Indie music festival - indie food?

Last updated 13:50 03/02/2012

Last weekend I went to Auckland to go to the St Jerome's Laneway Festival, an event I enjoyed tremendously. I got to see some musical acts I really like - The Horrors, Feist, Shayne P. Carter, and some I thought I might be interested in - Yuck, Girls, M83, Opossum, Anna Calvi. And  - I got to eat food that was not only "good for festival food", but was actually good food regardless of where it came from.

Hungarian breadIf you were to crassly generalise about the sort of music festival it was, the brief was, I guess, "indie". So - if you are going to have an "indie" music festival, I guess you also oughta have kinda "indie" food, somehow. Right?

Let's get something straight  - I am not someone who goes to music festivals. I have never been to the Big Day Out (though I kinda wish I went the year The Strokes and The Flaming Lips played), let alone the bloody Gathering or one of those ones that also involves camping. I did go to one day of the Reading Festival in the UK about 1999. Foo Fighters. Supergrass. Travis. Meh. And as for the food - from memory, uber-meh.

That it was in Auckland central, down on the waterfront, was a plus. It meant if the food there was crappy, I could do a bit of a bunk and go get something decent to eat from downtown - I am not trapped in a field somewhere eating soggy, overpriced chips that taste like engine grease. But - amazingly - it really didn't come to that.

In the Laneway promo spiel, Hugh Sundae had mentioned a Hungarian fried bread that was apparently all the rage with the Auckland hunger hipsters. I kicked off with some of that when I arrived at 12.30. Delicious - if singlehandedly capable of undoing all my good work swimming and eating healthy(ish) since New Year. I had it plain, with a dusting of garlic salt. Really good - it's a bit like Maori fried bread? You could also get it with toppings, though I never did quite find out what they were...

Fortunately, as it was a hot, balmy Auckland day, there was a stall selling "Nice Blocks". I had a chocolate, raspberry and coconut number that really was pretty ace. There was also a place doling out free cream freezes, but I realised this a little bit too late...

Rather confirming what I had always held to be a myth (that deep-fried battery stuff isn't actually all that filling), I soon had a hunger for something a little more substantial. Just round the way was a very well patronised stall doing Mexican food - burritos and tacos - chicken, beef, beans, fish. And PERFECT for howling "chicken tacos! BEEF tacos! FISH TACOS" in the voice of NZ Masterchef judge Simon Gault. I had a chicken number that was tasty and substantial, if a little hard to eat without squirting taco juice all over my be-jandalled feet.

Now satiated, I took the task in hand a little more seriously, and went and watched some bands. The atmosphere really was astonishingly pleasant - loads of people of all ages just having a great day out in the sun, listening to some pretty fresh, new(ish) music, and availing themselves of food and drink from sellers that weren't just pushing the usual crappy festival fodder. Decent sets from Feist and The Horrors, as well as a goodly serving of festival-fuelling beer (though they ran out of beer at 9pm, I didn't really see that many really drunken people - perhaps something to do with the free water refills?), soon found me looking for more sustenance, before checking out Shayne P Carter closing out the smaller stage (Gotye, SBTRKT and M83 on the main stage - not really my bag).

Plus One hit one of Fritz's Wieners - basically, a really good German sausage in a bun with sauce and mustard, while I dug it in and ordered one of my unfashionable faves - a Hawaiian pizza, albeit a crispy, thin-based woodfired one. Really actually quite delicious, decent sized, and an excellent value meal for a tenner. And then we watched Carter wrap things up with a long, tripped-out version of the Dimmer fave Seed, and went on our merry way - mildly boozed, ears ringing and, perhaps most surprisingly, well fed.

Sold outThis really was a terrifically well conceived and organised event, with everything, from the band lineup, to the venue, to the tone of the security presence (friendly, upbeat, not heavy at all), and, lastly but by no means leastly, the food stalls, being impeccably well chosen to contribute to the overall atmosphere of the day. Sure, there was the odd quibble - the queues for drinks tickets sure backed up, and you probably don't really want to have run out of beer an hour before the festival ends, but somehow, the whole thing has combined to feel not like a big, corporate event, but like a great big "indie" party celebration. And - from my perspective, as someone who worries that there will be nothing good to eat, a weight off of my mind.

