Concord Dawn. - Publicity photo

At my first raves, I usually left before the morning-after shenanigans, but with the purchase of a van (named Marama because her curved yellow top was a beacon in a dark camping zone) I began to really appreciate the daytime vibes, which sadly also included picking up litter. As shown by my Day to Night line-up, I’m a proper Ōtautahi native in favouring all things drums and bass, so we’ll start with that, but I also like some nicely done house, techno, trance, and hip hop, although you can keep ya gabba! Here is a mix of acts I’d love to hear again, and others I’ve yet to. We’ll crack on with the midnight madness through the witching hours until pre-dawn – when aching limbs and a brightening sky merit a little ambience – then bring the beat back up for the morning stomp, ending with a nice soft grounding from TrinityRoots.  

12.30am: Concord Dawn feat. Rikki Morris – Forever (The Enemy Within, 2010)

What better act to take the first slot after midnight than Tāmaki Makaurau duo Concord Dawn who really bring the metal head aesthetic to the D&B party, which is what you need when the temperature has plummeted, and the party’s peaking. Being of an age that can remember when Rikki Morris was a pop singer, I wasn’t expecting him to be the opening vocalist on The Enemy Within, but he’s brilliant – bringing all the swagger and punch you need when up against industrial beats and samples, not to mention a killer drumline that kicks in when he does. Yet, in the lyrics Morris brings the dark too, and using a folksy verse/chorus format, tells a tale about a dream place “far away from the madding crowd”. Huh – a madding crowd that at that point would be going off. Would be fun to hear some Concord Dawn remixes of Morris’s pop hits too. 


1.45am: Tom Cosm – Primeval Soup v1 (Selected Works 2005-2020, 2005)

Time to cater to the dancers who are not D&B fans with Ōtautahi dweller Tom Cosm. Track-wise, I was tempted by Abmiram as a trojan horse to keep the Concord Dawn fans on the dancefloor, because Cosm’s music spans the EDM universe, sometimes in the same track. Live, he eschews laptops to perform in real time, and he shares those skills as an educator. He’s also prolific, as attested by the 75-track digital album, Selected Works 2005-2020, that ‘Primeval Soup v1’ was taken from. It was hard choosing, but this 2005 number reminds me of his legendary MASSIVE sets; in nine minutes Cosm navigates the electronic spectrum like a dancer searching for the sweet spot. For someone who struggles with psy trance, all the squelchy samples, pace changes, and a bonus dubby-jazz horn outro make for a track with enough going on to keep me happily stomping. 


3am: Optimus Gryme feat. Billy Fluid – A Billy (Annihilation of the Ego, 2008)

Love me a bit of wobbly dubstep in the darkest hours and, like the titan he’s named for, Optimus Gryme delivers. The producer alias of Charlie Brown from Waiheke, his debut LP Eclipse was the first Aotearoa dubstep full-length album. ‘A Billy’ is from an earlier EP, and vocalist Billy Fluid namechecks dubstep from the off, then in a freestylin’ rhyme puts down a wero for the new sound. Meanwhile, Optimus Gryme is laying his own challenge with a matrix of beats, and a phat bassline that would keep the dancefloor shuffling, because, at half the tempo of D&B, but driven by behemoth echoey bass, your legs can take a break and let your hips do all the twerking. A midnight regular at outdoor raves, it’s great to see that Optimus Gryme is still gracing line-ups 15 years since that pivotal album – proving that dubstep is here to stay. 


4.20am: Micronism – Dissolution (Inside a Quiet Mind, 1998)

Denver McCarthy / Micronism

The pre-dawn dance zone is often filled with gurners and gnarly vibes (the perfect excuse for a nana nap), but I’m scheduling this with my mellower sisters in mind, and I think Micronism would be the perfect act to rug up warm for, have a coffee, and check out who’s still standing. Described by Grant Smithies in Soundtrack as New Zealand’s “best electronic album” (a view upheld by it winning an Independent Music NZ Classic Record Award), Tokoroa-born producer Denver McCarthy could probably just play Inside a Quiet Mind as is. Sometimes described as ambient, this is techno with the edges smoothed away, and I’ve chosen ‘Dissolution’ for its skitterish beat and juicy bassline, the latter being of such a distinctively warm timbre, that – despite Micronism only releasing one album – you can hear echoes of it through the past two and a half decades of Aotearoa electronica. 


5.30am: Misled Convoy – Ring Wraith (Tickling the Dragon’s Tail, 2014)

Speaking of bass, Misled Convoy is what happens when Pitch Black’s Michael Hodgson is left to his own devices. I first heard this track as part of a much longer version that I’d been sent when researching Aotearoa electronica, so a decade later, I was stoked to hear it all polished up and shortened as ‘Ring Wraith’. The intro is classic Hodgson, experimenting with the machine sounds he’s been working with since the Tinnitus days, and piling on his trademark dub and bass effects, before dropping in a melodic keyboard riff to anchor you in the track. Fading in and out are rhythmic vocal samples in foreign languages, and at six minutes long it’s a stomper with an ambient outro. Given this is a summer party, Misled Convoy would also be driving us through the sunrise, and I can imagine Hodgson would plan some spectacular auditory fireworks for that.


