The Metro Guide to Summer 2018

by David Larsen / 11 January, 2018

Photo/ Bas Van Est

Helloooo summer!
Auckland, you’ve got a whole lot going on. Here are our must-dos. 

Music

Live music is what we talk about when we talk about summer. (Except, little-known fact, for classical music: January is when all the classical musicians vanish. We hear they go to Europe.) If we listed all the live-music events on in Auckland over the next two months we wouldn’t have room to list anything else, but there are some really worth putting on your calendar. 

If soulful indie guitar-driven folk’s your thing, you’ll want to hunt down the Fleet Foxes at the Town Hall on January 9. For something further away from the soulful end of the spectrum, Californian rapper Vince Staples plays the Powerstation on January 13. Not far enough? The least-introspective music imaginable — also out of California, as it happens — will be exploding at Galatos when stoner doom-metal power trio Sleep play their first-ever Auckland gig there on January 16. 

Here’s a rare live-music venue: on January 19, the Academy Cinema hosts Mount Eerie, aka American indie singer-songwriter Phil Elverum, who’s touring the heartbreaking album he wrote after his wife’s death. Fat Freddy’s Drop need no introduction; they play the more-conventional venue Villa Maria Estate on January 20.

Did someone say “least-introspective music imaginable”? For a (slightly) different flavour of extremity, try notorious Norwegian black metallers Mayhem at the Kings Arms on January 23. The Stranglers are still playing hard in their fifth decade; they bring their brand of rock to the Town Hall on February 2. Or if a more American flavour of rock appeals, Foo Fighters are at Mt Smart Stadium on February 3.

For a top-up from the ever-inventive Connan Mockasin, you’ll want to catch him with Kody Nielson and “special guests” at the Hollywood in Avondale on  February 8 and 9.

Tennessee rockers Paramore play Spark Arena on February 13. And on February 15, the summer classical drought comes crashing to an end at the Town Hall with the launch of the 2018 Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra season: a concert combining the old (Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto, Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony) and the new (a never-before-performed Eve de Castro-Robinson commission).

Sorry, was that too classical after all this rock? You could ease into the symphonic sound more gently, if you’d rather: on February 17, also at the Town Hall, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra start their year with a Summer Pops concert of movie music, featuring the John Williams scores to Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List, plus Chariots of Fire, Back to the Future, and a CGI-legion of others.

Edging away from the violins and clarinets, indie singer-songwriter Ben Folds is back at the Powerstation on February 19. And for a rousing finish to the summer (though we’re hoping the summer weather will last past February) head to Spark Arena on February 24 to catch the reunited alt-rock gods LCD Soundsystem (yes, they broke up; that was then), and finally, equally god-like indie rockers The National play Villa Maria Estate on February 25.

Pop-Up Globe.

Theatre

If you forced us to pick only one Pop-Up Globe show to see this summer, we would call you arbitrarily tyrannical, and on that basis suggest you check out the fate of tyrants by seeing Julius Caesar or Macbeth. Because seriously, if you’re lucky enough to have working legs, you do not need to pick only one of these productions: the best seats at the Globe are not seats at all, they’re the standing-room groundling spots right by the stage, and those tickets go for just $10 on the night. The other shows opening over summer are The Comedy of Errors (the one with two sets of twins), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the one with the misapplied love potions) and The Merchant of Venice.

Award-winning Wellington writer-performer Jo Randerson brings her immersive/interactive family show Grand Opening to the Civic on the weekend of January 20 and 21. Another Frickin Festival is an 11-act stand-up showcase from Comedy Central at the Aotea Centre’s ASB Theatre on February 8. And here’s something to get excited about if you’ve been or raised a child in this country any time since 1979: Maurice Gee’s classic children’s fantasy Under the Mountain is coming to the ASB Waterfront stage for two weeks from February 7, in an Auckland Theatre Company adaptation written by Pip Hall and directed by Sara Brodie.

If you’re a fan of Tom Sainsbury, the funny guy behind the viral video series Kiwis of Snapchat, you might also want to try Wigging Out, at the Basement from February 26. Created by Sainsbury and Hamish Russell, it features a couple of doubt-riddled drag queens (Anne Xiety and Dee Pression), who still manage to present a toe-tapping “lipsync-tastic” cabaret.

Movies in the Park at Silo Park.

Film

All across Auckland over summer you can see popular recent movies on giant screens outdoors, via the Movies in Parks programme: we’re talking La La Land at Mairangi Bay Park (January 19), Spiderman Homecoming at Sturges Park, Otahuhu (January 26), Wonder Woman at Centreway Reserve, Orewa (February 3), Hidden Figures at David Lange Park, Mangere (February 16), and others. Plus there are weekly films at Silo Park, including Lion (January 12), I Am Not Your Negro (January 19), Spookers (January 26), and The Princess Bride (February 14).

Want more? Openair Cinemas returns to Western Springs Park with old favourites and recent releases including Taika Waititi’s Thor Ragnarok (February 1), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (February 3), Grease Sing-A-Long (February 13) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (February 21). Ponsonby’s Farina is serving wood-fired pizzas and their signature pasta dishes throughout the season (February 1 to March 4).

Fancy a big-screen favourite with live orchestra instead? Titanic Live plays at the Civic on January 24 and 25.

