Southward Car Museum, Otaihanga Rd, Otaihanga, Paraparaumu
Saturday, March 26
It was, in the end, a nice surprise. An audacious project – really. A bold attempt to start something worthwhile, but low-key/ish, still with some aim of being about bringing things to the coast (Paraparam), to making a destination-event worthwhile with the right vibe and good music.
And it worked.
A lovely setting, beaut weather, fun for all the family, activities as well as music and this relaxed atmosphere, no niggle, no dickheads, no issues…just pleasant people enjoying a decent range of music.
Okay, so there were some issues to be addressed for future events: a live music festival should really kick off with live music, not DJs talking over the soundsystem and big-upping what hasn’t yet happened. That’s fine for between acts, but take the risk and have someone playing straight away, make a reason for the crowd to dash down to the stage once through the gates, not a slow set-up-base-when-ready picnic-hamper saunter.
And the queues for the food grew as the day went on. There needed to be some more options. Also, as great as it w as to have an Easter Egg Hunt, face-painting and some music aimed at the kids – as well as the great family-friendly circus act, there still could have been more there. Again, it needed to start right away.
The between-set DJs did play great music. Easy to like, no age-inappropriate stuff and a good range.
Don McGlashan playing a mid-afternoon set of Muttonbirds and solo songs struck the right chord. Next year we’d easily have Dave Dobbyn or Jordan Luck or one or two others sub in and nail that spot too.
The Balkinistas were wonderful – arguably the festival really came alive, grew a spirit at least, after their lively performance that started with a parade down the hill and through the crowd, then culminated in a stage performance that had people of all ages up and dancing to the Balkan rhythms.
Lawrence Arabia presented a great set, debuting plenty of new material from the upcoming record (sounded fabulous) as well as a few of the power-pop gems from his past recordings.
There were some nothing-acts that merely served to pass time – Al Fraser’s set of Taonga Puoro soundscapes and loops was, frankly, dead-boring, and an odd “start” to the festival, even if well-intentioned. Brazil’s Morenadub also felt like total beginners, training wheels world music, and Miles Calder and The Rumour gave it their usual best to be Ryan Adams and The Cardinals.
Crimson Club performed the most joyless song with the word ‘smile’ in it ever on record (shit – I hope it’s not on an actual record) and their joylessness was trumped by Mara TK’s phoned in smugness.
But, there was still something very energizing about this day on the green, the calm setting, the ease and flow.
Coastella needs a big-name headliner to really sell it next time. A solo artist I guess (considering the costs) someone like Steve Earle or Paul Kelly perhaps? A great songwriter that can account for 50% of the ticket sales on his or her own; dragging along people prepared to catch anything else as a bonus.
I had a good time. The kids loved it. We’d have stayed for longer if it wasn’t past their bedtime. A shame to miss Delaney Davidson’s Manos Del Chango – who I had picked as the likely highlight. Someone told me the next day that they really were the best. And I had seen them two nights earlier at Wellington’s Meow and it was magic. So no real surprise there.
The guy from the Balkinistas said from the stage that Coastella felt like “a little WOMAD” and he even meant that as a compliment. I could see the angle he was aiming for. And let’s hope it grows slowly but surely.
I’d love to head back for a second serving. A bit less of the well-meaning but misguided slow-to-start and a bit more of the quality songwriting next time please. When Coastella got it right it was really lovely to feel part of – and when it was slightly wrong it really wasn’t too big of a deal. So that’s a rather nice balance to strike first time out of the gates.