The 2017 Auckland Laneway Festival Awards

Best festival venue:

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The Rotunda stage in Albert Park

Well what a festival! Moving to Albert Park was the best venue change imaginable. Laneway has gone from being an event which had echoey acoustics, no shade on impossibly hot days and no way near enough space for all the punters – to a festival which is a dream for attendees. The gorgeous Albert Park was a stunning setting, trees framed the stages, provided much sought after shade, the sound quality at all stages was fantastic and the vibe was outstanding. 10/10!

The best act of the day:

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Glass Animals play the Rotunda Stage

There’s no doubt about who takes this award out, Brit rockers Glass Animals were the clear stand out of the day – my only complaint? 45 minutes just wasn’t enough!! I had extremely high expectations for this band as I have cranked their latest album How to be a Human Being for about four months ahead of this show. I was worried they might let me down and I’d walk away from their set feeling sad the music didn’t translate as well live – boy was I wrong and man am I glad. These guys excelled! This was the most entertaining performance I’ve seen in years, front man Dave Bayley leapt on stage for first song Life Itself dancing around like a mad thing and that energy never subsided, he was contagious. I couldn’t wipe the grin from my face as they rattled through song after song with every crowd member boogeying and singing along with ultimate enthusiasm. I can’t pick a favourite song of the set because each one played was just as good as the last – why aren’t they doing side shows? I need more Glass Animals in my life!!

The most polished performance:

There’s no doubt about who this award belongs to – the ever wonderful Tame Impala. These guys have been on the festival circuit for years now yet each show is fresh, flawless and crowd appropriate. The genius that is Kevin Parker knows exactly the right set list and never fails to deliver an entertaining performance. Seeing the day out dancing energetically (before our legs completely gave away with exhaustion) to Elephant, New Person, Same Old Mistakes, Eventually and Let It Happen was the best end to the festival I could have hoped for.

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Tame Impala play the Princes Street stage

I have to give second place in this category to the Veils. Despite being disappointed we mostly got new music and not some of their old hits I have a soft spot for, this band are very compelling to watch. Their set was straightforward visually but musically faultless. Finn Andrew vocals are chilling and the songs from their latest album came to life for me. Overall a very enjoyable set.

The most vocally talented:

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Aurora plays the Rotunda stage

Norway artist Aurora played a magic show. She had a compelling stage presence and the crowd was mesmerised from the first line of the first song. That voice is stunning! She has the most incredible range and is so in control of it that in just 45 minutes she showcased it in its entirety. I think I would have been enchanted if she just stood on stage and sang cover songs – it’s that good! But of course there is so much more to Aurora than that. Her songs are works of art, ranging from slower ballads to up tempo tracks which have you jumping up and down screaming along with her. This young artist was bound to be a highlight for many Laneway goers yesterday, she was certainly one of mine.

The act to watch:

A close second to Aurora on the vocals front is Australian singer Julia Jacklin who channels Laura Marling in her soulful sound. She plays guitar beautifully, has songs which are full of wisdom lyrically and sings without fault. Definitely one to watch! Pool Party and Don’t Let the Kids Win have a refreshing maturity to them and that came across brilliantly on stage.

The best new band on the block:

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The DMA’s play the Princes Street stage

Aussie rockers DMA’s were a breath of fresh air yesterday. Reminding us all of Oasis, they blew me away with their gentle rock tracks. The band layers different guitar sounds cleverly to create a thick but still tender song base which the vocals could soar over. They barely talked on stage but still managed to have a real presence and I loved swaying along to the passionate songs like Step up the Morphine and Too Soon in the sunshine.

The disappointing:

Nick Murphy (formally Cher Faker) did nothing wrong, he played his music well, his band was talented, his vocals were spot on but he just lacked something. Despite knowing all the words to his songs and him playing a great selection of hits in his set, it was still a performance I felt happy to walk away from. Murphy’s set was just a bit boring, the highlight was when he brought Marcus Marr on stage to play their hit The Trouble With Us, but even that was underwhelming. I read that he started touring with a band as he felt he couldn’t connect with his audiences on stage as a one man act, well if this was him with a band, I hate to think what seeing him on his own would have been like.

