Picture this: the sun is shining (finally), and you’re on your way to the beach. Sunblock on, surrounded by friends or whānau, windows down…what’s missing? Some SIX60 classics blasting on the radio! It’s fair to say it’s basically impossible to enjoy an authentic Kiwi summer without the feel-good soundtracks of our favourite local band.
The incredibly successful (and incredibly humble) SIX60 have blessed us once more with an iconic summer tour, a long-standing tradition affectionately dubbed ‘SIX60 Saturdays’ by fans and the group alike. Luckily for us, the boys still have one leg to go and are concluding their recent journey down the motu on Saturday 4th March, in Dunedin – where it all began!
It’s a Kiwi rite of passage to attend SIX60 Saturdays, and this rendition is a special one. Bringing fans a whole new set, special guests, and new music from their fourth studio album Castle St – we know for sure this is not a show you want to miss.
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SIX60 was born inside the infamous student flat at 660 Castle St in Dunedin during 2008. The founding members Eli, Hoani, Ji, Marlon, and Matiu began jamming together for fun and were performing gigs at their doorstep for friends, family, and growing crowds in the community in no time. After the multi-talented Hoani Matangi left to pursue professional rugby, SIX60 gained bass-player Chris Mac and their debut, first self-titled album was released in 2011. Ever since, the band have been consistently tackling new frontiers for over a decade.
While SIX60 are considered integral to the Kiwi music scene, lead singer Matiu has also admitted that the band owes a lot to Aotearoa. “We did all our growing up in front of the people of New Zealand,” he says “I think that might be why we’re so endearing to home.”
Their 2020 documentary, SIX60: Till The Lights Go Out, is a perfect example of the band’s endearing vulnerability and honesty with Aotearoa. Opening up on-screen revealed more intimate behind-the-scenes storytelling than ever before, as fans learnt of the more brutal ups and downs faced in their rise to the top. The musicians admitted that the pressure of attempting to crack the overseas market in the early 2010s led to fractured dynamics – meaning at one point the group was close to breaking up, with members not even speaking to each other.
But being able to shed light on moments like these has only brought SIX60 and the people of Aotearoa closer together – and it’s clear now that enduring the tougher moments has meant the band is currently thriving and stronger than ever.
SIX60’s authenticity isn’t hard to comprehend, especially when you look at their latest moves to honour their humble beginnings. In 2021, the band actually purchased the 660 Castle St property, the flat where it all began! Alongside this, SIX60 has partnered with the University of Otago to launch four $10,000 scholarships each year, which include personal mentoring from the band members. They’ve also shared their plans to convert parts of the house into recording studios and use the rest to house the winning scholarship students! It’s clear that SIX60’s heart lies with Aotearoa and nurturing the culture, soul, and talent we live and breathe – both in our music industry and as a nation.
TRADITION OF SIX60 SATURDAYS
(warning: spoilers of their most recent tour leg ahead!)
The atmosphere of SIX60’s live shows radiate the Kiwi culture, love, authenticity, and pride tenfold from what we see and hear through the screen. At every show, the crowd proves there is no one-size-fits-all description for SIX60 fans – there are quite literally people of all ages, cultures, and walks of life that come together to connect over music. You feel like you’re part of something huge and exciting while also relishing in the intimate and relaxed vibe of the night.
The weekend evenings have all the energy and ambience of a summer BBQ on an unprecedented scale: food trucks, friends, button-down shirts flowing in the summer breeze, picnic blankets, and live music. There’s a reason SIX60 and Aotearoa keep coming together to create these beautiful memories for Kiwis up and down the country for multiple summers in a row – what more could you want?
This time around, the group has kicked things up a notch in true SIX60 fashion. The set houses (literally) a massive replica of the 660 flat onstage, a move designed to ground the show’s feel similarly to their early, more intimate flat-party gigs. This theme continues throughout the night, with stripped-down, less-rehearsed sequences of instrumentals and acoustics. It’s truly special to watch the guys riff off each other and jam out as they did all those years ago during their organic conception. And the immersion into the Dunedin influences doesn’t end there – with the performance of ‘White Lines’ ending abruptly to orchestrated sirens and flashing red and blue lighting displays. The band makes a mad dash inside the 660 playhouse, and to the crowd’s surprise, two real police officers wander on stage with torches in an attempt to track them down. The theatrics and the laughs like this are just one example of how SIX60’s shows are no way short of pleasant surprises and that the band is far from the predictability that some have alleged of them.
