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Live Review
Laneway Festival 2016

Laneway Festival 2016

Event Info

February 01 2016
Silo Park, Auckland

Reviewed By
Team UnderTheRadar
2nd February 2016


Another year, another fantastic Laneway Festival in the bag. This time round - the event’s seventh run in Auckland - saw the festival have it’s final dash at the Silo Park venue which has been its home for the past five years. It also saw the most spacious layout in that half-decade run, an amazing crew keeping everyone hydrated, and possibly the broadest audience in terms of age - perhaps thanks to the wonderfully diverse line-up. As with previous years we sent a real mixed bag of reviewers out to tread the concrete and pen their observations of the day’s events, and here’s the outcome…

Cactus Cat Stage, 1.05pm

Lontalius aka Eddie Johnston is one of the country’s most promising, yet largely overlooked acts. So having never had the chance to see the Wellingtonian perform live I made sure I was there in time for his slot at Laneway. Early in the set Johnston is accompanied by two other musicians, the three of them looking suitably seaside-esque in matching stripes as they work through a few songs together before Lontalius is left to perform on his lonesome. Of lithe demeanor, the teen songwriter and composer seems so tiny - almost fragile - on the giant stage when he performs solo, though his talent is obviously immense as he works through a heartfelt version of Anika Moa’s ‘Dreams In My Head’, followed by his own stripped-back tear-jerking single ‘Light Shines Through Dust’. A lovely opening set that has raised my hopes even higher for his forthcoming debut album. DANIELLE STREET

Thunderdome, 1.30pm

It was clear The All Seeing Hand had come to leave an impression. With costumes provided by local artist and gc Andrew McLeod, the band projected a sense of occasion in dark cultish medieval robes. From there, they only got more serious. The low frequency shockwaves, heavy camundgening beats with all-that-weird-singing both charmed and beat the audience into submission: Their faces became an almost equal mix of euphoric smiles and stunned incredulity. The re-configured and improved Thunderdome had proven an ideal site for The All Seeing Hand’s ritualistic appearance. As the set came to a close, the band gathered centre-stage and, as the cloak enclosed the cocoon, three became one. Finally, The All Seeing Hand thanked the crowd. The drones lingered quietly for a moment before abruptly stopping. A women behind me said “wow”. I figure she nailed it. NICH CUNNINGHAM

Mysterex Stage, 1.35pm

DIIV are from New York and they are called DIIV (pronounced “dive”). I know this because following EVERY song, frontman Zachary Cole Smith repeats those words. Perhaps he can't think of anything else to say due to the blistering, classic early afternoon sun Laneway is becoming renowned for. Regardless of the heat, a solid crowd has braced itself to shed some future skin and sweat along to the fun and jangly guitar pop (reminiscent of Flying Nun) this colourful five-piece make. They breeze through a good mix of songs off the soon to be released album Is The Is Are and first offering Oshin. Just as the band start to hit their stride the set is over, which, due to the sun is a blessing in disguise as I need to go full survival mode and get water and cover. Pity they had to play this time slot, but even if I get sunstroke I will remember I saw DIIV, from New York. BEN COLEY

Cactus Cat Stage, 2.10pm

Fidlar has been my soundtrack for the last 2-3 years and I finally had the chance to see them after watching countless live videos and interviews! I was a little apprehensive about seeing them on a big stage because they feel like they only started a band to play house parties and dive bars… but man did they blow me away! It’s 2:10 on a Monday afternoon and their opening track is ‘Stoked and Broke’ and all I want to do from then on is party! They played 11 or 12 songs with only three off their new record and they fitted seamlessly into their non stop frantic set! They finished with ‘Cocaine’ and they started this off by asking the crowd if they were down to get weird. The singer managed to get everybody to sit on the grass, it slowly built up the intro then the drums kicked in and everybody around me went crazy. Such a good way to start Laneway off but I found it hard to get as hyped about much else after that! 10/10 best band and I wish they would play Whammy bar every week. MATT WALRUS

