Best in season - Summer's musical highlights

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Danny Brown's Laneway performance was one of summer's best.
Danny Brown's Laneway performance was one of summer's best.

Summer is well and truly over. And while there are plenty of things to look forward to over the coming months (Arctic Monkeys, Justin Timberlake, Erykah Badu, Dizzee Rascal), the Herald entertainment team are lingering in the past just a bit, with a look back at our favourite musical moments of the season.

Danny Brown at Laneway
Yes, the sound levels were too low. Yep, the stage was far too small. And yeah, the late evening sun was shining so brightly behind the stage you could hardly make out the leather-clad rapper. But Detroit hip-hop star Danny Brown didn't care one jot, delivering the kind of searingly electric set that many shoe-gazing Laneway acts avoid. Avoiding his introspective stuff, Brown chose to play only his hardest hitting songs from recent album Old - tracks like Dope Song and 25 Bucks that mixed his Chipmunk rhyme schemes with the most insanely wonky trap beats and had a heaving moshpit bouncing throughout. We've had a series of top-shelf rap acts come through the country in the past three months - Snoop Dogg, Mac Miller, Eminem, Earl Sweatshirt and Jurassic 5 to name just a few - but Danny Brown's exquisite set is the only one in which I checked my dignity at the door.

I'm not sure I'm ever going to get it back either.
Read the full Laneway review here.
- Chris Schulz

Bruce Springsteen at Mt Smart Stadium
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Mt Smart Stadium: I had been bit of swinging voter on the Boss front. Some of those noughties albums of his had been pretty patchy and his 2003 Western Springs show wasn't that memorable. But seeing the first of his two very big nights at Mt Smart was a true conversion. Yes it was darn cute that he covered Royals. After all he's been singing about Cadillacs pretty much forever. But it was the 29 other songs per night - and his showman routines in between them - that made this the stadium rock'n'roll show of many a summer.
Read Russell's full review here.
- Russell Baillie


Bruce Springsteen performing at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland. Photo / HOS

Prom Night with Fuse Circus and Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes at Splore Festival
Saturday night at Splore is always a head-spinning party - everyone gets dressed up, and as the sun drops, the whole site turns into a bit of a giant fairy grotto, with whirling lights, dancing shadows, and the tinkling (or sometimes roaring) sound of great merriment. But this year, the large marquee tent which is known as the Living Lounge, became a collision of mythical parties you never thought you'd get to attend. Like Moulin Rouge crossed with The Great Gatsby, Prom Night, as it was dubbed, featured a swinging, sweat-drenched set from rebellious big band Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes, interspersed with crazy comedy circus performances that broke the fourth wall so resoundingly, that it was hard to tell who was supposed to be on stage, or in the audience. It was like you imagine all the best parties would be, in the magical land of never ending parties.
Check out the review here.
- Lydia Jenkin


Singer Sal Valentine. Photo / Natalie Slade

The National at Vector Arena
People get funny with their favourite bands. They scoff when others fail to recognise their brilliance, but the minute they do, it's all "I loved them before they were famous". And that us-against-them feeling was in the air here, in a venue I thought might have been a bit too big and a tad too impersonal for The National. That was, until they tore Vector apart. Singer Matt Berninger howled and growled through old favourites and new. He drank and threw wine in equal measure, and the rest of the band was more than happy to go along for the ride. Mates hugged, couples pashed. There may have even been some tears. New fans, old fans, it didn't matter in the end.
Check out the review here.
-Bridget Jones


American band The National.

Grouplove at Big Day Out
My favourite (and possibly one of the most underrated) acts this summer was Grouplove's 2.30pm slot at the Big Day Out. The US band quite literally jumped into the Tamaki stage, bursting with energy. Not only were their upbeat indielectronic pop tracks perfect for dancing like a crazy person in the festival sun, but the band looked like they were having the time of their lives too. They really brought the party to the Big Day Out with songs like Ways To Go, Lovely Cup, Shark Attack and Tongue Tied. Describing their performance as fun would be severe understatement - Grouplove totally killed it. Missing most of The Naked and Famous' set was worth it, I regret nothing. Find out more about Grouplove here.
- Rachel Bache


Grouplove playing at the Big Day Out in Sydney. Photo / Getty Images

*What were your summer highlights? Post your comments below.

- NZ Herald

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