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Festival Review: Laneway 2018 @ Albert Street Precinct, Auckland - 29/01/2018

30 Jan 2018 // A review by Paul Goddard

2017 was my first time at Laneway. I went for one reason only and that was to see Refused. I am probably not in the target demographic for Laneway which is definitely the more indie/dance vibe but Laneway has a habit of messing everyone and sticking a band on like Refused who you just wouldn't expect. The year before it was Royal Blood.

So during that first Laneway experience, I discovered more music than I could ever do browsing through Spotify. The Festival forces you to see bands that you might not normally see and the genres are completely mixed. From Punk to Electronic to Indie to Dance. Laneway now has the best venue of any New Zealand festival. Albert Park is the perfect location, the trees for shade, the views, the layout and the fact you don't have to queue forever to get a drink or some food.

Wax Chattels

I arrived early to see opening band Wax Chattels. They blew my mind at Whammy Bar a few months ago so I was keen to see them on a bigger stage. Think Joy Division meets The Fall and you get an idea of what Wax Chattels sound like. But in music 1+1 doesn't always equal 2. Wax Chattels also add the most punk rock drummer (and cymbal) you have ever seen while the rest of music is channeled through a keyboard that has more effects pedals than Matt Bellamy from muse and a bass player who is equally at home hammering away or adding beats to the mix. She also has killer vocals.

What this means is Wax Chattles are one of the most exciting, danciest, most punk, indie, electronic bands NZ has ever produced. Be warned, be warmed, be shocked, behold.

Die! Die! Die!

These guys have always had a sense of melody and melancholy that underpins the destructive energy of their live shows. Every time I see them it makes me rethink what I enjoy about music. It's confrontational but also communal, they always give it 100% whether it's Andrew playing his guitar with a drumstick or getting his face cut by jumping into the crowd as he does today. There is also a soulful joy that smiles below these caustic riffs. This is music with texture and depth. Music that is constantly pushing to break the mold. It mutates and deviates.Today the sonic assault was full on. Die! Die! Die! are essential listening and viewing if you have a heart and a twisted soul

Pond

This Pond is was created by mixing water (or maybe alcohol) with just the right amount of funk and spunk then letting it ferment in the hot Perth sunshine. Visually the band come across like a supergroup made up of the Bee Gees, Psychadellic Furs and INXS and to be honest the music isn't too far from that mix either.

The comparisons and links to Tame Impala are always going to be there but for me, Nick Allbrook makes all the difference in Pond. His movements, the vocal style just keeps things interesting and exciting.

This is funk with a dark crazy soul which goes down great on a hot summer's afternoon. The crowd is dancing and swelling in numbers as the Princess Street mainstage beings to really bake. Nick is great to watch and this unique mix of musicians just keeps you guessing. For 30 minutes everything is OK in the world and you realise it's OK to be a bit weird all you need to do is have some fun. Pond are some kind of wonderful.

After a food break, it's back to the main Princess street stage to see Wolf Alice. As I approach the stage there are already a few thousand people in front of me and I can hear the howl of the wolf. Ellie Roswell can scream, howl and sing like a goddess. There are remnants of Courtney Love in her style but without the baggage. She creates a cool and by cool, I mean distant connection to the audience. Wolf Alice are not creating in your face angst rock, they are quite genre-neutral both musically and visually and comfortable carving their own niche. It is easy to see why they were asked to support Queens of The Stone Age recently and today they showed why they are one of the most talked about acts around.

Connan Mockasin

I was looking forward to this set as Connan is one of those people who seems to have been around forever but someone I had never seen play before. Unfortunately, this set was going to be my first "Muzac" experience of the day. You know the music that is there but you don't really notice it. The laid-back trippy vibe of the music was obviously going down well with the people around me but for me, it became background music. I found myself switching off and just didn't get a connection. Maybe it was the heat, maybe I needed a drink but despite all his obvious talent, this was the first act of the day where I left feeling nothing.

The Internet

The Internet have the worst name for a band ever. Apparently, it came about as a joke and they should have left it that way but what's in a name? The crowd growing around the Rotunda stage is massive. The Internet (actually WWW would have been a better name) get into it and they look great but just as the songs start to build they all tend to reach an anticlimax. It is ultimately frustrating, all the ingredients are there but the chef obviously took the day off. It is clear that this band has everything they need within their reach and they are grasping at pieces and trying to make it fit but just like the actual internet, their personality is lost in the interference.There is an urban soul vibe with a funk element but just when you are getting into a song it kind of peters out rather than ending on a high note. Massive, massive potential but today The Internet wasn't working properly.

From the band with the worst name to the band with one of the best,

BadBadNotGood

As I mentioned before, Laneway is a great opportunity to discover new music. Music that will become a part of your life. This set was one of those moments. As a band BadBadNotGood confound and surprise in equal measure. Just when you think you have them pinned down as a trippy jazz band they change tempo, throw a bit of hip-hop or electronica into the mix and take things to a whole other level. I love bands that keep things interesting and the set builds to a full on close in a goodgoodnotbad kind of way.

Anderson.Paak

Anderson.Paak was always going to be a highlight. He has been making waves ever since he contributed six songs to Dr Dre’s Compton and has become something of a protégé. He also has two killer albums which you should check out.  

Today as the sun begins to fade the largest crowd so far is gathering around the Rotunda Stage. This is this first act where you can’t get near the stage and as soon .Paak runs out wearing a Puma top that is brighter than the sun the place explodes. The boom hop beats get everyone bouncing and it’s an explosive start to the set. There is so much more to .Paak though than just west coast party rhymes. The Kendrick Lamar comparisons are obvious and today he shows what a great entertainer he is as well. The Free Nationals are tight and keep the party rolling. As .Paak gets bigger there will be plenty of people claiming they were here at his first New Zealand show.

Slowdive

I wander over to the Fountain stage to catch Slowdive. I remember them from when I lived in the UK as they were tagged as part of the early nineties shoegazing scene which is something I was never into. Today the ambient introspective music style is a shock to the system after just watching .Paak and it brings me crashing. The sun has taken it’s toll and my energy is falling in time with Slowdive’s music. It makes me a little too relaxed and I decide to head out into the night.

Laneway 2018 you have been amazing. Great venue, great bands and some new memories. See you there in 2019.


Review written by Paul Goddard
 

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