Homegrown festival: From Kiwi classics to TikTok trends

10:20 am on 17 March 2024
The crowd listening to Home Brew perform at an outdoor stage.

Home Brew perform for a crowd at Homegrown. Photo: RNZ/ Pretoria Gordon

As Stan Walker said, the best thing about Homegrown is that it's homegrown.

"It's a showcase of our past, present and our future," he said.

Saturday night was a celebration of some of the best music Aotearoa New Zealand has to offer. And what a night it was.

Walking in to collect my wristband, the music reverberated through the city, bouncing off the surrounding buildings and echoing off the harbour. I was hyped. The sun was out, and although it was a not-so-warm day at around 15 degrees, people were turning increasingly darker shades of red.

Later on, in typical Wellington fashion, the wind came out. But it didn't seem cold amongst the crowd.

Every year Homegrown gets bigger and better, and this year was no exception. Although it was sold out, with more than 23,000 attendees, one sentiment that multiple people shared was that it didn't feel crowded. That might've been due to having five different stages.

I spent most of the day between the Electronic Stage and the Park Stage. Starting with Sanoi 2pm and ending with State of Mind at 10pm - Home Brew, Lady Shaka, Katchafire, Stan Walker, Lee Mvtthews and L.A.B in between.

My favourite was Lady Shaka, who performed at Homegrown for the first time. She had such great energy, and it was so good to see a wāhine artist on the stage - and that more women were invited to perform at the music festival this year.

Other highlights for me were getting to see Home Brew after they got back together earlier this year and hearing L.A.B perform their new album that they released at the end of last month. Stan Walker also did an incredible performance - he was sick, but you wouldn't have known it.

Artists performed Kiwi classics, songs trending on TikTok and everything in between.

Two people with giant foam hands posing for the camera.

Photo: RNZ/ Pretoria Gordon

The organisers seemed to be very considerate. There was an abundance of clean, well-maintained portaloos. There were disabled toilets, and wheelchair access at every stage. And free water every couple of metres. The security guards even handed out bottles of water to the front of the moshpit.

There were lots of different food options, from various cultures, and all at a reasonable price. Although there were only a few different alcohol options - the event was sponsored by Jim Beam. But if you didn't like the food and drink options on offer, you could come and go as you pleased throughout the day, so you could go elsewhere in the city instead.

A duty manager, Tessa Peka, had been working at Homegrown for more than 14 years. She even named her daughter Kora after the Park Stage's headliner. I watched as she did the job of three - serving drinks, cleaning up - even in the portaloos, and helping out at the medical tent. She said she wanted to make Homegrown the best experience for the attendees.

Groups of people sitting on the grass at Homegrown, one person looks at the camera.

Photo: RNZ/ Pretoria Gordon

There were rides, games, and different activities put on by other radio stations and organisations. It was very family-friendly considering it was an R16 event. However, police made some arrests throughout the night.

By 11pm, the ground was littered with pink-coloured Grins, Canadian Club cans and Red Bull cups, despite multiple rubbish and recycling bins near every stage - what happened to being a Tidy Kiwi?

But listening to the music made me proud to be from Aotearoa. As the sun set, there was a sea of Jim Beam-branded LED lights in the crowd, and everyone sang as loudly as they could with what little voice they had left after cheering for hours on end.

L.A.B performing on stage at night under pink and purple lighting.

L.A.B performing at Homegrown. Photo: RNZ/ Pretoria Gordon