Gig Review: Noisia & Kanine @ Riccarton Park Racecourse, Christchurch - 21/12/2019
When pioneering musicians Noisia announced in September 2019 that they’d be disbanding in 2020, it sent a ripple through the electronic music scene. 20 year's worth of multi-genre dominance, 3 record labels, countless releases - it was understandable that their final appearance on South Island shores would be met with excitement and a tinge of sadness. Hype levels only increased when promoters Cream and Red Rum Touring set the venue as Riccarton Racecourse Park, in order to properly cater to the hordes of fans keen to experience drum n bass history.
The weather gods smiled and produced a cracking day, and as I strolled along the tree-lined driveway leading to the Park entrance I could hear the distant pounding of speakers and excited chatter from groups of summer-attired ravers ready to dance the day away. Coming into the staging area I was immediately hit with summer festival vibes: refreshment and shelter tents, a freshly-mowed dance area and a massive central stage flanked by speaker stacks and video displays.
Chiccoreli, host of long-running Base FM institute Liquid Lowdown, was warming things up with cosy summer vibes and impeccable liquid steez featuring deep female vocal samples and staples such as Be True by Commix and Broken Dreams by Lenzman. On the latter he was joined by collaborator and partner MC Tali, fresh off winning Best Electronica Artist at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, and she complimented his selections by singing along to the soaring hooks (“I choose you baby, I choose you…”), interspersed with soulful freestyles and reflections on drum n bass and the role it has played in her life. Like the headline act, Tali has been plying her trade for 20 years and it showed in her seamless flow and buoyant, authentic stage presence.
Auckland trio Sly Chaos (brothers Mike and Andrew Enderby and Conor Till) have been on the scene since 2015 when they took out the 09 heats of the now-defunct Rumble In The Jungle competition. Alongside veteran Jabz MC on expert hype duty, I was hugely impressed by their high energy, Andy C -influenced mixing and full spectrum selections, covering a gamut of fresh cuts from the lovely Guitar Track by Kings of the Rollers (perfect for a sun-drenched outdoor gig), to the wobbly future jungle of Document One’s Vibration, and massive screechers from Critical Impact and Turno. Their obvious enthusiasm for the music and the effect it has on a heaving crowd of ravers marks them as future superstars.
Bassfreaks honcho Tony Vincent aka T-Bone dialled things back with a host of half-time steppers in preparation for the main act, or as Jabz MC put it, “this is the jiggy shit before the heavy-ish.” I took the opportunity to stock up on liquids and have a hot meal, navigating my way through the fields of cigarette butts (darts, like mullets, are way back in fashion). There was a brief interlude while CDJs were unplugged and laptop installed, a murmur of anticipation dropping over the park grounds, the racecourse grandstand looming large in the fading Canterbury light.
A ponytailed Thijs de Vlieger, one of three artists making up Noisia (stylised as VISION backwards), dropped straight into heavy, intricate, neuro-tech darkness, with gnarly, whiplash-inducing transitions giving the gurning crowd a massive case of bassface. For a performer on the verge of retiring (at least under the Noisia moniker), de Vlieger was having a lot of fun, waving his arms like a conductor and wielding a microphone to deliver peppy lines to an adoring audience. “This is the last time I’ll play here. Been coming here a decade. How crazy is that?!” Not half as crazy as everyone went when he dropped the halftime VIP of Noisia and The Upbeats seminal Dead Limit, followed by a further selection of monstrous halftime tunes including a massive dubplate forthcoming from NZ’s own Shapeshifter and The Upbeats, and a collab between Noisia and the infamous Skrillex (“this is only the second time I’m playing this”). Although by this stage I’d had my fill of the more experimental/down-tempo strain of drum n bass, it was an expert performance that left smiling faces and weary bodies, and as nightfall sent a chill wind blowing off the plains, everyone huddled tighter, a seething mass of happy fans ready for a final push.
UK artist Kanine has rapidly ascended the ranks with just a handful of releases, demonstrating precision production over a wide spectrum of subgenres, with an assured and friendly stage presence and talent for massive double-drops. He judged the appetite of the late-day crowd expertly, ripping through a series of some of the biggest tunes of 2019, from Ben Snow screechers to Kanine’s own epic Sundown, along with classics like Bunker by Sub Focus and Moon In Your Eye by Serum, Paul T and Edward Oberon. As the massive shuddering bass and haunting vocal of the latter track rang out (“All I ever wanted was thiiiis…”), I dragged my weary but satisfied body out the gates. It had been a special day no doubt, and as a troubled decade wound to a close, there was a real sense that a collective love of this beautiful, multi-faceted music could, for at least one sunny day in middle earth, transport us all somewhere better.