Rhythm and Vines 2014

ARTS, Music
img_rhythmvines3-jamesblackHighlights and images from the annual Gisborne music festival. Photography by James Black.

Rhythm and Vines, a three-day music festival held at the picturesque Waiohika Estate Vineyard in Gisborne, has been going from strength to strength. While it began a decade ago with a group of Dunedin students looking for an exciting way to celebrate the New Year for themselves and their university friends, today, it is one of the most highly anticipated summer events in New Zealand. Some even believe it to be the local equivalent of Glastonbury, the über-festival of Britain. 

Rhythm and Vines attracts over 10,000 music and party lovers from across the country and beyond and offers a diverse lineup of quality homegrown and international talent. The festival tries to offer something for everyone—from hip-hop and rock anthems to electro pop and drum and bass. This year there were four stages to choose from: the main Rhythm Stage for more or less big acts, the more intimate Cellar stage and Jagermeister Supernova, and, all the way from Bristol, UK, a special treat, the Arcadia Afterburner, which has been a regular feature at Glastonbury. It is a 360 degree stage in the shape of a spire with five raised platforms for people to dance on and musically timed light and flame effects to complement the efforts of the likes of Grandtheft, P-Money, and London Elektricity.

There is more to Rhythm and Vines than just music and partying, though. The music acts start at about 6pm which is quite late by international festival standards. Even then the crowds do not rush to the venue and the stages start getting filled after sunset. In the afternoon punters can enjoy a giant water slide, hang out by the pool, chill out in one of the numerous hammocks on the hill from which also provide a decent view of the main stage, or venture beyond the festival grounds to explore Gisborne and its beautiful surroundings. Those who are feeling incredibly romantic can even get married with the Rhythm and Wed service provided on festival grounds.


This writer was only able to attend Rhythm and Vines on the 31st. The New Year’s Eve is considered to be the grandest festival night with music acts continuing until 6am. Lasting until then is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The final day’s line up was opened by Holly Arrowsmith, a folk songstress from Queenstown. Her melodic tunes really suited the overall relaxed vibe of the early evening, though unfortunately there were only about 20 people by the stage to witness her beautiful performance.

She was followed by another quality local act, Estère, and her MPC called Lola. Her incredible stage presence and a funky set encompassing a variety of music styles, quirky lyrics, and a soulful voice left onlookers wanting more.

As it slowly got darker, more and more punters started to fill the stages. The atmosphere of the event had changed and started to resemble the massive music and alcohol frenzy that so many people imagine it to be. The next two acts, classic rockers Mi-Sex and a synth-pop brother and sister duo Broods, enjoyed a much bigger crowd dancing along to their tunes.


Jagwar Ma

But the most highly anticipated act of the night was probably the award winning UK band Bastille, who did not disappoint. Their hits ‘Pompeii’, ‘Flaws’ and ‘Things We Lost in the Fire’ made the crowd go wild, before balancing them with more soulful tunes from their debut album. The end of Bastille’s thrilling performance also marked the end of 2014.

As colourful fireworks lit up the sky, live bands were replaced by DJs. Zane Lowe took the stage with his invigorating set and the party celebrating the beginning of 2015 really took off. Punters could migrate from one stage to another to find a set of their liking and dance until the sunrise.

The Rhythm and Vines is notorious for its never-ending alcoholic and drug frenzy and that, along with several days of camping, might be a bit of a turn off for some music lovers. However, the festival offers a great line up, and also showcases some great homegrown talent to the masses. As for camping, it is not the only option for festival goers. Thanks to the special bus service from Gisborne town to the festival grounds, it is possible to enjoy the festival without compromising comfort. Overall, a memorable experience worth checking out for yourself.

© James Black 2015. All Rights Reserved. More images at blackphotographic.