Words Zoë Reid

I simply couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Auckland Anniversary Weekend than by heading down to the annual St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Considering Laneway has reached its eleventh year (and fourth at the iconic Albert park location), expectations were running high with fans, to what turned out to be another fantastic festival. The fact that it was held on a particularly picturesque sunny Summer’s day certainly didn’t hurt things either. Here’s a run down on my Festival Highlights from the day’s proceedings.

Soaked Oats – 12.15 pm
I started the day off right by paying a visit to Soaked Oats’ Princes street stage set. The four-piece band from Dunedin set the tone for the day perfectly. With their smooth vocals and cruisey beach-like vibes, Soaked Oats brought a great energy to the stage.

The band members were playing synchronised to a tee, and really brought out the best in each others performance. Their whole performance looked effortless. As early on in the day as it was, the sun was already beating down on us. This however did not seem to stop anyone from dancing. With their summery vibe people couldn’t help but start grooving along.
Shuggah Doom was one of my personal favourite tracks of the set, which I felt showcased their sound perfectly.

My Mud Your Shoes was a self declared love song by lead singer Oscar Mein, “So grab somebody to do.. that with” he said as he gestured wildly. The entire crowd was dancing by the time they got to Avocado Aficionado, no small feat considering they were amongst the very first acts of the day! In short Soaked Oats was a whole lot of fun, mega talented and seem like super sweet guys. Would absolutely recommend checking them out when you next get the chance.

BBNO$ – 2.40pm
I have to admit, I didn’t quite know what to expect from BBNO$ (pronounced baby no money), but the longer I watched his performance, the more I began to really like the guy. The 24 year old rapper from Vancouver, Canada had a heavy but charming accent. He was all about the crowd interaction.

Something I think boded well for those who weren’t already fans, as you really got to see his personality shine through. He played some fun tunes such as Nursery (inspired by songs like Mary had a little lamb and fee-fi-fo-fum) and Sriracha named after the popular hot sauce. He seemed like a really humble guy, giving attention to his DJ (Dan) at any given chance, and getting the crowd to cheer his name to hype him up. Also with BBNO$ means you will absolutely never be short of pop culture references, whether it’s talking about blowing up on Tik Tok, or the fact that Tesla mogul Elon Musk is allegedly a fan of their music, there is always something fresh and current weaved in his music.

Whilst rapping Shining on my Ex, BBNO$ told the crowd to sing along if you can relate. Believe me when I say it was an overwhelming majority of the people in the crowd who could relate to that sentiment. As he launched into the song he is famously known for Lalala, he literally Rick-rolled us, singing Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up instead of playing the track. The vocals were honestly quite impressive. He did however end on ‘Lalala which everyone in the vicinity knew and had a good ol’ dance to. A surprisingly fun set, well played BBNO$, I am converted.

Swidt – 4.10 pm
The popular Kiwi Hip-Hop group started off strong with their hit song Who Run It – people came flocking from all areas as soon as they heard it. The sea of self proclaimed Hawaiian-shirt mafia a copy cat of their stage heroes, who were sporting the popular Island mode shirt themselves – Their beats and lyrics were on point, really heavy. Of course the usual clichés were there, “When I say ‘Stoney’, you say ‘Hunga”.

Chanting 3-1… 2. 3-1… 2. They launched into 312, with one of the members adding, “Auckland Transport took our bus! Fuck Auckland transport!”. (The iconic bus was called 312 from Onehunga and AT took it away, very sentimental to a lot of people as they wanted their bus back).

Other highlights of their set was OMC’s classic How Bizarre and Scribe’s How Many Dudes You Know Roll Like (This) both covers had the crowd in fits and was apt adding to the warm buzz in the crowd. Sunscreen was premium at this point as the group hyped and rapped their way through the crowd pleasing set, ending on Little Did She Know and a heartfelt tribute to deceased Basketball Legend Kobe Bryant.

Benee – 5.10 pm
Gracing our stages for the second year in a row, young and upcoming NZ pop artist Benee put on a simply adorable performance. Last year she had only a few songs but she had absolutely no trouble attracting a large crowd.

It’s actually refreshing watching her, you can tell she is super twee and has that excitable energy like she really wants to be there. This year however, the entire Princes Street stage was packed, you couldn’t fit more people on that street if you tried. I think that in itself is really a testament to how hard Benee has worked this past year, and just how far she’s come. Performing her catchy single Tough Guy, she displayed a really commanding stage presence well beyond her years.

Soaked was a crowd favourite and she performed it in both the English and Maori version of the song! A super cool move in my opinion. Spider brought all the loved up couple’s out and everyone was singing and dancing along, Benee included. Her stage presence is really something else and her confidence and dance moves were on point. With her endearing kiwi lilt, Benee is easily New Zealand’s Queen of modern easy-going Pop. Ending the set on a high, her hit song Glitter got every last person up and doing that famous (and cute) Tik Tok dance. Gorgeous vocals and a crazy good time. 10/10 Benee.

Earl Sweatshirt – 7.10 pm

After anxiously waiting all day for Earl’s set, I finally got what I had been waiting for, and he absolutely did not disappoint. My top Spotify artist for 2019 happened to be Earl Sweatshirt, so one could say I’m a little bias. But fan or not, he put on a show like no other.

He said mentally he “Wasn’t in the best place right now, ”and looked a little worse for wear, but that did not stop him from delivering word for word like an absolute god (lmao). He came out with a bottle of Sprite. He fired up the crowd with Pre off his album called Doris – the beat went so hard it really resonated with the crowd, also helped it was an old crowd favourite.

The sub bass was so strong I could feel it booming in my bones. The majority of songs played were off the album Some Rap Songs which is truly a masterpiece, no exaggeration. He then played an unreleased song never before heard at the end. Earl was regal he had great banter with his DJ goofing around in between songs. The crowd was blown away in every aspect, his lyricism, rap skills, production everything was perfect. So good.

Other highlights were UK R&B Queen Mahalia, the self confessed “drunk text queen”, after one too many wines. Her advice for girls, “You do not have to wear a bra, literally ever if you don’t want to.”

American Mexican singer Omar Apollo was a surprise for me. His stunning vocal range on Kickback mixed with electronic funk beats, were popular with the crowd. He even spoke Spanish during the set, on the last song rapping he cried “Get fucking crazy with this one, you ain’t ever seen a brown boy like this”.

Laneway 2020 was the perfect sun-kissed start to the year. The local/international music, the energy and Summer vibe really makes this event hard to beat. Roll on next Summer I say.