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Gladstonebury: Back to grassroots

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

Remember watching a famous band up close and personal before they hit the big time?

Wairarapa musician Nikki King remembers, and she hopes to revive that grassroots excitement in Wairarapa with a music and arts festival at the Gladstone Vineyard.

And there’s no name fitter for the festival than Gladstonebury, “of course”.

The inaugural event, to be held rain or shine on April 1, will see 400 festival-goers enjoying music from up-and-coming bands hailing from Wairarapa and the rest of the North Island.

“It’s not big names, it’s grassroots – which is what Glastonbury started out being like,” King said.

“Glastonbury (in the UK) became a big thing, but to start off with, it was always more of an underground festival.

“We’re hoping to create that same vibe.”

Whanganui band, Drones. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Whanganui band, Drones. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Each of the 20 bands involved in the 12-hour festival are emerging New Zealand talent in the genres of rock, reggae, pop, indie, and heavy metal, with two stages hosting music at the event.

“Everyone is sort of in that emerging band bracket,” King said.

“There’s not really a festival for them because everyone concentrates on big names.

“What I feel is that people have lost the excitement of seeing a band before they’re famous.

“I saw Muse back in 2000 and they were playing at the academy in Manchester and they were right there in front of you.

“People have lost the excitement about up-and-coming bands and it’s a bit sad really.”

There are about 100 tickets left to sell for the event, and judging by ticket sales already, it will be a diverse crowd.

“Ticket sales have been interesting,” King said.

Soloist Tom Kane is No Mans Heath. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Soloist Tom Kane is No Mans Heath. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

“When we look at who bought them, we’ve got people coming from Canterbury, people coming from Picton, people coming from Auckland, Australia — one of the ladies who rang me this week about tickets said, oh it’s great that you’re doing this because we don’t get anything like this in Perth.”

King said Gladstone Vineyard owner Christine Kernohan had been considering the event as well, but it wasn’t until recently that the two met up and put a plan into action.

“Because of the time-frame we had this year to prepare, we could only go for a medium-sized licence.

“We thought, let’s go small, let’s go intimate, let’s do it right.”

King said there would be a bigger run-up for next year “so Gladstonebury will be bigger”, with three stages instead of two.

To complement the music at the festival there are food stalls, craft stalls, and a merchandise tent, as well as children’s entertainment.

“It’s a bit of a celebration about what’s going on around the place,” King said.

She wanted to thank people and organisations who had given their time voluntarily to bring the event together. “There’s lots of people who believe in the concept who have done it with very little or no pay — they just believe in music in Wairarapa.”


For more information, visit gladstonebury.co.nz


    • I went to this festival and wow there were loads of amazing female performers. The organisers are two ladies who I’m willing to speculate – did not discriminate against other ladies. Reporters pick pictures that are easy, big deal that’s the media so deal with that. But JJ your’e just looking to pick a battle and express some snowflake specialness you poor diddums 🙁

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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