Indie festival The Others Way providing New Zealand music lifeline

While much of the world is still facing cancelled plans, one Auckland music festival has just been able to announce its lineup with confidence.

The Others Way is making a welcome return in a year that's dished out tough times for musicians and venues.

"It's pretty incredible, and we're kind of lucky for so many artists to still be here, and be ready to go," says Rohan Evans, manager of the Wine Cellar.

The Others Way takes place across venues all over Karangahape Road, and has been a springboard for some of New Zealand's biggest alternative acts.

But for its sixth year, festival director Matthew Davis says he had to think long and hard over whether to go ahead.

"When we were in lockdown and we didn't even know what was going to be happening. The idea of being able to go and go out to a show, let alone go to fourteen different venues seemed rather ridiculous," he told Newshub.

Forty-eight acts will play those fourteen venues across Karangahape Road.

"So you can kind of choose-your-own-adventure throughout the whole night," explains Gussie Larkin, vocalist and guitarist for Earth Tongue, one of this year's acts.

Davis says part of the festival's continued success has been its community feel, and the support amongst the venues, musicians, and fans.

 "I feel like it's a chance for us all to get together and celebrate New Zealand music, and celebrate the ability that we are able to put this on again"

Alongside big names like the Chills and the Bats, it's also been an early showcase for those that have gone on to become big names, like Benee and the Beths.

"It's pretty special to see a new act play, and you see them play the Wine Cellar, and then three, four years later they're, yeah, playing a winery" Davis says.

For Evans and other music venue managers, this year's been an emotional rollercoaster.

"We all tried not to panic, we all supported each other. But it was quite terrifying," he admits.

But he hopes The Others Way will bring back fond memories for punters.

"Big events like The Others Way reminds everybody who's come to a show over the last fifteen, or in our case sixteen years, they go 'oh that's right, I saw this band before they were big here, oh I haven't been here for ages!'"

The 2020 lineup features the likes of the Phoenix Foundation, Nadia Reid, JessB, and Upper Hutt Posse.

For Earth Tongue, 2020 was supposed to bring a move to Europe and a 23 date tour. But the duo says they feel lucky to still be in New Zealand at the moment.

"We feel a little bit guilty about that really! We played a show at the weekend, and we were posting on social media and getting lots of messages from friends in Europe like 'what? You guys are playing shows?'" says drummer Ezra Simons.

Larkin's no stranger to The Others Way, having played a number of times with her other band, Mermaidens. This year will mark the second appearance for Earth Tongue.

"It's always a very comfortable place for us to be. Although this year I think we'll be playing a much bigger stage so we'll kind of be levelling up," says Larkin.

While events remain cancelled all over the world, festivals here can go ahead without worry - and play to Kiwi fans more eager than ever.

"With COVID depriving everyone of the live music experience, it's created a whole new appreciation for it. So I think for a while yet in New Zealand, people are going to be attending shows a lot," says Simons.

So mark September 11 in your diary: this kind of celebration will sell out in advance.