Hey Seuss Stage, 2.15pm

LA band HEALTH open in a chaotic fervor, and the dude next to me appropriately mentions to his mate, “this is loose, bro”. As I’m wondering how many are here because of the GTA5 soundtrack, I do agree with his sentiment - it is INTENSE. An unyielding rhythm section comprised of a barbaric drummer and a ridiculously heavy kick drum combine into a lumbering and punishing low end. But it’s good. Their songs at times transcend into experimental tribal-industrial, while retaining some sense of melody with the subdued vocals. If the jocks ahead of me are dancing to something like this then they’re either on something, or it’s likely that HEALTH have that ability to transcend the boundaries of music genres in a good way. FAZ MOTTRAM

Thunderdome, 2.15pm

So, the drummer from the DHDFD's, Popstrangers (and touring drummer for Lorde) made a couple of tracks in his bedroom, it's the first live show and the first time he's sung in front of people. The transition to festival can be fraught, so I was mildly cautious, how would this manifest live? Oh, I SEE… you have fucking great six-piece band of "straight, white males" (heh), Durham Fenwick (New Gum Sarn) guitar, Tom Healy (Tiny Ruins) synths, Joel Beeby (DHDFD's) Bass, Jacob Moore (Checks, Eversons) backing vocals and percussion (I love me some cowbell and tambourine) and Jimmy Mac on drums and vocals (naturally). After a mildly hesitant start, they were soon into a great pop groove, with synthy, layered vocal beauty. Summer music for academics, if you will, with great builds and the second to last song before 'Marimba' had me singing along, even though I'd never heard it before. The young crowd seemed blissed out and many "wow's" were uttered when it finished… (and a “fuck yea!” from me), can't wait to see them again. TINA TURNTABLES

Mysterex Stage, 3.05

In the absolute heat of the afternoon sun, a modest but energetic crowd dance their way over to the Mysterex stage, the remnants of HEALTH’s pounding basslines providing a bouncing soundtrack to the short journey. Goldlink's DJ obliges the giddy crowd with a brief dance set before the man himself races onstage in a blur of energy. The man is here for a good time. Curating a turbo charged set that motors along at real pace. Stacks of energy power a slew of hi-powered, hi-BPM hip hop. Assaulted with a seamless mix of work from his first mixtape (including the first big singalong, ‘Sober Thoughts’) and most recent record, the crowd are both sun and sound-struck. A set of staples from both his mixtape and record are interrupted by a mid-set jukebox section of Snoop, DMX, Chet Faker and even a dose of Nirvana to keep the crowd jumping and an entertaining set is capped off with a well-received ‘Dance on Me’ before the crowd evaporate merrily back into bars and under awnings. PAUL LARSEN

Cactus Cat Stage, 3:15pm

The mid-afternoon sun was scorching as people shuffled around waiting to catch the guy who released mega hit ‘Them Changes’ many would say it was a top 5 for 2015 releases. Thundercat’s first visit to New Zealand was hyped and I admit I was pretty excited to witness his talent. This man does not mess about. Thundercat defines that common saying ‘hunnid’ or 'going from 0 to a hundred' by beginning with smooth r’n’b sweetness, sometimes with vocals and then with unparalleled enthusiasm and fervour, his bass sweeps it up so that it’s tumbling and falling into a frenzied journey of soul, funk and jazz. The complexities of such musical construction might have been too much work for some punters leaving room for others to explore the groove. I however was stupidly burnt with a ciggie by the guy yelling “Play that fucken song” so, instead I headed to the St John’s for consoling. BONNI TAMATI

