Just when we thought the summer festival season was over, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival returned to Auckland’s Albert Park this Auckland Anniversary Weekend. Like many festivals these days, there were some last minute upsets to the line up with Rüfüs Du Sol pulling out due to the Grammys and J.I.D pulling out the day before too. This resulted in many upset fans, but hey the show must go on.
The weather on the day was amazing. The sun was out and it was the perfect day for a music festival. Laneway was a whole different vibe from many of the festivals we experienced over the New Year period. It was very relaxed with minimal signs of mosh pits. It was like a picnic in the park where world class acts just happened to be performing. Like any other festival there was still the struggle of losing your friends or trying to meet up with them. The solution for this was lots of “where are you” and “meet at the fountain” texts. Earlier that morning the news of Kobe Bryant’s passing was also released which resulted in many people wearing their Lakers gear.
We got to check out SWIDT, as usual they had the crowd hyped and attempted to start some mosh pits. Next we moved onto JessB who was playing at the Puma Block Party Stage. She mentioned how she was feeling triggered being next the library but thanked everyone for coming to see her as she believed this was one of her biggest solo crowds. JessB put us in the right mood and got us wanting to shake all our assets. Benee was another act we’d been excited to see live as she’s been creating a lot of buzz not only locally but internationally as well. Having won four Tūī awards at the New Zealand Music Awards for her debut EP, we can see all this attention is well deserved.
Soon it was time for the acts we had been waiting for. Seventeen-year-old Ruel stole our hearts with his voice and charm. He also brought out his guitar to play live and we still can’t get over it. His hits Real Thing, Dazed & Confused, and Younger touched our souls. He’s definitely got a long career ahead and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
Earl Sweatshirt was another highly anticipated act. He brought his west coast alternative rap to Auckland. Some people in the crowd were feeling it, singing along to every word while others didn’t know the words but were happy to be in his presence. He played a lot of his newer songs that focused on issues such as mental health. His poetic performance style might have received more recognition if he was scheduled at a different time because around the time he was on the energy levels were going down when they should have been going up.
There was no need to worry though because party queen Charli XCX was there to lift us up. Firstly, her outfit was phenomenal and she blessed us with some epic dance moves. Starting her set with I Love It she had the crowd singing along to every word and this crowd participation continued for the rest of her set. When Boys came on, we lost it. It’s true what they say—the party doesn’t start until Charli XCX walks in.
We ended our night with The 1975. The lighting and visuals were a core part of their performance as it supported the songs and the story they were trying to tell. From their performance it was obvious they’re professionals who’ve toured the world and performed at sold out stadium shows. Highlights included TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, The Sound, Chocolate, It’s Not Living, and Sex. The 1975 also decided to do something that we haven’t seen any artist do before—play a video about climate change. It featured the voice of climate activist Greta Thunberg and was an extension of her collaboration on The 1975 song last year. Overall, their set of 55 minutes was too short since they have an endless list of hits they could have performed and we were all left shouting “encore”.
Laneway is the place to discover new artists and not be bound to a specific schedule. We loved discovering the sound of The Chats and BBNO$. There were some acts that we didn’t make it in time for such as Mahalia and Omar Apollo so we’ll just have to wait for the next time they come over. Points go out to Laneway for a great mix of international and local talent to choose from.
Thanks to Laneway for passes to review the show. Photos – David Watson.