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Laneway Festival 2017 Review + Photos

Laneway Festival 2017 Review + Photos

Tuesday 31st January, 2017 4:19PM

Yesterday saw Auckland’s Laneway Festival settle into its beautiful new home at the Albert Park precinct like a long lost glove. The four tailor-made stages nestled wonderfully into their respective locales, each framed by overarching trees which provided much sought shade that the festival’s Silo iterations struggled to provide, and on top of that there was the idyllic expanse of the gardens at festival goers disposal - whether to chill watch a band from the newly coined Rotunda or Fountain stages or just kick back and relax for a spell.

Definitely noteworthy was the transformation of the Thunderdome stage, from its former setting inside a loud and oft-cramped concrete silo to the shady and generous stretch of Alfred Street. Meanwhile the awesome offerings of the food alley enhanced the day with their mouthwatering variety. And of course, we can’t forget the main reason we were there - the awesome line-up!! The whole affair was a solid gold effort from the organisers, which all ran fairly smoothly for a first run in a new location. We can’t wait to see what future festivals at Albert Park bring!!

As is Laneway tradition, we let loose a team of writers at yesterday's event to cover the musical happenings, you can read their reviews below - and see over here (or at the bottom of the page) for some excellent photos from the talented and seemingly tireless Stella Gardiner who came up from Wellington especially to catch the action…

Thunderdome Stage, 11.55am

Ahead of Laneway, Auckland-based act Nikolai only had one song, ‘qt’, available online and that was the only taste festival-goers could get before their performance - so it was intriguing to see what they’ve been holding back. Nikolai opened Laneway with a neo-soul-funk set supported by a live band consisting of local musicians; Affsid Kidjhagiffy, Siobhan Leilani and Kenji from Yoko-Zuna. Nikolai sported slime-green hair and oozed with playfulness and charm as they boogied on stage. A relaxed energy resonated throughout the space created by Nikolai’s laid-back rapping style and angelic vocals but Kenji (Yoko-Zuna) would inject awe into the crowd with his quick-fingering-guitar solos. Unfortunately the gates opened nearly 30 minutes late and people were only beginning to filter in as Nikolai begun to play, which prevented a larger audience. They ended their short set by playing their first song again after an audience member shouted, “We all missed the first one!”.  JESS FU

Princes Street Stage, 12.25pm
Amelia Murray has her project Fazerdaze rolling towards its first LP with promising momentum, and by the looks from the crowd it carries with it a very energetic fan base. Listening to her homemade lo-fi twinkly dream pop recorded material - a sound you might expect to hug you in a small indoor venue setting - one might wonder if her live act can fill the copious space and noise of an outdoor festival. It turns out she does it just right. The overdriven 80s rhythm paired with Liz Phair vocals is both hardy and dancy. Layered with the whimsical and washy lead tones coming from the Stratocaster, the audience's measured foot-stomping and leg-tapping opens up into hip swaying and sunny jubilation. While Murray's lyrics reflect her introspective songwriting and shy sentimentality, her endearing live act feels like a warm embrace at its purest. ZEV POWELL

Fountain Stage, 12.50pm

I found my favourite tree to recline under and caught Christchurch/Hong Kong duo Purple Pilgrims run through an early afternoon set of catchy echoed-out slow-jams. Purple Pilgrims were a natural fit to the huge stage framed by foliage, gently drawing in the crowd before frying minds with a sound somewhere between New Age blissouts, Balearic beat-based electronica, ambient soundscapes and Dreaming-era Kate Bush. Their set showcased mesmerising dance moves featuring performers from new single ‘Drink The Juice’, fiery red matching outfits, nice flower arrangements decorating singer/keyboardist Valentine Nixon's synth, and dramatic smoke effects. Evocative of both sci-fi and mystic forests, the duo's assertive vocal delivery and huge pounding bass prevented things from drifting too far into Clannad territory, although there's no doubt they could nail the soundtrack to an other-dimensional Robin Hood adventure. CHRIS CUDBY

