Returning to Gardens by the Bay for the fourth time, St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival is becoming bigger than ever. The additional stage this time round turned heads, that’s for sure. However, everything that makes Laneway what it is was in plain view – the showground was peppered with common sight festival paraphernalia, and there was an air of anticipation once the gates were opened.
As we look back on Laneway Festival 2016, we look at some of the things that mattered most during yesterday’s event.
1) Singapore has made its mark on Laneway Festival
There’s just something really Singaporean about yesterday’s show.
Despite its Melbourne roots, Laneway Festival seems to be taking on a whole new Singaporean persona this time round. We know the whole “don’t fix what ain’t broken” drill, but this is different.
Judging by the abundance of normcore outfits, onesies, and the whole eccentric get up, there is nothing upsetting the status quo at Laneway. With an extended stage set up hosting a Singapore-majority DJ contingent alongside Cashew Chemists and Riot !n Magenta at the main stages, homegrown artists were a minor drawcard for the festival, but a drawcard nonetheless.
The quasi-independent acts, once a real point of distinction at Laneway, are still present and led the troupe yesterday in impressive fashion. However, homegrown acts are no longer tucked quietly in the corner. Majulah Singapura!
2) The pressure is on for WOAH Fest
Three years ago, Symmetry Entertainment launched Camp Symmetry. Boasting a mouth-watering line-up that could rival that of Laneway’s, Camp Symmetry was the proverbial new kid on the block. The likes of Mew, Explosions in the Sky and William Fitzsimmons came and went, and it seems like Camp Symmetry’s pseudo reprisal will arrive in the form of WOAH Fest.
Following yesterday’s spectacle, the ball is now in WOAH Fest’s park. Don’t get us wrong – this is no competition between the two music festivals, but a little playful co-existence can only do wonders for Singapore’s music and entertainment scene.
Take it either as lofty standards to reach or banter between the two, we can’t wait to experience WOAH Fest!
3) Cashew Chemists are flying the Singapore flag proudly
There’s nothing more gratifying than sharing a stage with major music acts at Laneway Festival. Top that with a prime timeslot. Top that yet again with a sizeable crowd. Sandwiched by complex Thundercats and Battles, Cashew Chemists held their own at the Garden Stage. They certainly got their Laneway Festival seal of approval by the end of their set.
The homegrown outfit have certainly grown in leaps and bounds since their first demos in late 2011. If anything, their electrifying performance reminded everyone that they’re one of, if not the fastest growing act in Singapore.
4) No one ravaged Laneway quite as well as Metz and Violent Soho
The likes of Royal Blood brought a little more edge to Laneway Festival 2015, drawing alternative rock fans and arguably one of the biggest crowds a year ago. It was probably the first time Laneway had ever seen a proper mosh pit in action. Arms swinging and mindless shoving… you get the point.
Looking and sounding like bands that would make the Vans’ Warped Tour bill, Metz and Violent Soho led The Meadows yesterday into a momentary brief lesson in rock and roll. As the uninitiated in the crowd looked on with wonder, they were quickly won over by the raucous display of alternative rock.
Tearing the Cloud Stage in all of their noise rock glory, Metz had their hands full one-upping each other in a game of Who Can Master The Art of Shaking Uncontrollably Whilst Maintaining Complex Time Signatures. Meanwhile, Violent Soho – with the weighty expectations of an early timeslot at the Bay Stage – took the maximum approach in repping their namesake with the sort of retina detaching headbanging. Violent, indeed.
5) Grimes was wall-to-wall brilliant
We can’t be sure, but when Jim Morrison predicted the future of music as “one person with a lot of machines, tapes and electronics set up singing or speaking and using machines”, he was probably referring to Grimes. After all, it takes a certain degree of poise and ingenuity to be able to pull off a set like she did yesterday.
Everything is complex in Grimes’ world, but it’s the kind of complex that makes you want to find out more about. The good kind. When she starts songs, it’s hard to figure her music out, and there’s little way to deconstruct in your head the auditory layers she’s built. As Grimes took to the stage, Song One made a non-verbal cue for the crowd to put on their dancing shoes.
Turns out her performance is multi-dimensional. Keep your eyes closed and everything seems like she walked up stage to press play. Leave them open, and it’s a whole different thing altogether. Interchanging machines on her sound deck swiftly, but not the kind of quick you think of when you watch a video of a cat chasing a laser light. Grimes was every bit composed, all sequences carefully calculated. Genius.
6) DIIV absence blights yet another sublime festival showing
Anyone else felt a tinge of sadness during announcements of DIIV‘s absence? It’s hard not to, with striking reminders in the form of DIIV merchandise worn by some festival goers. The dreampop quintet pulled out of the line-up on the morning of the event due to a “family emergency”.
The news hit hardest for DIIV fans that had bought tickets to watch them.
“I was disappointed to miss out on DIIV as it’s their first time playing here in Singapore,” lamented long time fan Muhammad Nur.
Despite the uneventful start to Laneway 2016, the festival still came to life. An ample crowd amassed at all stages, even the smallest White Room as we heard a concertgoer go “yeah you won’t believe how packed the place is”. The night brought a charming technicolour fog, gently lighting up faces and the occasional swirling limb at intervals. Concertgoers standing way away from the stages were presented with the conundrum: when to successfully reproduce main crowd enthusiasm, and when to lie down on mats? The answer was a rough 80:20 split, for want of not blocking other mat potatoes all at the same time busting a move or two. You know, just Laneway things.
And when it mattered, the hardline “they’re not even indie” crowd were nowhere to be seen. The festival is changing, as is their audience.