WORDS AMY MANSFIELD/ PHOTOS BRAD HOLLAND/Music Nation
FRIDAY JAMS on Sunday was nothing if not a big, big party. The weather was just right, the greenery of Western Springs was something to behold and everyone seemed to be in a great mood.
We arrived to the sounds of Taio Cruz. He said ‘I like it like that’. And so did the crowd. He said ‘I told y’all we were gonna have some fuckin’ fun, right!’ And we knew he was right.
Everywhere you looked people were dancing. It wasn’t even 7 o’clock. When Eve took the stage in fluoro pink, even people on crutches were dancing. Even without Gwen Stefani, Eve managed to blow more than a few minds.
In between sets DJ Horizon did his thang and kept the crowd going. It kind of felt like Mariah and Alicia and Eminem and Missy had popped along for a singsong too. From the east side to the west side of Western Springs, everyone knew the words to just about every song. It made you feel brand new as well as rather old.
I wasn’t totally convinced by Kiwi MC Megan from ZM telling us about the toilets intermittently – that took a little of the American bling out the moment – but sometimes you need a dose of housekeeping banal with your fluoro and camo. It did make the event seem more homely somehow.
The event organisers had things pretty well sorted. The queues were short and fast-moving and there seemed to be some attempt to minimise waste from the drink stations, though a whole lot more could and should have been done by the food purveyors. Zero waste events should be the norm in this climate.
Sustainability aside, Naughty by Nature let us know in no uncertain terms what we came here to do: ‘We came here to party!’ Vin Rock was working the crowd hard. With a crew of six, including mascot and rapper holding a compulsory bottle of Veuve as he cruised around the stage, he had the crowd ‘heying’ and ‘ho-ing’ in time in no time. Everyone was jumping. Everyone was making some noise. Noone was getting tired of being told to throw their hands up in the air.
Vin introduced Salt n Pepa as ‘the only female hip-hop trio that matters’. That and the frequent and unoriginal recourse by, let’s face it, pretty much every artist I saw there, to dividing the crowd up into ‘the ladies’ and ‘the fellas’ was on the objectionable side, but around 25,000 people (I heard) turned a blind eye to it.
With their diamond mics and gold-striped bombers, and DJ Spinderella spinning as usual, Salt ’n’ Pepa were in fine form after 32 years performing together, talking about sex and pushing it like you knew they would.
When Usher, the final act on the bill, came on, the sun had set and the light show could begin. Predictably, he was accompanied by a scantily dressed dancer. That drew a yawn from both of us and we made a move.
Look, the whole thing is a bit formulaic and contrived, and I reckon the genre could do with taking a good hard look at itself. But I have to admit the good times rolled. Like ZM knew they would.