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Review: Laneway Festival '24

Returning for the first time in New Zealand since 2021, it was the biggest relief to see the sun out for Laneway this year, a complete flip from last year’s weather. It’s safe to say that it's been a wait and a half for Laneway here in Aotearoa - and while we will probably always miss the days of Laneway at Albert Park, the festival’s return proved to be a summer success pulling off a day full of exciting emerging talent and star-studded headliners.


  

Review & Photography by Oli Spencer

 


Our favourite part of Laneway is seeing emerging acts hit the stage, this year we were treated to a few quickly rising stars out of the states, acts who in all honesty, we didn’t expect to see in NZ for a while still - so kudos to Laneway for bringing these talents over early. One of the first sets of the day was one we were highly anticipating - the pop wildcard Hemlocke Springs. Her energy was through the roof, one song, she’s strutting too and fro… the next, ecstatically sprinting from one end to the other. Her set could be heard from over the hill, drawing the early arrivals over to the stage for a boogie and scream-along to her breakout hit, the ever infectious ‘girlfriend’. 

 

Followed up by the radiant Blondshell and her poetic alternative-indie rock tunes, drenched in that nostalgic sound of an old box of vinyl. Listening to her music, the sound is the kind that feels wise beyond her years, and it felt the same live - effortlessly projecting her rich vocals, with a vulnerable, yet too cool, calm and collected stage presence.

 

Working with the likes of Thundercat, Anderson .Paak, Earl Sweatshirt - DOMi & JD Beck brought their chaotically complex yet undoubtedly beautiful live set to the Pine Tree Bend stage. If you’ve seen their Tiny Desk concert, you know that it’s more than meets the eye with this insanely talented musical duo. They didn't say much, coming out almost shyly onto the stage, but soon filled the air with complex drum patterns and mesmerising piano numbers. Completely zoned in on their art, the music does 100% of the talking. I’ve read, and stand by many comments online saying if MF Doom was still alive today, a collab album with DOMi & JD Beck would be an absolute instant classic. 

 




 


As well as these international rising stars, a few local gems delivered fun, vibrant sets despite the earlier set times. Erny Belle kicked things off for us, with her soulful vocals offering the first taste of an exciting day as she and her serene band took the Never Let It Rest stage - playing music fine-tuned to be enjoyed while soaking up the sun. A highlight of course, was ‘Island Time’. 


Playing his very first solo set as Church, (one half of boisterous Auckland hip-hop duo Church & AP) held it down as he opened up the Pine Tree Bend stage, alongside a slick band (featuring Eno from Eno x Dirty). Despite the heat, he rocked pants with a shirt and tie, nonchalantly playing songs from his latest body of work ‘SPRING 21’ as well as some hazy unreleased tracks. 


 


 


Tearing up the stage a few hours later was LA-based rap-rock hybrid Paris Texas - who absolutely smashed this out of the park, it was our favourite set from the whole day. The larger than life duo had a continuous flow of energy as they opened the mosh pit, and blasted the classics from BOY ANONYMOUS and their newest record MID-AIR. The album was one of our favourite projects from last year, so hearing parts of it live left us with entirely new reasons to love the album.  


 






Heading back to the Never Let It Rest stage, we saw the elegant icon in the making RAYE. Her sweet nature and her genuine passion for live music as well as her effortless ability to blend R&B, hip-hop, jazz and electronic made this one of the most captivating sets of the day - holding the audience in the palm of her hand from the moment she walked on stage. The chemistry she has with her band is clear, sending the entire lot of them into the next song with just a swift hand motion (which honestly could have been invisible had she not brought it up). We’re feeling pretty lucky to have seen an artist like RAYE performing, with her rise to complete stardom coming in hot.


Speaking of superstars in the making, one of Laneway's most exciting acts billed this year was rising act d4vd. Soon to be 19 and coming off the back of his debut album, it couldn’t have been a more perfect time to have him play in Aotearoa. Fans were treated to an incredibly raucous and emotional set, which not only brought a taste of d4vd’s diverse range of talents to the forefront - but it also provided easily the sweetest moment of the festival, the singer bringing out his younger sister on stage (the sister who’s cupboard he had essentially recorded his biggest hits in).


 






As day turned to night, we ventured up to the Everything Ecstatic stage to catch dance music’s new sensation Nia Archives. Her vibrant world of dance music is a must listen, made evidently clear as the crowd went nuts for anything she played. From jungle-house-flips to her enchanting vocals over drum and bass, during every moment of her set she looked like she was having the time of her life. We even managed to catch the wholesome moment of Nia Archives spinning Skin On Skin, while dancing on stage with him - a major full-circle moment. 

 





Following the intensity of the Everything Ecstatic stage - the Steve Lacy setlist was a mixed-party-pack, showcasing his versatility as both a singer and instrumentalist. His stage presence was truly magnetic, drawing the crowd in with his ability to seamlessly switch from wholehearted deep cuts to unleashing a blistering guitar solo from Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’. It was moments like these that really kept the crowd on their toes. Amidst the sweltering heat of the day, his choice to perform in a hoodie is still on my mind. He remained unfazed, channelling his energy into every note and every lyric. The singer’s self-dubbed “in-between eras” show was definitely appreciated by the fans, making it loud and clear from the front row. With his eclectic sound, dynamic stage presence, and fearless approach to performance, he left an indelible mark on the festival, and since his last appearance at Laneway with The Internet, he has solidified his place as one of the most exciting artists to catch live. 


 



 


The final act we caught at Laneway was headliner Stormzy, who absolutely killed his first performance here in seven years. Even before he came out, it was certain he would make this one memorable as hell. And from the moment he burst out onto stage, belting the lyrics to ‘Big Michael’ - it was memorable. Booming bass, powerful lyricism, at that moment, it really was like “wow, he’s finally here”. Throughout the hour-long set, Stormzy moved from anthemic bangers to introspective ballads, demonstrating the breadth and depth of his musical mastery like it was just another Tuesday. With Stormzy, you can spot the intent from a mile away - with every word he spat and every movement he made, he commanded the attention of the entire audience, which extended right to the back, where the crowd began to blend with the lines for the food trucks. It was all eyes on the finale.

 






It’s the convergence of so many sounds and genres that makes Laneway so special,

whether you’re a fan of the lyrical prowess of hip-hop, raw and emotive indie groovers, infectious soulful sounds of R&B, sun-soaked beach rock or rattling electronic music - amidst the harmonious chaos of it all, there's something for everyone to discover and enjoy. I’ll end this by saying, we can’t wait to see what Laneway brings to Aotearoa in 2025.




Review & Photography by Oli Spencer


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