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Concert Review: Tame Impala

Tame Impala

The stereotypes that come with a psychedelic rock band are completely thrown out the window when you witness Tame Impala live – Kevin Parker and his band are a class act.

Last night at Shed 6 in Wellington there were swirling colourful lights akin to something from the LSD heyday, guitar riffs to send you into a head spin and drum beats to make you shake – and it all came without the sloppy rockstar antics I’ve come to expect from other bands within this genre.

Australian Kevin Parker is a musical genius and his accomplished band bring his songs to life in a manner like nothing I’ve quite seen before. From get go I was entranced. They burst on stage and built momentum as an incredible light and graphic show, which would mesmerise us all night long, filled the stage. The reverberating base lines kicked in and the echoing synth took flight as Intro built the tension. It was the perfect lead into Let It Happen, which immediately bewitched the crowd. The epic song of 2015, Tame Impala’s first single off new album Currents, twisted and turned for eight minutes of magic. Lyrics were screamed, air guitars imitated the ever-changing riffs and feet and hands slapped along to the enchanting beat. It was heaven for Tame fans and the perfect way to kick the night off.

The audience was next treated to some older tracks like Mind Mischief, Why Won’t They Talk To Me and It’s Not Meant To Be. Each song was played to perfection with Parkers ethereal falsetto vocals soaring above the grungy base brought together so brilliantly by a talented set of musicians. Of course, Parker is the brains behind the business, he writes, performs and produces all of his songs, but without this stunning band, his famous live set wouldn’t be so well polished. Jay Watson, Dominic Simper, Cam Avery and Julien Barbagallo are faultless and their onstage personas sit perfectly alongside Parker. As for the main man, he is humble and grateful, has simple and short interactions with the audience and doesn’t get up to any outrageous stage antics but knows the perfect moment to swing his guitar high in the air, throw his cup of drink over the crowd or start the crowd clapping or singing.

This tour was of course to showcase Tame’s new material and it is fantastic stuff. For me, the tracks off Currents were a class above the rest, it seems like Parker has now perfected his art. The Moment, Cause I’m a Man and Yes I’m Changing move away from the loud noise of earlier songs and were more refined in my opinion. The lyrics are more meaningful and easier to follow and the melodies are clearer, all this while still maintaining the trippy rock sound Tame is famous for.

But it was still older track Elephant that was the clear crowd favourite and it was performed with finesse. The audience, filled with a number of long haired and bearded Parker lookalikes, danced up a storm and sang their hearts out as the band came alive during what is obviously one of their best-loved tunes as well.

Another clear highlight came in the encore as we were treated to Feels Like We Only Go Backwards before things closed on a monumental take on Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control. Tame Impala left the stage of their final show this tour, as the synth still hummed and the lights still swirled and everyone in the crowd remained completely hypnotised. Nobody wanted it to be over, the show was just that good.

Song of the Week – Cause I’m a Man

Cause I’m A Man – Tame Impala

This new track from the Aussie indie rockers is my current crank. Cause I’m A Man is the first official single from their soon to be released album Currents and it’s a damn good taste of what’s to come when the record is out on July 17th.

It’s a funky song, perfect for when you’re in a chilled mood and keen to bop your head along to something. A psychedelic synth undertone wafts throughout the song teamed up with a bass line which adds a catchy melody. In the verses Kevin Parker’s charming vocals drift across the top in a repeating scale of falsetto. But before you know it things are amped up a notch in the chorus with a grungy guitar riff and a stronger, gravelly vocal display which wakes you up from your hallucinations.  It’s a compelling listen.

There’s a lot of symmetry in this track. When I consider the level of repetition separately I feel like it should be boring. But it’s not. Somehow Tame Impala have worked their alternative magic once again and Cause I’m A Man has really struck a chord with me. Bring on more of this when Currents is released!