Thunderdome, 1pm

Right from the start, Yukon Era showed class. Clearly delighted to be there in the leafy surrounds, the band’s Laneways experience capped off what must be a satisfying 12 month period for them, punctuated by the release of two EPs and a single. Having not seen Yukon Era since they opened for METZ a year earlier, I was curious about their progress and was not disappointed. The band delivered their reflective moments and undulating intensity with energy and equally efficacious aptitude and charm. Their modern chiming guitar music could fairly be compared to local contemporaries Trust Punks yet has a voice all its own. Tracks like ‘Leash’, ‘Consume & Scratch’ and new single ‘Tongue’ were all stand out. The band seemed humbled by the gig; thanking the audience for watching them before showing their appreciation to “parents in general” - a gentle reminder that their skill and artistic achievements belie their age. NICH CUNNINGHAM

Rotunda Stage, 1.30pm

If you arrived just in time for Julia Jacklin’s early afternoon set, it was a perfect holiday Monday walk-in-lay-down. That's not to say there wasn't stand-up-energy moments throughout her opium western lullabies. The balanced quality of her singer-songwriting and accompaniment of polished musicians is worthy of Nashville recording studio time. Her swooning cover of The Strokes' 'Someday' was romantic, charming and immediately recognizable. In other words, the perfect way to rope in the perusing crowd. Jacklin's crooning country folk resembles the landscape of the Australian outback, and whether you opted to plop down in the shade or sway in the sun, her set brought us all to a dusty blissed-out desertscape. ZEV POWELL

Princes Street Stage, 1.35pm

Looking like monsters of stadium rock on the giant Princes Street stage, Dunedin legends The Chills launched into a solid mid-tempo jangle with frontman Martin Phillips' voice reassuringly warm and clear. Their set selection had a timely political bite to it - in new single ‘Rocket Science’ Phillips sung “Your silence is compliance / That's not rocket science”, Phillips' eyed up his targets in ‘America Says Hello’, and ‘Silver Bullets’ was dedicated to shooting rich people and vampires while the Vero building loomed ominously behind the stage. Phillips didn't disappoint with the old favourites either. Effervescent classic ‘Heavenly Pop Hit’ received an appropriately rapturous response, an energetic ‘I Love My Leather Jacket’ recalled the band's roots in psych-garage rock, ‘Wet Blanket‘ got a solid nostalgic buzzing going and ‘Pink Frost’ was as spooky as ever. As the band wrapped up Phillips stated their set was “Great fun” and he wasn't wrong! CHRIS CUDBY

Thunderdome, 2:05pm

Vocalist Mish Way-Barber let out a howl as the band finished up soundcheck. Waiting comfortably in the shade at bus stop 7023, the crowd was ready for the Canadian punk outfit White Lung. The four-piece kicked into to their four-to-the-floor pounding set at full tilt. Never breaking stride guitarist Kenneth William went between shredding lead and sharing rhythm duties with bassist Lindsay Troy. The wiccan-like Barber kept the energy levels soaring with her electric dance moves. Part weather reporter, part Courtney Love she certainly found places for her hands to be. “Are you guys drunk yet?” she asked between tracks. Playing a selection of songs from recent LP Paradise and Deep Fantasy the crowd lapped it up. ‘Dead Weight’ and ‘Sister’ received a hearty reaction. We even saw early signs of a mosh-pit. The fast paced set was the perfect start to the day, leaving the kids thirsty for more tasty riffs from Refused and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. ELIJAH PENNINGTON

Princes Street Stage, 2.50pm

Looking like they are straight out of Britain in 1995, DMAs are actually a group of young Aussie dudes that must've grown up listening to Britpop and a touch of shoegaze. Actually a three-piece, they play as a six-piece band with several guitars making for a layered ambience of sound, and the voice of the singer Tommy O’Dell is interesting and mature beyond his years. He seemed to be very pleased to be here and kept applauding the crowd, which was rather endearing. The by-in-large young crowd swayed along in the sun and DMAs easily kept everyone's captivation. Their single ‘Delete’ was instantly recognised and enjoyed by all, even though it's just acoustic guitar and vocals really, which tells of its integrity as a song and its popularity. Even though I did hear some jokers yell out "play Wonderwall", which to be fair was well funny, DMAs set was really good and thoroughly enjoyable. REBECCA WHITE

