live review

Laneway Festival 2011

Laneway Festival 2011

Reviewed by Undertheradar
1st February 2012

Here are few words on some of highlights of the day, so hard to chose, every act was amazing.

Yeasayer

Seeing Yeasayer two years ago at SFBH following their debut release All Hour Cymbals provided more than enough (read: embarrassingly enthusiastic) anticipation for their Laneway set. Add to that the fact that exceptional dance moves and party funk were remiss as a result of !!!’s cancellation, I charged Yeasayer with rolling all of these skills into an African-electro bundle. O.N.E, arguably the most enthusiastic track from their sophomore Odd Blood began proceedings and any doubts anyone may have had about these guys re-creating album complexities and energy live were laid to rest as the chorus ‘No! You don’t move me anymore’ was screamed back to a band unquestionably at the top of their game. The atmosphere of a 7.45pm-sun-down-set was complimented perfectly by the band playing equal parts old and new album, including ‘2080’, ‘Wait for the Summer’ and their contribution to the Dark Was The Night charity compilation (and one of my favourites from their catalogue) ‘Tightrope’. Ending their set with lead single from Odd Blood ‘Ambling Alp’ was a brilliant decision, and concluded the transition of day to night at Laneway perfectly: the contemplative All Hour Cymbals moments were gone (but not forgotten) and in their place was an aggressive, uplifting sing-along single, the first of many to see us through until close. CS

Holy Fuck

Holy Fuck are a band that I don’t get. In all honesty, although I’ve listened to their albums I’ve never really engaged with them and while they have unquestionable energy (their last tour here where I saw them at SFBH in Wellington proved that) the fact that they are instrumental artists leaves a gap in the performance that I think should be filled by either A) a small venue and therefore ultimate band-crowd engagement B) visuals of some kind or C) a really intoxicated audience. Which makes it surprising when none of these things were present yesterday in Aotea Square they managed to coax me from a relaxing laying-around-on-the-grass environment to centre front of the main stage. The sound was incredible – a heady, pulsating dose of percussion-driven synth pop that probably deserved a later (and darker) set time to really be appreciated to the full. Tonight pre-Les Savy Fav perhaps?! CS

Foals

It was always going to be difficult following Beach House and Yeasayer and rounding off a day of near-faultlessness, and I was concerned that the mathematical technicality of Foals wouldn’t be up to such a task. As with every artist throughout the day they stepped up, and out onto the scaffolding of the main stage to translate their latest album Total Life Forever, plus a couple (admittedly less than I would’ve liked) into an angular, post punk dance soundtrack. ‘Miami’, ‘Total Life Forever’ and ‘Black Gold’ were all admirable and greeted with a surprisingly engaged, sing-a-long audience (oh what a credible, crossover sophomore album can do for fandom) but it was the balladry of ‘Spanish Sahara’ that was an undeniable standout; heart-warming, honest and engaging it was the perfect accompaniment to the exhaustion that always accompanies the end of a full festival day. CS

Blonde Redhead

While Penny Sparkle, Blonde Redhead’s latest album was pleasant enough in a reserved, reflective capacity, the consensus among fans seems to be that it’s just not Blonde Redhead of yore, remiss of the sonic experimentation and the resulting awkwardly intense cacophony of sound we have come to know and love. Regardless of what one thought of those songs on record however, they unquestionably fitted into a set-list of old school Blonde Redhead Laneway Festival. Front woman Kazu Makino’s voice was faultless – an eerie, warbling stream-of-conscious sound that constantly weaves throughout the instrumentation of the rest of the band, driving it forward in both the lilting balladry of Penny Sparkle and the aggressive tracks from their overwhelming back catalogue. FYI: Italian twins Amedeo and Simone Pace look far less creepy in person than in press photos, providing an appropriately weird symmetry to the stage and set.CS

Warpaint

Everyone I’ve talked to and every conversation I had about Warpaint for the entire day consisted of discussing which member was the hottest and relating each member back to their L.A-Silverlake-Celebrity connections (Shannyn Sossamon et al), which, while being incredibly entertaining banter material is also a bit of a shame because they’re really quite talented musicians and really quite good live. Although their sophomore album The Fool was a little more reserved than I would have hoped off the back of singles like ‘Elephant’ live the atmospheric elements of the band creates a dreamy, almost surreal experience that makes them hotter than any press photo or celebrity endorsement could. ‘Undertow’ was elegant in its minimalism while the aforementioned ‘Elephant’ proved that jamming out is what a desert-oriented band such as this, does best.CS

Beach House

As much as I enjoyed the other acts and really thought all the acts performed exceptionally well, Beach House were definitely my highlight. Though I was worried that they had been put on too late, may be a little too mellow after the excitable performance of Yeasayer, but Victoria Legrand quickly put any worries to rest. She’s the real deal, her voice is amazing, so powerful and equal to if not better live than recorded, plus she totally rocked out. Lucky for me, being a huge Teen Dream fan they played almost the entire album, Norway, Zebra, Silversoul, 10 Mile Stereo, Take Care and more. It really was a totally captivating performance, the night setting and lighting adding to the atmosphere and making the show feel extra special.AW

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Very much at the top of my curious to see live list, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti have struggled to build a good live reputation and I’m totally happy to help it build  it up if we can. They were incredibly entertaining and their eclectic and chaotic tracks translated to the live setting better than I had imagined. Hits “Round and Round” and “Bright Lit Blue Skies” were amazing to see live. AW

Children’s Hour

Nostailgia act for the day Childrens hour brought their bleak 80s goth punk to the main stage. Chris Matthews was in full blasting mode as he screamed and writhed about onstage to a largely stunned crowed with the rest under his full control. The band showed their somewhat industrial edge hamming repetitive parts and it became quite clear this would be the only band playing today with this kind of temper and ferocity. DF

What did you think, who were your favourites - post your thoughts below.

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