An Indie-licious Homegrown
I've been to the past two Homegrown festivals in Wellington, and I can say in all honesty that this year's event ruled so much harder than the previous two - even with the slight changes, which came in the way of layout. Instead of having the stages close-ish to each other, the organizers gave the 14,500 strong-crowd something to look at in-between - the waterfront that Wellington is so well loved for. This proved a huge success with barely any issues (of the drunken mess variety) reported.
Over the day, kids from all around New Zealand were treated to a diverse range of acts spread between five stages running from Frank Kitts through to Waitangi Park. With blue skies overhead, it was pretty much guaranteed to be a fucking awesome time filled with our country's best talent to date. Being that there was not one act on the bill that I didn't want to see, the majority of my day was spent at the Indie Stage, where the crowd got to enjoy the likes of well-known favorites, The Mint Chicks, Liam Finn and Pluto.
Kicking off the event were Dunedin lads, Knives at Noon (pictured) with a variety of new songs that they've been working on of late. Favorites were certainly apparent with their recent tunes, Thunderveins and Violins and Violence receiving cheer from the crowd who were loving every minute of it. I must say, I'm feeling a little jealous of all those kids who are going to get to see them perform at O Week next week. I wonder how much it costs to be a student these days?
Motocade were the next to grace the stage - and grace it they did with a selection of old and new songs. It was nice to see that the crowd didn't just want to hear My Friends, like previous years because that gets a little boring - plus I'm sure it must really piss off the band. Amongst the new tunes were Commandeering, Tightrope Highway and Oldest Trick in the Book, which I must say has a wicked video, wouldn't you agree? That very video was made by none other than Tim Van Dammen - the drummer of the next act on stage...
Collapsing Cities. And it's here that you really begin to feel that 'family' vibe that was so apparent on the day at the Indie Stage. Why would you want to be anywhere else? Especially when these guys get up there. An impressive set was played by the very popular lads from Auckland, starting off with Or so I said last Weekend and Favors for Favors. It's pretty obvious why they receive rave reviews with a stage presence like this. In the Valley and Elixir Always were happy wee numbers for the crowd who bopped and sung along knowingly, which was soon followed by Tazers. A definite high-light was watching Mr Van Dammen hop out of his seat and get amongst it with beer in one hand, and Stephen Parry in the other. Argh, good times.
Youngsters who are never afraid of having a good time - Bang! Bang! Eche! (pictured) got right into it with some energetic tunes that they've been showing off to the rest of the country in a string of tours last year. Watching Zach Doney jump around the stage could almost result in some form of seizure if you're not careful, so I was careful and decided that the best place for me was off to the side for a cheeky drink and a bit of crowd watching. I saw arms and legs in the air. A bit of pushing. A bit of shoving. But all in the crowd was pretty well behaved although I'm sure there were a few black eyes at the end of it...
Hot Homegrown veterans (if there is such a thing as that?), The Checks were everything they always are. Fabulous. There is a Field was first for their set featuring an impressive amount of hits that keep coming. Of course Take me There had made the crowd mental which was followed by the beautiful Ballroom Baby off their latest album. Taking in the atmosphere in its entirety, Ed Knowles thanked the crowd in-between songs. I love that - and so did the rest of the girlies who had turned up to perve. But these guys have something for everything and ended their set with ever popular What you Heard, giving the blokes something to croon over. Fantastic.
Speaking of fantastic, Pluto seem to do a damn good job of wowing me every time I see them, and this set was no different. They've been working on a bunch of new tunes that were laid out for the crowd who absolutely loved it. High-lights for the fans were Girls, Snake Charmer and Long white Cross but for me, it had to be watching Mathias Jordan keeping the left side of the stage entertained with his little moves that have evolved over the years, while front-man Milan Borich puffed on a cigarette from someone in the crowd.
Sweet indie-popsters, Cut off your Hands charmed that same crowd with tunes off their album, You & I like Still Fond and Happy as can Be which were definite faves. Kids in cute little outfits and sunglasses lined up against the barrier to catch a glimpse of Nick Johnson throwing himself around the stage with an equal amount of enthusiasm to Bang! Bang! Eche! I'm absolutely disgusted at myself to admit it, but this was the first show I've seen the lads play since their name change back in 2007. Now I'm sad to have heard that this was their last show for a while...comeback tour? Soon?
By the time that Liam Finn and Eliza Jane were on stage, I must admit (and it's probably pretty obvious) that that cheeky drink earlier had multiplied over the afternoon, so forgive my vagueness... What I do know is that the two performed a beautiful version of Long way to Go and a favorite off Mr Finn's album, Energy Spent which the crowd lovingly sung along to. This guy is a fabulous performer - a little bit awkward at times which resulted in an accidental smack to the head with his guitar which I'm so sure nearly knocked him out - and that's not the booze talking. Later on I saw the poor guy standing there with a big patch on his head and a beer in one hand - to numb the pain, of course...
And then came the grand finale that everyone was waiting for - including the bands who lined themselves up along the side of the stage - The Mint Chicks (pictured). It was an absolute delight to see original bassist Michael Logie rocking it out after having spent some time away from it all. Front-man Kody Nielson did a good job of entertaining the crowd with his antics that the band are so well known for before throwing himself at the audience - a brilliant way to end an Indie-licious Homegrown.
Words and photos by Amanda Ratcliffe