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February 12, 2019 | by  | in Features Homepage Music |
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Laneway: Luck of the Draw

Auckland’s Laneway Festival pulled no punches at the stunning Albert Park this year, accompanied by beautiful weather, a sickening number of crafty food stalls, and sunblock to boot. A variation of acts left for a wide spectrum of punters, mixing from the indie rock stylings of Yellow Days to the neo-soul of Ravyn Lenae to the introspective rap of Denzel Curry. It was an incredible line-up and every artist performed spectacularly.

Laneway celebrated its 10 year anniversary this year. The festival’s return to Albert Park allowed for bigger and better acts, and the integration of New Zealand and international artists has only become stronger and more eclectic.

Festivals are a pool where international artists are able to dip their toes into foreign countries, providing a platform for New Zealand artists to interact with big names. If it weren’t for festivals such as Laneway, we wouldn’t have access to many of the amazing musicians that come to this country.

In Laneway’s ten years, the Asia-Pacific region has come to trust its tastemaking abilities. Not to be confused with Spotify’s tastebreakers playlists – Laneway is not some bullshit algorithm based on what other people listen to. It’s not a mathematical equation designed to target you and keep you listening for as long as possible. Some acts you like and some you don’t, that’s a known inevitability. The way I’ve always viewed it: if there are at least 5 acts I want to see, that’s less than $30 an artist.

Laneway has and continues to tap into various genres and artists, attracting a variety of personalities. Sometimes you’ll find yourself surrounded by an unarguably wholesome bunch. A prime example was Ravyn Lenae’s act, where an entire audience pinky promised to lay down their insecurities and swing their bodies to the music, or when Miss June’s crowd cheered on lead singer Annabel Liddell’s mum who came to watch her perform.Laneway-38

Other times, I found myself in not so favourable situations. There was the girl spewing mustard yellow vomit all over helpless victims at Gang of Youths, or the group of tall/loud bros rating the “girls” around them whilst waiting for feminist icon Florence and Machine. It’s the luck of the draw.

Even still, Laneway tries to build a safe culture and the artist picks only helps foster the audience comradery. That much is obvious. With developed initiates to provide safer spaces Laneway continues to support a positive crowd culture. They renewed the 0800 laneway helpline and allocated a combination of numbers and letters to each site so that volunteers could easily locate people in need of support. The women’s space was a great addition to the festival although it could have been better promoted both on site and on promotional materials. I couldn’t express how important these initiatives are with crowds exceeding 10,000 people. Breaking new ground with safer spaces on such an enormous level is something to be commended on its own.

I continue to expect the unexpected because every time I think I understand its formula, Laneway diverts in a path of unfamiliar musical territory. There are always expected picks, and some things don’t ever change (Courtney Barnett, we’ll always love you). But ultimately this year saw Laneway at the peak of their game. I look forward to future surprises from Laneway.

 

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