Rhythm and Vines is by far the most popular place for youth in NZ over New Year's. In 2014, its twelfth year, the line-up brought thousands of excitable Kiwis and foreigners to the lush greenery of the Waiohika Estate vineyard in a typically peaceful Gisborne. JESSICA SUO was there.

With green grapes hanging from vines and security guards mounted on horses, at RnV you were sure to feel immersed in a NZ cultural experience, complete with homegrown music and beautiful farmlands.

If you were looking for a relaxed introduction to the New Year, this was not the place for you. The energy coursing through the crowds generated an uplifting atmosphere for everybody to have a good time and let loose in.

 

RnV is an incredible experience for people of all ages and walks of life. There wis something for everybody to enjoy, with varying music genres, as well as a festive collection of food booths and boutique market stalls. ‘Boom Town’ had delicious foods, indie clothing, face paint, temporary tattoos, hair braids and glow sticks. Seated areas provide places for people to eat, cool off and watch the crowds.

 

For those wishing to attend the festival in future, it is important to join in the spirit by dressing accordingly. Take part in dress-up nights and sport the fun summer trends to ensure you participate in the festival vibes. Suggestions of suitable attire include Aztec, floral, neon, fluoro, colour, glitter, face paint, flower wreaths, headbands and stick-on tattoos.

 

On the hillside leading to the main stage, yellow Fruju beach balls bopped on the surface of the water hole, with an audience watching on eagerly. Few dared to be drenched by the Fruju water slide, but those who gave it a shot came to the surface with great smiles on their face, ready to go again! 

Although they were spread apart, there was easy access between the four stages, with bridges spanning creeks and leading to the separate ends of the vineyard. All stages sat nestled among the vineyard landscape, sporting sounds of varied style and content. 

 

New to Rhythm and Vines this year was the Arcadia Afterburner, a flame-throwing, surround-sound stage imported from Glastonbury, UK. It provided a unique moshing experience, with the DJ at the centre of the tower structure, surrounded by the crowd on all sides. Caged flames smoked from tree structures at the ends of the six raised platforms, and fire rose from the top of the central tower structure to the timing of the music. The presence of the stage at the festival provided a unique experience of lighting, sound, elevated dancing and heat, appealing to all senses.

Hidden between the vines of Electric Avenue, left of the Jagermeister stage, was a wooden box known as ‘The Fridge’. A DJ played to a small audience, the objective being to fit in as many people as possible. Punters piled into the box for a few minutes of dancing, squished liked sardines against their jumping neighbours. It made for a very different environment to the rest of RnV. There was no excuse to stop moving, and no opportunity to lose your friends in the crowd.

If you’re not so accepting of the port-a-loo lifestyle, the option of spending some more cash on a VIP pass gave you access to the on-site Vintage Club. Private bars, white-seated toilets, hand-wash basins, powder areas, stick-on tattoos and seating with a view of the main stage were a few of the privileges available to VIP members.

The main stage was located at the furthest end of the festival, framed on its right by a hill lined with hammocks. Rising star MØ from Sweden rocked the main stage on the first night, with her dance-fuelled music and flirty interaction with the audience. Wearing ripped jeans and a crop top, she took the stage by storm, also daring to go crowdsurfing.

 

Chet Faker played astoundingly on the main stage on the second night of RnV, his chill Australian vibes pulsing across the night sky. His gentle yet smoky voice drew in his NZ fans, a soft ambience settling through the festival. Chet has recorded in the past with the likes of Ta-Ku, Kilo Kish, MS MR, Temper Trap and Flume. Now, he daringly played freestyle onstage for a bit, making up a song on the keyboard as he went. Tracks were also played from older albums, and from his 2014 album Built On Glass which debuted at #1 on the Australian ARIA charts. The familiarity of Gold and 1998 excited the audience into applause and loud, tuneless singing. It was smiles all round, raised hands and a wistful longing as Chet left the stage. Here’s hoping he pays NZ another visit some time in the near future!

 

Even when faced with technical issues, Broods pulls together a riveting yet soulful performance on the last night, drawing in the wandering crowds. The sibling duo played hits from their new Evergreen album and a cover of the infamous 1989 track Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty. Although lacking the typical buzz of their recorded music, the lesser show must be attributed to their computer difficulties. They boarded the stage with passion and energy, ready to give everybody the performance they were expecting to receive. Their acoustic renditions of their radio-popular tunes did not fail,  supporting their claim as the most up-and-coming act in NZ for 2014.

 

The English rock band Bastille followed on and certainly picked up the speed of the night, playing to a crowd of ecstatic fans and keen party-goers. A prior likeness for Bastille was not required for members of the audience to become fully immersed in the music. The performance had me grinning from ear to ear for the full ninety minute set, unable to shake my surprise at how great they were live. They exceeded all possible expectations, and I’m sure many have now been successfully converted to the following of Bastille. Main singer Dan Smith used the whole stage with his dancing and fist pumping, encouraging his crowd to really let loose. With Kyle on the keyboard, Will on his guitar, and Woody pounding the drums, the band collectively proved their reputation as one of the hottest bands of 2014. Tracks from both their new VS album and older Bad Blood albums were played, along with covers of Mile High's What Would You Do and TLC No Scrubs. Dan’s haunting voice breathed a ghostly life into the music, a spiritual bond forming between the audience and stage members. This is the first time Bastille has played in NZ, and I certainly hope they’ll be back again.

 

The beats of Danny Brown, Ta-Ku, Chase & Status, and Netsky Live resonated through the hills, raising the festival-goers from the grass to pump the air with their fists. They truly smashed it, bringing in the New Year with an exclamatory passion of moshing bodies. The unique styles of the smaller NZ acts also proved to have surprising flare, giving us a taste of something unexpected and new.

 

A display of highly impressive fireworks hailed in the beginning moments of 2015. They erupted loudly into the night and branched through the sky, burning bright colours across the darkness of the vineyard. Upturned faces lit up with colour and elaborate smiles as they cheered on the New Year. 

Rhythm and Vines has undoubtedly been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had, drawing on my passion for good music, hanging out with friends, and meeting new people from all over NZ and the wider world. If you’re looking for a New Year’s party which promises to be a good time, RnV is definitely the place to be! See you next year!

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