Bay Dreams music festival underway in Nelson

2019-01-04 08:19:53

After keeping fans waiting for almost an hour, headline act Cardi B graced the stage at the inaugural Bay Dreams music festival in Nelson.

The US rapper flicked her waist length electric blue hair and took to the stage in a sequinned outfit of the same colour, accompanied by a posse of eight backup dancers, much to the delight of the sellout Nelson crowd shortly after 7pm.

"Nelson, you are now experiencing Cardi f.....g B", she told the crowd, before showing off her trademark twerking.

The 26-year-old rapper belted out shortened versions of her hits including Money, Finesse and I Like It before finishing her set with Bodak Yellow.

While the music was pumping at the first Bay Dreams festival in the South Island, finding shade from the midday sun proved more difficult.

The sold out event began at midday and by 2pm was building up towards its 20,000 capacity at Trafalgar Park.

A few partygoers had succumbed to the 26 degrees Celsius heat and were passed out on the pavement outside the festival.

Inside, there was no shortage of matching outfits, and face glitter, but there was little shade from the unrelenting sun with many seeking shelter under the grandstand and whatever trees they could find.

The longest queues were for the bars, with a line of about 40 people deep at one water station and a shorter wait for the Portaloos.

New Zealand's own dub-reggae band Katchafire and DJ Benny Boy were the first acts on stage at midday on Friday.

Earlier, the centre of Nelson was buzzing as shops and fast food outlets were packed with colourful revellers, mainly in their teens or 20s.

Some were in costumes, others in barely anything as lunchtime temperatures soared.

James Guild-Inder of Palmerston North said he arrived at the Trafalgar Park gates at 11.15am and almost walked straight in.

"The sounds are pumping, the beers are sinking and the sun is beaming. It is absolutely marvellous," he said.

The music festival is the biggest of its kind in the South Island and tickets to the event sold out within weeks.

While traffic in Nelson was busy, it didn't appear to have caused a backlog like it did in Tauranga heading to the Bay Dreams festival in Mt Maunganui.

By mid-afternoon, festival director Toby Burrows said the event was running smoothly.

"We have been doing this for a long time so we are taking in all those past experiences and transferring them to a new venue.

"It's been challenging, it is always challenging putting on such large events in a new town."

He said the crowd had showed up early with many arriving when the gates opened at 11am and they had since been well-behaved.

"I think they are just really excited to have an event like this in the South Island.

"They are pumping through the sunscreen and the water, we have water all over the site and there are more queues for the water stations than the bars so that's a good thing."

Chloe Croll, Meg Hillson and Greta Campferns travelled up from Christchurch for the festival and said the experience had been "incredible".

The trio said it was the first time they had been to a Bay Dreams festival and they were sold on the lineup and were particularly looking forward to seeing Sticky Fingers and Macky Gee.    "It's been really hot so water should be free," Croll said.

"You have to buy a bottle and then go to a tent and get free water and it's like $5," Hillson said.

"It's just so hot, I stopped drinking alcohol," Hillson said.

A fire hydrant provided welcome relief for revellers mid afternoon, with some choosing to cool off while dancing in the water and others filling bottles from its constant flow.

Just before 3pm, Australian singer-songwriter Tash Sultana, who is often described as a one-woman-band, had the crowd screaming as she effortlessly switched between guitar, trumpet and keyboard delivering hits to the crowd.

Burrows said holding a festival close to the city and residential areas was not without its challenges but he would love for Bay Dreams to return to Nelson if they city would have it.

"We have to see how it affects everyone, we are doing our best to make sure we mitigate any negative impacts."

Australian band Sticky Fingers performed at Bay Dreams in Mt Maunganui and had made the trip south to perform in Nelson.

Bassist Paddy Cornwall said being part of the Bay Dreams festival had been fantastic.

"We had no idea we had such a following over here until Toby got in touch and said you have to come out."

He said frontman Dylan Frost was born in New Zealand and moved to Sydney as a teenager.

"I think that was a large part of the band's success in New Zealand was the moment they figured out that we weren't just an Aussie band because Dylan is a Kiwi," Cornwall said.

Keyboardist Freddy Crabs said: "It's probably our favourite place to play, I reckon, New Zealanders are a little bit more chilled than Aussies, there is better confectionery here."

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