It’s 7:30pm on the dot and security have opened the gates and are welcoming us in. The venue is slowly beginning to fill with black, plaid, side bangs and band shirts. Eyeliner is heavy and beers are flowing. Elemeno P’s iconic 2003 album Love & Disrespect is sold out on vinyl within 15 minutes of the doors opening.
After a slow and hazy welcome from a DJ set and a glass of wine, a 22-year-old rangatahi graces the stage with her opening act. Iris G is singing her heart out with two beautiful backing dancers elevating the performance. She says she was “a little nervous performing for this demographic”, as a young pop and R&B singer, but that the vibe from the audience was significantly better than she could have anticipated.
Despite the contrasting genres, Iris G’s ultimate view is that when we get down to the science of what music is, that it’s just vibrations – a feeling. And despite musical differences, the point of music is connection and finding what resonates. Heavy influences of hers include Beyonce and Megan Thee Stallion.
Iris G is performing at Girl Fest in May in Hamilton. She’s also releasing a documentary series on RNZ on April 12th. The series is called The Collective and touches on her story as a survivor and journey to finding her voice.
After interval bangers from Yellowcard and My Chemical Romance begin to die down on the speakers, Elemeno P kick onto the stage opening with their famous line “I like Nirvana, it doesn’t mean I’ll shoot myself”.
The crowd absolutely lost it. Following a very impressive opening song was the timeless, crowd-favourite – “Verona” – written about lead singer Dave Gibson’s experience of meeting his wife. The audience is moving in unison howling “Vero-o-o-o-o-na!” at the absolute top of their lungs as the band invites us to take over the vocals.
There isn’t anything quite like being in your element and feeling the shared energy of the crowd re-living the nostalgia of Elemeno P’s first album. Jessie Booth, a new(ish) participant to the showpiece brought an entirely new dymamic to the show with her epic stage presence and musicianship.
Urban Getaway was lapped up by a ravenous audience. The “chill vibe” did not prevent the audience from giving the band a loud and enthusiastic response. When Fast Times in Tahoe came on, every single word was sung back to the band on stage.
The sheer togetherness and collective sound of this band just represents the time that they’ve spent refining their musicianship. It’s hard to believe that 18 years has passed by since the release of their first hit. With the response of the crowd, it could have been a week ago.
Ultimately it would be a difficult task as a 28-year-old to go to an Elemeno P concerts and not enjoy it. They wrapped up their tour with an encore of an acoustic “Fast Times in Tahoe” which felt like a natural way to end things. Back to the roots, the foundation, of what ultimately started the era of Elemeno P.
Click any icon to view a full set of photos by each band. All photos by Rachel Webb.