A.R.E.A.9 Festival

I love music festivals. To look at me you wouldn’t think so, the main reason being that I’m not a camping girl – I just don’t do it. The idea of waking up in a tiny tent that has become your own personal oven with the sunrise is not appealing in the slightest. Yet there is something magical and wondrous about being in a field in the middle of nowhere with thousands of others, grooving to the beat, sitting in the sun and generally enjoying the musical splendour of a festival (and it’s even worth suffering the mini oven for too!).

I reminisce frequently about the glory days of Glastonbury festival in the UK, so you can imagine my delight when I discovered A.R.E.A. 9. This three-day event was the closest thing to a Kiwi Glastonbury with a fantastic array of kiwi music to boot. The likes of Kora, Black Seeds, Salmonella Dub and Hollie Smith lined up alongside relatively unknown but equally as good up-and-coming talent like Six60, Soul System, Nitidus and Troika. What better way is there to spend a Waitangi weekend than to celebrate all that is great about the NZ – summer in the sun with some great sounds and great people.

A.R.E.A. 9 (Aotearoa Rock Extreme Adventure 09) is the baby of Rosie Moore and Fiona Page from Mission Controlled Events, who 18 months ago decided to try and get Kora to play a gig for them and their mates. The event grew and grew and the result was an amazing 48 hours of non-stop music with some of New Zealand’s finest bands, free zorbing and motorbike acrobatics display. There was even a pub with its own bar menu on site too!

The event was amazingly well organised. The queue to get into the gate didn’t take long at all – we were there for maybe an hour and a half max – but everyone was already chatting and having a good time so it flew past. There was an alcohol amnesty bin before a car search. Ha ha to those who didn’t pay attention to the amnesty bin and got kicked out for trying to smuggle stuff in!

Each group was given a huge 25 sq m of land to pitch their tents and park their cars (100 sq m for those with six tents or more). Compared to Glastonbury this was luxury – and not a rain cloud in site either. The portaloos were constantly cleaned and emptied and there were even hand washing places so we were almost spoilt in comparison to a lot of other events.

The VIP area was awesome and well worth it. The huge tent provided some shade from the sun whilst still being very close to the stage. The drinks and food were discounted from the outside bar, and there was also a cocktail list to really get in the VIP mood. Each VIP guest also received a goodie box with a free Tshirt (spot the bright orange people in the photos!), energy drink (helped keep us awake for the 48 hours), muesli bar (to stave off starvation), condom (just in case!!) and the VIP tag (to prove to the world – and security – that we belonged there).

I had a fantastic weekend – probably the best since Glastonbury 1997 – and can now be seen dancing and grooving to the sounds of Six60 (who I was pleasantly woken up to at 7.30am on the Saturday morning) and dDub (who played an amazing set on the Friday evening) in the car and am thoroughly enjoying them both. I am waiting with baited breath for A.R.E.A. 11, which has be confirmed to happen in 2011.

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