live review

Laneway Festival 2012

Laneway Festival 2012

January 30 2012
Silo Park, Auckland

It wasn’t just the people that turned out in droves yesterday for our third annual Laneway Festival but the illusive sun came out for it’s most sustained visit this summer leaving most of us with more than just great memories of the day.

Becoming known, unintentionally, for introducing new developments around the city - Britomart in 2010, the revamped Aotea Square last year - this year the event took place at the new Silo Park development which encompasses the old tank farm on Auckland’s waterfront. A brilliant spot for showcasing the city, it proved to be a great site for the event, housing the increased audience (6,500 vs 4,500 in 2011) well and providing enough space for an extra stage to cater for the bigger lineup.

We asked a few people to submit their thoughts on some of the acts that played and here's what they had to say....

Sherpa

Sherpa possessed the most energy of the earlier acts on the lineup, which is a good sign for a band that is also the youngest. Their low-key bounciness was well matched for the Park Lane stage, where the audience could hang out on the grass and watch without feeling too obliged to sweat it out in the front row. Definitely the smileyest band of the day, which was a good thing to see amidst a sea of 'serious' bands. Michael McClelland

Austra

Seeing Austra stand-out of a two-hour showcase that included the likes of Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast at South by Southwest a couple of years ago, it was exhilarating to enter Laneway Festival 2012 to the blonde chanteuse, back-up dancers in tow, enchanting early punters in her signature, trance-like state. Katie Stelmanis sent tracks into the festival area on a cool breeze that was at this point off-setting the at-times unbearable heat and an anthemic rendition of ‘The Beat and the Pulse’ both elevated her set and set the standard for the series of carefully curated, niche acts that would follow. Courtney Sanders

Transistors

If only these guys didn't let their gear troubles bring them down. They were playing great up until the point where leads started breaking and pedals decided to quit. At least they kept their humour about them, but it would have come off a lot better if they'd let the unrehearsed bits happen. The more straightforward parts of their set were entertaining as ever, anyway. Michael McCelland

Girls

With an early timeslot and delays caused by technical difficulties, Girls didn’t have the most auspicious start to the day. However as soon as they burst into ‘Honey Bunny’ from their brilliant 2011 album Father, Son, Holy Ghost it was clear that none of that was going to hold them back. Cherry picking from their two releases to create an eclectic but always engaging set, the crowd were with them every step of the way, whether it was during the Black Sabbath aping ‘Die’ or the tender gospel of ‘Vomit’. As the band departed the stage, frontman Christopher Owens apologised for having run out of time, clearly disappointed. The crowd however, were anything but. Gareth Meade

Pains of Being Pure At Heart

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were on the small stage. Off to West. The sea behind them. A super yacht. And the crowd full of boys with their shirts done up to the top, and girls in floaty frocks. They played for forty minutes. It was a magic set, generously made up of their most well known and popular tunes, old and new. I smiled so much my jaw hurt. It seemed like everyone did. Kip Berman is a great front man, and the band is very tight now. It was surprisingly intimate. Less festival, more community hall. In a day of many highlights, they were my favourite band. Joyful. And warmly connected with the audience at the "Park Lane" stage. Man, what a day it was. EMA sang "Marked", and Pains sang "Young Adult Friction". Something for everyone. Whatever mood you felt like being in. John Campbell

Yuck

The spirit of revivalism ran high for the bands of this year's lineup, but Yuck were the only ones really interested in the 90s - you should have seen all the denim. It was hard to maintain focus with the amount of lengthy ballads they put on, but their intensity made them at least interesting to watch at certain points. Particularly when a gust of wind blew open the entire backstage curtain, revealing a puzzled and frantic stage crew scrambling to put mic stands and pieces of the drumkit back together. Michael McClelland

Anna Calvi

An impressive reputation precedes Anna Calvi, one which put her at the top of my list of acts to see this year. She hit the stage with a staunch confidence, starting with a guitar solo, hitting big chords with drama and swagger. Then it was straight into her big Bond-esk number ‘Suzanne and I’, unfortunately sound issues niggled at the Park Lane stage and intruded onto the song making her powerful vocals almost inaudible at the start. The sound improved towards the end and the song was spine-tinglingly epic as was the following track her other big single ‘Blackout’. Regrettably by this point we had been in the sun for a good hour and all thoughts were on one thing - SHADE! With none insight we reluctantly backed away from the Park Lane Stage and Anna Calvi who despite the brevity of our encounter lived up to her reputation. Angela Windust

Washed Out

Was one of the pleasant surprises of the day for me - great songs, getting the crowd to dance despite the sunburn and the afternoon beers starting to take their toll, and a varied and interesting set that translated much more interestingly live than his more subdued studio work suggested. I could probably take or leave the reggae, but the rest was fantastic. Brannavan Gnanalingam

