Words and photography by Chony Musson
I would say, I’m no stranger to hip hop and drum and bass, but my mother told me not to lie. Regardless, when I saw the Listen In, Auckland line-up it had me so very intrigued and so excited that lil old New Zealand was getting an all ages hip-hop festival.
New Zealand’s very first hip hop festival kicked off before the sun had even set, with Australian MC B Wise setting the bar. A mixture of crowd interaction, and dope bangers B Wise worked well with his larger-than-life stage presence.
Between sets, even if it was for a short 10minutes there was a female DJ to the left on the stage, keeping the energy of the crowd high. The moshers were really in for a long, sweaty night.
Taking the stage next was our very own Quix behind the DJ booth. Playing some classic kiwi remixes, starring greats such as Purple Ford Falcon. There is nothing quite like seeing a performer in their home country, and the crowd went off, screaming for the drop and not being at all disappointed when it came. If his set wasn’t enough for the crowd he DJ’ed later in the night at a nearby Auckland club.
Running out onto the stage in what might have been the brightest yellow hoodie i’ve ever seen (and low-key want), Skepta was welcomed by the crowd of screaming girls and guys. The English rapper released his latest record in May this year and fans were delighted as he launched straight into his new tracks. For the first time that night, the large screen behind the stage was completely lit, showing a mixture of different and funky visuals which complimented each track perfectly.
Usually the most popular act is saved for last, and while we might have been expecting Skrillex at this point, Listen In shook things up while adding cars to the stage. The crowd were chanting “A$AP” over and over until the rapper finally appeared, horns up. Just like his last show, the crowd was ecstatic to see the star up close again, and once again, the lit screen displayed highly psychedelic images of A$AP Rocky performing. The band cast silhouettes beautifully on the backdrop and A$AP wandered across the entire stage, without once acknowledging the two “burning” cars on stage as he played a set of new, old, upbeat and slower songs. Even with the frequent change in pace throughout the set, it didn’t affect the high energy of the crowd. When “What’s your addiction?” flashed across the screen in the bold writing, smoke flooded the arena, encouraging us all to consider what our addiction might be. Even with a mic stand in hand, A$AP was able to carry the crowd as the arena sung Everyday in unison, almost drowning out the rapper.
After the hype of A$AP was over many of the younger attendees started to leave, even though Skrillex was yet the take the stage. Closing out the festival with new and old beats, the DJ’ing legend himself knows how to serve the crowd bangers after bangarangs. The poorly, yet mysteriously lit DJ let the music speak for itself, and at the end of the his set, is safe to say that as the thousands poured on the streets of Auckland they were, as promised, still jumping from excitement. All while running to the nearest club hoping to the next DJ may be nearly as good as the ones they just witnessed. Doubtful.
Overall the night was a success, and I really do hope the festival comes back next year, I’m sure it will only get better.