IN PHOTOS: 14 highlights, Singapore’s Laneway Music Festival 2015

Stephen Lavoie, Marguerite de Leon, Paul John Caña

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IN PHOTOS: 14 highlights, Singapore’s Laneway Music Festival 2015
From FKA Twigs' immersive set to Royal Blood's explosive show, highlights from Laneway Music Festival 2015

SINGAPORE – Last year, organizers of St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival promised a bigger and better 2015 edition of the annual indie music fest. They delivered.

A total of about 13,000 fans from Singapore and across the region trooped to the Meadow at Gardens By The Bay for a full day’s celebration of music. This is 3,000 more than the turnout last year. It was the first time since the event was first held in the Lion City in 2011 that tickets were completely sold out. (READ: 8 quick tips: Laneway Music Festival in Singapore)

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

Except for a brief rain shower in the afternoon (which turned out to be a blessing as it mitigated the heat and humidity), this year’s Laneway was a smooth and worry-free affair. (READ: First time at Singapore’s Laneway Music Festival)

Expectedly, everything worked exactly as they were supposed to, from the logistics and playing times, to food choices and sponsors’ booths.

But of course, the focus was on the music, and the lineup – from folk and punk acts to electronic, dance, and hard rock – was the best it’s ever been. Rappler, a Philippine media partner, was there to witness all the action. 

Here are our picks of the Top 10 highlights of Laneway 2015: 

1. Enterprise from Malaysia did a stellar job opening the festivities.

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

PJ: There’s enormous pressure on the first act onstage and Enterprise didn’t disappoint. Relatively unknown outside of their native Malaysia, the four-piece played a surprisingly snappy set that recalled Depeche Mode and New Order and seemed to rouse the early birds at the festival.

Margie: I knew nothing about Enterprise but they did a great job setting the mood: dancey post punk that most festival goers would respond to.  

Stephen: They pumped up the energy almost immediately, the eighties band sound was a clever choice for first to go on the playlist. And made the “older” crowd, like me, feel right at home. 

2. Pond channeled 70s energy and put new meaning to “afternoon delight” 

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

PJ: Composed of some of the same members as Laneway alumni Tame Impala, the Australian band brought the funk to the early afternoon crowd. At the media tent earlier, vocalist Nick Allbrook seemed to be in good spirits, even mimicking the dance moves of boyband One Direction. 

Margie: Pond’s lead singer is really something else. What good stuff he was on, I will never know (and am afraid to find out).  

Stephen: They’re unusual, in that, the band intentionally changes the line-up and the members are open to collaborations, it’s how they morph – very interesting. And Nick certainly was putting the psych in psychedelic rock, his awkward movements on stage kept the crowd curious and interested.

3. Mac DeMarco personifies irreverent rock 

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

PJ: The Canadian singer-songwriter and his band of merry men injected humor into their routine, earning them loud praise from the crowd. When they launched into an unexpected, ear-splitting cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow,” audiences were beyond thrilled. Mac later hung out and posed for pictures with fans. Nice guy.

Margie: That Coldplay cover was glorious in its hideousness. I wish he did the whole song.  

Stephen: He pushes the envelope, speaks of what most people only dare to think. You’d expect folks to shy away from such polarity, but it has the opposite effect. Brutally honest, which can be shocking and there’s no attempt to hide anything.

Their straightforwardness also comes across on stage. The attendees were loving it, the only crowd surfer of the day. Much of their off stage antics are part of the show, if you met them in the lobby and shared some cordial conversion, you’d just think your just chatting with your cousin’s witty friend. 

4. Jungle turned Laneway into one huge dance party

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

PJ: Try listening to Jungle’s songs and you’ll find it’s near-impossible to sit still. Hands were thrown up, flower crowns were tossed, and one dude with Native American-inspired headgear bust out some moves for almost the entire duration of the seven-member band’s 40-minute set. I might have been dancing along, too. Read Rappler’s interview with Jungle here

Margie: Jungle was an unexpected joy. Knew little about them, but they had a retro vibe that really got the crowd moving.  

Stephen: Loved it, just one of those bands that’ll make a statue move. Photographically challenging though, with numerous performers and two lead vocalists, who are also multi-instrumental. There’s lots happening on-stage, the drummer even has a homemade percussion instrument made of coke bottles. 

5. Hard rockers Royal Blood kicked things up a notch 

 Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

PJ:  Sure, the novelty of a two-person band (a bassist and a drummer) draws you in initially, but from the very first note to the last reverb on the amps, Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher had the entire Laneway audience in their grasp. They even did a bit of guitar-throwing and drum stool-launching, because, you know, they’re rock stars like that. (Read Rappler’s interview with Royal Blood here.) 

Margie: It still blows my mind that all that raucous energy comes from just two guys. The crowd was at its rowdiest, and brought raw, rambunctious rock into an otherwise poppier, dancier lineup.

