24 Mar 2019

REVIEW: Homegrown - Dave Dobbyn shows the power of song

From RNZ Music, 10:18 am on 24 March 2019

Music 101's Yadana Saw tries to make sense of being at Homegrown festival after a period of unprecedented national mourning. Between the revellers, the heat and the glitter - she finds the music makes a difference. 

Half-Queen and Jess B

Half-Queen and Jess B Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Unlike numerous public events and festivals that were postponed or cancelled around the country following the Christchurch terrorist attack, Wellington’s Homegrown festival resolutely soldiered on.

The sun was out. The revellers revelled. The bands played. The glitter sparkled. The RTDs were chugged down.

And oh, the bands played.  Homegrown kicked off on the Lab Stage with JessB and her squad of boss-babes including DJ Half-Queen and a duo of back up dancers. JessB’s bouncing, energetic set was well received by a small number of punctual festival goers. It seemed a shame that JessB wasn’t playing late afternoon/early evening set as her dancehall, “summery good times” sound would be a joy to experience in front of a bigger audience.

P-Money maintained the reggaton/ dancehall vibes on the Lab Stage with Rubi Du toasting over P-Money’s well-crafted beats.  

Brother-sister duo Broods brought their dream-pop to eager fans later in the night. The biggest singalong during their late night set was to the Caleb Nott-led song 'Too Proud'. Between songs Georgia Nott encouraged the audience to say no racism and sexism. “It needs to start today and you have to do it everyday,” she implored as the crowd cheered.

Homegrown fans

Homegrown fans Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

On the City Stage, Che Fu and the Krates played a set of funked up, trapped-out twists of Che’s well-loved back catalogue. In tribute to the events in Christchurch, the entire band sported white t-shirts with peace symbols.

Having followed SWIDT’s high energy mid-afternoon set, Che and his band covered the Onehunga rap crew’s '312' and paid homage to hip hop’s most familiar breaks. Perhaps the most quintessentially Homegrown moment was spotting Outrageous Fortune’s Munter, actor Tammy Davis, taking in Che’s version of Hello Sailor’s 'Gutter Black' (the theme song to Outrageous Fortune).

Also on the City Stage, Tiki Taane played a mid-afternoon set of familiar favourites.  Tiki Taane’s “stand against racism” singlet seeming more poignant this time.

Tiki Taane at Homegrown

Tiki Taane at Homegrown Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

This year, Homegrown became more compact across the waterfront by having the rock music stage outdoors rather than in the TSB Arena. Between acts there was a bit of congestion in and out of the stage, but given the windless and sunny weather, being stuck outside on one of Wellington’s good days didn’t create too much hardship.

In fact, for most of Saturday 23 March you could be forgiven for thinking that the Wellington Waterfront had time-travelled back to an alternate reality where the Christchurch massacre hadn’t happened.

The festival had scheduled a minute’s silence around 9.30pm, where acts on all five stages would stop. There was a reflective tone close up to the stages, but along the waterfront, where many festival goers were moving between acts, the day of sun and drinking meant that still silence was no longer front of mind.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the festival, just prior to the observed silence, the Dub and Roots stage was interrupted and the audience was evacuated after security fears. But things quickly resumed with Shapeshifter, the stage’s last act of the night.

Tom Scott/Home Brew at Homegrown

Tom Scott/Home Brew at Homegrown Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Meanwhile, at the other end of the festival, Dave Dobbyn concluded Homegrown 2019 with a set that provided the comfort, familiarity and warmth that his music has done for decades.

The richness and depth of Dobbyn’s body of work saw a live set bursting with hits from Th’ Dudes, DD Smash and his own solo work, leading one Homegrowner to remark on Dobbyn’s power as “a human jukebox” as the crowd heartily sang along to 'Bliss', 'Slice of Heaven', 'Be Mine Tonight', 'Outlook for Thursday'.

Dobbyn closed the night with 'Welcome Home' and was joined onstage with special guests (Kings, Mitch James, Devilskin’s Jenny Skulander, Barnaby Weir, and Dave Gibson from Elemeno P).

It was a powerful sight to witness Dobbyn leading guests and thousands in a rousing version of his song that rung out from many corners of Aotearoa in this time of unfathomable mourning over this past week.

At one point The Dobbfather reminded us about the importance of love and cheekily observed that love was responsible for bringing each one us into the world.

Homegrown fans

Homegrown fans Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Homegrown fans

Homegrown fans Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Homegrown fans

Homegrown fans Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Homegrown fans... or maybe they're practising for Armageddon festival.

Homegrown fans... or maybe they're practising for Armageddon festival. Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Homegrown fans

Homegrown fans Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Che Fu

Che Fu Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Fire fighters, sweltering in those suits

Fire fighters, sweltering in those suits Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Jon Lemmon

Jon Lemmon Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

General Fiyah with Three Houses Down

General Fiyah with Three Houses Down Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Homegrown

Homegrown Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

DJ Half-Queen

DJ Half-Queen Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone

Jess B

Jess B Photo: RNZ/Kirsten Johnstone