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Downtown Shakedown @ Waitangi Park, Wellington - 5/12/2020

10 Dec 2020 // A review by thenelbc

Who would’ve thought while most of the world is in isolation the one place that would have a festival during a global pandemic is Poneke, Aotearoa. Downtown Shakedown turned Waitangi Park into the largest festival in the world right now. This moment is captured between 10,000 guests and incredible acts from around our country. Finally partying and sweating together since March.

The evening was opened by Tamaki's smooth and vibrational Sola Rosa with a funky instrumental before infusing the marquee with soulful and beating vocals. Sola Rosa collectively kick started the evening with the right amount of spice, kicks and sensations to this shakedown.

Following Sola Rosa, Ladi6 shined on the shakedown stage. Radiating with talent, positivity and manifesting love to everyone, Ladi quickly turned the event into a much more intimate experience with her fierce and uplifting attitude. Ladi was pouring with love and talent for Poneke. Between acts, Sunshine Sound System kept the speakers spinning and the crowd hyped.

Next up came the courageous and authentic BENEE, grooving away with her band and adding more girl power to this line-up. At this point Downtown Shakedown had packed Waitangi Park out, it was impossible to get from one side of the crowd to the other. Setting the audience off, we heard a range of tunes from Soaked, Superlonely, Glitter and others expressing heavier snares and kicks. BENEE showed her adored quirkiness while being unapologetically unique. She took over the stage with her best dance moves and successfully had the crowd grooving away with herself and the band.

So far we’ve seen a few acts and we’ve also seen something other festivals tend to ignore. Downtown Shakedown brought a diverse line-up, which is refreshing. After months hidden away from large live music gatherings, it felt like a breath of fresh air to come out of it to see a line-up that isn’t as male dominated like what we have seen in the past.

As it got colder outside, it got warmer under the marquee, toasting the area was L.A.B. Since hitting success within our music industry, L.A.B have become a respected band and it went to show as the crowd were the loudest of the night during Controller. Though it was one of the slower songs of the evening, all lungs were inhaling the smoky air to sing along with Joel Shadbolt. Joel powered through their set while having bronchitis with help from the crowd and Sunshine Sound System. Bronchitis or not, L.A.B put on one hell of a show. Following this, they continued to play more hits like Rocketship that went off just as much. Ending their set with all they had, visuals as if it were the dark side of the moon and hyping the audience to jump for their last instrumental.

Closing the night for Downtown Shakedown came the great Fat Freddy’s Drop. Playing home and playing as good as new, they brought their loud and courageous elements that separate the group from anything else. As they played through their set with many hits they then brought on another fellow local, Louis Baker. It couldn’t get more Kiwiana than this. The event displayed pure talent in the heart of our country. Each act brought their loud personalities, owning the night in their special ways. New Zealand music really is something special and we deserve to celebrate that.

Event organisers Andrew Tuck (Homegrown and Precision Live) live explained that the effect of the Homegrown cancellation had him licking his wounds with such a major loss of NZ’s loved festival. He wanted to give back to the capital after what the virus did to Homegrown so he bit the bullet and created Downtown Shakedown for December. People thought he was crazy but he was hopeful we’d be Covid free and sure enough here we are partying together again. He’s done this for Poneke to make money for the city - flights, hotels, drinks, food trucks etc. as well as employing 300+ people to work the event to make money to have in their pockets. Just like Homegrown it’s an opportunity to give jobs to other contractors, creatives and the people of Aotearoa. What stood out about this is people called him crazy for organising this event yet here he is, side stage smiling at the crowd who are finally partying to live music again!! “Two days before Homegrown, everything was set up then Covid happened. New Zealand is strong for coming out of it” - Sunshine Sound System.

All images jointly provided courtesy of and copyright to Reef Reid of RADAR Photography and Nichole Davis of Nichole June Productions


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