Laura Marling

The crowd for Laura grew as her Joni Mitchell-esque tones reached the far corners of Silo Park’s burning asphalt. Despite playing through the hottest part of the day dressed in a jumper and jeans, the ultimate English rose was pitch perfect and collected. The die-hards were satisfied to hear a few oldies such as 'Ghosts' and there might even have been a few converts as she belted more rousing tracks from the new album 'A Creature I don’t know'; 'All My Rage' had a particularly passionate sing along, eyes closed and all. If that didn’t work in getting new fans onside surely her impeccable manners did, as she constantly complemented the sweaty audience on how lovely they were. Only downside was perhaps the dense drummer from Yuck insistent on warming up on the stage next door throughout. Not the best idea through a largely acoustic set mate. You could do with a bit of Laura’s etiquette. Kat Patrick

Twin Shadow

Swagger is not a word one should use lightly (or often, for that matter) but Twin Shadow’s performance yesterday afternoon deserves to have the most naturally charismatic adjective applied all over it. Setting the new precedent for babes-in-bands everywhere, George Lewis Junior rollicked through most tracks from debut album Forget, hat on head and totally smooth moves on body. The drummer’s lush ponytail bounced nicely, too. Starting with ‘When We’re Dancing’ and moving through ‘Tyrant Destroyed’, ‘At My Heels’ and ‘Yellow Balloon’ the impressive range of Lewis’ voice was surpassed only by his looks. Did I mention he’s good looking? Closing with album standout and crowd pleaser ‘Castles in the Snow’ Lewis Junior complimented New Zealanders on being more attractive than our Australian counterparts at the same time a male friend noted he would queue for two hours for some Twin Shadow intimacy. And while that would be great the set was exceptional enough to keep the crowd satisfied, aurally at least. Courtney Sanders

Feist

Bearing the burden of being one of the big draws of the day and playing through the beginnings of the No Beer Left crisis, Leslie Feist did not disappoint. Her small frame dominated a busy stage, showing off that voice that was justifiably once described by one besotted critic as ‘a satin bag full of crushed mirrors.’ A good set list saw her open with the bouncy 'My Moon My Man' rather than slower tracks from her new album. Better still, Feist managed to navigate the loss of her guitar and mic mid 'How Come You Never Go There', a song she dedicated to New Zealand. The mighty songstress took what could have been an epic fail and turned it into one of those surprise memorable moments that are so rare at day festivals. With coordinated dresses and a choreographed tambourine dance, Feist had the crowd yelling how ‘awesome’ she was as she made her way through her popular songs such as an altered 'Mushaboom' and 'I Feel It All'. Kat Patrick

The Horrors

The Horrors performance has been the source of debate today. I for one enjoyed it and while sound issues certainly hampered their set,  the lack of guitar especially,  I was satisfied with my second experience of the band  - it certainly helped that the sun had gone, that thing was such a menace.  Alternately, Courtney thought their performance was lacking. While renditions of tracks such as 'Scarlet Fields', 'I Can See Through You', 'Still Life' and 'You Said' were relatively solid, for a band hailed for their atmosphere, their set list and performance felt lackadaisical; joining the dots rather than fleshing them out in the deep, blankety shades their recorded material posesses. Angela Windust (I) and Courtney Sanders.

M83

It’s probable that the most anticipated act of the entire day was M83 and holy shit did they deliver. During their whole set there wasn’t a motionless person in the crowd as huge waves of sound washed over them. Mastermind Anthony Gonzalez was captivating to watch, whether he was hunched over his synthesizer, wrestling with an electric guitar or standing without an instrument at the front of the stage urging everyone to raise their hands. But the entire band brought their A-game, never missing a beat and playing crowd favourites like ‘Kim and Jessie’ and ‘Midnight City’ as if it was the first time they’d ever been able to share them with anyone live. Gareth Meade

Shayne P Carter

Shane P Carter proved to be the hidden delight of the night. Hidden because he was off on Park Lane which was tucked away behind some silos and because most people try and tick off the international bands first. For the second time that day I was relieved/proud that we were showcasing one of NZs finest song writing people as well as the most innovative on a guitar playing level. Their set was edgy and a little aggressive, especially compared to the other acts of the day, but there was a warming to the entire environment as the enjoyment form the crowd and from Shane were perfectly complimentary. Daryl Fincham

Gotye

The Aussie maverick certainly writes interesting and should-be-bigger pop songs, a fact that is perhaps overshadowed by the ubiquity of his brilliant hit single 'Somebody That I Used to Know'. Gotye's live performance showcased his musical chops - not a bad drum player I must say, and his interesting use of rhythm and texture worked well live. He was arguably not the "high-inducing" choice to close the Festival (especially after the buzz that was M83) - but it was a compelling performance nonetheless. Brannavan Gnanalingam

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Laneway Festival 2012
The Horrors

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