Hey Seuss Stage, 3.55pm

Las Vegas gender-neutral space-funk pop delight, Shamir took to the big stage in the mid-afternoon heat, but still had a massive crowd boogie-ing. The sound wasn't really working in favour of Shamir's delicate vocals and was lost a little in some insane bass. But, ‘On The Regular’ really got people going with massive cheers of recognition. A very funkadelic and fun set with a super cute artist and band. Although the large, unadorned stage seem rather dull compared to the charm and style of Shamir. And let’s face it; a screen for those big stages really wouldn’t go amiss either. REBECCA WHITE

Cactus Cat Stage, 4.25pm

In between sub-bass, sunstroke and mid-90s samples, roaring feedback sounds like sirensong through the humid atmosphere. Synthesized bass ripples out of a wall of speakers, straddling the kick drum for dominance of the mountainous low end. The thunderous locomotive that is High Dependency Unit stampedes through the moist afternoon air. Dipping, delicate pianissimo segments crescendo into driving rhythm-heavy sections with enough danceable repetition to rival even the most club-savvy electronic acts on the bill. HDU fiercely mount the divide between heavy and accessible, between creative and memorable and between that sweet spot of questioning your reality through a bent perception and losing your mind altogether. FLUFFY

Mysterex Stage, 4.40pm

Odd Future's 'Syd the Kid' (Sydney Bennett) and Matt 'Martians' Martin kicked things off demanding we “get your hands up”. We duly complied. Unfortunately the sound started out muddy, the nuanced recorded sound and soft vocals got lost in the context of festival douche bro-ness, but the clarity improved over the set. They certainly had the crowd on board with call and response and joyously singing along (as encouraged) to ‘Just Sayin'/I Tried’. Turns out yelling “you fucked up!” together feels quite pleasant. Followed by the seriously beautiful ‘Girl’ (which is still going round in my head). Syd is front and centre, lax and charming as fuck, even hitting some serious Diana Ross/Janis Ian high notes. Martian’s on synth and backing vocals, Jameel Bruner on keys (and dance moves) and great rhythm section, Christopher Smith (drums) and Patrick "Midtown Pat" Paige (bass) held high traditional funk style. The serious groove and the dreamy synth/keys kept reminding me of Shuggie Otis and Guru… beautiful, soulful and dirty/hot as well. Finishing with the delicious 2013 disco number 'Dontcha?’ -swoony. TINA TURNTABLES

Thunderdome, 5.10pm

People went nuts for METZ. And that’s precisely what METZ deserve. The tight and sweaty Thunderdome throbbed with the band’s trademark frantic and minimalist intensity. People were literally picking up other people and throwing them around. The band were dripping. They smashed into ‘Spit It Out’ before ‘The Swimmer’ bought the crowd to the boil. Likewise older tracks like ‘Knife In The Water’ and ‘Wasted’ sounded amazing. One of the great things about METZ aside from the energy they bring, is that their songs are just really good. To the extent that I could literally see them winning people over. METZ may very well have been the highlight of the festival. NICH CUNNINGHAM

Hey Seuss Stage, 5.30pm

John Stanier's impossibly high ride cymbal stands proud against our own sunlit skyscraper as New York noise artists, Battles take to a main stage in the late afternoon. A gorgeously urgent ‘Ice Cream’ draws in an attentive crowd into a psychedelic afternoon sojourn, the mechanical precision and pulsating drums a tremendously weird aperitif to The Internet's trippy funk hop of moments ago. Living up to their rep as one of the tightest touring bands, the trio power through 45 minutes of electro power rock. A brilliant performance of the band’s early hit, ‘Atlas’ pushes and pulls the crowd around early on and there’s no real let up before set closer and recent single, ‘The Yabba’ is delivered to an appreciative audience. It's huge and eclectic and fun and with METZ tearing apart the Thunderdome across the festival at the same time, it’s a fitting farewell to hard rock amongst the Silos. PAUL LARSEN

