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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

[General] SPLORE

What is Splore?

Splore is a three day (February 17-19) music and art festival. It was run for a few years then disappeared but now it is back. It used to be held on the west coast south of Auckland (just outside of Waiuku) this year it was held in Tapapakanga Regional Park, 72km southeast of Auckland on the edge of the Firth of Thames. This meant a flat ocean/harbour to swim in and a very beautiful location. It was clear blue skies the whole time we were there and the heat was blazing and intense. There were more people with their shirts off than on.

The whole thing was really relaxed too. This was probably due in equal parts to the large number of mild recreational chemicals in use, the blazing hot sun and the large numbers of families with kids running around.

Then there was the art. My photos are mostly of the art. There was an art trail with all kinds of interesting installation pieces and art just scattered around making the place look interesting.

Here is the Flickr photostream for the “Splore” tag. My ones are there, rather than try and put them in the blog. [UPDATE: I relented and put in my favourite photo]

We (Amy, Jane, Caro and I) decided to go after seeing a poster in the middle of last year. We couldn’t believe the awesome list of artists. Here are a few of them in no particular order:

Whirimako Black & Russel Walder; Ladi 6; Nomad; Cuban Brothers; Talib Kweli featuring Jean-Grae; Module/Rhian Sheehan; The Nextmen; Turnaround DJs; Sugarlicks; Little Bushman; Max Maxwell & Carmel Courtney; Hollie Smith; Sola Rosa; Kora; Fat Freddy's Drop; Hexstatic; Axis of Weevil; Pitch Black; Philippa; Baitercell & Bex Riley Dubhead; Olmecha Supreme; dDub; Golden Horse.

We saw as many of the bands as we could fit in around driving, erecting tents, eating, sleeping, trying to find the “good toilets”, removing tents and just hanging out enjoying the sunshine. The ones in bold are the ones we actually physically watched for a large amount of time. More often than not we just heard the music in the background.

The ultimate highlight of the weekend? Hmmmm, I’m going to go with Talib Kweli and Jean-Grae. Their set was amazing. DJ Chaps (sp?) was “crazy on the turntables” and at the end Kweli invited up B-boys and B-girls to show their stuff on the stage. The stage was then packed with awesome dancers including Imon Star, his sister Deva Mahal, even the Cuban Brothers came back out to show off their awesome breakdancing skills. Kweli also set up a theme for the rest of the festival. He spoke about and dedicated part of his set to rapper/producer J Dilla who died recently. Then Hollie Smith during her set mentioned J Dilla before a song she wrote about losing someone and later during Kora’s set one of the guys was given a t-shirt from the audience that read “J Dilla 1974-2006”.

The Cuban Brothers (who are apparently from Scotland) were also a big draw with their funk and hip-hop covers. Ooooooweeeee.

“It is such a beautiful and sexy night. Just reach out and touch the person next to you. Touch them, they won’t mind”

Then the next night was Kora. I had not seen Kora live, but all day people were buzzing about them. “They are amazing live I can’t wait to see them again”. “Have you seen Kora live? They are evangelical!” etc etc.

Well we did see them, and they were a-freakin-mazing! During their final song, right in the middle, they just froze. All five of them, like someone had pressed pause. The crowd went insane. Seriously, insane. It was the most amazing thing to watch. They held it for what seemed like 4-5mins and then the drummer moved, hit the beat, and they were straight back into it.

Fat Freddy’s were good but didn’t seem to have the energy that they had at Hula Laguna last weekend. They went big for two songs: a new song that I think is called Shiver Man(?) and is awesome to dance to and Roady (which is my favourite song). For Roady they brought on Ladi 6, P Diggs, Imon Star (again), Deva Mahal (again), and Hollie Smith even came out at one point as well (I think it was her).

Deva Mahal and her brother (Imon) were the hardest workers at Splore as far as artists go. She sang with Sola Rossa, Freddy’s, Hollie Smith and Olmecha Supreme (and probably a whole bunch of others we didn’t see). He sang with Nomad, Freddy’s, Olmecha Supreme (and probably a whole bunch of others we didn’t see).

On the second day we actually skipped out to Kaiaua to find some non-clogged non-overflowing toilets. We found them and then had Fish and Chips at the best fish and chip shop in New Zealand on a beach that was practically deserted.

All in all a brilliant weekend. On the way back down the country we stopped at Taupo for a swim and then I spent most of Monday in a half-sleep haze.

Am I going to go again? Yes! Will I drive up? Probably but I would suggest taking a day off either side if you live further away than Auckland. Still so very sleepy.

On a final note it did seem weird travelling all the way up the country to see bands that we can see in Wellington a fairly regular basis (Deva every Wednesday at Hope Bros etc), but man, that beach was nice!

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