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Concert Review

Concert Review: St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017

By  January 22, 2017

Initially seen as a step backwards from last year’s exciting line up, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017 surprisingly proved that not even a heavy downpour could stop the grandeur the festival continues to execute annually.

Attracting a crowd of thousands were four stages shared by a range of both local and international acts, promised to bring music discovery to a whole new level. Catching a certain band might be every fan’s initial motive to attend the festival, but it’s definitely inevitable not to leave without being captivated by a band’s live music for the first time.

Delighting the slightly small crowd in the early afternoon was Australian artist Tash Sultana performing at the Bay Stage. Though it’s a shame that not even half of the grounds were filled to watch her play the ever so captivating chord progressions in Jungle and effortlessly alternate between a windpipe and an electric guitar.

Switching the mood to a fierier ambience were punk rockers Luca Brasi’s thundering set that attracted a number of hardcore fans, mostly in their teens, who belted out an incomparable energy as they moshed in front of the Garden Stage. All these happened as the rest of the laneway-goers, still transfixed to their seats (aka the ground), watched from afar. For a moment, they were entertained not by the act onstage, but the aforementioned teenage boys’ aggressive yet entertaining moves.

It wasn’t until in the middle of Sam Rui’s set that it started drizzling. But the local act maintained her charm onstage with her atmospheric vocals as she debuted a new single, Solid Gold, played a cover of Jojo’s Too Little Too Late, and endeared her fans with her most popular song, Better. Having been lucky enough to catch KOM_I of Wednesday Campanella after Sam Rui’s set, I was welcomed with the sight of the bubbly Japanese performer being thrown over the crowd while inside an enormous inflatable balloon. Some of her other notable antics at Laneway were giving away free matcha to the crowd and singing on top of a ladder. I must say that this is the level of dedication every artist should have.

Moving on to another local act was shoegaze band Astreal. Considered to be music veterans in the local scene having formed in 1992 as Breed, Astreal didn’t seem to be much of a crowd pleaser as evident from their unexpected shy demeanor.

Enduring what turned out to be heavy rainfall, crowds started gathering in front of the Bay Stage yet again for AURORA’s set. The Norwegian singer-songwriter bewildered us throughout her mystical set, performing songs like Running With The Wolves and Conqueror. Aside from her mesmerizing stage presence and undoubtedly alluring vocals that could just transport you to places, the 20-year-old musical wonder is beyond her age when it comes to communicating with fans. I had the pleasure to meet AURORA and was left almost speechless with her endearing gaze that just translates her genuine appreciation towards her supporters.

Gang of Youths frontman David Le'aupepe was fascinating to watch as he slayed song after song with his quirky dance moves. He was also quick to respond to members of the crowd by reciprocating their greetings with winks and shout outs. The band captivated the crowd with catchy anthems such as Vital Signs and Magnolia and their it was a pity that their outstanding set was limited to only 50 minutes.

On another note, if Tame Impala went metal, it would sound like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. It’s spellbinding in a way that just wakes one up, which prepared us for Whitney’s mellow set that happened afterwards. Braving the rain despite being already drenched, I waited right behind the barrier for Whitney like a true dedicated fan and sang along to a few of my favorites, Polly and Golden Days. The band also treated us with a cover of Bob Dylan’s Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You that triggered a male fan to confess his love for the band through deafening screams – though this received giggles from the crowd, it was amusing to see Julien Ehrlich responding with a shrug. For some reason, I was enthralled by Whitney’s “low key” aesthetic and seeing them live just escalated my fondness.

Making up Poptart were Singapore DJs weelikeme and KiDG that brought the party to those who sought for shelter from the rain in the White Room. Catering to the hipster crowd that evening, the duo played songs by Two Door Cinema Club and Grimes, and ended their set with Stereophonic's Dakota.

Returning to Singapore with electrogaze instrumentals were Tycho, who brought out ethereal vibrations through their soft melodies some of which were Awake and A Walk. But what seemed to be the highlight of the festival was Glass Animals’ infectious zest that radiated throughout the crowd as the band hooked everyone with their brilliantly crafted visuals. Bringing all of their album covers to life, every song played was accompanied by enchanting lighting the color of their specific album – blue and purple for Zaba and yellow and orange for How To Be a Human Being. Though let’s not forget the star of the evening, a lone pineapple that was later held up high by Dave Bayley as he performed Pork Soda, and of course, along with a giant inflatable pineapple being passed over the crowd.

Ending the final set on the Bay Stage was Nick Murphy, previously known as Chet Faker, who astonished the exhausted audience with his downtempo music. Though I only got to catch Gold and Fear Less, it’s safe to say that the Australian artist was one of the most anticipated acts of the day, still drawing a large crowd at 11pm with his hazy synths.

Thanks to the unexpected downpour, the enigmatic air of what everyone else would assume taste like the pretentious air or “festival-goers” and their undying obsession with flower crowns, Laneway turned out to be a dynamic gratification that was enjoyable for everyone regardless of age.

 

Text: Teejay Vergara and Ling Donwei

Photo Credit: Spin or Bin Music


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