Cactus Cat Stage, 5.35pm

I'm glad I decided to show up 15 minutes early for Vince Staples. It's already crowded and I slot myself into the thick of it and wonder to why he is playing on the smaller Cactus Cat Stage. He comes out bang on his scheduled time looking more like Jerry Seinfeld than a Californian rapper and from the first beat has the crowd eating from the palm of his hand. I'm really enjoying it until about three songs in when the guy next to me starts smoking some shitty synthetic drug and kills my buzz. I have nowhere to escape too and feeling like a tinned sardine I hightail it out and head off to check out some Battles. What I did see was all class and I won't be surprised to see him on the main stage next time. Also, kudos to the dude at the front who spent 30 mins holding aloft his Hudson Mohawke vinyl. Arm of steel buddy! BEN COLEY

Cactus Cat Stage, 6.45pm
Picture a sunset backdrop, warm evening light and a cool sea breeze. Three dudes who complete the Hudson Mohawke live set walk out from behind smoke and a build up of looped sound and into a hyped crowd of truly thirsty party people. A bit of a rockstar entrance but for regular NZ returnee, but he’s worked up quite a big fanbase and does not like to disappoint. Trap drops had every elbow and hand sign in the air while d’n’b driven rhythm kept hips and derrieres swirling. The drummer kept the crowd in a trance as he happily flung his sweat drenched quiff back and forth. Quite opposite to the focused keyboardist who smiled but mostly giggled often between intense concentrations. As for Hudmo he was confidant, happy, poised and conducted a dancefloor atmosphere worth the Laneway ticket price. I love a hot, hollering, responsive crowd and that’s exactly what I got. Could’ve danced another 30min at least. BONNI TAMATI

Hey Seuss Stage, 7.10pm

After everybody telling me how amazing she was last Laneway, I couldn't wait to see Courtney Barnett this year and she really didn't disappoint. Barnett and her band are one of the few three-pieces that can capture your attention throughout their whole set, the vocal melodies and hooks are amazing and you can relate to almost every one of the songs. My highlight of their set was when they played ‘Small Poppies’, it's seven minutes long and it has a super smooth groove that she shreds over the whole way through. They also played a new song called ‘Three Packs a Day’ which has got a slightly country sound that I really like. In the last song Courtney started to lose her voice and she just laughed it off like it was nothing major. Call me late to the party but I now really believe the hype and I can't wait to have the record on repeat this summer. MATT WALRUS

Thunderdome, 8.40pm

Silicon’s performance in the Thunderdome was great for multiple reasons: unlike the previous bands in the silo space the sound quality wasn't total ass, the songs were cool, and Kody Nielson’s willingness to totally fuck with his crowd was laudable. After initially sending his fuzzy hat-wearing cohort (Scott Brown from DHDFD’s) to mill about in the crowd, Kody disappeared from the stage. Eventually the audience clicked that he was dangling from an exterior pipe outside the venue, taking in sunset views next to a Russian superyacht while crooning over kick as dance-boogie production that sounded a treat. Nielson strolled around outside waving a stick for a bit before returning to belt out more of his future-pop hits. Due to a ridiculous schedule-clash with Grimes I had to run away, but the ex-Mint Chick definitely seems in the zone with Silicon. CHRIS CUDBY

Mysterex Stage, 8pm

Claire Boucher returned to these islands a changed woman, claiming centre stage rather than huddling behind the furniture as she did in 2012. Boucher’s charisma and energy were endless as she flew around the stage dancing, singing and setting up loops and only occasionally fucking it up while remaining as charming as ever. Low points: the bass almost completely overpowered the virtuoso production and ethereal-but-not-particularly-strong vocals that make up the Grimes sound. Also, the crowd seemed like one of those who haven’t listened to the artist’s newer offerings and therefore can’t help but automatically disengage a little on unknown tracks. That’s understandable – Art Angels is less approachable at first listen than Visions, but it’s an avant-garde classic in the making. Hopefully tonight’s performance persuaded a few listeners to give it another crack. LOUISA KASZA

