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Homegrown is considered the pride and joy of our country. It’s a showcase of our top musical talent, all condensed into a one-day show across the famous Wellington Waterfront. Thousands of people across the country pack out the city for a day of music, food and good times.
My mission for the day was to observe the music culture of the 21st century, take note of everything that happens to paint you the picture of what happened on the day, as well as compile a number of snapshot interviews I took from the older generations about their perceptions of the changing music scene over the years, and see how the old and new scenes differ... or maybe not.
Homegrown, the full day concert of various bands and DJs which starts at 1pm goes on until 11pm, however the party keeps rocking with the after party and Wellington’s club scene there to support the party-goers until the early hours of the morning. The great thing about the day was the opportunity for all ages to get out and enjoy the music scene of Kiwi talent, which is nothing new – music throughout the ages has always attracted young and alike.
A 47 year old couple I met at the Dubs and Roots stage chilling out to the first band pointed out that “Man, music is the only thing that brings the world together. I mean, drugs tend to do this, but I can see there’s a lot less drug usage at concerts in today’s day and age than there used to be in our time.”. A very biased view, but I think at that point I felt a lot safer being told I’m living in the day of ‘less drug usage’.
Although the go-ahead of the concert seemed a mystery in the early hours of the foggy and cold morning, the organisers did not let the public down by giving Homegrown the go-ahead at 7am when half the city woke up to bands’ sound checks. To be fair, it seemed like the fashion has skipped back into the 60’s – 70’s for the day with some inspired pieces being the high-waisted jeans or shorts, chuck taylors, long dresses, and some of these went as far as getting coupled with gumboots for the muddy parks. The general vibe of people was in true Kiwi style – relaxed, with all different ages enjoying each other’s company, catching up with friends from around the country, all tied together through the great atmosphere of good music, food and drinks. The Wellington partying scene, well known for breakouts of fights seemed to be absent on the night through the controlled security systems and understanding police officers – even to the point of Police officers not denying opportunities of having photos taken with the public. Everyone loves a good cop.
The six stages along the Wellington Waterfront was a great set up, allowing people to travel to and from stages in an easy flow. Now that’s different. “Back in the day, you got a ticket for just the one concert where there was just the one band, and you stayed where you were the whole night. You could push your way up to the front, but everyone were so close together that it was up to your luck whether you got any closer to the front or not.” A 50 year old onlooker commented. The only problem with the spaced out stages arose when two good bands were playing on separate stages at close times and the trek between them took some time, considering that when you got to a new stage, you’d want to be at the very front rocking out. In some cases, I found the front was not the best option as the smell of cigarettes, puke and BO was a bit off-putting. All in all, the flow of music went well, and taking into account different tastes in music, the stages did a great job of sticking bands to the right genres, and depending on what stage you were watching, you could tell the difference of people and their tastes of music. As an example, walking into the black Electronic tent, the packed crowd was humid and sweaty. The cleanest stage was the Rock TSB Arena stage. It was the only venue with proper toilets, and drinks were only allowed inside in a plastic cup which stopped people from throwing cans on the floor for others to walk over. The Dub & Roots stage had a chilled-out atmosphere where many people hung out on the grass catching up with friends, eating from one of the many food tents, while still being able to enjoy, and in many cases see the stage’s act. The Pop R&B stage featured main stream artists and groups throughout the day.
Average waiting time for me wasn’t longer than 5 minutes at any one point. Although at times lines seemed like a mile long, the flow of entrance into stages went by really quickly. The only thing that slowed lines down was the thorough bag checks to check for liquids that may be alcohol. One security guard went as far as asking two girls to take off their collection of glow-bracelets before going into a stage, but apart from these one-off occurrences, I can’t complain about waiting times. An interesting comment made by 38 year old Lisa working as a security guard was “Technology has gone so far in today’s day and age that inevitably security guards have to be on top of their game with the latest forms and shapes that drugs and alcohol can come in. Back in the day, the greatest offence was to take a drink bottle filled with vodka to a concert and claim it was ‘water’. Now we need to be a lot more observant – last year at a big concert I supervised at, some kid put a huge ring on his girlfriend’s finger. We thought it looked a bit odd, so we investigated and it turned out to be filled with ecstasy pills he was sneaking in to sell to people inside. The more progressed technology gets, the more on-to-it we need to be aswell, but that’s nothing new – it’s reality”
Another extra Homegrown put on was having Vodafone taking the liberty to have collection points for the Christchurch earthquake appeal, having a V.I.P tent at many stages for Vodafone customers that made donations. The break dancers also made a mural in dedication to the Christchurch people. Such artists as Scribe (who is from there), Blindspott, and others dedicated many songs to the people of Christchurch which bonded the audiences and brought respect to the Christchrch based artists who let the show go on for Wellington.
Homegrown is known to many as New Zealand’s biggest and greatest party of the year and with over 16,500 tickets that sell out within weeks it truly lived up to its expectation. It was its fourth year in Wellington and it will be back next year. Hopefully we see more young and old music enthusiasts there to enjoy the great atmosphere, and remember how much our music binds us together – no matter who, or how old we are.