23 Jun 2024

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Rhythm and Vines Review

How mad was it when it started to rain and everyone was dancing in the wet? Rhythm & Vines 2006 went down in my books as one of the best New Year's parties ever! It had everything you could ask for in a summer holiday and then some.

Rhythm & Vines is one of the biggest music festivals in New Zealand which runs for 24 hours over New Year's Eve and day. It is a collaboration of New Zealand artists accompanied by a few international acts, to provide a platform to highlight New Zealand music talent at the time. It is a fantastic way to showcase the knack New Zealanders have of making some very creative music and putting on a good party.

As I arrived in Gisborne to some glorious weather (which was a pleasant change from Wellington's notable climate) I set up camp at the 'spot to be' Baywatch Camping Ground. It was evident straight away that a lot of people going to R&V were staying here, and had all come to have a good time. Swarms of testosterone filled alpha males flocked to the camp ground in their matchbox cars in the hope to find the Barbie of their dreams. They came in record numbers, and the entire place was pretty much packed out from day one.

The Poverty Bay Club (PBC) Summer Sessions were a great way to extend the summer party for a few more days either way of New Year's and some sweet acts were named in the line up. The 'Meet & Greet' party on the 30th was a great way to talk to like minded people about music, the R&V festival, and the direction of New Zealand music. It was awesome to chat with directors and organisers of the biggest New Year's party in the country and met some of the best musical talents in New Zealand today.

I wasn't intending on naming names in the Summer Sessions but a few stood out far from the rest which could not go unnamed. Firstly, Dick Johnson, if you ever feel like dancing you have to check this guy out. Providing a range of beats to satisfy even the most electric of dancers, his array of skills keep the dance floors pumping for hours. Connan & The Mockasins were also an obvious favourite of mine, and having seen them at home before it was no surprise to me they were one I enjoyed much above the rest. Skilled guitaring and absolutely outstanding drumming made for a really electric performance. But, the highlight of the Summer Sessions for me was So So Modern. Their sound was something original and unlike anything I had heard before, but for those who wish to label genres, it would be something close to synth alternative rock, but it was so diverse and electrifying it is hard to categorise it. Using more than one synth and keys these guys really knew how to create alternative music.

Arriving at Rhythm & Vines at about 12:30pm (in time for Connan & The Mockasins of course!) I walked around for a while to check everything out. It really is set in some beautiful scenery, with vines creating the backdrop to all the stages, and grassy knolls and trees surrounded the estate. There were plenty of bars, food stalls, water outlets, merchandise stalls and toilets for all, and the security was evident, but never intrusive. The Saint John team were doing a great job saving people who had drunk two bottles of wine too quickly from grassy hillsides and taking them for sleeps in their detox tents, and the horse back police keep a close eye on the perimeters for intruders.

I estate filled up with thousands of people by the time dark fell, all of which were in good spirits and ready to party. The stage was set for some high quality New Zealand music, with acts like Shapeshifter, Katchafire, Opensouls and Kora taking to the main stage. Katchafire set to please with lots of crowd favourites. Closing in to midnight and the welcoming in of the New Year's saw Kora take to the stage. I had never seen Kora play live before, and seeing them 'regg and roll' the stage was mind blowing. Kora used slightly heavier guitaring than your average roots style band, which emphasised the beats with some more depth. This was a different and superb way of creating roots beats, and they were definitely the highlight of my R&V experience.

All the staff and volunteers of Rhythm & Vines were all very pleasant and helpful. It was the biggest and best New Year's celebration this country has to offer, accompanied by the biggest artists and the herds of people. I would not hesitate to go back next year as this festival is going onwards and upwards, with more promising acts planned for next year.

Craig Johnson

Photos (thanks to Isaac!)



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