Punters braved the heat yesterday, descending on Auckland’s Western Springs to attend this year’s edition of St Jerome’s Laneway festival.
The alternative music festival made its return for 2024 after a four-year hiatus brought on by Covid-19 and the Auckland Anniversary floods.
But now, with the days of lockdown largely behind us and not a rain cloud in sight, the festival came back swinging – to the glee of those desperate for its return.
One concertgoer told 1News: “It’s so good to have it back, finally.”
“I think a lot of people can’t believe it’s here, given how many interruptions we’ve had over the last few years.”
This year, the festival was held at Western Springs, a first for Laneway (it was originally intended to be held here in 2023 but was flooded).
Another first for 2024 was the addition of an R16 ticket – with separate areas designated for the sale of alcohol. The venue’s spread-out layout made this easy to get around, with crowds managing access to different parts of the festival without too much difficulty.
This year’s lineup boasted a variety of artists, ranging from UK grime to NZ psychedelia.
Headlining the festival was UK rapper Stormzy, who brought a high-energy performance for his set.
He had the crowd in the palm of his hands, with many celebrating the day cooling down, dancing with their hands bouncing in the air.
Fellow UK rapper AJ Tracey seemed like he was struggling to get what he wanted from the crowd, however.
In between most songs, he was asking the audience to bring “more energy”.
Despite this, he delivered a set filled with energetic bangers, even bringing a fan on stage to help him. It was likely the heat that made it difficult for many to fully get into the set.
The temperature reached a high of 27C and this, paired with a lack of shade at the venue, meant that many found themselves baking in the sun.
Organisers had put up shade at various spots, as well as offering free sunblock for anyone who needed it.
“It’s a bit hard to get into it when the heat is making it a pain to do anything,” one person said.
Another said: “[Organisers] could have done a bit more. The shade sails they have are not providing.”
UK singer Raye had to stand on a towel during her set because of the heat. She still managed to bring positive energy to the Auckland crowd, saying they had been the best audience of the tour.
Alternative R&B artist Steve Lacy asked the crowd to “make some noise if your balls are sweating” in a set that moved between heavy rock tunes to heartfelt R&B.
Angus Stone’s project, Dope Lemon, was a highlight of the festival for many. Wearing all-black outfits and cowboy hats, the Aussies brought a surprisingly rock and roll set – mixed in with their usual relaxed psychedelic vibe.
Joining the high-profile foreign acts was an array of Kiwi musicians.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, fronted by Ruben Neilson (previously of the Mint Chicks), played a greatest hits set — with songs from across his discography.
Given that Stormzy was playing at the same time, the crowd was relatively small for this one but still getting into what Nielsen and his group had to offer.
A highlight of the day for many in attendance was the Auckland hip-hop group Homebrew.
The group are fresh off the heels of their latest album, Run It Back, their first since 2012. Frontman Tom Scott has devoted much of his time to his jazz/hip-hop fusion albums under Avantdale Bowling Club.
Flanked by a full band, the trio gave the audience a high-energy set, with everyone singing along to the group’s most famous songs.
Given the politically charged nature of many of their songs, it was little surprise Scott took aim at the likes of David Seymour, Christopher Luxon and Winston Peters, and voiced his support for the Treaty.
Overall, 2024’s edition of Laneway managed to bring the festival back with an enjoyable lineup and relaxed vibe.
Despite the scorching weather, the audience was largely receptive to the festival – enjoying what organisers brought to the venue.
With another Laneway in the books, let’s hope next year’s festival can keep the ball rolling in 2025.