Festival season is in swing. Despite our new turbulent climate, spirits refuse to be dampened. After a disastrous last year, marred by Covid closures, people are hungry to gather in their masses and immerse themselves in the festival experience.

Four years since its inception, Outfield Festival promises a unique flavour of Hawke’s Bay. Carefully selected local food vendors and artistic offerings set the scene for a diverse musical feast, curated to cater to most tastes. Festival promoters have an ear for the next big thing. They’re passionate about showcasing emerging artists alongside established headliners from Aotearoa and beyond. 

Nestled in the Te Awanga hills, Outfield offers world class entertainment with a distinctly local flavour. Co-promoter, Reuben Vergis, sees the value in giving air to artists from the Bay. He’s keen to provide “a great opportunity for the community attending Outfield to discover and support local talent. Apart from building up the homegrown scene and rewarding creative minds for their beautiful talents, it also has the ability to share common values and beliefs between different groups of people. This is very important not just for the local community but also for society… Overall, it has a measurable impact on our economy, health and well-being, society and education. It allows people the opportunity to communicate across barriers of language and culture, and inspire future generations.”

Outfield proactively seek out the best the Bay has to offer and give them a platform to share stages with stars. A genuinely all ages gig that draws multiple generations, crowds from around the country are lured by headliners such as kiwis made big across the ditch, Coterie; hip-hop powerhouse, Jess B; and legendary New Zealand DJ, P-Money; as well as eclectic offerings from bands such as the energetic, funk-filled experience that is Rhombus; and retro indie gem, Daffodils. But locals and visitors alike can expect to be delighted by the wealth of talent from right here in Hawke’s Bay, waiting to be discovered all day long across three stages. 

On the eponymous cricket field, the Outfield Arena is the festival’s main stage. High Rotation Sound System fill the void between band changeovers. Local favourite, Scotty Towers, better known as Fat Freddy’s Drop’s Chopper Reed, shares his love for vinyl from early til late. 

Singer songwriter, Danica Bryant pulls the heartstrings with her bittersweet sound. Young upstarts, Atlantic Wave, have come a long way from their Napier Music Academy days, putting their spin on vibrant rock inspired by classic acts, many of which folded before they were born. 

Explosive big band Deep Fried Funk come in hot with an enormous sound guaranteed to get the crowd sweating on the dancefloor. SUNZ combine fine and vibrant musicianship with the best beatboxing and rhythmic rhymes the bay has to offer. Fan favourite, Arahi, lets loose with a selection of his Revelator band delivering a hedonistic romp through his back catalogue interspersed with covers conscientiously selected to drive the crowd wild. This might be one of your last chances to see this local firebrand on home soil so grab it while you can.

A small forest away, the Art Valley Stage has Sneeky covering the changeovers. A staunch supporter of upcoming artists, particularly the ladies, through her Sound Selectors label, her vast range from house to funk to hip-hop will ensure everyone is having fun all day long. 

Liberty brings her singing-songwriting skills to an eclectic set of acoustic pop originals with edgy lyrics and funky tunes. Sweet voiced and open hearted, teenager Ella Pollett has already made waves on the local scene with original music that marks her as once to watch. 

Indie acoustic duo, the Cellars, promise something unique and beautiful, expressing the confusion and tension of becoming woman through heart wrenching vocal harmonies. 

Te Awanga local made great in the States, LoGee, sways the crowd with his signature brand of live looping, blending funky reggae with rhythm and blues.

Devoted to DJ’s, the Dance Yard stage features the return of rising star, Zana, to her home turf, bringing her elementally inspired brand of ecstatic dance. Larry Nobody drops funky, upbeat licks to make good on his motto of ‘making people move’. A staple on the local scene, Untz, cut his teeth as a DJ in Tokyo before bringing his positive vibes and energetic, uplifting house music back home, getting dancefloors bouncing on any given weekend in the Bay. 

The main man of Hawke’s Bay’s burgeoning drum and bass scene and Cape Coast local, BMC, promises a high energy set transcending space and time. DJ collective, Ruffhouse Crew, household names on the national D&B scene, bring their hard-hitting sound to their home turf, to delight their loyal local fanbase.

With such a broad smorgasbord of musical offerings, Outfield are clearly invested in making the festival the sell-out success it was in 2021. It’s heartening to see these national promoters pour care, attention and development into the local arts scene, ensuring their impact will be felt long after the revellers depart, fresh faced and sated by the musical banquet they have been served.

Outfield Music, Food and Arts Festival is on Saturday 11 February at Te Awanga Downs.

Photos: Supplied by Outfield

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