Following on from CHVRCHES on the Dean Turner Stage was another of my favourite bands from 2013, the three incredibly popular sisters from Los Angeles, HAIM. After the 30 minute lull between sets, they had no problem bringing the energy straight back, rocking the crowd with hit song ‘Falling‘. If you hadn’t seen HAIM live before, like me, the first thing you would have noticed was Este Haim’s facial expressions while she plays the bass. Words cannot describe the expression but if you Google search “Este Haim bass face“, you’ll see what I mean.
They followed up with ‘If I Could Change Your Mind‘, after which Alana Haim announced to the crowd that we were the freakiest they’d ever played for. An interesting compliment, to say the least, but it also had a subtle hint of irony to it as she grabbed a maraca and went medieval on the drums to start their next song, a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well‘. After the cover, they played more from their hit album, Days Are Gone, including ‘My Song 5‘ and ‘Running If You Call My Name‘ with popular hit ‘Don’t Save Me‘ generating the biggest response in between.
Between songs, Este and a fan in the crowd had a bit of a moment when he yelled out “We love Este!” and she decided to respond. It turned out that he had made a singlet with her face and name on it, which she thought was simply amazing. Better yet, he asked if she wanted it, threw it to the stage, and she wore it for the rest of the set. It seemed that HAIM could do no wrong with the crowd buying into absolutely everything they said or did. When they deviated from their setlist to have a improv jam sesh, going ape on the drums and shredding away like they used to do in the living room at home (or so we were told), it must have filled the entire west side of Melbourne with an insane energy that I had never felt in my life.
Finally, they played more popular hits including ‘Forever‘ and ‘The Wire‘ before finishing off with ‘Let Me Go‘. It was, without a doubt, the most exciting and most spirited set of the day and, quite frankly, it was probably the best too. If you haven’t seen HAIM live yet, I could not recommend it more highly!
Aside from the incredibly shiny outfits of her backing musicians, the first thing to notice about Ella Yelich-O’Connor was her stage presence. The 17-year-old from Auckland presented herself more like a seasoned veteran of the music scene than a teenager just starting out. I guess that’s the confidence you get when you win two Grammy Awards and have the number two song in triple j’s Hottest 100. She didn’t waste any time, either, starting with big hit ‘Tennis Court‘ and following with another popular song, ‘Buzzcut Season‘, which was written for days just like the scorcher we were having in Melbourne.
A song from the extended version of her album, ‘Swingin Party‘, followed before Lorde played a cover of her friend Ryan’s (Son Lux) song, ‘Easy‘. She seemed to get into the cover more than any of her own songs (not that she wasn’t full of energy for them too), dancing in a way that only Lorde can and really exciting a crowd that, for the majority at least, had never heard the song before. The excitement peaked at the right time with her Grammy Award winning hit, ‘Royals‘, next on the setlist, leading to the entire crowd singing along to every word in a similar fashion to Vance Joy’s “Riptide”.
Two more popular songs, ‘400 Lux‘ and ‘Team‘ were next on the agenda but it was her introduction to the following song, ‘Ribs‘, that really won the crowd over. “I wrote this song just for you,” she told us, telling the story of her experience at the Auckland Laneway Festival and wanting to write a song that could embody everything that the festival is about. She finished with ‘A World Alone’ but, before she played, she made sure to remind the crowd of how good a day we were having by asking if we’d seen CHVRCHES and HAIM because “I like them”.
The thing I will remember most about Lorde’s performance was her dancing, her insane ability to almost contort her body to the beat, and the ridiculous confidence and stage presence from a humble 17-year-old from Auckland. It was truly a set to remember.
After Lorde had finished her set, a lot of the crowd dissipated to see other popular acts, such as Scottish group Frightened Rabbit. Despite the crowd thinning, it was still absolutely packed to see the popular Sydney group, The Jezabels. Frontwoman, Hayley Mary, immediately garnered the attention of the remaining punters as she appeared on stage in an incredibly tight and shiny one-piece, thanked us for staying around, and got straight into a song from the new album, ‘Time to Dance‘.
With their new album, The Brink, having been released the day before, the setlist required a delicate balance of new and old. Although new songs such as ‘Beat to Beat‘ and ‘Look of Love‘ received deserved praise, it was the older favourites that really got the crowd dancing. Even the least hardcore of fans were dancing and singing along to ‘Endless Summer‘, the hit that made the top ten in 2011’s Hottest 100.
Songs from their third EP titled Dark Storm, ‘A Little Piece‘ and the title track, had fans excited but it was clear that the songs from their second EP, She’s So Hard, were stealing the show. A highlight of the set was definitely ‘Easy to Love‘, showing off Hayley’s phenomenal vocal talents while engaging the crowd. With two songs left, they played the first single from the new album, ‘The End‘. Having already received a lot of airtime since its release and carrying that popular Jezabels sound, it was definitely the most successful of their new songs and even had the entire audience singing along to the upbeat chorus.
With an incredible set and an incredible day coming to an end, The Jezabels could not have finished on a better note than playing a superbly energetic rendition of another hit, ‘Hurt Me‘. Despite aching feet and backs of all those in attendance, the performance demanded jumping and dancing and the crowd delivered. It was the perfect end to a day of fantastic sunshine and amazing music.
While it was easy to forget there were other stages aside from Dean Turner at Laneway, there were a whole heap of other artists pumping out jams under the hot summer sun. The Red Bull/Future Classic stage featured Autre Ne Veut (too early in the day!) who brought along a female singer and drummer helping him recreate favourites from his album Anxiety. There were some great bass beats underlaying the main man’s dreamy, floating vocals.
Another favourite of our’s that graced the Red Bull stage was Cashmere Cat. He opened with ‘Kiss Kiss’, a favourite from his debut EP Mirror Maru. Cashmere Cat is a fan of mixing hip hop/rap with a more electronic, trap sound, and treated us to lots of good drops throughout his set. A good example of this was his recent collaboration with Ludacris, Wiz Khalifa and Jeremih on new song ‘Party Girls‘. Smoke was even released towards the end (trying to recreate the club feel, perhaps?), enhancing the laser lighting. I must admit, it was a bit strange to be dancing along to Cashmere Cat under the bright sun, but when you hear beats like that, you can’t really do anything else. But naturally, there was no other way to end the set other than with his much-loved remix of Miguel’s ‘Do You…’
We managed to make it to one other stage, which was to catch some of Youth Lagoon at the River Stage. They appeared to be a popular choice to relax to, with lots of people sitting on the grass, or willing to swap viewing space for shade. The atmosphere was really laidback, not at all like most of the festivals we’d been to, but it was perfect for the weather that day, with the chill tunes transporting you away in the heat haze.