Laneway Festival Singapore @ The Meadow at Gardens by the Bay, 25 January 2014
My review of Laneway Festival Singapore is a week late, partly because I got lazy and procrastinated and partly because I wasn’t too jazzed to write it. This will be a brief review as I only caught 5 acts out of the 15 that performed. I had spent the first half of Saturday lazing around, too groggy and exhausted to move from having gotten home at 6.30am earlier. I had attended the John Talabot and Soul Clap dj sets the night before and stayed a wee bit too late at the latter’s set and ended up waiting for the first train home. By the time I got to the festival Frightened Rabbit were at the end of their set. I caught a bit of The Observatory’s set with T and his girlfriend J, then left to see Mount Kimbie at the Cloud Stage. I made my way forward about 5 rows from the stage to the right, surrounded by Indonesian kids chattering in their language. T and J chose to stay behind and after one song in, T informed me the music was “strange and loud” and they were walking back to the main area. I enjoyed Mount Kimbie’s groovy, glitchy beats but was puzzled at their omission of “Made To Stray”, as were many other fans. As I hurried to the Roscoe Stage for Daughter, the ferocious snarls of Jehnny Beth of Savages struck me and I felt a brief charge course through me. The band’s tightly wound intensity was palpable from a distance and for a moment I wished I had seen them instead. Daughter were decent – they sounded more robust and noisier live compared to their record, with Elena’s adorably shy thank yous prompting cheers and claps after every sentence. Next up was Haim from Los Angeles and I enjoyed their set a lot. It was a super fun set: high energy, rambunctious and full of witty stage banter. This was the sound of a band on the rise and having oodles of fun along the way. Chvrches were a pleasant surprise – I didn’t really like their record all that much but I was impressed by their live show. Lauren Mayberry is a pint-sized dynamo with endless lungs, who would’ve thought a tiny pixie could belt out those notes? And finally the man of the hour James Blake graced us with his presence. This was the set I had been waiting for and it was worth the pushy sweaty crowds, volleying energy levels, and rude comments (the girl behind me complained about how I was “way too tall” and that my hair is “too fucking long” – I half considered turning around to tell her off but decided against it, no doubt due to mellowing out brought on by age). James Blake killed it, nailing every song from wistful opener “I Never Learnt To Share” to the atmospheric underwater acoustics of “The Wilheim Scream” and the crazy techno rave of “Voyeur”. And the end when he looped his vocals during the last song, having them repeat over and over in a duet with himself, was just beautiful.