Coyle Park’s Big Gay Out.

Events

Auckland Council’s Summer in the Square programme runs from December into early February, with music every day and a range of community events and mini-festivals. The Latin Fiesta (January 12 to 14) looks especially fun.

The ASB Classic Tennis tournaments run from New Year’s Day through to January 13, with the women’s tournament spanning the initial six days and the men’s following. There’s a range of pop-up food offerings and the onsite music includes performances from Boh Runga, White Chapel and Taye Williams.

The Art of Banksy exhibition brings 80 works from the world’s most famous political graffiti artist to the Aotea Centre from January 5 until February 6. Whoever Banksy is — there’s a theory they’re a seven-artist collective — they pull no punches and have a keen dark wit.

Fast-forward to January 21 for the Waterview Shared Path Community Day, with food, face painting and music booths stretching the length of one of the newest walking/riding paths in the city.

Auckland Anniversary Weekend runs from January 27 to 29 and comes equipped with a full suite of activities around the waterfront: new at the Tamaki Herenga Waka Festival this year are contemporary Māori fashion and art; daily waka parades with commentary on waka history and culture; a digital space with games, including ones that teach basic te reo Māori; and an audio tour of the events for blind and low-vision festival-goers. Also around the waterfront: the International Buskers Festival; the Silo Markets and Cinema; and Ports of Auckland throwing their gates open for the SeePort Festival, leading up to their Sunset Symphony & Fireworks Display on the evening of January 28.

Will 2018 be the year we finally see construction start on the SkyPath, for cyclists and walkers wanting a way across the harbour? Whether it is or not, there will be only one chance this year to Bike the Bridge, and it comes early on the morning of February 18.

Pride Festival Two weeks, three weekends, and as diverse as the identity spectrum it celebrates: the Pride Festival is back for its sixth straight (okay, poor word choice) year. It starts at dawn on February 2 with a takatāpui Māori ceremony. That evening, the Auckland Pride Gala rocks Q Theatre, and the events roll on for the following fortnight.

The Bear New Zealand Week runs from February 6-11, the Same Same But Different Writers’ Festival is scheduled for February 9 and 10 at the AUT campus, and the Heroic Garden Festival is on February 10 and 11, this year featuring gardens in central and South Auckland. The Ending HIV Big Gay Out returns to Coyle Park, Pt Chev, on February 11.

Q Theatre hosts a rich festival programme, including Tom Sainsbury’s musical comedy Gays in Space, a work-in-progress NZ Opera Workshop from Claire Scholes, Legacy Project’s sequence of theatre vignettes, and Jason Chasland’s cabaret Leather Lungs: Son of a Preacher. The Pride Parade along Ponsonby Rd on February 17 will be followed by the Proud closing party at Q Theatre.

Splore. Photo/ Serena Stevenson.

Music festivals

By India Hendrikse

By the end of January you’ll have finally recovered from your post-New Year’s comedown and will be ready to hit St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. In 2017, the festival made a (very sun-smart) decision to move to the shady location of Albert Park, so your dignity will no longer melt away among the concrete at Silo Park. Happening on Auckland Anniversary Day, January 29, Laneway boasts indie artists from an array of genres; headliners include the mind-blowing talent of 16-year-old Los Angeles singer Billie Eilish, the electronic sensation that is Bonobo, rising New Zealand star Aldous Harding, Canadian hip-hop improv group BadBadNotGood and hipster favourite Mac DeMarco.

Just under a week later, one-day festival Flamingo Pier pops up on Waiheke Island. Held at Rangihoua Estate on February 3, this DJ-fuelled party is all class; one stage is nestled among the estate’s patch of native forest and the other sits in the natural amphitheatre of Rangihoua’s olive grove. Catch the ferry across to swoon over the sounds of Auckland’s fave boy band Leisure and sway to the soul-fuelled beats of German DJ duo Session Victim and Auckland disco DJ Frank Booker, to name just a few acts. Garage Project is serving cans of its cool-as beer, Bedford Soda & Liquor is in charge of cocktails, and meaty eats from Miss Moonshine’s BBQ will help soak it all up throughout the day. If you’re on a health buzz, Yeah Bowl Poke has got the goods.

Heading a little further out of Auckland, almost 10,000 people head to Tapapakanga Regional Park every year for three-day-long music and arts celebration Splore. Leaving a trail of (eco-friendly) glitter in their wake, festival attendees are encouraged to dress up in the theme of each year; 2018’s is “Mystic Ritual”, which we imagine could encourage all kinds of cultural appropriation, but we’re crossing our fingers for the best. The all-ages event, held over the weekend of February 23-25, boasts a bevy of musical acts, including English grime guru Dizzee Rascal, a duo of soul singer Omar (who will be making his New Zealand debut) and Auckland-born remixer Mark de Clive-Lowe, and local favourites such as Frank Booker, K2K and Ria Hall. For party-hard types, cabaret party The Temple of the Midnight Mantra is your Saturday night escapade, featuring aerial artist Empress Stah’s laser-light “butt show”. And those after a holistic touch? Tune in to the spoken word at The Listening Lounge or holistic therapy at Wellness Central.

This is published in the January - February 2018 issue of Metro.

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