Music 101 host Alex Behan shares some of the bands he's excited about seeing at the 2017 Laneway Festival in Auckland on Monday.
A showcase of independent music, the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival began in Melbourne in 2005 and has since expanded in line-up and reach. Since 2010 (bar one year) the Laneway Festival has become an annual Auckland Anniversary day outing for the musically adventurous. The festival now spans Singapore, New Zealand, five Australian cities and in 2013 made an appearance in Detroit. 1,400 people attended that very first event. Now Laneway typically hosts 12,000 people in Auckland and has similar sized venues in Australia.
The wonderful thing about the Laneway lineup is the depth and breadth of artists and its support of local artists meaning that even the most well versed music fan ends up thoroughly impressed by a band they had previously never heard of. In case you’re heading along to the festival, or just curious as to what all the fuss is about, I thought I’d share with you some of the artists I'm excited about.
This 20-year old Norwegian seems to be channelling the finest qualities of Scandinavian singers, aesthetically theatrical, her slightly affected cutesy vocals belie refined songs with instantly catchy melodies. She’s been writing and singing since she was a child, has a natural ability to fill a stage or screen and all indications would point to her having a great future ala Robyn, Lykke Li, or more recently m0.
Canadian duo Bob Moses started drip feeding songs with smooth, rolling basslines and crisp, clinical high hats in 2014. Their debut Days Gone By came out late 2015 and it’s a fun record if not a deeply fulfilling one. The long extended grooves work best when the two lads stick to minimal trance beats. Although occasionally a lyric will hit home and stick with you, mostly the words are disposable, but the beats are thoroughly enjoyable.
Car Seat Headrest
Car Seat Headrest’s major label debut album Teens of Denial made almost everyone’s best of lists for 2016. Lead singer and songwriter Will Toledo is far from new to song writing though. By some accounts this is the 23-year old’s 11th album. It’s a coming of age record for people in their twenties and combines the awkward self-loathing we’re all familiar with, with the stripped back indie sound of the grunge years. But Will Toledo isn’t following in anyone’s footsteps, he is incredibly literate, hyper self-aware, and is imbued with millennial wisdom.
Been loving these guys since Gooey! The smooth sounds of Glass Animals burst on to the scene with their technicolor debut album Zaba. A production masterpiece, the songs oozed sensuality and sort of sounded like musicians who had grown up on equal diets of Radiohead and Dr Dre. Main songwriter Dave Bayley went one step further on the follow up How To Be A Human Being, writing each song from the perspective of a different person, and including immense amounts of detail.
While Glass Animals set dreamy pop to hip hop beats, rapper Mick Jenkins is taking the elements of hip hop, isolating them, and gluing them back together as sparse, haunting songs. With Young Thug unfortunately not able to make it to Laneway, Mick will be the headlining hip hop act.
The debut album from Chicago band Whitney easily slots into the psychedelic pop realm with interplay between bright guitars and mournful lyrics. Drummer Julian Ehrlich also used to play for our very own Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I think my favourite quote about this band comes from their Youtube comments: “This band make me nostalgic for things that never happened.”
Clams Casino will provide what Flying Lotus gave us last time on the Laneway bill. Heavy, rolling beats thickly layered with distorted and at times disturbing layers of vocals and pulsing waves of noise.
Laneway often brings us talented singers who dwell on the fringes of pop music, I’m thinking FKA Twigs, Banks, Feist… This year English singer Nao will be joining that list.
One of the more exciting instrumental, ambient acts performing is Tycho, a three-piece band led by Scott Hansen. Scott Hansen of Tycho spoke to us following the release of Epoch, the final in a trilogy of albums, in October.
Refused is a seminal punk band from Sweden whose turbulent career has inspired a following of axe-wielding youths in skate shoes, inspired in particular by their definitive record The Shape of Punk to Come. The band retain their strongly anti-capitalist political views as Refused lead singer Dennis Lyxzen told RNZ Music recently.
One band that has a ridiculous band name - King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - are anything but ridiculous on record.
The Melbourne psych band have established themselves as one of the most dynamic and exciting live bands in recent Australian history, and claimed Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album for Nonagon Infinity in the Australian music awards The 2016 ARIAs. Their Singapore Laneway set earlier this week is being heralded as one of the standout sets from the bill. I predict that following this year’s Auckland Laneway show, King Gizzard, will no longer be a silly band name, but a buzz word symbolising tight grooves, kinetic chaos and fuzzy fun. Oh and they’ve said they’re going to release five albums this year. Go get em!
The biggest name on the bill for Laneway 2017 is a band who first featured on the line up in 2009, just before the debut album Innerspeaker was released. After three highly acclaimed records Tame Impala are hanging up their boots, with Laneway 2017 a victory lap for their final album Currents.
There are many other exciting acts on the 2017 Laneway Festival list: The Veils who we featured last week, Nick Murphy (formerly known as Chet Faker) who we had a lovely chat with recently, The Chills (Martin Phillipps made an RNZ Mixtape late last year), Cut Off Your Hands, Fazerdaze, White Lung, Mr Carmack, Julia Jacklin, Fortunes and more… bands that will no doubt draw big crowds and deliver electric performances, but whether you are attending the event, or vicariously mopping up the overflow, there are plenty of great artists and albums to have a listen to!