Thunderdome Stage, 3.15pm

The masterminds behind Whitney are Max Kakacek (ex-guitarist of Smith Westerns) and Julien Ehrlich (ex-drummer for Unknown Mortal Orchestra) but they came as a six-piece band that included synth, keyboard and trumpet. The Chicago natives were greeted with a flood of girls whispering to each other, “Oh my god. The singer and drummer, Julien, is so cute”. Frontman, Julien, had a flirtatious grasp over the audience while he sung romantic songs and revealed he was still “trying to find love”. The set moved from songs about love, dying, partying and a couple covers of songs by Bob Dylan and NRBQ. Julien heated up the performance during an already-scorching-day as he locked lips with the bassist during a sensual trumpet solo. Whitney saved their most popular song for last, ‘No Woman’, accompanied by the audience singing along to every word like a choir. According to Whitney, it was the best crowd on the whole tour. JESS FU

Fountain Stage, 3.45pm

Albert Park was warming up nicely by the time Will Toledo and band shuffled onto the Fountain Stage in front of one of the bigger crowds of the day so far. They kick off with ‘Vincent’, a sprawling indie jam which turned heads and pulled in a number of curious passersby who may have been within earshot. For his geek-chic demeanour, Toledo turns out to be a more than confident frontman as he bops and bounces his way through a set of the band's more lively songs; most of which pulled from last year’s Teen Of Denial record. ‘Fill in the Blank’ is a highlight, a lively front section of the crowd feeding off the band's energy; egging one another on while ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’ generates a big singalong towards the end of the set, and although there’s plenty of energy, the songs seem a little slower and more precise than the record. Despite this, the band wrap up with about ten minutes to spare however – leaving a raucous crowd hungry for more. PAUL LARSEN

Princes Street Stage 4.05pm

From the moment David Sandström appeared behind the kit and started punching the rack tom, it was clear Refused meant business. The svelte balance of members emerged as he beat out the opening bars of ‘Servants Of Death ‘and suddenly Refused were playing their first show in NZ in their sort-of-26-year history. Singer Dennis Lyxzén provided the epicentre, throwing the mic high into the air before abruptly jerking it back by the cable in true James Brown fashion. The title track from their 1998 watershed album The Shape Of Punk To Come came next, before Lyxzén made clear the band’s position declaring them “the new school equivalent of the Baader-Meinhof Gang”. What followed saw high energy renditions of tracks old and new, with Lyxzén making more than one trip into the audience. Finally, in a well-received announcement, Lyxzén expressed his concerns regarding the unequal gender ratios of performers at the festival and encouraged change. They then closed with the bludgeoning version of ‘New Noise’. And while the noise may not have been as new as it once was, Refused proved that the passage of time had done little to dampen their convictions or rob their music of its vitality. Without a doubt one of the stand out bands of Laneways if not last 26 years. NICH CUNNINGHAM

Rotunda Stage, 4.30pm

Lithe in appearance and eccentric in character, AURORA seems more like a fairy than human. The aesthetic of the set was otherworldly with a misty forest scene lit up on the projector, complimented by AURORA being clad in lacy clothes reminiscent of medieval royalty. Looking like some kind of elf princess, her stage presence was theatrically energetic and expressive, and she earnestly expressed her delight at finally playing her first gig in New Zealand. AURORA’s enchanting talent as a vocalist was clear, often backed by three members of her band who offered delicate and soaring harmonies. Despite the heat the crowd was up and dancing and when the set came to an end, AURORA breezed off stage to the applause of a content crowd.  JEAN BELL

Thunderdome, 4.30pm

Having recently returned to the limelight after a lengthy hiatus with their excellent and extremely danceable single ‘Hate Somebody’, Cut Off Your Hands were more than ready to bring a dynamic live set to Laneway. Following a Maori greeting, they launched into action with a bunch of new material including the freshly dropped Talking Heads-esque track ‘Higher Lows and Lower Highs’, which may have not had enough airtime ahead of the festival to properly resonate within the crowd. However, the group carved out a vibrant sound which was augmented by an extra pair of hands on stage to add percussive elements. Then halfway through the set, former guitarist Michael Ramirez joined the stage to perform a raft older material including favourites ‘Oh Girl’ and ‘Expectations’ from their 2008 record You & I, much to the audience’s delight. Also a delight was watching singer Nick Johnston strip down to reveal his pajama-like leaf-patterned ensemble, a perfect outfit for foliage shaded Thunderdome stage. DANIELLE STREET

