Ah, New Years Eve! There’s truly no way better to set your intentions and welcome in the New Year than walking half-cooked back to your tent as the birds start chirping. Things can only get better from there, after all. But where oh where should that tent be pitched? From digeridoo to dancehall, pingers to potlucks, on the North Island, South Island, even islands in the Hauraki Gulf, there’s something for everyone this year.
And so we present the Spinoff Field Guide to New Years 2018.
“At Aum, music is sacred. Our dance-floors are our church” – Vino on the Viaduct, this is not.
Like the artist formerly known as Prince, Aum Festival is, in fact, a symbol. Spread over four days in South Head, near Auckland’s Woodhill Forest, Aum is a music and art festival you could call something of a hippie fest – but these are not your parents’ burn-outs. This is more like what happens at the intersection of drugs and technology, a world of flashing lights and psytrance beats and yeah, probably a few drum circles too.
This year’s theme is “The Aumster’s Guide to the Galaxy”, which means absolutely nothing to me but seems up for interpretation.
Do you believe magic mushrooms were the evolutionary catalyst from which language, the arts, religion, philosophy, science, and all of human culture sprang? Have you relinquished your identification with the physical form? Do you exist now only as a dream within an idea inside of a water drop? This is the festival for you – see you there.
Ok, what the hell Northern Bass looks preposterous this year. Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, Shapeshifter, Keys n Krates and PENDULUM LIVE WTF. There was a time not long past where Northern Bass felt like RnV’s plan b, a sort of consolation prize for people who couldn’t make it down. No longer! This is a fantastic group of acts up and down the bill – but by God does the ticket price reflect it. Final release tickets are going for upwards of $300. If you like bass in your face, Northern Bass is the spot. Pack your bukkie hat and get out the speed dealers, she’s looking like a big one.
Rhythm and Vines
Something has happened to RnV. Located in Gisborne, the first place in the developed world to welcome the sunrise, Rhythm and Vines is far and away New Zealand’s most popular NYE festival. But the explosion from a small groove fest to a 30,000 person cesspit of boozed 18-year-olds meant that some time in the last five years a culture grew around the festival that “was unbecoming to the vision,” co-founder Hamish Pinkham told Henry Oliver last year.
The festival sells 80% of its tickets before the line-up is announced, with people trusting they will see world class acts on their back doorstep. But just as the festival faced danger in the riots and scrumpyhands and years of mass arrests, so too did the expense of securing headline acts pose a threat to RnV’s survival.
These days RnV is slightly more curated, promoting a ‘European’ style of drinking and a more balanced list of acts across the board. Flight Facilities, Vince Staples, Drax Project: while you’re unlikely to catch Chance the Rapper this time around, RnV remains an accessible entry to the summer festival – and a beautiful opportunity for young’uns to cut loose with total certainty they won’t bump into their parents.
Rhythm and Alps
From the 29th to the 1st, 40 minutes out of Queenstown, Rhythm and Alps is the spot to be if you’re stuck in the South Island. Once owned by RnV’s Pinkham and co, Rhythm and Alps was sold off during RnV’s revival and restructure and now exists as a separate entity in the south. This year Action Bronson makes his return to New Zealand – no word yet if he will once again sink a Lion Red big bot at Bethells Beach before he heads down, but it’s a pretty safe bet. You can also catch RnV acts Vince Staples, Fred V & Grafix and Wilkinson too.
BYO is strictly forbidden at Rhythm and Alps though, meaning you’ll probably spend about as much as you’d save flying up north. Fortunately, you’ll be in the Cardrona Valley, one of the most picturesque spots on Earth. And with capacity of around 10,000, losing your mates at RnA need not be the death sentence it is in Gisborne.
If you’re a frothy lad but you don’t have the cash to get to Gizzy, RnA is a pretty solid alternative.
Keen to get trippy but not that trippy? Make your way to Resolution – halfway from Auckland to Aum and about halfway as loose. Resolution is a an all-ages, family-friendly festy in Kumeu with korero zones, healing workshops, yoga, meditation, and holy hell there’s even witches and wizardry! If you like hypnotic oboe, if you like world music, if you like didgeridoos and flamenco rock meets mariachi, Resolution is for you.
Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle, Wondergarden actually looks pretty sick this year. Sources tell me last year saw a mass exodus from Silo Park following UMO’s performance, and horror stories of hour-long drink lines endure in the office to this day. But this time! Bloody old Tom Scott performing as Avantdale Bowling Club, Ladi-6, Katchafire and my personal favourites, Kiwi expats Fortunes. – a sexy RnB and electro act from the Waikato. If you have to be in Auckland for New Years (lol), you could do worse.
A couple years back High Life was on Waiheke and a few friends of mine tried to sneak in. They sliced up their hands on the fence and spent New Years Eve bleeding out on the wharf waiting for a ferry back to Auckland. This year’s High Life will be much easier to sneak into (calm down, I’m joking), moved as it is to The Wharf on Auckland harbour. While most festivals bill themselves as the biggest, loudest, most spectacular festival on this planet, High Life acknowledges it’s just ‘very special’.
If you like Auckland DJs, in Auckland, because you’re stuck here, in Auckland, for New Years, this is for you.
Wellington New Years’ Eve
If you’re into ‘dancing, chatting and swaying until midnight with a cool vibe and tunes to get you on your feet dancing’, consider going to Wellington and just like, hanging out on the waterfront? I don’t know, it just feels like our capital city should have something going on. Bukkies out of the bucket fountain? Just spitballing here – it’s your party.