this LP dropping hot on the heels of debut release The Waiting last month. While that was an entirely ambient affair, Return To The Source finds Jeremy Graham (aka J Plates) exploring new terrain in the form of classic House music, mixed in with some downtempo and ambient bits.
Lee Mvtthews - Single Review: Turning Back
13 Jul 2020 // by Gareth Heta
Lee Mvtthews are one of the biggest names among a new breed of NZ Drum & Bass producers making a mark on the global stage. Fresh off a big 2019 which saw the release of their debut LP Bones, a slew of awards at the Georgies as well regular appearances on club and festival line-ups, their latest single is a perfect distillation of their powerful, upbeat sound.
View All Articles By Gareth Heta

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