Princes Street Stage, 5.20pm

Internet instrumentalist and innovator Clams Casino is an intriguing guy. From sourcing 'mood' samples via Limewire, working with based god Lil B, and making his own brand of world music, Clams Casino has a sound unique to him and influential to others. Having Young Thug pull out, the rap nerds were out in full force getting their healthy dose of raps and beats. Clams dived straight in, playing his collaborations ‘Norf Norf’ with Laneway alumni Vince Staples and the banger ‘Psycho’ with A$AP Ferg. Switching tempos and looping up outros Clams was enjoying himself just as much as the audience. Wavy atmospherics with a swinging Detroit style knock, the people were feeling it. Not long after dropping ‘Purple Swag’ (the song that put A$AP Rocky on the map), the sound died. I thought it might be his laptop overheating in the sun, but the power appeared to be out. He shrugged his shoulders and jumped down to the crowd to apologize to his fans. Gutted. I went and got a beer. ELIJAH PENNINGTON

Rotunda Stage, 6pm

After mere seconds contemplating spending the set in the shady safety of the big tree, soundcheck’s toe tapping tunes pulled me immediately into the blistering sun. King Giz and his merry minstrels bought the buzzy boogie to the just-warming-up Rotunda Stage as thick, wondrously heavy and reverb soaked layers grabbed patrons by their sweaty ankles and instilled in them the envoy of the imminent party. Relentless visualisations lit the way for psychonautic wanderers to come. Truly the art here lay in the skillful straddling of party and psychedelia; like the musical equivalent of Hunter S Thompson just before he hits the fatal reptilian hotel foyer. There were two drummers and way too much fun for this cooked kumara in the sun.

Fountain Stage, 6.45pm

Early evening on the Fountain Stage and it’s clear a lot of the crowd is elsewhere as The Veils take the stage. But it isn’t long before a sizeable throng make it over to cheer on one of the few New Zealand (ish) acts on the bill. Most of the set is made up of songs from the band’s last record, Total Depravity and are delivered with real passion. Frontman, Finn Andrews paws over his guitar and clutches his mic tight; seemingly inhabiting the skin of his characters. ‘Low Lays the Devil’ is a set highlight, The blues-funk vibe keeps the crowd swaying and flowing as errant stage smoke is pierced by the day’s last sunlight. The brilliant ‘Swimming with the Crocodiles’ and ‘King of Chrome’ signal the closing of the set and it’s clear this is a band with a lot of experience telling these stories. A highlight of the day and a proud moment for the Kiwi contingent. PAUL LARSEN

Princes Street Stage, 6.35pm

Sophisticated in sound and appearance, Tycho were the perfect act to mark the translation from late afternoon to early evening. Their lush, ambient instrumental rock almost flowed from the stage out onto the audience, like a wave delicately crashing onto a shore. The fresh feel of their work was effortlessly recreated, from the clean guitar in ‘Awake’ to the serene and sprawling synth of ‘A Walk’. In addition to the refreshing sound that Tycho are well known for, the audience was treated to a range of visuals projected on the screen behind the stage. Boasting a variety beyond imagination, from extra terrestrial imagery to expansive landscapes to clouds floating by in a California blue sky, letting yourself get lost in the experience was like a breath of fresh air. JEAN BELL

Thunderdome, 6.50

With a full band behind her, NAO came out to screams of excitement from the diverse audience. Described as 'futuristic R&B' she coined 'wonky funk' which is pretty apt, as it's ethereal with a great groove; sounding like Kate Bush (particularly the intro to 'In The Morning') to full soul diva (in a good way). The high, sweet energy was infectious, with the crowd swaying to the beat and her serious dance moves met with roars of encouragement. Most people were singing along to 'Girlfriend', ‘Fool To Love', 'Zillionaire', 'Adore You' and 'Bad Blood', even doing her own version of Mura Masa's 'Firefly' that she featured on. NAO was clearly having a great time judging from her massive grin, saying several times "you guys are amazing!". The audience was too, given the rapturous applause after most songs. A beautiful set as the sun was setting. TINA TURNTABLES

Rotunda Stage, 7.30pm

Big crowds surrounded Albert Park’s historic band rotunda to see out the sun with the UK’s Glass Animals. Equal amounts trippy and poppy they certainly had people bopping. Multiple synths bring a depth and interest to Glass Animals' sound and they brought a lot of energy to their show. So nice having this space pop floating over the park as the sun was dipping behind the trees. The haze from the stage caught the last rays of sun making the whole stage area seem much more magical. The Rotunda Stage has heaps of room around it; all this year’s stages are much more generous, so the more-under-the-influence punters could dance and space out, and those on the chill buzz could take a seat on the grass and still enjoy the music floating around the park. Single ‘Youth’ was popular and the sound was much better here than Silo Parks' concrete jungle and everyone seemed more relaxed and at ease and generally having a great time. REBECCA WHITE