Stephen: Every once and a while, there’s a performer that gets your attention. You don’t fiddle with your cell phone or let your mind drift to vacation plans or the notes you need to prepare for a business meeting on Tuesday. You respond, by paying attention and actually listening, not just hearing the sound.

Now picture that happening at an outdoor festival. You could actually see it – people who were sitting stood up, folks moved from their hillside seats to get a closer look, everyone migrating towards the stage, like moths to a flame.

I heard the mosh pit was at a fever pitch, from afar, you could even see the area they occupied, like the eye of the storm on the nightly news. 

6. Future Islands vocalist makes an unexpected revelation prior to an expectedly groovy set

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

PJ: Just before the end of the media briefing with Future Islands, frontman Samuel Herring couldn’t resist telling the journalists, “I’m a quarter Filipino! My mom was born in Cebu.” Which of course explains where he got those patented spastic dance moves. When they did “Seasons,” everything else sort of just faded into the background.

Margie: Samuel Herring’s lusty growl just ripped through the fields that night. And his stripper moves weren’t bad either!  

Stephen: One of those bands which might sound better live than recorded. His movements are theatrical in nature – but heartfelt – terrific to photograph. Every so often, Sam adds a an unusual vocal effect, a type of growl, which catches you by surprise. 

7. Chet Faker draws the crowds to the Cloud Stage

 Photo by Belle Baldoza/Rappler

PJ: Much of the Laneway action happened at the two main Garden and Bay stages. But like the Pied Piper, jazz-electronica act Chet Faker drew thousands to the satellite stage, which was about a 10-minute walk from the main festival grounds. It was so packed people reportedly jumped over the fences and settled for a glimpse of the bearded Aussie from a ditch that ran along the broad side of the stage. 

Margie: The Cloud Stage was insane during his set. And that moment when everybody was singing “Heyo heyo heyo heyooo” during No Diggity was magical.  

8. Ethereal R&B has a name and it’s Banks

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

PJ: By the time Banks came on, much of the crowd had settled into a happy, slightly intoxicated trance. Clad in a flowy black dress that showed off her curves (and belly button), the 26-year-old with model-good looks flirted with the audience as she channeled the ghosts of R&B princesses past.

Margie: Why is she not on a Paris runway?  

9. FKA Twigs defies labels and genres

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

PJ: I saw her looking like any regular guest at the hotel lobby the previous night, but onstage, she glowed. The current toast of the hip crowd, FKA Twigs was like an apparition as she billowed and swayed to her brand of electronic and experimental R&B.

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

Margie: FKA Twigs is clearly a stage performer. The music was just one aspect of her act; dancing, lighting, atmosphere, etc. all figured into a cohesive whole. 

Stephen: And she was so dedicated, she stopped by the welcoming party to say hello, but had to go workout first, and would be back later. I heard a few guilty comments, from other artists – myself included – considering the glassed walled gym was adjacent to the patio area. 

10. St. Vincent closes the show in explosive style 

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

Margie: It comes as no surprise that fellow acts like Pond admit to having a crush on her. She’s on a whole other level; she’s a robo-goddess.  

PJ: Annie Clark aka St. Vincent rocked a leather outfit and blue eyeshadow while ripping through gut-busting guitar solos for the festival’s big finale. 

Everyone called her a goddess and I gotta say, she really was. They couldn’t have chosen a better artist to close the show. And if you don’t believe me, check out this video I took:

Stephen: Of course, every one has heard of the old axiom of “love at first sight”, with St Vincent, it’s “love at first sound.” I would have loved to have caught her tour with David Byrne, a collaboration heralded by many as a musical match made in heaven.  

With her outstanding vocals skills and unparalleled guitar techniques, you could plainly see why they capped off the evening with this band.   

Here are a few more photos, from Stephen’s point of view:

11-12. Courtney Barnett and Angus & Julia Stone provided the folksy rock sound that’s growing ever popular these days. There’s something special about siblings performing, they almost meld as one, their vocals harmonising closer akin to a heavenly choir. Loved the lap steel guitar on many of those tracks,

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

I was impressed with Courtney Barnett’s performance, a left-handed guitar player with a welcoming sound. I briefly met Courtney and mentioned my sister is a fan, and she wittingly replied, “I like your sister, she’s got good taste.” 

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

13. The Eagulls, fresh and raw, right out of the garage – punk rock is alive and well, my friends! 

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

14. Little Dragon – one of the more experienced acts of the line-up, and it showed.

 Photo by Stephen Lavoie/Rappler

Also paying attention to details in multi-media; the lighting effects perfectly matched the sound, which seemed to ooze from every pore of the lead vocalist, Yukimi Nagano. 

Were you at the festival? Any magic moments from the show? Let us know in the comments below! –

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Marguerite de Leon

Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon heads Rappler’s Life and Style, Entertainment, and Opinion sections. She has been with Rappler since 2013, and also served as its social media producer for six years. She is also a fictionist.