Cactus Cat Stage, 8.10pm

Beach House hit the smaller seaside Cactus Cat stage just as dusk started to settle on this very hot day. The perfect antidote to the largely munted group enjoying other parts the festival, Beach House's delightfully dulcet tones swirled around a nicely chilled, swaying and smiling crowd. The live show really brings the songs to life, a lot more intensity and noise than on the records. Legrand's voice is as captivating as ever, accompanied by passionate drumming and twinkling lights it made for a beautiful show in a picturesque setting. REBECCA WHITE

Thunderdome, 8.40pm

Emerging through a smokescreen of UK music-press hype, PC Music's QT / Sophie mixed a straight up set of balls-on avant-dance bangers, including their fizzy signature hit 'Lemonade'. Hard to tell where the image ended and 'reality' began, the stylish looking, slightly aloof Beats By Dre wearing DJ kept the crowd pumping with her on-point selections. Questions around artist agency aside (the DJ was indeed mixing the tracks live), it was a curiously simple, direct and fun performance timed just right – certainly little of the razzle-dazzle associated with A.G. Cook’s media savvy cyber label. QT energy drinks were sadly unavailable. CHRIS CUDBY

Hey Seuss Stage, 8.50pm

I’ve made it to the closing acts with minimal sunburn and my beer tokens spent - I’m cruisin’ - when it’s time for CHVRCHES. A splendid neon light show supplements the pop-heavy ear candy streaming from stage as twilight hits the festival. I’m diggin’ the well crafted 80s inspired arpeggiated synths, while the nymph-like front girl, Lauren Mayberry, springs around the stage with little inhibition and lots of dazzle. This is sensible pop music I can enjoy - for the most part. While I adore the new wave/synth pop aesthetics, it did begin to feel a little ‘samey’ after awhile, with each song being a safe, uplifting anthem; a little tension or a tint of meagre woe would really add an extra element. Who would have guessed that music this euphoric could emerge from Glasgow. FAZ MOTTRAM

Cactus Cat, 9.35pm

Playing late at night to a crowd of sunburnt, drink-and-drug-addled zombies can’t be easy, but Purity Ring blew up like Rangitoto. The duo’s full and layered sound held up well live, and the slow-jam backbeats made dancing non-negotiable. Vocalist Megan James proved herself a unique show-woman, making full use of a stage lit up like a neon birch forest and whipping her diaphanous robe around dramatically in the sea breeze. James’s studio-standard vocals were well-served by the incredibly responsive Corin Roddick on sound and lighting, who did an impressive job of both while wisely allowing the dynamo that was James to completely steal the show. Finishing the night with an act who are obviously in sync with each other, in love with the show’s setting and thrilled to be performing was a refreshing reminder of why we drag our slowly decaying bodies to live shows at all. LOUISA KASZA

Mysterex Stage, 9.40pm

A pulsating diamond-cut desk seemed a fitting altar for the last sermon of Silo Park’s main stages. Pastor Flume (Australia’s Harley Streten) literally preaching to the choir in thrusts and waves of sound and colour. The producer maintains a deft command of his crowd throughout an exhilarating set, dropping a succession of his collaborations and solo work to an eager audience until his uniquely twisted dance take of Lorde’s ‘Tennis Courts’ truly ignites the massive crowd. It’s a striking moment and invokes memories of the Kiwi superstar’s belated and brilliant Laneway moment of a few years ago on the same stage. Streten appears to crawl completely into his equipment at points. A shock of hair bouncing around the desk as the electronic maestro spiders across his instruments, moulding and tweaking electricity into a joyous send off for Laneway in its current home of five years. “Happy Anniversary Auckland” he yells over a crescendo of drum and bass – the Silos of Laneway echoing their response for the last time. PAUL LARSEN

Click any thumbnail below to check out a gallery of incredible photos of the day, courtesy of Ngamihi Pawa...


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