Laneway 2014: I’m A Slave to the Sound

Hello all.

I am floating on a post-Laneway cloud, more specifically a post-HAIM cloud after what started off as a fairly decent, then kinda average day, which then exploded into an evening of amazingness and pure magnetic sex energy in the form of harmonies and sound that we call music.

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What did I do?! Where did I go?! Well dear reader, be prepared for a blow-by-blow of my day at Silo Park, which was equal amounts cloudy and sunny and windy and returned me to my home with a fine layer of dust and sand over my skin smelling like a trucker who has just driven 12 hours and had a tyre puncture along the way.

So anyway it was a beautiful day in Auckland (which, really, means no rain; we can’t be choosy with this city) and my friend and I made our way down to Wynyard Quarter and lined up to get into the minimally-sheltered/very crowded venue. My very first Laneway in New Zealand! Gosh I was excited.

I got my ticket scanned and a wristband in lieu of paper and didn’t get my bag checked – great, because I had a litre of vodka stowed away in there – KIDDING! I’m all about water these days – and right at the entrance was the main stage where Jezabels were halfway into their set.  They were pretty good but we didn’t stay long and decided to have an exploratory moment around the site to get our bearings.

The bars at Laneway work on a token system where you redeem tokens for drinks, kinda like arcade tickets but in reverse? so my friend got a few of those while I chilled out at one of the grassy areas which was nice and relaxing but also kinda burny because I didn’t sit under the shelter and when the wind blew it blew loose grass and soil all over me which kinda hurt and got in my mouth but c’est la vie.

Jess wanted to know how festivals work between sets – I’m not too sure how to explain it, because there’s not a lot of down time… there’s always a set happening with maybe five minutes between each, which you spend travelling to the next stage or fighting your way to the front barrier and waiting it out. Otherwise you just chill out around the area and eat or drink and chat and hang out and hear the music nearby and have a good time.  There was a nice selection of food around – including a Fatima’s pop-up! I love Fatima’s feed me Fatima’s – and a couple of VIP sections; enough to make it look exclusive but not so exclusive that you’d wonder how to get in there next year.

On to the music! It doesn’t feel like we saw a festival-full of music, although we did take a couple hours over the day to relax. We saw Daughter, which was the surprise of the day for me – had no idea who they were and never heard of them before – and then a bunch of random bands before heading to the Red Bull Thunderdome to see Watercolours, whose EP Portals was released late last year. She had some technical difficulties and couldn’t start her set on time… and then it carked out again a couple of songs into it but she improvised with a cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs.” There were very enthusiastic fanpeople behind me (I’m guessing they were her mates) and they sang along very loudly. Not bad.

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[Watercolours at Red Bull Thunderdome.]

We left Watercolours early to get some food, heading back to the main stage to see what Kurt Vile was like (pretty good, although I’m sure it would’ve been more enjoyable had I been closer up and known the songs), and then it was Frightened Rabbit who I enjoyed very much AND THEN HAIM. HAIM YOU GUYS HAIM.

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[Danielle Haim shredding. Pretty much the highlight of my year. Forget what you ever knew about your sexuality.]

My all-time favourite band is Muse, and the most epic concert of my life was seeing their Resistance Tour in Singapore in 2010.  I thought nothing could ever beat the swell in my heart, the tears pricking my eyes (I kid you not, I almost shed tears of joy, it was like a religious experience except music was my religion in those few hours) with the roar of the crowd pushing my adrenaline higher and higher. But then Haim took the Mysterex stage, and with the resounding echo of the opening drum beat of “Falling” I knew that they would beat, if not tie, that Muse concert for the gig I will remember most clearly* for the rest of my life.

I don’t know how to describe it yet, not coherently, anyway. I’d bought my Laneway ticket to see Haim and Lorde, and while I did not get to see Lorde as she attended the Grammys instead, I got that $139 + bf’s worth smashed out of the park in that 45 minute set.

I would’ve been quite happy to end the night there but a friend of mine is a HUGE fan of Chvrches, so I knew I’d have to stay and check them out.  I was not disappointed. Those of you who know of and like this band will understand.  Amped up from Haim’s set, I politely made my way as far up front as I could (honestly, I tapped people on the shoulder and asked to slip in front of them; amazing how kindly people will usher you before them if you ask nicely instead of barging into their shoulder and spilling beer over three people) and even though I had to stand on tip-toe to just see the band, it was still so, so, amazing–

— until some technical difficulty cut the set short halfway through. Boooooooo. It cut right at the break, too, which doubly killed the vibe. Not sure what goes on with these technical difficulties but it was twice in one day for me which is TWO STRIKES LANEWAY.  Either way, they were back up and running after five or so minutes and then the awesomeness continued.

They played this, which is a nice song and to be honest I don’t remember what else they played except it was dancey and awesome and I had a great time.

The Presets and Cat Power were playing after Chvrches but I’d seen Cat Power in Singapore a few years back already and was hoping to catch a friend’s birthday dinner, so we skipped the set. So a pretty early night overall but A SUPER AWESOME ONE.

First Laneway verdict: A++ would trade again.  Maybe with 100% more sunblock next time.

*I say most clearly but it’s not entirely true in a sense… the whole thing was just so transcendent and rapturous and energetic that in the aftermath I feel that a part of the synapses involved have shut themselves off from the rest of the brain just for self-protection from that much awesome, and also perhaps in a selfish way to always have that experience locked away in that moment of time and space. In a way it’s that little bit more precious, that something that affects the soul so much cannot be replicated so easily whether it be by memory or by listening to the studio record over and over.


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