Spoilt for choice at Homegrown

Last updated 10:07 17/02/2014

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Jim Beam Homegrown, Wellington Waterfront, February 15

Reviewed by Michelle Duff

It's a First World problem, there's no doubt about it. With eight stages, and 62 New Zealand acts to choose from, where do you begin?

It's the fourth time I've been to Homegrown, Wellington's own celebration of Kiwi music. And each time the issue of what to watch, and in which order, is inevitable.

This year my husband and I make a plan of attack. We'll try to catch bands we've never seen before, beginning at the rock stage in the TSB Arena and working our way back.

So it is there, at just after three in the afternoon, that our day begins with a headbang. Wellington rockers Head Like a Hole draw a large crowd, with lead singer Booga Beazley - clad in a giant medieval-style cape - making his entrance to the theme tune of Conan the Barbarian. In their heyday, this band was known for playing naked, so why they chose to dress for arctic climes on such a brilliant day is beyond me. Either way they are on fire, and by the opening bars of hit Hootenanny even the staunchest bogan is nodding his head.

As we leave, we stop to watch two girls arm-wrestling at a purpose-built station in the beer tent. "Some guy was undefeated for like 20 minutes before," says a slightly bewildered-looking glassie, as a cry escapes from one of the contestants. I guess there's nothing like a quick arm-wrestle to blow off steam after the mosh. I should add that while five minutes was the longest we had to wait for a drink all day - tick - it would be nice to have more options than sponsors Jim Beam, or Speight's. This festival is in Wellington, the craft beer capital - am I right?

At the locally-grown stage, Palmerston North singer and X Factor runner-up Benny Tipene has a mid-afternoon crowd moving to his feelgood pop. Even if you just stayed here all day, you'd see a good selection of up- and-coming acts. We catch a little of the beautiful Phoebe Hurst - whose soulful voice puts me in mind of Alice Russell - before heading to the pop/RnB stage for Auckland hip-hop act @peace.

This live act is tight, with a full back-up band - instead of the usual DJ typical of Kiwi hip-hop acts - making a difference. Their flow is great, and the young audience is singing along to most of the lyrics.

On to the main dub and roots stage, where Fat Freddy's Drop are playing a high-energy set. Wellington's own rapper and beatboxer King Homeboy does a great job of stirring up the crowd, and the vibe during this early evening slot is funky and chilled.

I'm not a huge fan of Six60 - so it is with Optimus Grime and MC Tiki Taane, followed by drum and bass duo State of Mind, that I see out the end of a great, and incredibly varied, day of music.

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- The Dominion Post


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