29 Jan 2020

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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

Gig Review: Oakley Grenell @ Dux Central, Christchurch - 19/01/2020
20 Jan 2020 // by Gareth Heta
Coming off the back of supporting his latest single Serious Time across a series of NZ dates over the last month, Oakley Grenell graced the Dux Central courtyard alongside brother Redford on drums and Peter Flemming on double bass. Taking a stripped back approach to some staples from his back catalogue, it was the perfect soundtrack to a sunny Sunday afternoon, amid the bubble of a rejuvenated Christchurch inner city.
Oakley Grenell - Single Review: Serious Time Feat. Rayjah45
23 Dec 2019 // by Gareth Heta
Prolific local lad Oakley Grenell (now based out of Melbourne) returns with a bouncy slice of dancefloor double-time, which contains a serious message from vocalist Rayjah45. Titled Serious Time, the tight production assistance from fellow NZ’ers 10a and Hooves give this release a punchy impact destined for high rotation on Summer sound systems everywhere.
Gig Review: Ulterior Motive [UK] @ Hide Club, Christchurch - 23/11/2019
16 Dec 2019 // by Gareth Heta
UK duo Ulterior Motive (JD & Morphex) have been producing intricate, heavyweight music for the better part of a decade now, with early releases on Subtitles before joining the Metalheadz family where they released their debut album Fourth Wall in 2014, and in the last few years forming their own imprint Guidance. Touching down in NZ in late November, read on to discover which Metalheadz classic JD dropped to a stunned and adoring Hide Club crowd… The evening started on the right note driving down to the club listening to a guest mix from James aka JD on the RDU 98.
Unsub - Album Review: Heartbreaker
11 Dec 2019 // by Gareth Heta
Prolific producer Unsub delivers the impressive Heartbreaker LP, the fourth on her ‘Pure Heart Dirty Mind’ imprint via mother label ‘NexGen Music’. Sub-genre wise the album could be filed under techstep or neurofunk, but unlike the sometimes cold and emotionless offerings prevalent in this sound, Heartbreaker (like much of Unsub’s output) carries a deeply musical element bringing an analog warmth to every track.
Vapour & Shape - EP Review: Nullius
05 Dec 2019 // by Gareth Heta
Hailing from Auckland, duo Vapour & Shape burst onto the electronica scene with Nullius, a refreshing slice of 4/4 that fuses neon-drenched nightclub production with a melodic, nostalgic element making it suitable for both dancefloor and headphones. Opener Catchpool pulses with reverbed melody flickering around a dubbed-out bass reminiscent of classic NZ acts such as Pitch Black or Salmonella Dub.
Gig Review: Trei & Jabz MC - 'Locally Sauced' @ The Slate Room, Christchurch - 22/11/2019
28 Nov 2019 // by Gareth Heta
DJ/MC partnerships are a long-standing tradition, especially in Drum & Bass; just think of iconic pairings like Andy C & MC GQ (and later Tonn Piper), Grooverider & MC Flux, and DJ Marky & Stamina MC. On a humid Canterbury evening in late November, long-time NZ-based duo Trei and Jabz MC treated a sweaty Slate Room to an exhibition of that unique chemistry.
Gig Review: Flowidus with Jabz MC @ Hide Club, Christchurch - 16/11/2019
21 Nov 2019 // by Gareth Heta
Billed as the perfect kick-ons for the Saturday of Canterbury’s Show and Race Day long weekend, hordes of white-shirted, short-skirted punters flooded into Hide Club to get frothy with popular local act Flowidus. Momentum Promotions has been on a roll lately and despite a couple of technical hiccups, this latest event was a continuation of their high quality line-ups and well-run evenings.
Gig Review: The 30 Pack: The World's Fastest Festival @ Hide Club, Christchurch - 08/11/2019
11 Nov 2019 // by Gareth Heta
"From the people that usually bring you really good ideas, comes an idea so bad, it might even be good" went the tagline for the ambitious World’s Fastest Festival. A combined venture between Momentum Promotions, Brand+New, and Notion Touring, Hide played host to 20 drum & bass selectas downstairs and 10 DJ’s upstairs offering a range of 4/4 genres.
View All Articles By Gareth Heta

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