Chris Schulz and George Fenwick sweated and sweltered their way through Laneway Festival's Auckland leg. Here were their five favourite things.
Mitski, 5pm, Princes Street Stage
It's rare to feel part of a crowd that hangs so eagerly onto a musician's every last movement - but that's how it felt to be in the throng who turned out for Mitski's afternoon set. The singer-songwriter's kooky, but strangely angelic, coreography created a whole world on stage for Mitski's devastating songs to exist inside of, and from her disco-pop moments (Why Didn't You Stop Me?) to her thrash-rock ballads (Your Best American Girl), the crowd was relishing every last detail. She wasn't afraid to break character and joke with the crowd between songs, making the whole set feel weirdly sacred, as though we'd all been invited into a secret fantasy of Mitski's creation. Björk would be proud.
Jorja Smith, 6.55pm, Rotunda Stage
The big question facing Jorja Smith's set was whether or not her voice would be as stunningly powerful live as it is on record. From the first moments of her early evening Laneway performance, as she stood statue still while singing those opening lines of Lost & Found across Albert Park, she forced punters to turn and walk towards the stage. Smith's voice has been compared to Amy Winehouse, which is a very tough story to live up to, but Smith seems capable of handling it. This was spellbinding, in every sense of the word.
High Beams, 7.15pm, Thunderdome Stage
it's a tough job to go up against Jorja Smith, but the several hundred punters who headed down to the Thunderdome stage were treated to something special. The Kiwi hip-hop supergroup proved their pulling power with a series of high profile guests: first Teeks, then Che Fu, and SWIDT gracing the stage, showing just how highly regarded High Beams are in the New Zealand hip-hop community. They deserve a much bigger audience and seem on the cusp of getting it.
Denzel Curry, 8.40pm, Rotunda Stage
The sun had set and the stage was all black except for a series of glowing red bars. They soon parted, the words "Act I" splashed across the screen and out bounced Denzel Curry, rapping with such brutal intensity it felt like Travis Scott might have indulged in meth. What an opening, and what a show. Denzel Curry's incendiery songs can often be too much for your headphones to take, but in a wide open arena, with thousands of fans, a great sound system, and a bonkers backdrop of circus-inspired selfies flashing up behind him, the Florida rapper delivered something that won't be forgotten in a hurry.
Florence & The Machine, 9pm, Princes Street Stage
The moment Florence Welch took a moment to rally her crowd to eviscerate "toxic masculinity" with her, you knew something truly transcendent was starting to happen. Florence & the Machine went full high-theatre for her Laneway-closing set, uniting every last person in a crowd of thousands across an hour and a half of angelic, witchy, utterly magical pop music. Phones were commanded to stay in pockets, so it was just us, Florence, and her dramatic discography; she had the whole crowd screaming along the words to her timeless hits, including an earth-shaking rendition of Dog Days Are Over. This was the kind of Laneway set that people will talk about for many years to come, to be remembered as a euphoric explosion of the purest emotion.