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Laneway rocks despite hot sun, soul-less venue

Feb 14th, 2012 | By | Category: Arts/Entertainment, Front Page Layout, Latest News

FEMALE FANTASY: All male indie rock band, Girls, perform at Laneway in Auckland's Silo Park

AUCKLAND music festival St Jeromes’ Laneway had its third birthday this summer, and festival organisers faced the challenge of creating a line-up to better previous years’ stand-out headliners, as well as making the most of a new venue, Silo Park.

At the Wynyard Quarter of Auckland’s waterfront, Silo Park should’ve been an ideal location, but a lack of shade to escape from the brilliant sun that shone all day meant many ticket-holders suffered sunburn that, if mine’s anything to go by, stung for days.

A lack of grass meant the two main stages were set up in a car park. It was roomy, but a little, well, car-park-y, a soul-less area not at all reflective of the talent who were to perform there.

However, Laneway is not about the venue, Laneway is about the music.

Ex-Mint Chick Kody Nielson and Bic Runga kicked the day off with their musical love-child, Opossum, playing the main stage, Penny Lane.

They were followed by South Dakotan EMA, and one of the day’s highlights, Canadian band Austra (left).

The ethereal voice of Austra’s leading lady, Katie Stelmanis, echoed throughout the waterfront, the band’s dark synthpop drawing the first few dancers of the day.

One thing Laneway deserves all credit for is the quality of the music. The organisers have a knack for putting together a line-up of musicians who seamlessly translate their music from studio to stage

One exception was young New York indie pop outfit Cults (below), who could’ve done with fewer nerves.

One or two technical blips delayed and interrupted the highly anticipated performances of Girls, and later on in the afternoon, Feist, who made an apparently effortless recovery when her microphone and guitar cut out half-way through her latest single, How Come you Never go There? which she told the crowd she wrote after considering how far away New Zealand was from her Canadian home.

The performer air-guitared and lip-synched her way through the technical difficulties, proving to the crowd Leslie Feist is more than just a singer, with one or two punters yelling out: “We love you, Leslie” and “Stay here, Leslie.”

Australian Wally de Backer, aka Gotye, closed the night, following an earth-shattering performance by French “indietronica” group M83. If M83 got the audience dancing, Gotye got them singing.

Gotye’s collaboration with Kiwi pop chick Kimbra, Somebody That I Used to Know, was the performance of the day, as Wally considered Kimbra’s absence and suggested 6000 New Zealanders sing her verse.

Although Gotye was not best placed to fill the last slot on the time table, he attracted a strong audience with his relaxed experimental rock music, and they were sad to see him go after his final tune.

Laneway is essentially a celebration of art in its loudest, most raucous form, and it would be fair to say we suffered for our art, leaving Silo Park sunburnt and tired. But every minute was worth it.

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