Review: Homegrown Festival

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 14:17 19/02/2012
Homegrown
Fairfax NZ
REAL DEAL: Mathew Finiki performs for his duo Quake in the Breakdance competition at Jim Beam Homegrown.

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It was always going to be tough for any other band playing a final spot with Shihad headlining the rock stage to close 2012’s Homegrown Kiwi music celebration.

The Shihad live sound is huge – The General Electric, as always, sounded ominous. Particularly impressive was frontman Jon Toogood, given he’d pulled double-duties by performing earlier in the evening with his side-project, The Adults.

That Shihad will put on a good live show is never in doubt so it was off to see three of New Zealand’s great champions of hip-hop. Manuel Bundy, Che Fu and King Kapisi provided some of the special moments of the day with a set that included Che’s sublime Misty Frequencies and honoured the South Pacific’s contribution to furthering hip-hop, rather than simply falling in line with the faux-gangsta Americanisms that plague the genre (Smashproof were on hand to offer that version earlier in the day).

Kids Of 88 were pop-music’s sugar-pill that the kids seemed to love, falling prey to the apparent effects despite anything really (actually) happening.

One of the problems with creating a festival of music based around identity – grouping it all by country (and then within that separating it out so that like-minded styles remain on distinct stages) is that the best and worst of the culture/s is being offered.

And Homegrown has so many cliché bands hitting redial when it comes to phoning it in. The Feelers and Opshop – painting the town a new shade of beige once again, The Black Seeds sounding polished and with the crowd engaged but it’s the same bat-time, same bat-channel.

They’ll be on again next year at the Roots stage around 7pm. Fat Freddy’s Drop would prefer to bore us than get to the chorus.

Dial 111 ROOTS and hit the hash, wait for the somnambulance to take you away.

Still, there were snippets of brilliance peppered throughout the day.

It seems odd to complain about Minuit’s lead singer not being heard – given Ruth Carr’s voice sounds like she’s gargling marbles through an asthma inhaler. But what could have been a transcendent moment (Minuit performing with a local Gamelan orchestra), albeit tracing around ideas Bjork first offered over a decade ago, was ruined by the difficulties of getting the right sound mix.

Ahoribuzz knocked it out of the park though, Aaron Tokona putting psychedelic pop and rock, funk and jam-band ideas into a blender.

And David Dallas was a class act. He is very much the real deal and so good to hear him with a live band in support.

P-Money received his biggest cheer for simply playing records by Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre. How very Homegrown.

Still, all up, it’s the best version of the event I’ve been to.

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