Sunday, March 23, 2008

Summerset 2008

Let's just start by saying that Summerset is probably the closest I'll ever come to a Big Day Out. This is more my scale. Two zones, one small Basin Reserve. Easy to move around, easy to access both zones, food stands and toilets.

Hamish and I have been looking forward to Summerset for a long time. I'd even decided that, given the choice between partying hard and preserving my energy for a long Sunday bike ride, the partying would take priority. So I was a little upset that the weather on the day was distinctly overcast, a bit windy and cool. It wasn't cold enough for the debut of the winter coat, but it was Annah S red jacket cool, and if I was going to be on my feet for twelve hours the ONLY footwear I was prepared to consider was a nice, comfy pair of trainers.

We got to the venue at around 12.15, scoring a park nice and close. The gates were closed, and didn't open until after 12.30. Once we were in though things got underway quickly, and the day passed remarkably quickly. Where did all those hours go? Full credit to the hired crowd entertainers - the young things decked out in 80s style lycra or mincing around with a tea trolley. I don't know how they kept up their energy all day, but they were always amusing to watch.

We started out watching the Open Souls. I've seen them before at the Jackson Street Carnival and they did a good job of warming up the slowly growing crowd. From there we raced over to the Supertop, where things were already extremely warm. It's been too long since we last saw Minuit live, long enough for Ruth's blond hair to grow long, and long enough for me to decide that I absolutely need to get a haircut and a fringe. Ruth claimed to have a cold, but it wasn't noticeable in her performance. Clad in a little grey t-shirt that read "I had a nightmar I was a brunet" [sic], short shorts and green stocking/legwarmers, she was all over the stage as always. Minuit rocked, as always. A few songs in I migrated from Hamish's favourite position in front of the sound desk to a metre or so from the stage. They were a fantastic start to the day, so good that we never got to see Rhombus.

By the time we made it back to the main stage the Black Seeds were already playing. We watched a lot of their act sitting down on the ground eating a big plate of Hare Krishna food. The Black Seeds are another of my favourite New Zealand bands.

After the Black Seeds we wandered over to listen to EBB for a while, then it was back to the main stage to listen to Norman Jay. A real crowd pleaser, Norman started off with cheese, and slowly built up to happier and more uplifting cheese. His set was fantastic, his radio dj style banter highly entertaining. As he played the sun came out, something he claimed happens at every festival he plays at. I was just getting into it when I looked at my watch and realised that LTJ Bukem was playing in the Supertop.

Bukem was really playing up a storm in the tent. Everyone was packed in closely together and the heat was rising. The crowd loved him, but I was only mildly entertained. I'm not so big a fan of his drum and bassy stuff, and it just wasn't doing it for me on the day.

We weren't there for long before it was time to head back to the main zone for Crazy Penis. The bands were definitely winning my vote. We arrived just as they were kicking off with their sample of the song "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Things I now know about my husband: Hamish can sing the opening words to the song by heart, in a scarily accurate imitation of the movie itself.

It was obviously the night for female vocalists. I'm not overly familiar with most of Crazy P's music and I didn't really know who Danielle Moore was before yesterday, but she blew me away in a strapless yellow and frothy white dress, reminding me of something I might have once watched on Solid Gold as a child. After a short break she returned in a very short red number and huge curly brown afro wig. Full credit for carrying it off! While Crazy P were performing a beautiful full moon rose over Mt Victoria, and it seemed to completely fit with the way the evening was shaping up.

We caught Tom Middleton briefly, but he was playing drum and bass which wasn't really working for me after Crazy P. As we were leaving he finally shifted to Trance, but we were already committed to Shapeshifter. They had drawn a huge crowd which overflowed almost to the fenced off cricket pitch. We started in front of the sound desk then moved our way slowly towards the band.

Shapeshifter rocked my world at New Years, and they rocked my world again last night. They have to be one of the country's best live bands at the moment. Their act is so crisp and polished, so professional and yet spontaneous. They morphed their tunes into well-known numbers by other popular New Zealand bands. How many times would we hear Fat Freddy's Drop that night, without the band itself actually playing?

The craziness that is a multi-zone event took hold, and despite our enjoyment of Shapeshifter's rocking goodness it was time to check out Hamish's man-crush, Dave Seaman. A couple of songs in Dave dropped a remix of my Summer 07/08 Underworld track. I turned to Hamish, told him I had somewhere to go and I might be some time, handed him our backpack, and seconds later I was up against the security fence, right in front of the dj. And there I stayed for the rest of the set as the crowd swelled and things started to go a little insane. Every now and then I would turn around and spot Hamish through the crowd, big grin on his face.

Dave is fascinating to watch work. This is a dj who clearly loves his job and who gets off on the crowd feedback. His technical ability is obvious and he really plays his decks. If it's been too long since we last heard Minuit, then it's also been too long since we checked in with God as dj.

And then,12 hours after it began it was over. Was I ready for it to end? Not one bit. I could quite happily have heard another couple of hours of Dave Seaman, and I would also have liked to have heard more of Shapeshifter. I would have liked to have stuck it out to the end of Norman J's set, and I would have liked to have listened properly to Tom Middleton.

So will I be back next year? Oh, absolutely!

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