Soak­ing the vibe

Indie fans from the re­gion had a di­verse mu­sic fix at the Laneway Fes­ti­val 2014 in Sin­ga­pore.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By JAYDEE LOK

IWILL hon­estly say we had a rough gig,” said Amer­i­can indie rocker Kurt Vile at his side-stage press con­fer­ence. “That’s how we get bet­ter, un­for­tu­nately. We have to make semi-fools of our­selves in front of the au­di­ence. It makes us stronger.” That’s what he thinks, at least.

It’s hard to say if any of the con­cert­go­ers ac­tu­ally no­ticed Vile and his band, The Vi­o­la­tors, fum­bling on stage be­cause they were too pre­oc­cu­pied with be­ing lost in the sheer ro­mance and faux wan­der­lust of St Jerome’s Laneway Fes­ti­val in Sin­ga­pore last weekend.

What started as a Sun­day af­ter­noon bar event a decade ago in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia has now blos­somed into an an­nual in­ter­na­tional indie mu­sic fes­ti­val. The Sin­ga­porean in­stall­ment held at Gar­dens by The Bay was merely the first of the fes­ti­val’s seven stops this year. The tour will move on to visit cities in Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Hip­sters and non-hip­sters from all over the South­east Asian re­gion flew in to the is­land na­tion to watch their favourite bands per­form on three dif­fer­ent stages. Or­gan­is­ers es­ti­mate that at least 10,000 peo­ple flooded the fes­ti­val grounds to wit­ness acts like Amer­i­can neo-psychedelic dream pop artist Youth La­goon, Aus­tralian al­ter­na­tive rock band The Jez­abels, English elec­tronic duo Mount Kim­bie, English post-punk re­vival rock band Sav­ages, Amer­i­can elec­tronic mu­sic pro­ducer XXYYXX (yes, that’s his name) and Amer­i­can-Kiwi rock act Un­known Mor­tal Orches­tra.

Sev­eral times through­out the one-day fes­ti­val, it felt like the bands merely served as back­ground mu­sic to one large party. With the iconic Ma­rina Bay Sands as their back­drop, at­ten­dees were sim­ply mak­ing new friends, tak­ing pho­tos, shar­ing drinks and chat­ting away. Oth­ers tried to sneak back­stage to steal a glance of their favourite mu­si­cians.

Things started get­ting a lit­tle louder at night­fall how­ever, with the au­di­ence cheer­ing on Scot­tish syn­th­pop band Chvrches (pro­nounced as ‘churches’) and danc­ing along to the dee­jay set by English mu­sic pro­ducer Jamie xx.

The crowd, how­ever, got wild when Amer­i­can all-sis­ter group Haim started their set. Al­though the band has only re­leased pro­fes­sion­ally-pro­duced mu­sic since 2012, the multi-ta­lented sis­ters have been play­ing to­gether for years and have al­ready made a name for them­selves in the mu­sic in­dus­try. They have worked with Grammy-nom­i­nated pro­ducer Ariel Recht­shaid and are man­aged by Jay Z’s Roc Na­tion agency.

It seemed that the sis­ters were as ex­cited as the au­di­ence and would not stop jump­ing around. Este Haim, the bassist and the old­est of the trio, said that it was the cra­zi­est show they had ever played.

“Com­ing here was such a far-fetched thing for us,” she said. “We never imag­ined in a mil­lion years that we’d be able to per­form here (in Sin­ga­pore). So to be able to come and play here and have peo­ple know the lyrics to our songs is in­sane.”

The mem­bers of Bri­tish rock band Daugh­ter were not nearly as noisy as Haim. Lead vo­cal­ist and gui­tarist Elena Tonra’s voice shiv­ered ev­ery time she spoke on staged and it looked like she was about to have a panic at­tack. She said that it was a mix­ture of be­ing in a new place, the pres­sure of hav­ing to per­form well and the fact that they were part of an amaz­ing fes­ti­val line-up that brought on the nerves. Nev­er­the­less, the crowd fell silent and watched in awe as Daugh­ter’s slow beats and Tonra’s haunt­ing voice vi­brated through the evening breeze.

“To be hon­est, most of the time when we play it’s sort of trance-like,” said Tonra as she de­scribed how she per­forms so well even though she’s ner­vous.

“You get so in­volved with what you’re do­ing and it’s like a mo­ment where you’re in a bub­ble and ev­ery­thing be­comes slightly blurry. And look­ing at our feet a lot as well helps.”

The high­light of the night how­ever was English elec­tronic mu­sic pro­ducer and singer­song­writer James Blake. Thou­sands of fes­ti­val at­ten­dees stayed at the venue for a full 12 hours just to watch him play, sam­ple, loop and tear apart about a dozen dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal in­stru­ments and gad­gets.

The 25-year-old Grammy nom­i­nee seemed per­fectly aware of his tal­ents and of his ador­ing fans. When asked about his ca­reer, he coolly said, “I like the way things have pro­gressed. I get to travel around the world with my friends. I’m very happy.”

— GLEnn YonG/Laneway Fes­ti­val Sin­ga­pore

English elec­tronic mu­sic pro­ducer and singer-song­writer James Blake per­form­ing at the re­cent Laneway con­cert in Sin­ga­pore.

The main stage at St Jerome’s Laneway Fes­ti­val was split in two so that there would not be a long wait be­tween acts.


be­fore be­com­ing the lead vo­cal­ist of Scot­tish syn­th­pop band Chvrches, Lauren May­berry pur­sued a ca­reer in writ­ing and now has a Mas­ter’s de­gree in Jour­nal­ism from the univer­sity of Strath­clyde.

bri­tish rock band daugh­ter was ini­tially meant to be a solo project by lead vo­cal­ist elena Tonra be­fore she made friends with gui­tarist Igor Hae­feli and drum­mer remi aguilella at a col­lege film-writ­ing course.

all-fe­male Lon­don-based post-punk re­vival rock band Sav­ages be­lieve that “the use of phones to film and take pic­tures dur­ing a gig pre­vents all of us from to­tally im­mers­ing our­selves”.

HaIM say they are of­ten com­pared to Fleetwood Mac.

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