Review: The Block Party Festival (Auckland 20th May 2016)

Published On May 23, 2016 | By Leon Witehira | Reviews

Photography by D’Shott

Ever since Talk Later announced The Block Party Festival and its line-up the show automatically became a must-see on the calendar of events for 2016. Months had elapsed since and on a typical Auckland evening of May the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane were ascended upon by streams of people from all directions. K, so, snags with such overseas acts, notorious in these parts, also tainted this outing as well with Tha Dogg Pound + Lady of Rage citing visa reasons behind their withdraw and Prodigy of Mobb Deep experiencing health issues for his absence, yet, the organizers honoured a refund policy immediately after these developments and was able to bill in Bizzy Bone for a rare solo-set to make up the nights schedule.

The main entry gate itself welcomed new arrivals with its snaking queues and teeming carparks. Once in, the orientation of the venues layout was the first thing to get your bearings about. A first-time multi stage set-up that saw the local acts and drawcards separated in different areas along with the usual bars and food spots available throughout. Yup, Ill touch on the problematic hitches briefly, the stages however viewed meant that the Aotearoa stage was at best enjoyed by no more than a hundred or so on average at any given time when someone was on. Times x Two, PNC, Illegal Musik, Tomorrow People and Che Fu (feat. The Krates) did what they came to do but in the setting just didn’t have that pull. The other Main stage catered to the void and rightfully so for the headliners but the acoustics weren’t the best and dumbed it down slightly for some. Now, the top-up system – By itself wasn’t the annoyance but rather the staffing numbers manning the areas I’d say. Summarizing these to better the next possibly highlights the need for another venue and better flow in the mentioned areas, right, said and done.

Now, the poignant reason why thousands in attendance converged on mass be it on a dampened wet Friday evening became apparent from the offset. From go-to-whoa, the quality of the performances couldn’t be faulted. The stage was accompanied by large screens visible from the stadium styled blenches, an extended catwalk trunk with an overhead lighting rig that created real ambience. The deliverance of hits and favs delighted everyone such as Bizzys Thugz Cry, Quik’s Dollaz & Sense, Mobb Deeps Got it Twisted, Twistas Overnight Celebrity and BTNH’s Crossroads to close it out just to mention picks from each. You got a real vibe of the 90’s for the majority with the odd early 2000’s that-was-jam making the sets too. Evident more so by the crowd and bystanders, with 30 plus-year-olds busting out the lyrics word-for-word of their teenage idols and barely 20 somethings doing the same on the back of being in touch with the hype that still exists around the US Hip Hop genre both old and new here in little old New Zealand.

The exodus that followed and the discussions on exit with your associates and randoms pretty much concluded what-was fittingly. It was super good with definite room for improvement, collated feedback and all else considered on a personal level that has to be the take away statement. Looking forward with excitement to whoever makes the roster in 2017, checking for that one like many others.



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