As the younger sibling to New Zealand's biggest New Year's
Eve party, Rhythm and Vines, Rhythm and Alps aims to bring
the same mix of eclectic international artists, summer vibes,
and two nights of camping to the central South Island.
Held in the picturesque plains of Terrace Down's Alpine
Resort at the base of Mt Hutt, Rhythm and Alps first debuted
last year, and this year promised major improvements in
layout, activities, and operations coupled with an exclusive
performance from UK duo SBTRKT Live.
Under the baking sun, the music started slowly as the
thousands of campers pulled in to the pleasant, if slightly
generic dub sounds of Soulsystem and the more up-tempo
electronica of Wellington trio Electric Wire Hustle
The crowd finally began to show some life around 6, massing
the Rhythm Room stage for the bouncy, soulful warmth of young
Sydney beat producer Flume.
Simultaneously, a smaller main stage crowd was treated to
Portland/New Zealand psych trio Unknown Mortal Orchestra
debuting songs from their forthcoming sophomore album II.
Stitching a cathartic connection between Syd Barrett, the
half-step down guitar work of Jimi Hendrix, and the
experimentalism of Krautrock innovators Can, UMO's
intoxicating robotic grooves, and the gentle charisma of
front man Ruban Nielson brought in the evening in the most
achingly beautiful manner.
Garage-house brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence (aged just 21
and 18 respectively), aka Disclosure Live, cut Dilla style
beats, and poppish melody together next on the main stage,
the pair's standout single and possibly the best love song of
2011 going down particularly well.
Next, it was time for arguably the night's main event, UK duo
SBTRKT Live. Unfortunately, nearly an hour after the pair's
scheduled start time, the stage was still empty, and the
tortured crowd who had gathered early began to grow
relentless as the sounds of Daft Punk pumped through the
When things finally got under way, it was to rapturous
applause and relief. Starting their set with a kabuki drop,
the curtain fell to reveal the anonymous SBTRKT adorned in
trademark tribal mask, while the deep bass lines, mellow
keys, and rich, crooning vocals delivered by partner Sampha
kept the rather inebriated crowd in rapture under the flash
of the blinkers.
Netsky brought his live drum n' bass following his solo
performance the previous year, while a range of beat
musicians kept things going to the early hours of the
Typical of most festivals this size, there was the usual
range of organizational problems, with long lines for
developing for drinks at times even though crowds seemed
smaller than expected.
Hopefully though, Rhythm and Alps can continue to grow, and
maybe one day even put some pressure on its older brother.
- Sam Valentine