23 Feb 2020
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  • Festival Review: St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2019 @ Albert Park, Auckland - 28/01/2019

Festival Review: St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2019 @ Albert Park, Auckland - 28/01/2019

31 Jan 2019 // A review by Lou Clement

Laneway was a different kind of festival. It’s an international touring event, taking in Australia and Singapore. In Auckland, the event was held in the historic Albert Park. Top billed artists this year included the electronic, experimental mastermind, Jon Hopkins, and ethereal pop-icon Florence and the Machine. There was much more to the line-up too, many of the acts new to me, and varying in genre from rap to pop to RnB reimagined. That the acts were new was exciting, it also meant I formed an opinion of what Laneway was going for with choices.

The park was beautiful, full of summer flowers and the festival had neatly set up in between the formal gardens, native trees and within the bandstand. The park echoed a different era, one perhaps not prepared for the footfall of a festival full of people. Still, it was charming that the sound technician was in the bandstand and the tree lined arcade was the perfect spot for a great view of the stage, no matter where you stood (and you could even eat and watch the band from there).

This year’s Laneway festival took place on a really hot day, this sort of dulled the vibe of the crowd a little, as we all retreated to shaded areas in between sets. I’d downloaded the app for the festival, something which made me feel organised in seconds and gave me everything I needed to ensure I saw all the acts I wanted to and could find my way around the area almost immediately.

First up on my list was Camp Cope (pictured), an Australian three-piece, they had an early set but an enthusiastic crowd and the festival-goers had not yet all arrived, still the crowd were singing along to their songs. Their music is guitar-led, with distinctive vocals from lead singer Georgia McDonald, I particularly enjoyed the angsty The Opener.

I dashed between stages to catch RnB act Ravyn Lenae, the 20 year old sang catchy, jazz-infused tracks with the sun warming the crowd and many dancing along she brought the festival feeling. I also saw Clairo whose lo fi style was understated and seemed to bring a breeze with it. When she sang her track Pretty Girl, I was absorbed in the beautiful gentle vocals and the way it still captured emotion through the lyrics and paired down composition. I really enjoyed this act.

Other stand out acts of the day were Bene (pictured). The local singer songwriter has a musical upbringing, which seemed to show in her confident command of the stage. She was on a small stage and the crowd piled in to see her. Her music is the summer soundtrack, the fresh and catchy; Soaked was uplifting and set the mood for a vibrant set.

A surprise acts for me was hip-hop act Smino, it wasn’t music I thought I’d get into, but it was a great performance with lots of audience participation and I was dancing along. There were a few familiar acts on the bill these including Parquet Courts, who put in a well-rehearsed performance, making the live music experience for me.

When it came to see Florence, the crowd had a second wind, and Florence in her floaty dress and with soaring vocals made for a perfect headline act, superstar par excellence. Finally, I made it across to see Jon Hopkins who set the night alight with his strain of electronic, ambient and atmospheric songs. I had often felt that Hopkins wrote songs that made me feel like I was in a film. In the centre of Auckland, as the dark crept in around us, his brilliant composing had a perfect setting and an attentive audience. A different but inspired headline act. The sun had done its worse, and in the relative cool of the evening, the crowd dispersed, the flowerbeds unharmed, the trees unclimbed. Laneway was a great one day festival, I would call for it to be on a Sunday though, to really ensure that holiday feeling.

St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2019 Feature

Photos courtesy of Steve Bone Photography.

 

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