St. Jerome's Laneway Festival 2014

By Christina Croucher

Date / Venue:  Monday January 27th, Silo Park, Auckland

On Auckland Anniversary Day 2014, Silo Park held Auckland's 5th year of St Jerome's Laneway festival.The venue was outstanding, held in the prime location of the downtown waterfront. In between stage hopping, festival goers relaxed by the harbour overlooking the water whilst listening to music with a beer and one of the many food truck options (highlight - homemade pies).

By 1pm the sold out festival was filled with hipsters spread out over the 3 music zones and in long lines to get drinks. New Zealand originated Unknown Mortal Orchestra was a favourite in the afternoon playing their galvanising set on the main stage. Everyone was pumped to rush to American rapper Earl Sweatshirt who played to a packed out crowd at one of the smaller stages. Attracting an international hip hop artist shows Laneways diversity despite its known-for alternative/ dance/ indie rock scene. Catering to a wider fan base could be a reason this 2014 Laneway was a sold out success.

I overheard people checking in on their iPhone on Lorde's success at the Grammy's and although it was a bummer to miss her and the moving live set of James Blake we had much to keep our minds off. A definite highlight for me was Frightened Rabbit; an incredible 5 piece band of Scottish guys who played a mind-blowingly passionate and powerful set at the main stage.

It never feels like a true festival without some California sounding rock; enter Kurt Vile. Bit of screech, bit of sunshine, a touch of psychedelic with catchy riffs, could be a love child of the Chilli Peppers. On the topic of American bands Haim displayed their reason for rising success with a brilliant performance from the high energy sisters. They not only sound amazing live but give a 10/10 performance. I haven't currently seen anything quite like them on the music scene; the insanely talented musicians have filled a gap in the market. The lead singer Danielle Haim's voice is even more incredible live and the sisters have an amazing energy on stage completely rocking out their instruments.

Producer Jamie XX coincided with Haim's performance so I only caught the second half. A few people I spoke to that are massive fans were a tad disappointed that he didn't come with his impressive array of instruments but his set was a success with people busting at the seams of the zone to hear him play his captivating DJ set from the UK band The XX.

My most anticipated performance of the night was from the beautiful Cat Power. There is no doubt that her songs are incredibly written and her tone is hauntingly stunning but, I just wish she would have lost it a bit more on stage. Not so much with movement but vocally. Her introverted execution of vocals wasn't quite reaching the large crowd that had waited over 30mins for a spot to watch her play. You could have heard a pin drop at the anticipation but after a few well known songs (The Greatest, I Don't Blame You) a few people were yelling for the sound to come up and you could see quite a few people walk off. I felt a bit awkward for the bluesy singer songwriter who sang along to her guitar and piano. I still love her, but her powerful songs have way more leeway to pack in a punch with the vocals.

On the contrary the main stage was oozing with energy from The Presets who got the audience dancing like I haven't seen youth dance before. The duos music was wacky, bouncy, a tad repetitive but mainly awesome and it's hard to describe the vocalist Julian Hamilton but he sings wildly and richly over top of the bouncy beats and keys himself and Kim Moyes play and mix on stage. A fun and uplifting band to end the night with, these guys from Australia know how to throw a party.

A windy Auckland summer's day at Laneway was a great way to end long weekend, I already look forward to what Laneway 2015 will have in store.