Dancing in the Rain: Baseline Reviewed

Dancing in the Rain: Baseline Reviewed

It’s important to Critic Te Ārohi that our reviews are authentic. To review hall food, we needed to assume the identities of freshers. And to review Baseline, we also had to assume the appropriate state of a festival-goer: dressed a lil’ slutty and with enough vodka Red Bulls in our system to make us giggle at anything that moved (pls give us back our sponsorship). Admittedly, our voice notes covering the night were largely incomprehensible.

Limitless Touring’s Baseline Festival describes itself as a “full-day dance marathon.” Liking the sound of this, Critic Te Ārohi joined the throng of frothers at Logan Park, sacrificing our white sneakers and eardrums in the name of journalism. 

Critic arrived (wobbled) onto the scene fashionably late at 6pm – providing “fashionably” means “four hours”. “It’s giving Southern Sounds,” says Iris. “There’s a lot going on. I love it, I love it. We’ll have to check it out, but I love it.” Note that you’ll be able to spot a Critic staff member at this point in the year purely by their overuse of the phrase “I love it,” coined by upbeat News Editor Hugh. We love it. Nina expresses concern upon arrival at the misty rain that was starting to fall, especially since Iris straightened her hair. “The Fizzliss stage looks really nice, though [inaudible slurring] – and uh, let’s go!” Shit weather for frizzless, perfect for Fizzliss. 

Baseline brought a mix of international, national, and local talent to the stage this year divided into two stages: Limitless (bigger, DnB focused) and Fizzliss (smaller and non-DnB focused, whose genres included house, techno, UKG, and dance). Organisers proudly told Critic that this stacked baby-festival gives local talent the chance to rub shoulders with the greats. “I would definitely agree with that,” said Candice Clark, AKA CANDI, a member of the Nörty Club Collective who played a set at the Fizzliss stage on the day. “I think it’s a massive bucket list moment to play at Baseline for local Dunedin [acts].” Candice said a lot of the famous acts got there early, so not only was there time for a meet and greet backstage, but they also joined the crowd to watch the local acts.  

One of the great things about Baseline, according to Candice, is that it was created by people “who were avid punters (festival-goers) first, so they know what artists and punters want to see from a festival”. Limitless Touring was started by two of Dunner’s own breathas, Hamish Todd and Angus Tylee, from an idea cooked up in an Arana dormroom in 2017. Critic pegged them as students to watch in 2020, asserting that “sometimes a mate’s hairbrained scheme isn’t as cooked as you might first think.” 

The organisers may not be cooked (Candice notes they are “so sweet”), but the punters certainly were, and Baseline came prepared. It’s not their first rodeo when it comes to hosting a good party. Right beside the entrance to the festival stood the tents of OUSA Student Support, Are You OK, and KnowYourStuffNZ, followed by a row of food trucks. Like parents who encourage their kids to drink with them at home before they smash their first bottle of vodka, Baseline could be considered a festival training ground – a mini version of Rhythm & Vines, without the capacity to get lost in the throng.

Eating is cheating, so Critic skipped past the food trucks and went straight to the main stage (terrible advice) like bees to honey, baby. Fuelled by the superiority complex of two girls with free tickets – a legal high like no other – we beelined to the front of the mosh (top tip from Iris: “Go from the sides, never from the back”). Our progress was halted by the typical awkward run-in with an ex-boyfriend’s flatmate (can’t remember what was said, hope it was chill), and then the mission continued. 

Spotting a group also aiming for the front, we followed through the crowd in their wake, like a breatha Moses parting the white line. “We’re pretending like we know the people who are trying to gaslight their way to the front [...] Yeah dog,” says Nina (a significant number of “likes”' were edited out of that). This next part of the night Critic charitably dubs ‘The Shit Interview’. After politely but firmly taking breathas’ hands off our waists (journalism never sleeps, and we’ll never sleep with you either), we turned around to rope them into a vibe-checking interview. To sum it up, the vibes were good, if vague and borderline repetitive: 

Critic: “How are you guys finding it?” 
Breathas: “Awesome!” 
Critic: “What’s your favourite thing about Baseline?”
Breathas: “The people, yeow! Lots of people. Like the amount of people. It’s mean. There’s lots of people.”
Critic: “Why would you recommend Baseline?”
Breathas: “Just cos it’s awesome! Lots of people, meet new people, ya know?”

We gave up at this point. Another guy chimed in that he’d have preferred if the music was country, “but drum and bass is okay.” And the people, of course.

Critic grew very enthusiastic about the female representation on stage, spotting who we think was Sin from George FM. “I want to hear from HER!” yells Iris. “Female empowerment!” Any jaw-swinging mosher around us could have told us that we were never going to get backstage. Oh, but did we try. No less than four security members were harassed for backstage entry by two alleged reporters looking more like drowned kittens. It was pissing down, and we’d been pissing up.

Although the main stage at most festivals tends to be the biggest draw, Critic wound up spending most of the night boogying at the small stage. In our end of the night recap, Iris says, “Big ups to them. It was a way better vibe. Everyone agreed on the dance floor as well.” 

Candice enthusiastically recommends Baseline to anyone thinking of going next time round: “I think that not only from an artist perspective but from a punter perspective we’re really lucky to have festivals like Baseline here in [Dunedin]. I think that a lot of people forget that it’s a really big and well thought-out festival [and] it is just here, in our backyard, which is  awesome. You know, normally people travel to Queenstown or Christchurch or Wellington or Auckland for these festivals, so it’s really special to have one here in Logan Park.” 

If anything, the sogginess of the mosh made the festival even greater. There’s little more freeing than dancing in rainfall. The only thing that could have made Critic’s experience better? “Wish I got more food,” says Iris.

This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2024.
Posted 9:54pm Friday 5th April 2024 by Iris Hehir and Nina Brown.