Live review: Laneway 2012

Crowds at the Laneway Festival. Photo / Richard Robinson
Crowds at the Laneway Festival. Photo / Richard Robinson

The Herald's coverage of Auckland's 2012 Laneway Festival continues with reviews of as many of the bands as we can.

Opossum, 12.30pm, Penny Lane Stage
Kody Neilson and Bic Runga make quite the cute couple on stage, what with him in the green poncho and she in the all black dress. The pair, along with a guitarist, swap instruments continuously throughout their half-hour opening set, and build up to create quite the racket by the end. With no album out yet, it's hard to pick up on melodies and choruses, but there's a sizeable crowd by the end, including many famous local faces, proving this year's Laneway is quite the place to be seen.

EMA, 1pm, Cherry Lane
"Is anyone here from Gore?" asked EMA's Erika M Anderson halfway through the band's main stage Laneway slot. Only one hand went up, but that didn't mean that no one else was appreciating EMA's 90s grungey drone, lyrical poetry and arthouse theatrics. EMA's from South Dakota but they're exactly the kind of band you expect to see at Laneway: Loud, obnoxious, alt-rock with plenty of attitude. Not sure where the Gore namedrop came from, but let's hope it's not the last time we see them here.

Cults, Penny Lane Stage, 2pm
Technical difficulties marred the first couple of tracks of Cults' highly anticipated set, but they soon sorted it out for a ferocious You Know What I Mean, a track that saw singer Madeline Follin unveil her inner banshee. The New York act's 60's influenced indie-pop could be called twee - kinda like New Zealand's own The Bruntettes - but with songs as catchy as Go Outside, Abducted and Most Wanted, there were more than enough head-nodding moments to fill the band's half-hour set. It warranted at least another 15 minutes, but this is one cult that isn't going away any time soon.

Yuck, 4.15pm, Penny Lane
The 90s are alive and kicking in Yuck, the British band who gave the now-packed Laneway crowd a dose of Smashing Pumpkins riffage, Dinosaur Jr drone and a healthy side dish of feedback squall. Walls was the set highlight, but they ended with a brilliant rhythm section blitz that had every child of the 90s smiling in delight. Yuck? More like yum.

Pajama Club, 5pm, Cherry Lane
Neil Finn's side project are a more energetic live experience than you'd expect, with their bFM-friendly alt-pop and radio-friendly sheen crackling through Laneways' speakers. It's only the diehards that can sing along to every song, but there's plenty to enjoy in their lounge room racket. And you don't need to be wearing your PJs to enjoy it.

Twin Shadow, 6.30pm, Cherry Lane
The early evening chilled out with the atmospheric vibes of Washed Out, and continued with Twin Shadow's synth-fuelled new wave sounds. Sure, it got a little samey but George Lewis Jr gave punters a chance to relax with his 80s-influenced songs before the evening's big name bands began, with plenty of sunburnt faces dancing in front of Laneway's mainstages. With some sea breezes soothing the brutal heat, Laneway is becoming liveable once again.

Feist, 7.15pm, Penny Lane
She's certainly lived up to her name, with the feisty Canadian singer delivering the most energetic set of the day so far on Laneway's main stage. My Moon, My Man was an early highlight, until her microphone cut out halfway through the follow-up. Still, she won the crowd over hollering her lyrics acapella, and deserved what became the biggest applause of the day.

SBTRKT, 7.40pm, Park Lane
On record, British low-fi dubstep act SBTRKT are very mellow. But live, they come across like something from a dance-friendly, Edge-fest type of event. The duo play drums, sing and sample themselves to create the kind of festival-friendly fare that Laneway fans were loving. Add in some soulful vocals and pounding rhythms, and SBTRKT are surefire winners.

M83, Penny Lane, 9pm
With Gotye might have been closing Laneway's main stages, but it was M83 that delivered the headlining set of the night. As the sun set, the French electronica act had everyone dancing with a huge set of epic synths, huge guitar riffs and boy-girl vocals interplay. Yes, Midnight City was the set highlight, but they're no one-hit wonders. One of the best acts seen not just at this Laneway Festival, but at any of them.

- Herald online

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