Princes Street Stage, 7.50pm

With the narrow Princes Street stage running behind schedule, it’s an agitated and excited crowd that greets the reborn Nick Murphy (previously Chet Faker) and band. Murphy opens the set with ‘Fear Less’, one of the first singles released under his own name. And this really is a new persona. The live band gives Murphy the chance to be a bonafide front man. There’s almost an Eddie Vedder-like quality to Murphy’s hirsute figure growling into the mic and pacing the front of stage. For all the change in direction, it’s the material released under his previous handle that the crowd are hungry for. After ‘Talk is Cheap’ primes the masses, ‘1998’ turns Princes Street into a full-blown dance party with waves of bass rolling back to Wellesley street. There’s no slowing down as Murphy invites Marcus Matt onstage for their collaboration, 'The Trouble With Us'. By now the sun is long gone and Murphy closes out a diverse and enjoyable show with new song, ‘Stop Me’. The song’s multiple sections building beautifully, before gradually breaking down. Eventually the set closes with a lone Murphy at a keyboard, singing Princes Street off into the night. PAUL LARSEN

Thunderdome, 8.00pm

Chicago hip-hop artist Mick Jenkins came out to a huge roar and like 'Refused' earlier in the day, there was plenty of fun, bouncing and 'get your f*** hands up' infused with the haunting beauty of his latest album The Healing Component and some glorious preaching on our asses in between. A pretty effective way to convey your message of love and protest is to draw people in first, although some of this may have been lost on some of the crowd, with the chorus to ‘Martyrs’ possibly taken literally by some. The chant 'Drink. More. Water' (seek more truth), was a call and response throughout the set. The sound to the right of the stage was muddy as hell, but once on the left the vocals were clear - as were the pretty essential and beautiful beats, backing and samples. ‘Jazz’, ‘Spread Love’, ‘Martyrs’ and ‘P's & Q's’ went down particularly well, as did finishing the pretty damn fine set with ‘Social Network (Gang)’ by Hurt Everybody that he featured on. TINA TURNTABLES

Fountain Stage, 8.15pm

Accompanied by a full band Floating Points (aka Sam Shepherd) burst immediately into prog-rock noodle-delica with wah-ed guitar, portamento synth sweeps, polyrhythmic drums, and sparkling jazzy Rhodes keys flourishes. In the summery garden environment of the Fountain Stage this very successfully recreated the warm neo-exotica vibe of his recently acclaimed album Elaenia, sometimes sounding not worlds away from nineties synth-explorers Air. Smooth washed-out instrumental passages delved into post-rock territory before morphing into trippy cascading Tangerine Dream arpeggiated synth-squelches, which built in intensity alongside searing guitar solos. It's a set which for a good length of time inspired more chin-stroking and head-nodding than active hip-shaking, but with an assured pace Floating Points' infectious grooves coaxed chunks of the crowd into getting their boogie on. This live version was a mellow world away from Floating Points' famously smokin' DJ sets – with Shepherd DJing at the Laneway afterparty his live show set the tone for what was surely a super fun night out. CHRIS CUDBY

Princes Street Stage, 9.30pm

Tame Impala were the peak of the evening and the peak of a long and wonderful day. The most epic visuals of the event spilled from the stage to surrounding flora effortlessly. The group were a genius call on behalf of festival organisers as far as endowing the ideals of peace, positivity and passivity onto the impressionable and intoxicated concertgoers who were soon to transfigure back into an unsuspecting public. Every track was executed seamlessly, and the vibes resonated deeply with each and every witness of this grandeur of the senses. Cannons of confetti and pillars of purple and gold light lapped up the closest patrons and provided onlookers with a visual buffet to rival the olfactory delights of the many culinary caravans augmenting the day. There was love pouring through those speakers and I’m sure the young, besmitten audience would agree. Crowd favourite ‘Elephant’ marauded through the defenses of any good-times nay-sayers like a mumakil at the battle of Pelenor fieldsFLUFFY 

Check out the full gallery of Stella Gardiner's awesome photographic coverage below....


Tame Impala
Tame Impala
Tame Impala
Tame Impala
Tame Impala
Tame Impala

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