Concert Review: 2021 Splore Festival: Tapapakanga Regional Park March 26-28 2021

The weekend just gone provided a getaway like no other for a community like no other. Veterans and newbies alike flocked to the shores of Tapapakanga Regional Park to revel in the tunes, laughter, colours and freedom that is: Splore Festival.

The event did not disappoint despite the odds from the Covid-shaped curveball that came its way. Usually held in the peak of Summer towards the end of February, the festival was pushed back a month into autumn due to the 4th Auckland lockdown. The Covid setback also meant that international artists were not able to land in Aotearoa, so the line-up was 100% kiwi talent.

Splorer’s embraced this with open arms and delighted in the fact we were able to support our talented musicians and performers. We frothed the fact we were also able to party when that luxury is still a distant goal for many around the world.  Organisers proved they’d push through no matter the obstacle and provided us with a wonderful weekend that exceeded all expectations- as usual.

As a long time Splore attendee I am often asked who is on the lineup when the upcoming festival pops up in conversation, to which I always respond, “I don’t go to Splore solely based on the lineup but more for the entire experience”.

Nevertheless there are always musical acts that give you all the warm fuzzies every year at Splore due to owner/coordinator John Minty’s incredible talent at picking out the remarkable. He really does have a knack for choosing artists which inspire, dazzle and leave you speechless.  Not only do these artists often blow their performances out of the park but they also represent the ethos of Splore and are somewhat relatable to everyone watching from the crowd.

Musical highlights from Splore 2021 included party people and multi instrumental Weird Together who provided a jaw dropping set which was strongly influenced by African and Caribbean flavours, the exceptional number- a cover of Skrillex’s Cinema which they’ve renamed “Drop the Brass” including multiple brass instruments that stunned the crowd and had everyone grooving.

Another Friday night act that pumped up the crowd were the latest & greatest super group BLKCITY who combined a tasty mix of bass, funk, rap & brilliant MC talent. Shapeshifter also performed a stunning show as they always do and when In Colour played it was the anthem of Splore as the entire crowd sparkled and twinkled with their light up costumes & props.

What I find special about Splore, and as mentioned previously, although the music is always incredible, the festival always showcases more. This comes in the form of interactive art, workshops, stalls and performances of other kinds that run throughout the days and nights over the weekend.

A particular performance that blew my mind and many others was the Blood and Milk Cabaret at the living lounge  on the Saturday. Hosted by the witty and fabulous Banana Jolie, the show involved a range of insane performing arts including dance & aerial routines. A standout, an aerial rope (corde lisse) performance which was the second act of the cabaret.

The crowd watched on in awe as the performer wound themselves effortlessly around and up the rope, combining dramatic drops with impressive contorting holds. As a rookie aerialist myself I understood how hard aerial performance is and watched on mesmerised, my jaw hanging open until the end of the performance. This show stopping cabaret was proof that Splore was serious about entertaining.

Sunday was dusty for many but the tunes and entertainment were not over yet. Kiwi legends The Topp Twins took to the stage and left everyone in hysterics as they yodelled and sang their way through a wonderfully nostalgic, heartwarming and iconic Kiwi performance. Post Topp’s, the mainstage brought on the smooth sounds of Hollie Smith who healed the hungover souls watching on.

Splore 2021 was an event that will ingrain itself deep in the happy files of many punters’ brains. It made us feel tingly like when you get a hug from mum- rather fitting as the theme of the festival this year was Mother. This festival is incredibly unique and never ever disappoints. It connects us to our whenua, our whanau & always proves that aroha should be what we value most. Thank you Splore.

Gab McDonnell.

2021 Splore Highlights. Video by Gab McDonnell Music by Ashez.