Happy Auckland Anniversary Day. This is where our team of intrepid reporters will be adding live updates from St Jerome's Laneway Festival throughout the day (and night). Brought to you by Lydia Burgham, David Skipwith, Dean Purcell and Chris Reed.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Laneway Festival on a stunning Auckland Anniversary holiday!

7:30pm - Ruel dazzles

The Aussie-based pop star was the festival's answer to Shawn Mendes, appealing to fans of boybands and pop music enthusiasts.

He raced around the main stage, electric guitar in tow for most of his songs. His vocals were powerful and pretty much faultless. He opened with Dazed and Confused, and from there the crowd were enwrapped into a daze of their own, thanks in part to his charming floppy blonde hair.

Ruel was impressive live and he seemed very professional. His band were great too, and for sure won the unofficial matching t-shirts competition of the day. At just 17-years-old, Ruel is one to watch, and his live show matches up to his impressive streaming numbers.


- Lydia Burgham

6pm - Benee attracts the masses

New Zealand's lively popstar Benee made her second appearance at Laneway Festival, and the star proved how far she's come since performing last year.

At the main stage, her set was packed. It was shoulder-to-shoulder as she belted out her songs, including her recent releases Wishful Thinking and Supalonely. Her breakout hit Soaked still has the same catchy zing as it did when she first put it out.

Benee performing at 2020's Laneway Festival. Photo / Dean Purcell / NZH
Benee performing at 2020's Laneway Festival. Photo / Dean Purcell / NZH

If there was a thing to fault about her set it was the crowd - no fault of her own. The drunk festival-goers were hard to avoid. Nothing can completely dampen the spirit of Benee's stage presence though, and her songs were worth sticking around for, even if I didn't quite make it to the end before making a hasty escape for breathing room.

- Lydia Burgham

5pm – Swidt and JessB get the party started

Festival goers are well and truly hitting their stride by this point in the day judging by the twin parties that both Swidt and JessB had going on.

Onhunga hip-hop collective Swidt were a late addition to the line-up, named late yesterday as replacements for US rapper JID who cancelled his spot on the Rotunda Stage.

I arrived late to their show which drew a few hundred out of the shade to stand directly in front of the stage with plenty more watching on from the comfort of the darkened tree lines.


I was interested to see how the predominantly indie-leaning audience would respond to the often politically motivated messages within songs that deal with race and class issues here in Aotearoa, and was relieved and pleased to see they were more than positively received.

I then made a beeline to check out Auckland rapper JessB who was absolutely slaying it on the smaller Blockparty Stage, showcasing her effortless flow while supported by a DJ and two great onstage dancers to help the crowd along.

The 25-year-old dealt with some technical dramas early on but held her nerve before finding her groove to have the ever-growing crowd eating out of her hand. My only gripe is that she deserved to be seen on a bigger stage.

- David Skipwith

4.50pm - The Beths nail it

I didn't think we could get any more sunshine today, but The Beths provided it with their only domestic festival date of the summer.They tore through most of debut album Future Me Hates Me, dropped a smidge of new material and prompted a lot of dancing and smiling. A lot of smiling.

Closing with the 1-2 punch of Little Death and Uptown Girl it's shaping as one of the sets of the day. Driven by a symbiotic rhythm section, powered by some muscular guitar work and topped with tight harmonies, it was like The Beach Boys rumbling with The Ramones.

- Chris Reed

3.25pm - Ode to Joy

Love is in the air at Laneway. Photo / Dean Purcell NZ Herald.
Love is in the air at Laneway. Photo / Dean Purcell NZ Herald.

Afternoon. After a whip round the site here's my first post of the day. I'll leave my colleague David Skipwith to go into detail on The Chats. I watched the start of their set before toddling off to the Rotunda stage where Canadian frat-hopper BBNO$ was holding court.

About 10 minutes in, my big question was, is he taking the mickey? The answer, possibly, is yes. He has, apparently, described his music as "oxymoronical rap" that is "ignorant but melodic". Educated, he could be mining the same kind of ground the Beastie Boys started on. Sample lyric "Hey Alexa, hey Alexa / How many bitches can we fit in the Tesla?" could be the most 2020 couplet of the day.

In the leafy tunnel of the Blockparty Stage, Allysha Joy was much more my thing. Her husky voice rode her live electric piano playing and the whisper of shuffling beats.

Despite a small crowd, she was so lost in music she forgot to turn off her drum sequencer as her final song came to an end and the kick, err, kicked back in. In a very quiet kind of way. Bewitching and engaging. Next for me: The Beths.

- Chris Reed

3pm - Stella Donnelly's spectacular set

Next up, I caught Aussie singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly. The sensational Stella is known for her quirky, anti-misogyny lyrics and has epic guitar skills to match.

It was my second time seeing her live, the first being when she opened for Maggie Rogers in June last year. Dressed in a bright red leotard, pink tights and bright blue socks, Stella livened up her rather large crowd at the Rangers stage. She busted out a recorder for a Dido cover in between playing tracks from her album Beware of The Dogs.

