Laneway Festival Review

Written by on February 1, 2013

I woke up on Auckland Anniversary Day, public holiday Monday morning, with that familiar January music festival feeling. But for the first time since I was 12, it wasn’t the expectation of attending a Big Day Out.  Little did I know that morning, that I was about to attend something better…

Please keep in mind this is how I personally experienced, Auckland’s Laneway Festival.  It’s not a review. I wouldn’t feel qualified to critique this unfamiliar genre. I’m not versed in it. However this lack of education or knowledge about the bands proved refreshing on the day.

I was once again that 12 year old at his first festival discovering and delighting in the dynamics of the day. In situations where I’m not sure about things, I find it best to ask. Talking to punters and fans on arrival:

‘Bro you got to see Tame Impala, they’re sick.’
‘Don’t miss YeaSayer.’
Flume, g.’
‘I reckon you’ll like Real Estate

And so on and so forth, people were all too keen to help. In fact I might as well voice it now, it’s relevant; this was probably the best behaved crowd that I have ever experienced in Auckland, at any gig, period! People were polite and conscious of each other’s space. I put it down to the beautiful summer’s day and what seemed like great timetabling of the acts, short portaloo lines and until the bar shut at 7, because it was drunk dry; reasonable bar service. Also security was in attendance but their presence was barely noticeable.

Ah to the music. I made my way back and forth from the main stages, ‘Hey Sues’ and ‘Cactus Cat Stage’. First band of the day for me was Polica, a nice way to start the day. I had heard of them but never heard their music and the live show couldn’t have been a better introduction for me. From there I watched bits and pieces from the following acts; Clouds of Nothing, Real Estate and A Place to Bury Strangers. These bands were good, delivering what their fans wanted. It wasn’t until I saw Alt-J that I felt like something spoke to me. Their set had a beautiful dynamic and interesting quality to it. It is no wonder they won the Mercury Prize.

After that it was a short break for dinner. What else other than my festival favourite, Hungarian Bread? Drinking what was to be my last beer around 7pm, I watched a performance from the artist that I’d perhaps heard the most about pre festival, Jessie Ware. She performed a solid set. I felt the vocals weren’t loud enough in the mix though and I struggled with making out the lyrics.
I wondered about the people looking after her when she made reference to “going to the beach tomorrow at Mission Bay” as it was near her hotel. I thought to myself, could I get Tuesday off work? Someone should take her to Piha!

Next up was the closest thing to a Hip Hop act I was to see all day and it wasn’t surprising that Flume was probably the most fun I had all day. For a DJ playing a stage following a band, he sure did not lose the crowd. Performing in front of a busy Cactus Stage crowd, who tidily, obligingly, happily switched from their indie two step to a banging head nod; Flume delivered. For me, the highlight of Flume’s set was when he dropped his remix of “Hyper Paradise” by Hermitude. And sure enough, I had made my way through the crowd and right in front of the speakers to get some much needed volume on Flume’s tight productions.

By this time the sun and the cider had got to me and Bats for Lashes were the last act I saw a full set from. And what a way to end it! I fell in love with Natasha Khan (stage name Bats for Lashes) very quickly, as did the rest of the crowd. Bats for Lashes’ performance felt relaxed and effortless as she took me through the final chapter of my Laneway journey experience.

Review by Edgar Mahon

Jessie Ware

Jessie Ware


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