The band has urged all New Zealanders to “come for the party!” Saying how they want their shows to be a “massive celebration.”
“It’s not an ‘us’ and a ‘them watching’,” Matiu emphasises, “this is all of us together.”
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The band certainly honours this sentiment by engaging openly with fans throughout the night. A crowd favourite was when the setlist was interrupted by a simple vote – the concert visuals revealed mysterious doors on either side of the stage. Each one swung open to reveal a beloved SIX60 song title – but it was up to the audience to decide which one they wanted to hear!
It’s no secret that the night is also completely a celebration of Aotearoa, our people, and our cultures. The crowd never fails to erupt immediately into a patriotic roar when the opening chords of ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ are played. It’s not rare to see the sea of faces become emotional throughout our unofficial national anthem. And truly, the emotion really sets in when the band brings out local Kapa Haka performers at every show to accompany the Te Reo rendition of the iconic track in a medley with Haka and Poi.
SIX60’s special guests never fail to encapsulate the true spirit of Aotearoa’s identity and successes, charged with a sense of whānau, pride, and aroha. After their historic Rugby World Cup win last year, the Black Ferns joined the band on stage with the trophy (on more than one occasion) to celebrate by singing ‘The Greatest.’ And to top it all off, fan-favourite player Ruby Tui rounded things off by roping the crowd into a verse of ‘Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi’! To say that the atmosphere in these moments is truly electric would be an understatement – it is simply out of this world. The band really puts it best with the encore track: ‘Enough is Never Enough.’
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SIX60 certainly have a knack for doing what has never been done before – from playing their first ever show (outside of Dunedin) to a couple hundred people in Christchurch over a decade ago to repeatedly setting the bar higher. In February 2019, the band was the first Kiwi act to headline (let alone sell out…which they did!) Western Springs and their capacity of 49,000. In April 2021, the group continued their reign, being the first-ever act to play and sell out a concert at Auckland’s iconic Eden Park … then they did it again.
On top of this, SIX60 has continued touring overseas and is known for bringing the comforts of home to Kiwis living internationally – as well as providing a slice of NZ to new audiences. The boys have proved themselves thoroughly in this regard too, continuing their trend of sold-out shows all over, including venues in the United States, England, and Australia.
To reiterate once again how SIX60 is setting records on records on records – their chart performance is incredible. Their second album alone has spent over five years in NZ’s top 40 charts, breaking a record that was held by Pink Floyd for nearly 50 years prior. On top of that, their debut album remained unbeaten as the top album of NZ, holding its number 1 title for another whopping five years. All of their albums have reached Platinum bar one, which is understandable considering it is their most recent release (Castle St), and even this exception is still certified Gold. To put it simply, SIX60’s ongoing success and domination seems unbelievable, but is literally undeniable!
And despite all of this, SIX60 still keeps that realness of home through and through. Castle St was recorded entirely in person, with band members performing all vocals and instruments live in the one room. It’s moves like these to honour the chemistry of where they started that allows the group to nail the magical combination of being insanely successful while remaining grounded, connected, and relevant to us Kiwi listeners at home.
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SIX60 are returning to where it all began and are playing at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday 4th March 2023. Not only do the boys put on a hell of a performance, but they will also be joined by a collection of extremely talented Kiwi artists: Kora, Mitch James, Coterie, and Hina – the latter two of which are signed to SIX60’s own record label, Massive Entertainment.
Synonymous with success and sentimentality, SIX60 have fashioned themselves integral to Kiwi culture. This rendition of SIX60 Saturdays is arguably the most entertaining, interactive, visually-impressive, and heartfelt show ever to grace our stages. You do not want to miss it!
Purchase tickets to SIX60’s Ōtepoti show here!