'Magnetic' is not a word I get to use very often in a review, nor is 'intoxicating'. Fortunately for me, and for those who had also stepped out on this balmy summer evening, tonight's Laneways Sideshow was very much both of those things - and a whole lot more.
I was stoked when I heard that experimental producer Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, was bringing his new show to our shores. Even before seeing his rampant 45-minute crescendo to Monday's Laneways Festival, I knew that we were in for quite the ride. I was even happier when I found out it would be at The Powerstation. No better place for a live evening of what the TheGuardian has described as "a mind-warping 3D treat for all the senses".
I arrived early, just in time to hear warmup DJ JPS already giving the bassbins their first workout of the evening with some suitably dubby offerings. His basslines filled the room like warm treacle as hekept the milling crowd nodding under oriental-inspired percussion. The beats then broke away in favour of a single bass tone, which sat and pulsed hypnotically. I was reminded of the final mothership scene from Close Encounters, before it neatly ramped back up for a more-dub-than-step payoff.
Up next Tom McGuinness took a very different path, kicking straight into some loping trip hop before elegantly shifting things sideways to usher in aspects of footwork and jungle. It was already three-deep at the bar as he hit his stride and it was clear that he was seizing this opportunity with both turntables, weaving elements of acid-electro, trap and hiphop. The room was prepped; he had pitched it perfectly.
The huge screen across the stage twitched into action as Flying Lotus (or Fly-Lo to his fans) stepped onto the stage, already wearing his much talked about mask. The glowing eyes along with suit and tie, gave him the appearance of a freakish 'man-fly'.
"We're not at Laneway anymore", he proclaimed, before dropping us into a deep melodic abyss of images and sound that we would spend the next 90 minutes traversing. With his visuals team working just as industriously, the semi-translucent front screen and back wall fired an array of moving images simultaneously. This gave an incredible sense of depth and motion as each track built its own spiritual landscape of colour and detail. At its 'core' between the two screens was Fly-Lo in silhouette, lit only by his bug-like eyes. He swooned between layers of textural bassline and twisting vocals, which appeared cocooned by the swirling array of tentacles and Giger-esque structures around him.
He worked methodically and gracefully through the tracks off his new album You're Dead as well as earlier material, which pleased the shuffling crowd. Never Catch Me featuring the unmistakable vocals of Kendrick Lamar and Getting There from 2012's When The Quiet Comes were both absolute standouts. There was also an opportunity to sway under dim lights as he removed his mask and raised a microphone for the hauntingCoronus, The Terminator.
This was far from a sideshow - it was beautifully orchestrated. Unlike his shortened Laneways set, which teased these beautiful delights just out of reach, this was a fuller affair. It was set at a very different pace, allowing each chapter to breathe and crawl under his command. It was an awe-inspiring spectacle where melodic paths collided and separated, allowing the crowd to simply stand and take it all in, or let go of the safety rail and move freely within this extra-sensory backdrop.
Towards the end of the set, we were also treated to tracks from his first rap mixtape Duality, as he stepped out from behind the screen to perform under his hiphop guise of Captain Murphy. Not really my cup of tea, but it worked very well as part of the overall show and was great to see him as comfortable on a mic as behind the mixing desk. He signed vinyl (handed to him by one lucky fan), high five'd and happily shared a bottle of something suitably marauding. It was great to see.
After seeing both shows, my preference is leaning more towards his Laneways set. There was something about the shorter timeframe that really gave it some instinctive energy that was quite electrifying. This full show, although also beautifully crafted, tended to lose pace in places and didn't quite have that same sense of the erratic.
But these are merely personal observations, as I cannot take anything away from what was a spectacular night, and one which be remembered for a long time to come.
The bar has now been set incredibly high and tonight's performance is proof that this talented producer has many more ideas yet to be revealed. I greatly look forward to continuing the journey with him.
In the mid to late 90's, when grunge began to wither away and MTV strived to find the next easy to access label to attach to new batch of up and coming rock bands, global attention started to shine on the Alt Rock scene.
The I Love The 90s Tour returns to Auckland next year March 23rd at Auckland’s Spark Arena, with a completely off the chain lineup featuring classic Hip Hop crew Naughty by Nature. Vin Rock from the Grammy Award winning rap group speaks fondly of this country and love of our people.
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
Since making her musical debut with her song Drift early last year, fast attracting a solid fan base and over 1 million plays across Spotify and Soundcloud in just a few months, Madeline North, better known by her musical moniker So Below, has once again blessed us with a moodier, masterful electro-pop banger, titled Ruin.
Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!
Anthonie Tonnon is taking his new Extended Player and single to Australia, and to New Zealand towns that missed the first run of dates, or sold out too quickly. He’ll also be appearing at three summer festivals this February.
After a stand of three Auckland concerts that sold out in minutes in January, Connan Mockasin is hitting the road across Aotearoa for the first time in eight years this summer for a select run of headline shows.