Pop CultureJanuary 31, 2017

Laneway review: Cheeseburgers, aching backs and goddamn brilliant music


The Spinoff tries to remember what happened at yesterday’s Laneway festival.

A thumbs up

I absolutely love a long, drawn out festival. The more days I can spend in a dusty, stagnant field the better. I like them because there’s no urgency. It’s for this reason that the thought of trying to spread myself across four stages in just one day damn near had me in a sweat come Monday morning.

But once you drop the expectation that you have to watch each of your carefully chosen acts play in their entirety, it couldn’t be simpler. I mean, how good was Albert Park? Moving with the crowd was effortless, and if you were super cool and chill (of a level I aspire to), you probably could’ve survived the day without a timetable, instead just following with the flow of foot traffic and the PAs. Even Young Thug’s absence only hurt when you consciously tortured yourself with the thought.

Above that, I think what I like most about Laneway, aside from the music, is the people. The shaka brahs will keep an eye on you in the mosh, the painfully cool girls aren’t mean or scary, and the groovy dads will make you wish you’d brought yours along. Cheesy as hell, but at no other festival do I see as many smiles as I do at Laneway.  

It’s not often I’m rendered speechless, but Laneway this year got me pretty close. Like any event of its scale there were a couple of glitches and hiccups along the way, but nothing worth dwelling on. I’d like to continue my dreamy Laneway comedown remembering the exact way it felt as I began wandering home last night – as a day rich with good people, good weather, and some goddamn brilliant music. – Kate Robertson

A nitrous rush

By the time Tame Impala took to the stage last night I’d seen maybe 10 bands across three gigs on three consecutive days, seriously flirting with critical fade levels and approaching an early tap-out from Laneway festival. But, as the oscillating synth of opener ‘Nangs’ brought to mind the nitrous rush from which the song takes its name, the fatigue lifted like the clouds of weed smoke emanating from the crowd, and all was well. As expected, frontman Kevin Parker delivered the goods, moving through the various psychedelic bangers of Currents with an expert’s curation, and doing a hell of a job approximating the walls of sound on the studio release. Props too on a dope stage show – it was pretty trippy stuff, eh? Maybe I’m still hysterical from lack of sleep and festival froth, but I’d put Tame Impala in the top three shows I’ve seen, made even better after a solid day of summer tunes in a beautiful location. These are the kind of events that will secure Auckland’s future as a place people actually want to be – bring on 2018! – Don Rowe


An aging human

Because music festivals like Laneway tend, for many reasons, to only exist in the summertime, they can become a ritual in which you measure your ever-increasing age against that of the bulk of the attendees. They seem sprightlier and more energetic than ever (perhaps due to tighter security and therefore fewer teens passed out just before the entrance and less all-out aggressiveness), while your knees feel a little weaker, your back a little sorer and your clothing a little more practical. (It heartens me that festival attendees older than myself tend to drift towards tramping attire – sweat-wicking fabrics, ultra-light sun coverage, shoes made for day walks, many-pocketed backpacks – and I personally aspire to full tech clothing not-give-a-fuckness.)

For an aging human like myself, Albert Park is a festival gift from the gods. The grass is easy on the body, the gentle slopes allows for unobscured views from just beyond the crush, not too far away from the sound desk, and the abundance of space meant the crowd – however big it ended up getting – never felt like the rip tide of humanity I tend not to like getting caught in.

Ultimately, a music festival is a both an event in itself – in which the actual music is secondary to social interaction aided by friends, alcohol and/or drugs – and a buffet of live music that you may not otherwise get to experience. The great thing about the former is that your enjoyment can’t be lessened by acts cancelling, the never-very-good sound, or the self-consciousness that comes with moving your body to music in broad daylight. As you get older though, the former eclipses the latter and all these things matter more and more.

I’d by lying then if I didn’t say that, yes, Laneway needed someone like Young Thug, someone new and exciting but also huge; that, yes, the outdoor sound (and atmosphere) raises the level of difficulty to the extent that the possibility of a mind-blowing, life-changing experience at a festival is so far below that of an indoor venue that it’s not even fair to compare the two; and, yes I find it hard to even sway my shoulders when I’m sober, in the sun, and can feel people looking at me, even though they’re not. Still, it was a good festival, as festivals (and my aching back) go. – Henry Oliver

A gross guy

For everyone who shat an enormous brick about Laneway introducing a women-only safe space, sitteth down and let me tell you a tale. Yesterday, in the space of about five minutes, both my friend and I were touched without consent by some living, breathing rat men. One of them ran his fingers through my friend’s hair when she walked past, the other touched my legs repeatedly when we were sitting on grass, waiting to watch Aurora.

I get that it’s funny to see someone who is as pale as one of those translucent axolotls sitting there with violently sunburned legs, but that doesn’t mean you get to reach out and stroke my calf and upper thigh whilst muttering “sunburn” like a shaman. Further to that, when I tell you to “fuck off”, do not sit there stroppily and say “well this is awkward”. You made it awkward when you extended your Nosferatu talons my way mate. Stop touching us. – Alex Casey

A really good cheeseburger

Albert Park is a good venue for watching music, and a great venue for not watching music. I can confidently say I have never been to a festival where it’s been so easy to not watch bands and so pleasant to instead wander around trying to find your friends (“to the right of the rotunda!”) or queue in one of the many good-spirited queues. Other non-music highlights included eating a nice cheeseburger from the gross-sounding Bearded Clam and drinking a frosty cup of Boundary Road lager.  – Calum Henderson

A heavy and greasy and salty cheeseburger

The best part of Laneway was the Bearded Clam burger. Actually that’s a lie because I loved the Glass Animals set, but definitely the second best part was the Bearded Clam burger. It was so heavy and greasy and salty and exactly what’s needed after too many hours of drinking in the sun. I’d never had a Bearded Clam burger before and I’m hesitant to have it again because something tells me it won’t be as good when eaten sober and lucid. But at Laneway, hunched over a bench, very drunk and very sweaty, it was everything. – Madeleine Chapman

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