6.45am: Alpharhythm – Irie Dub (Sentient Beings, 2013)

I’m used to Alpharhythm’s dawn sets, but usually they were at an equinox or winter solstice party, so the sun was up later, and hearing Ōtepoti producer Sam Cumming’s lush, stretched out compositions would always get me out of the van and scrambling for layers of wool. Once on the dancefloor, the music that his Facebook page describes as “poly-generic soundscapes ranging from ambient, electronic funk/hip hop to deep techno/house & dub”, is the perfect way to work out all the kinks and aches from a day and night spent dancing, the layers coming off as the sun clears the hills. Purely instrumental, an Alpharhythm set also offered a breather with which to appreciate the surrounding landscape in daylight, and ‘Irie Dub’ does exactly what it says, with a deep irie bassline, mellow percussion, and a chiming keyboard melody as enchanting as the birds that used to sing along – in time. 


8am: Jess Aspinwell – Not Yet (Echolocation, 2022)

Thanks to a combination of aging, living rurally, and online fatigue I managed to completely miss the advent of Echo Train Records, an Ōtautahi-based label that since 2020 has been showcasing the new wave of local electronica, so I’m stoked to have found them while researching this article. The first release was ‘ECH001’, a single by Jagā, and Echo’s Bandcamp page showcases a diverse range of producers (including women) stamping an equally diverse array of beats across the more mellow end of the spectrum. The roster includes Ultraviolet, deepState, Rosetown, Azure, Joshi, Junas Orca, and Mr Meaty Boy, so it would be great to include a DJ set featuring tracks from them all, but especially ‘Not Yet’, an ethereal slice of mumble dub from Jess Aspinwell that builds slowly before delivering a bassline as lush as any other here, supported by a network of delicate beats. Mōrena!  


9.15am: Sheelahroc/Confucius – Back to the Basix (on Confucius Newfoundsoundlands, 2003)

Pacific Underground is an Ōtautahi collective (now based in Tāmaki Makaurau) that put Christchurch on the hip hop map. Their 2019 25th Anniversary concert Meet me at the Dog House was a chronological showcase of their artists, including Steve Apirana, Mark Vanilau, Scribe, Dallas Tamaira, MC Antsman, and Mara TK. The whole show was electrifying, but it was witnessing Karoline Tamati (Ladi6), Sarah Tamaira (Voodoo Child), and Tyra Hammond (Opensouls) reunite as the much-missed crew Sheelahroc that wins them this spot. Featuring tracks from their solo careers, along with legendary gender swipe, ‘If I Gave U Th’ Mic’, it was like 1999 again, Voodoo Child stalking the stage in Adidas, only this time she had her adult daughter on backup vocals. Sheelahroc disbanded before they recorded much, but the Confucius helmed ‘Back to the Basix’ (featured on his album Newfoundsoundlands), highlights their collective vocal mastery. 


10.30am: Fat Freddy’s Drop – Shiverman (Dr Boondigga And The Big BW, 2009) 

Fat Freddy's Drop at Red Bull's Tokyo In Dub, 8 November 2014

Keeping it in the (Tamaira) family, next up is Fat Freddy’s Drop – the Wellington band that took the famously laid-back Kiwi attitude and turned it into a genre. That said, live they amp it up, so they’re a great penultimate act to get your groove on to without having to work up too much of a sweat, and ‘Shiverman’ brings the FUNky to the party. Over 10 minutes long, the intro is given plenty of time to build, the guitar and bass laying down the song’s motifs, and Dallas Tamiara/Joe Dukie’s vocals held back until the other instruments have come in, with the brass section last. Even then he delivers a little vocal tease before dropping the lyrics, and he wants us to “shake it loose”. Hell yes – we can do that. We’ll even follow trombonist Joe Lindsay’s dance moves – although maybe not stripping down to our gruds. Fun!


11.45am: TrinityRoots – Little Things (Remix) (TrinityRoots, 2000)

Having worked at parties, I’m all about bringing the crowd down gently. so that they’re not hyped for the pack down and departure. A TrinityRoots live show is akin to therapy, the versions meandering so far away from their recorded originals that when the refrain returns you’re surprised it’s the same song. I’ll never forget seeing an entire crowd weep during their set at the Kaikoura Roots Festival 05, their last Te Waipounamu gig before they took a break, and as noted in my thesis their live performances “had a spiritual quality that was embedded in the environment”. And it was ‘Little Things’ that I sang to myself when picking up the fag ends after the attendees left, something that broke my heart a little more with each butt, because it proved me wrong that dance culture could be a utopia – even when the music kept inspiring us to reach for it. 



Dr Sharon McIver was awarded a PhD in 2007 for her thesis WaveShapeConversion: The Land as Reverent in the Dance Culture and Music of Aotearoa