Almost 35,000 people will pack Auckland Domain tomorrow for Synthony - one of the biggest events in the Domain’s history. A mini city has been built for the concert extravaganza. Shayne Currie reports.
This time last year, the Auckland Domain’s main fields were under water, the catchment for - firstly - thousands of tonnes of water during the anniversary weekend flooding and then - a few weeks later - the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.
Tomorrow, an estimated 33,000-35,000 will pack the same grounds - now restored to their full glory - for Synthony in the Domain, one of the biggest events ever staged on the sprawling central Auckland park.
Organisers say the event - the forecast crowd is a huge step up from the already impressive 20,000 who attended last year - is further progress in turning the event into an internationally recognised extravaganza, comparable to how London uses Hyde Park and New York uses Central Park for major concerts and events.
“It’s exciting - I’m excited!” said Duco Events boss David Higgins as he drove the Herald around the venue in a golf cart on Friday morning.
Duco Events boss David Higgins in front of the towering Synthony stage in Auckland Domain.
The finishing touches were being placed on what is essentially a mini-city - by tomorrow, there will be more than 50 food trucks in place, along with designated party and dance areas, food and wine zones, a theme park area, a silent disco, and dozens of hospitality and corporate tents.
At the forefront, towering over a massive open grassed area is the massive Synthony stage and its side screens, from where live music starts from 2.30pm, culminating in Synthony No.5, from 9pm.
Work started on the stage more than a week ago. Tomorrow, it will host the likes of Peter Urlich, Tiki Taane, and Fat Freddy’s Drop, and that’s even before the main event, a stunning orchestral dance and light show extravaganza.
“We are creating a mini city, and the purpose of it is joy and magic. Synthony’s purpose is to move you like never before,” said Higgins.
Herald reviewer Dan Boyd called last year’s event “spellbinding”.
“The screens to the side of the stage carried a mesmerising display of geometric patterns and pulsating colours. The orchestra dived into their complex rhythms, the strings and brass weaving in and out of the beats with effortless precision. It’s an utterly entrancing experience - no wonder this concept is expanding to the world and just keeps getting better.”
The event has certainly come a long way since the 2000 people who turned up to the Town Hall in 2017.
Now Synthony is a genuinely national and international event - it’s toured at different venues around New Zealand and is now sold overseas, featuring in Singapore, and other countries. Interest is high from countries in the Middle East and further afield.
Sir Dave Dobbyn performing at Synthony in the Domain in 2023 - crowd numbers will be almost double for this weekend's event. Photo / Jared Donkin, Radlab
For Duco, it’s easily their biggest music event. They’ve organised and helped lead various major sports events - the Joseph Parker-Anthony Joshua boxing bout in the UK with 80,000 people and the NRL Nines with more than 40,000 fans at Eden Park - but these were at established stadiums.
Synthony and the Domain location bring their own uniqueness - and magic.
Higgins was on a last-minute pitch this morning. There are still some tickets left, but not many - VIP tickets have sold out, but there are VVIP and GA tickets available.
The weather forecast is looking good - there might be some isolated showers in the afternoon, but temperatures should reach 26C.
Synthony in the Domain - by the numbers
• 33,000+ fans attending
• 7km of fencing
• 30 tonnes of production equipment
• 65,000 litres of water to keep attendees hydrated
• 10 electricity generators
• 16 light towers
• 12 days to pack in / pack out
• 22 refrigeration units
• 3500 bags of ice
• 700 food and beverage staff
• 51 food trucks
• 389 security guards
• 500 toilets / 100 luxury toilets
• Synchronised lighting of Sky Tower and Auckland Harbour Bridge to Synthony set
• $1.7 million production
• Gigantic 350 sq/m of LED screens
• 32-track Synthony set
• 320 lights
• 12 giant laser lights
• 153 artists/performers
• 55 orchestra members
• 27 choir members
• 8 drummers
• 4 stilt walkers
• 4 drag queens
• 2 drag kings
• 5 salsa dancers
• 5 bespoke large light sculpture installations by Angus Muir
Synthony - all you need to know
Herald entertainment reporter Lillie Rohan with the rundown:
When does it start?
Gates open at 2.30pm with the first official act, DJ Dick Johnson, hitting the decks at the same time.
John Butler will play from 4pm before other acts follow on. The final song will play just before 11pm, with the show concluding at 11pm.
MetService is currently predicting a high of 26C and a low of 16C.
The day is expected to be mostly cloudy, with isolated showers possible in the afternoon.
Who is performing?
The core of the festival will be the Synthony No.5 conducted by Sarah Grace Williams, with guest performances from talented and in demand musicians including the multi-platinum UK drum and bass gurus Rudimental Live and Kiwi legend Tiki Taane.
Elsewhere the festival, which will be split across two stages, will also include performances from local favourites Fat Freddy’s Drop, Australian legend John Butler, sky-rocketing soloist Prins and a new Synthony No.5 set, with more exciting acts set to make surprise appearances on the night.
Here is the full set list so you don’t miss out on any of your favourite acts:
Synthony in the Domain returns for another year of fun.
Parking and transport
Like all big events in Auckland, it’s recommended you bus, train, ferry or cycle to the Domain to save any unneeded vehicle congestion. However, if that isn’t possible for you, Auckland Transport is advising you to arrive early to secure a park as there will be restrictions in place around the Domain and the park’s perimeter.
Hot tip: If you are driving into the event, don’t try to park as close as possible. AT says: “The further away you park the faster you’ll get away.” As for anyone using public transport, please allow extra time.
For bus, ferry or train timetables and information go to www.at.govt.nz/events or call Auckland Transport on 09 366 6400.
Synthony in the Domain site map.
In preparation for the event, there will be road closures in place from 7am to midnight on February 10. Parking restrictions around the area will also be in place from 7am on February 9 to midnight on February 10.
For the full list of road closures, please check here.
What to bring
With the weather anticipated to reach a summery 26C and potential rain, attendees planning to head along earlier in the day should include sunblock, a sunhat and water in their day pack as well as a waterproof jacket or poncho.
The event will include a Stonewood Homes Wine and Food Village for a mouth-watering selection of food and beverage options, including cocktail bars and 51 food trucks, however, if you want your emotional support drink bottle on hand you can bring an empty plastic or stainless-steel water bottle as there is free, fresh, filtered water available onsite.
As for those who enjoy a boogie after their meal, ZM is hosting a silent disco so don sensible footwear for dancing.
Finally, with roaming entertainment - including four stilt walkers, lighting installations, amusement rides and so much more, you’ll want to bring your camera or smartphone to capture all those smiley moments, because there really is something for everyone.
What not to bring
Synthony in the Domain once again has a no-BYO policy this year, with any alcohol brought in set to be confiscated — and that’s not the only rule. You’re also not allowed to bring in food and drink purchased offsite or from home. Umbrellas are also prohibited.
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