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How to Find Your New Favourite NZ Act This Summer

Music festival season is upon us - we've got your must-read guide on who to look out for and how to embrace the new generation of Aotearoa sounds.


Aotearoa, we’re the lucky ones.

I get it, it hasn’t felt like that much this year. But the words of legendary Kiwi rocker Jon Toogood (who’s spent most of his year in lockdown in Melbourne before coming home to perform for the first time in nine months) hit home. We have, essentially, the only functioning performing arts industry in the world right now. 

Yes folks, we have the real luxury of being able to gather in large crowds this Summer at the numerous jam-packed (and almost completely) all-Kiwi line-ups at music festivals dotted around the country. There are literally countless millions around the planet who would walk over broken glass for that opportunity. Don’t believe me? Call family and friends in London right now.

For young New Zealanders such as myself, there are songs upwards of 40-years old that are staples at any party or get together you’re at - ‘Slice of Heaven’, ‘Why Does Love Do This To Me?,’ ‘Bliss,’ - the list goes on. 

But what will be the songs that we want the next generation to listen to as a nightcap at their celebrations? Thanks to the abundance of Kiwi acts you’ll get to see this year at your chosen festivals, there’s a real and somewhat rare chance to find the unknown gems, to celebrate them, and to cherish them. 

So let’s prepare our much-anticipated farewells this omnishambolic year, take a step back and appreciate the truly ‘unprecedented’ (sorry…) lineups we’ll have before our eyes and ears. Here’s just a few acts that have caught my attention this year, and who you should seriously consider seeing this summer.

Support local music, stream their sounds (links provided below), learn some lyrics and find that hit that’ll last you a lifetime.

There’s a Tuesday

Playing at: Le Currents (27 December), supporting Mako Road (28 December), Rhythm and Alps (30 December), Rhythm and Vines (31 December), Nest Fest (9 January), Tora Bombora (22 January), Nostalgia Festival (13 February), Electric Avenue (27 February)

As you can see from the list above, There’s A Tuesday are seeing out 2020 with a mammoth curtain close, and beginning the new year with force.

Based in Christchurch, 2020 has been a year to glue into the scrapbook for the four-piece indie folk band. Minnie Robberds, Nat Hutton, Joel Becker and Angus Murray have made a habit of bringing smiles to the faces of those soaking up their infectious sounds wherever they go, and are coming off a sizzling hot couple of months after touring and releasing their debut EP ‘Dance With Me Before We Cry.’ 

Inspired by lords of the indie-folk genre Julia Jacklin and Phoebe Bridges, There’s A Tuesday (or T.A.T) bring the sounds you long to hear with the sun beaming on your face, surrounded by your closest friends with not a single care in the world. 

Wax Mustang

Playing at: Rhythm and Alps (30 December), Rhythm and Vines (31 December), King Tide (5 January, Burtlers Reef), King Tide (7 January, Coromandel), Nest Fest (9 January) 

For many, this man hardly needs an introduction. His songs are already staples at parties - and shapes to be for generations to come - after cementing his place as New Zealand hip-hop’s next star. 

But if you haven’t stumbled across Wax Mustang, this summer is certainly your chance. Wax will be playing some unbelievably huge sets in the coming weeks and months, his biggest probably being on the Rhythm and Vines main stage. I’ll be there with bells on, surrounded by thousands of adoring fans or soon-to-be lovers of the Mustang’s flow, clever lyricism and infectious stage presence. Be sure to memorize some of his famous one-liners, they'll be chanted by many this summer, and you’ll want to be part of that.


Playing at: Beach Ball (28 and 29 December), Rhythm and Vines (31 December), Leigh Sawmill with Marlins Dreaming & Soaked Oats (2 January) and in Raglan (3 January), Nest Fest (9 January), River Sounds Festival (30 January), That Weekend Festival (31 January)

Daffodils are among New Zealand's rising indie stars. The Auckland four-piece have been playing across the country since 2017, and this year are hitting some of the country’s best Summer spots. 

Daffodils will join Marlins Dreaming and Soaked Oats at Oakura and Waihi Beach on 28 and 29 December, a perfect warm-up for their mega-festival slot at Rhythm and Vines, strutting their stuff on New Year's Eve at the Garden Stage. 

Daffodils’ tunes are simply too hard not to dance to, toe-tappingly irresistible. Like There’s A Tuesday, they’ll leave you grinning, and if you’re heading to Hawkes Bay in the early new year, you’ll be able to see them at Nest Fest too in the idyllic settings.


Playing at: RedHearing Presents: Thanks! (24 December), Rhythm and Vines (29 December), Rhythm and Alps (31 December), Nest Fest (9 January), That Weekend Festival (30/31 January), Flamingo Pier Festival (6/7 February), Outfield Festival (13/14 February), Splore Festival (26 February)

Bontempo (a.k.a Bonnie Ryan-Vance) has had a spectacular 2020, and it’s clear she’ll be living out of a suitcase this summer season. One of the country's breakout selectors and a powerhouse behind the decks, Bontempo will be representing the wahine this Summer, hitting all the hotspots across the country and finishing off her summer tour at the illustrious and scintillating Splore Festival among the other-worldly scenery that is Orere Point. 

With a mix of techno, house and everything in between, Bontempo’s sounds are the perfect way to start your night, or even digesting them as a nightcap is thoroughly recommended too. 


Playing at: Northern Bass (29 December), Rhythm and Alps (30 December), Rhythm and Vines (31 December), Bay Dreams North (3 January), Bay Dreams South (5 January), Soundsplash (22 January)

It’s fair to say the popular music streaming platform Soundcloud is a very good friend of Fairbrother’s. 

Starting out as a DJ in Christchurch, Fairbrother (aka Acen Fairbrother) started sharing his drum and bass remixes to Soundcloud, where they then gained mass attention, particularly his take on one of New Zealand’s leading earworm jingles- ‘There is nothing like a crown, for picking it up and putting it down.’ Yup, Fairbrother took Crown’s jingle and made it a hit, amassing 300 thousand streams on the streaming site. 

Since then, things have escalated quickly for Fairbrother, and his busy upcoming few months is a representation of that. Drum and Bass is only getting more and more popular with the younger generations, who (frighteningly) are now old enough to attend festivals, and with all these ingredients thrown into the mix, Fairbrother will be on the list of many to see over the silly season.

Sam Cullen

Playing at: Rhythm and Vines (31 December)

Last, but certainly not least, a man from the deep south throwing himself straight into the deep end. 

It’s clear Sam Cullen couldn’t have thought of a better way to close out this year, making his festival debut in a mammoth way by performing on the Rhythm and Vines main stage on the last day of the year. 

With a small-town upbringing at the bottom of the world in Invercargill and now calling Wellington home, Cullen began sharing his self-produced sounds this year with the release of his debut EP ‘1000x’ and going on his first nationwide tour as a one-man-band over September and October. 

Drawing influences from ‘The Boss’ Bruce Springsteen for his powerful vocals, as well as intertwined 80s pop and propulsive rock, Sam Cullen will have you bopping in the Vines.

Written by

George Berry

21 Dec 2020

George Berry is a 22-year old Freelance Journalist and Musician.