It’s obvious but it has to be said: the Laneway Festival is a big, big deal. What started out as a street party in a dirty laneway in Melbourne, 11 years ago, is now the preeminent indie-everything extravaganza on our shores. As the festival that always outdoes itself, any upcoming edition is a promise of greater things to come. And with the 2018 edition less than a week away, we take you back to 12 unforgettable moments in the history of the festival’s Singapore run.
Mac Demarco (2015)
Who could forget the moment when indie rock’s reigning prince dived into the crowd midway through his bluesy, blissed-out set or that kiss? That move was par for the course in a performance where irreverence met (he referred to Courtney Barnett as “Celine Dion”) casual, near-effortless virtuosity.
The Horrors (2012)
The second coming of the fest brought with it bigger names in the form of Feist and Toro Y Moi but no other act did more to shake the crowd than the English polyglot rock outfit. Theirs was a freaky show.
Before they were part of Tay Tay’s very popping #girlsquad, Este, Danielle and Alana were an insistently crowd-pleasing force of nature – and we loved (still do) them for it. The hits came nonstop, as did Este’s goofy-hot moves.
St. Vincent (2015)
Hands down, one of the most technically spellbinding of Laneway performers, St. Vincent’s set was also our top pick of them all. Her freeze-dried digi-funk was as imposing as it was breathtaking. And, that black latex cheongsam, though…
Laneway 2013 has an especial place in our hearts because of the unabashedly heart-on-sleeve showing by this Canadian duo. Brian King’s and David Prowse’s guitar-and-drum assault was as much a cathartic forum as it was an unabashedly open form of disclosure. The single-best showing by any straight-up guitar-rock band on the lineup.
The Observatory (2014)
This was the year when local acts got in on the Laneway roster. It was apt, then, that the long-reigning linchpins of Made In Singapore noise of a cutting-edge variant got to play one of the main stages. The drone-psych barrage they treated us to was magnificent.
The first of them all, Laneway 2011 set the tone for what was to follow, year after year. Bucket list-fulfilling right from the very beginning, it was a manifesto more than a mere foretaste. And Deerhunter absolutely slayed it with its ethereal racket.
Twin Shadow (2012)
Remember when George Lewis Jr gave his guitar to a smiling member of the audience, mid-set? How absolutely awesome was that? Yes, his set was bombastically dramatic and stunning, but the guy gave away his guitar as he was playing!
These returning heroes came back with a whole new look and sound the second time around. With two more albums of staggering psychedelically inflected tribal sounds, the band had more songs, more fans, more everything.
We’ve seen the Sacramento pranksters on a number of stages since but this is where we saw them first. And like their sprawling, unpredictable songs, they were electric. Frontman Nic Offer was tireless, an unrelenting fount of live wire energy and winning (read: killer) moves.
Remember when one of our country’s best took Made In Singapore hip-hop to the big stage?
NAO signed off on the best set last year. On record, her “wonky funk” is a supremely edifying experience. Live, that melange of soul, funk, pop, r&b and rock is legitimately magical.
Photography courtesy of Laneway Festival Singapore.
Laneway Festival Singapore happens on Saturday, January 27 2018 at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay. Get your tickets from APACTix.