Laneway festival: 10,000 fans ensure sellout at Silo Park

By Hayden Donnell, Chris Schulz, Lydia Jenkin

Add a comment

Lorde and Blake had another engagement but quality lineup and breadth of genres keep crowd hopping.

Earl Sweatshirt performing on the Hey Seuss Stage. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Earl Sweatshirt performing on the Hey Seuss Stage. Photo / Sarah Ivey

No Lorde, and no James Blake - but no one seemed to be talking about the missing headliners at this year's Laneway festival.

Yes, this year's event was a sellout, with numbers boosted to 10,000, meaning that - just like the Big Day Out - there were lengthy queues for drinks, food and toilets from early on.

And yes, thanks to the clashing Grammy Awards, the line-up suffered from the pulling-out of nominees Lorde (who will perform a celebratory homecoming tomorrow night as a make-up offering) and British electro-crooner James Blake.

But the sold-out signs at the front of the venue proved that the sheer breadth of genres covered by this year's line-up - including for the first time three quality hip-hop acts - more than made up for the $140 ticket price.

If you wanted a mellow day in the sun, there was the moody throb of Daughter, the head-nodding indie-dance of Mount Kimbie, and the warped '60s pop of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

DJ and member of Parliament Jacinda Ardern on stage in the Red Bull Thunderdome. Photo / Sarah Ivey
DJ and member of Parliament Jacinda Ardern on stage in the Red Bull Thunderdome. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Or, if you were in the mood for jumping around, you could find plenty to please you with Jagwar Ma's psychedelic danceable hijinks, Run the Jewels' supercharged hip-hop double act, or the surprisingly fun punk rock of Parquet Courts.

And, if you just wanted to lie in the shade, eat some pulled pork and just people-watch, there were more impressively hipster sunglasses than you've ever seen in one place before.

Whatever you chose to see, this year's Laneway was the best way to spend Auckland Anniversary Day. Unless you were winning Grammys in Los Angeles, of course.

Most unadorned magical moment
When Cat Power played in New Zealand in February last year, she was celebrating the release of her album Sun with a full band tour. This time around, she came on her own with just her guitar and an upright piano for company. And she sounded beautiful. Bathed in blue light, she went back to her old songbook, moving the packed out crowd with songs like Great Expectations and a cover of (I Can't get No) Satisfaction, which sounds entirely unlike anything the Rolling Stones wrote when she plays it. Husky and fragile in one breath, powerful and seductive in the next, she's most certainly still got it.

Best wild-haired party starter

Danny Brown shouldn't work: He wears leather, sticks his tongue out more than Miley Cyrus, raps like a constipated chipmunk and has the worst name in hip-hop history. But the crowd crush that formed bruising moshpits for his show on the Cactus Cat Stage loved every second of it. Dope Song, Blunt After Blunt and Break It (Go) nearly caused riots with Brown's trap beats and super hyped rhymes.

Chant we didn't want to hear

"Turn it up" was a constant refrain heard around Silo Park as rapper Earl Sweatshirt took to the main stage mid-afternoon. The Odd Future affiliate suffered shockingly low volume levels throughout his set, and by the time they were fixed he struggled to catch up. It's a crying shame - Sweatshirt's a gifted lyricist but his grinding, minimalist thump was rendered impotent.

Most unadorned magical moment

When Cat Power played in New Zealand in February last year, she was celebrating the release of her album Sun with a full band tour. This time around, she came on her own with just her guitar and an upright piano for company. And she sounded beautiful. Bathed in blue light, she went back to her old songbook, moving the packed out crowd with songs like Great Expectations and a cover of (I Can't get No) Satisfaction, which sounds entirely unlike anything the Rolling Stones wrote when she plays it. Husky and fragile in one breath, powerful and seductive in the next, she's most certainly still got it.

Best recovery

Chvrches were nailing their set right until disaster struck. The Scottish indie-dance outfit had just gotten the crowd dancing with a version of their hit song Gun when their synthesiers suddenly stopped working. Singer Lauren Mayberry tried to keep the magic alive with a series of Lord of the Rings quips before opting to head off stage. They returned after five minutes. Mayberry seemed undeterred. She joked about kicking a drink bottle into the crowd despite being crap at sports, bantered a little with her bandmates and then launched into a stellar closing set of songs.

Absolutely nailed it award

These girls should be as big as the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the next couple of years.
The three sisters from California's Haim are absolute demons on their instruments, with voices to match, and they had the crowd eating out of their hand as the sun went down.
Fleshed out with drums and keyboards, their live sound was somehow scorching without losing any of its melodicism. The guitar licks were as good as anything AC/DC has ever done, the rhythms as groovy as The Blues Brothers, and the harmonies as full as Fleetwood Mac.

Best downbeat Caribbean vibe

His day job is as chief beatmaker for gloomy Brits The xx - and Jamie xx has played here before with them as headliners. But he delivered a different style to his stand alone DJ set, one that may have seemed awkwardly low-key after the aural face punch that was Danny Brown. It turned into the perfect soundtrack for a comedown, including smooth house, ragged jungle, occasional dubstep thumps and even Calypso rhythms mixed into a casual lounge-friendly set that had the packed Cactus Cat stage swaying as one.

Loudest noisemakers

The stage for Savages was set in stark black and white. Their show was an explosion of raw sound that blew away much of what had come before. The four-piece post-punk group from London impressed with a snarling set drawn mainly from their 2013 debut Silence Yourself. Lead singer Jehnny Beth (real name Camille Berthomier) prowled across and around the stage as if preparing for battle. Drummer Fay Milton smashed the sneer and cymbals like they were her mortal enemy. The group's tightly wound, antagonistic songs came as a sharp but refreshing change from those of the procession of swirling, reverb-drenched artists that came earlier in the afternoon.

Surprise queue of the day

As Watercolours started their set inside the silo on the Red Bull Thunderdome stage, you could hear the strains of her brilliant single Night Swimmer drifting out. But there was no hope of getting in there to see Chelsea Jade Metcalf and her offsider Jonathan Pierce concoct their otherworldly pop soundscape. The queue was stretching right across the green, and they weren't letting anyone into the limited-capacity silo until others came out.

Coolest food vendors

Sarah and Otis Frizzell were just about obliterated with the demand for their tasty tacos and hot sauces at the Lucky Taco truck. If you missed out there were a number of delicious meals on offer - mussel fritters, prawn and scallop dishes, chicken salads, Hungarian bread puffs.

Best totally apolitical set

Jacinda Ardern was a model of concentration as she took the stage in the Red Bull Thunderdome. She nodded to the baby boomers with a remix of Sinatra's My Way and showed off her egalitarian political roots with Michael Jackson's Black or White. Most importantly she didn't screw up. A good sign for Labour's future.

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 24 Apr 2014 19:20:00 Processing Time: 903ms