23 Feb 2024

The Chemical Brothers set to headline NZ's biggest one-day festival

1:16 pm on 23 February 2024
A large crowd of concert goers cheering on an act, with people raising their hands up in the air.

Photo: Supplied / Electric Avenue

Organisers for the country's biggest one-day music festival admit some perseverance was needed in securing this year's headliners.

A crowd of about 35,000 will flock to Christchurch's Hagley Park on Saturday for Electric Avenue, a festival which continues to make annual gains, despite the fragmented and unpredictable challenges served up by running a large-scale music event on these shores.

The festival is nearing a decade-long tenure of operations after it first landed in the Garden City back in 2015.

Nine years on, they've managed to secure the services of one of the world's biggest festival heavyweights.

British electronica veterans the Chemical Brothers will headline this year's festival, marking their first visit to New Zealand in more than a decade as they promote their tenth studio album For That Beautiful Feeling.

Although the six time-Grammy winners have twice played closing Boiler Room slots at the old Big Day Out (2000 and 2005) and a handful of stand-alone shows over the years, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are a significant booking victory for Electric Avenue organisers, given the duo's reputation of producing astonishing live performances.

Electric Avenue organiser Callam Mitchell said he had been pursuing the act for a few years.

"It's a pretty big coup for us," he said.

"It's one I've been personally working on for about three years and for one reason or another it just couldn't happen, or the date got pushed back.

"I think when the war kicked off in Ukraine, rising fuel prices put things on the backburner for another year."

Two DJs holding microphones raise their hands in the air in front of a large crowd.

Photo: Supplied / Electric Avenue

Unsurprisingly, Mitchell concedes their headliners absorbed a significant amount of the budget.

"The timing has worked really well this year, given their album release a few months ago.

"Their live show is pretty amazing, their visual show, their laser show, the giant robots that come out, it will be pretty special and a lot of people here would never have seen anything like it."

Elsewhere, homegrown favourites Six60, Shapeshifter and L.A.B. will take to the main stages, alongside a further 30 local and international acts.

It will mark a final hurrah behind the kit for departing Six60 drummer Eli Paewai, ending a 16 year stint which has seen the band become a Kiwi institution.

A crowd in front of a large stage watching a musician at night.

Photo: Supplied / Electric Avenue

It is set to be a massive cash cow for the Christchurch economy, with about half of revellers from outside the region. The festival equates to about $6 million visitor spending.

But the festival hasn't been without its problems previously.

Gone are the RFID wristbands of 2023 which caused some headaches for patrons and the site has been extended so the congestion of last year is avoided.

"You're always learning I guess, you solve a set of issues one year and the next year you encounter a new set," Mitchell said.

"We've put all our food vendors into a dedicated food vendor village, so getting food is just easier to navigate.

"Increasing toilet block numbers, increasing bar capacity, a lot of it is just trying to do those basics right.

"We're fairly confident we've got it right."