The best part was when she took a stand for victim-blaming before her breakout song Boys Will Be Boys. She ended on a high with her track Tricks, I was wowed by Stella's stage presence and her no-nonsense Aussie humour.

- Lydia Burgham

2.50pm - The Chats bring Aussie humour to the masses

The Chats are the funniest band on the bill at Laneway. Photo / Dean Purcell NZ Herald.
The Chats are the funniest band on the bill at Laneway. Photo / Dean Purcell NZ Herald.

Aussie punk rockers The Chats are one of the more unlikely bands on the bill, but undoubtedly one of the funniest.

Hailing from the Sunshine Coast just north of Brisbane, this chaotic but lovable three-piece drew a crowd of a couple of thousand people to the Princes Street Stage and blew their eardrums with a typically raucous and beer-soaked set.

With their brash Queensland accents, bogan-esque hair-do's and unpretentious style, what you see is what you get with this lot – laconic Aussie humour in huge doses and straight-ahead rock'n'roll.

Their tongue-in-cheek attitude was evident even as they strolled onstage to the theme from Sylvester Stallone's Rocky before they quickly won the crowd over with a set-list full of tunes everyday people can relate to.

Ripping through songs about taking pingers, needing a couple of bucks for bus money, their shared love of pub lunches, CCTV cameras watching our every move, and sexually transmitted diseases, The Chats were the first act of the day to inspire some kind of rowdiness among the masses.

Even the band were quick to acknowledge they were "scraping the bottom of the barrel" with a song about their mate Tristian and the Ross River Virus (it's a real thing, google it), but their tribute to the working man's plight Smoko (leave me alone!) had the punters singing along in unison. Terrific stuff.

- David Skipwith

1:30 - Col3trane gets the party started

The North London RnB artist's performance was a sign the party well and truly began at Laneway Festival.

The artist certainly got the crowd hyped. He also made a tribute to Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, which was a touching moment. His most popular song Rendezvous was a great dance-along, even if not enough alcohol had been consumed by the crowd to loosen up just yet. He asked the crowd to "make some noise" for those at the barrier of the stage and gave a shout-out to the sun smart stragglers sitting under the trees. It's already a scorcher out there, so thanks for the nod Col3trane.

- Lydia Burgham

1pm - The Mermaidens open Laneway Festival in style

Wellington rock trio the Mermaidens opened on the Rotunda stage. Photo / Dean Purcell NZ Herald.
Wellington rock trio the Mermaidens opened on the Rotunda stage. Photo / Dean Purcell NZ Herald.

The Wellington trio opened the festival at the Rotunda stage, enthusing the crowd of early-comers. Their rock energy was similar to that of British band Muse. It was a great performance, and from what I could tell the band has a loyal following - who populated the front row. There seemed to be small teething issues with the sound at this stage so far, the bass sounded a bit loud.

- Lydia Burgham

12.55pm – Soaked Oats deliver dreamy set

Dunedin's Soaked Oats brought their dreamy brand of pop to the Princes Street Stage. Photo / Dean Purcell NZ Herald.
Dunedin's Soaked Oats brought their dreamy brand of pop to the Princes Street Stage. Photo / Dean Purcell NZ Herald.

Dunedin pop quartet Soaked Oats got things going on the Princes Street Stage as the second act of the day, soothing our ears with a set that mixed gentle sounds with pieces of energetic rock.

The sun is beating down on the tarseal road which forced the building crowd up into the shade at the front of stage, while others sought shelter from the heat in the strip of shade along the tree and fence lines.

Singer/ guitarist Oscar Mein's Lou Reed-like vocals sounded great with the band working through material off their three releases to date – Stone Fruit Melodies, No Slip Ups and Sludge Pop.

The group were in good form and interacted excitedly with the crowd of 200-300 fans and curious onlookers – no doubt eagerly anticipating their chance to relax and enjoy the rest of the bands throughout the afternoon and evening. A perfect start to the day.

12pm Gates are open!

The sun's out and the gates opened on time at 11.30am with a crowd of eager punters streaming in to the grassy and shady surrounds of Albert Park.

The first acts of the day are about to get underway with Wellington's Mermaidens now opening proceedings on the Rotunda Stage, and Dunedin-based sludge-popsters Soaked Oats hitting the Princes Street Stage at 12.15pm.

Temperatures are already hitting 26 degrees so if you haven't left the house yet remember to bring a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen!

Moving through the ticketing area and security bag checks was pretty seamless – but the big test will come when the bulk of the crowd arrives in a couple of hours.

I had to empty my water bottle upon entering but there are water stations just inside the gates and throughout the festival where you can get a free refill.

The big international drawcards are tonight's headliners The 1975 and Charli XCX. Charli plays the Rotunda stage (oddly right next to the park's rotunda) at 8.40pm and The 1975 close the night at the Princes St main stage, from 9.30pm.

The bad news is that Aussie EDM act Rufus Du Sol cancelled their peak-time appearance last week before US rapper JIM also withdrew from the line-up late yesterday afternoon.

Local Auckland hip-hop collective Swidt will replace JIM on the bill with Marlon Williams filling in for Rufus Du Sol.

I'm heading out into the thick of the early action!