Friday night's Rhythm & Vines Soundcheck was a preview for Gisborne's annual New Year's music festival, Rhythm & Vines, with the evening's top hip-hop and DJ line-up a tasty taster of what's to come.

Strolling into Vector Arena you could be mistaken for thinking you were walking into the world's flashiest school ball, except instead of suits and dresses you had coloured jeans, daisy dukes and flipped up baseball caps.

Arriving early to take full advantage of a night on the tiles - or more accurately, sticky concrete - Auckland's teens were ready to party.

Hometown hip-hop heroes Home Brew were the first to grace the stage, striding out with swagger and Kiwi charisma, spitting observational rhymes about life in the city. They leapt around the stage like they owned the place, and any group that references Pak 'n Save and ETA chips in the same verse is okay by me.


They were replaced by the first of three UK acts, the multi-talented Labrinth aka Tim McKenzie. Coming on like a mix of Dizzee Rascal, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke and a bratty Jimi Hendrix, the young Londonite sung, yelped and occasionally swung on a guitar to shred out some impressive solos.

He covered just about every genre he could lay his hands on, culminating in his thumping radio hit Earthquake, a definite highlight of the evening.

He was succeeded by dubstep duo Nero, who instantly won the Largest DJ Table Award, with the sunglass-wearing DJs rolling out atop a towering black citadel.

With the fashionably late older demographic now flooding in, a teeming mass of bowing bass worshipers started to bounce and pay homage to Nero's giant altar of noise.

They went down a treat with the appreciative congregation, with their dark synths and low-slung dubstep beats garnishing huge applause.

It was getting past 1am as Nero's monolith was replaced by a modest wooden table holding up an assortment of technology.

All humility was quickly banished as larger-than-life DJ Rusko brought the house down, grabbing a microphone to bark out dance orders to his willing crowd.

He brought a human element that perhaps Nero was lacking, and his infectious energy and bombastic beats were a fitting end to a loud and crazy night.


Wait, make that morning. It was now 3am and word was getting round that there was an after party down the road at 1885 bar.

New York might have the label, but for Saturday morning Auckland became the city that never sleeps.

What: R&V Soundcheck
Where: Vector Arena, Auckland
When: Friday, October 5

* will have the full Rhythm & Vines line-up announcement on Monday morning.