Job well done, Laneway organisers - I'll see you next year (which is more than can be said for a certain budget airline, which cancelled my return flight with a midnight text message the night before, and offered me another flight four days later).

Did you go to St Jerome's Laneway Festival? And did you enjoy it? What did you eat - was it good? How did it compare to other festivals you have attended, in particular in terms of the food on offer?

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12 comments
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Jon Jon   #1   01:59 pm Feb 03 2012

oooh Frize's Weiners. Had one of them a couple of years ago at the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival. Been trying to find them ever since.

Blair   #2   02:21 pm Feb 03 2012

I eat 'normal' food because my body says i must like it but i champion diversity. It has a great atmosphere if you like to be alone in a crowd haha, nah it actually is good, does that mean hipsters are braindead, maybe peter would take them, they probly work there anyway, i would go but i can hardly stand the sounds, phew i need to sit down.

LF   #3   02:37 pm Feb 03 2012

aah Fritz's Wieners, yum, brings back memories of lunches gone by! I believe they have (or they had) a shop on Custom's Street, from memory

sam   #4   02:42 pm Feb 03 2012

@jonjon#1 - There is a Fritz's Wieners kiosk are in Post Office Square in Wellington. The moved in on territoriy once soley commanded by the French caravan. True to form there was no fight put up by the french etc etc

noodle   #5   02:53 pm Feb 03 2012

Fritz had a stand outside the shed at fanzone on Queens Wharf during RWC but I chose to spend my $7.00 on a plastic cup of Heinekken so I never got to try one. Rats. The beef skewers from the Thai place by Countdown were ace though!

scarfaceclaw   #6   03:01 pm Feb 03 2012

I was quite looking forward to the food at Laneway, and it's admirable that they try to provide some variety. And the event itself was fantastic. But I had the same problem with the food as others seem to have had with the drinks...

6:10pm: See that the queue for every food vendor is very long, begin queueing for a fish taco.

6:30pm: Fish Taco guy comes down the queue to inform us that they've run out of tacos/wraps (WTF - at 6:30!?) 6:35pm: Lines for Weiners etc still large...decide to settle for a dirty burger from the greasy caravan so we can both queue & eat in time to see the next act.

Might bring my own next year.

JEM10   #7   03:26 pm Feb 03 2012

We were there and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Unfortunately the sun managed to find the one piece of my skin that wasn't slathered in sunscreen and it's still a bit sore. Hubby had one of Fritz's Wieners and gave it good reviews. I had both a nice block (strawberry and lemon - very refreshing) and the fried bread - I'd definitely repeat both, though neither are available in Dunedin unfortunately. I had the fried bread topped with a tomato, feta and basil mixture, but they also had pesto and jalepeno toppings. We ended the night with a burger from one of the caravans as we couldn't be bothered waiting in the long queues, which was not so great but not unexpected either. We had dinner on the Sunday night at the Soul Bar & Bistro at the Viaduct, which I'd definitely recommend.

Jon Jon   #8   04:20 pm Feb 03 2012

Thanks Sam I will be sure to visit next time I'm there. May have to miss out on KK Malaysia that day because the wiener's are massive.

CM   #9   04:20 pm Feb 03 2012

I chose a wood-fired pizza, purely because the queue to order looked short. I didn’t click until it was too late that the massive throng hovering near the stall were all waiting for their pizzas. It seemed like a really long wait, and the pizzas seem to come out in a hap-hazard order. Some of the hipsters were getting hangry. When I eventually got my pepperoni pizza, I really enjoyed it. Proper, authentico pizza and fresh. For the final push I turned to Piggys Pies. No queue, and it may have been my slightly lager-addled senses, but I thought it was pretty tasty too. I agree with you that it was a thoroughly enjoyable day out. I’ll be back next year. Even if I don’t know too much about next year’s artists, I now trust the organizers enough that they’ll book interesting bands, and be good hosts.

CP   #10   04:26 pm Feb 03 2012

Hungarian fried bred is made from a yeast dough, whereas Maori fried bread is basically a deep fried scone. Quite different.

JonJon - check here: www.fritzswieners.co.nz/


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