in which i don’t have any money (but it’s okay, because i’m quite happy)
The Traveling Music Bug bit me in 2010, when my brother and I decided to go to Singapore for the Vampire Weekend concert. We went again in 2011 for The National. It’s not the first time we’ve flown to satiate the needs of our inner fans. Once, my dad flew our whole family over to Singapore because he wanted to meet Julian Schnabel. I’m tempted to say that this need to flock towards an idol runs in the family, but I think it has more to do with piso-fares and other people’s hospitality than bloodlines.
Anyway, Laneway 2012 was, if anything, such an experience. It’s my first full-on festival, having opted out of full participation in local music festivals like Muziklaban, Fete de la Musique, Fete de la WSK, Summer Slam and so on. The closest I’ve probably been to going to a music festival were high school fairs—which is such a stupid comparison, I know.
I loved it so much, though. The journey going to–a pilgrimage!—the high highs, low lows, the heat, the drizzling, the decided sweatiness of the people who shared this experience with me, the tiny moments and the secrets. All of it was memorable and still quite stark in my brain.
Anyway, as much as I would like to offer a full recounting of the events that transpired a week ago (exactly), I can’t do that, as we arrived late and missed Cults. From the back of the very long entrance line that snaked around Fort Canning, we heard the rumble of instruments and the roar of the crowd, and from that distance, I’d like to think that I liked what I heard. I’m sad I missed them, but all I honestly could think about was:
“Will we make it in time for Yuck?”
On Yuck: The band that I really, really wanted to see. We found a pretty good spot that was near enough for me to both a) appreciate the music, and b) feel like a super fan, which is validated by the nearness of the person (me) to the object of admiration (Yuck). It was good. I loved the lilt of Daniel Blumberg’s voice, his denim-on-denim cropped ensemble, the way he tilts his head when he sings. By the way, someone looked into the philosophy behind “The Wall.” Anyway, it was a great set, and I’m glad we made it on time because I would have been really bummed out for the rest of the day.
When “Shook Down” came on, we all went wild. And then Bijan asked them to play “Shook Down” again, which of course they did not do.
We skipped Chairlift and took a water break, cutting through the National Museum of Singapore, and settled in a Wendy’s near Bencoolen St. No way were we going to pay $4 for a bottle of water we were just going to pee out in a Porta-Potty.
Ran into the Cosons, Leloy, and Delfina. And made it back in time for a good part of the set of Austra. I honestly do not care that much for them, but it was really fun to watch people dancing to them. They sounded pretty good from a muffled distance, though.
On Girls: Aside from a flower-infested stage, Girls’ Christopher Owens opened with a lone, heartfelt cover of the late Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” in memory of her passing. They launched into a frenetic performance of their songs, all of which the audience danced to. Then came the shower of flowers, and “Yuck by Girls,” in which Christopher Owens sang “The Wall” as a voice-caricature of Daniel B.
On The Drums: Faaavorite set, as is evidenced by these photographs. I love them; I haven’t been listening much to any other music, post-Laneway. I can’t get tired of their songs (but I know I will have to stop soon or else I will). The moment Jonny Pierce came out singing “What You Were,” I lost it. I like them fine, but I don’t know that many of their songs. I’m glad we were watching so close to them. The energy was infectious.
I was being depressive and looking at The Drums’ videos on YouTube and someone said “Morrissey and Ian Curtis had a baby” and that is by far the most accurate description of Jonny P. I’ve ever read. Of course, we were also super smitten by Connor Hanwick. There’s just something about him.
Rested a little bit during Ana Calvi. We watched from a distance, and while she was really, really good, I don’t know if I’ve been converted into a fan. We secured our spot near the front of Stage 2, in preparation for Feist, who was going to come on four or five acts later. We bumped into Karen and Zaxx again! Serindipitous? Coincidence? Magnetism?
The day began to end as Twin Shadow came on.
On Twin Shadow: So, I was going to do an “On the Road to Laneway” type of thing, where I frantically listened to every act set to play the festival, but I never got around to doing that. I’ll say this, though—Twin Shadow’s voice is like caramel. It is so smooth and full and lovely. We stood behind a bunch of (super tall!) super fans, and it was contagious, their excitement for this incredibly talented bunch of people. It was super cool to be (somewhat) a part of.
On Laura Marling: The sea of people thickened like soup so we stayed put in our Stage Two positions as Laura Marling played. I sat down most of the time, since I don’t really know much of her songs. I did stand up and sing along to “Ghosts,” though which is my favorite song. The day after, when I was in our car going home, I was replaying this song in my head and can’t seem to get rid of all these feelings. I very nearly cried.
On The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: There were a lot of technical difficulties during their set. It was such a joy to watch. The lights were so good, and Kip played with so much feeling, and Peggy Wang was being Peggy Wang (Connor was playing with them! Hee!), and the energy was just so great. This is where I realized that we were all just feeding energy off of each other, because if I stopped and thought about anything else other than their music and how full it makes me feel, I would probably just die. I was so thirsty and my feet felt like they were on fire.
But—and I am not kidding—the music seemed to take all of that away. Whenever someone launches into a song that’s dear to my heart, the pain is erased, and I sing with everything that I have, and it’s just so marvelous and exciting. It makes every feeling feel even more incandescent.
Additionally, I seem to be the only person I know who actually likes their name.
On Toro y Moi: No photos of Toro y Moi because we were situated in an unfortunate spot (and I didn’t bother because I knew I would be seeing him in, like, 2 days back in Manila). What to say about this set? What I realized foremost is that I love Causers of This Toro, and I only like Underneath the Pine Toro, which is where he was at. Of course, I lost it completely, when he played “Talamak” and “Low Shoulder,” but I felt a huge disconnect from a lot of his dancier songs. I still love him, though.
On Feist: Agh, this lady is amazing. Most of her Laneway setlist is from Metals, which I quite enjoyed. Like what I said in a review of it that I wrote, Feist seems to ignore the pop-oriented songs that led to her super-fame, and stuck to her sound at the moment in that particular time in her life. Complete props to her. It was still grossly enthralling to watch her perform. She was just really something else.
I need to rewatch Look at What the Light Did Now, because she is just an amazing lady and I need to take tips so I can be more like her. Creatively, and everything-else-ly.
We left the crowd because we were dead tired (standing on an inclined hill for five hours!) and didn’t have to be super close to The Horrors or M83.
Sarie, napping on Doc Martens ponchos we got for free. I woke her up because we saw Peggy Wang (!) standing off to the side with Connor. We took photos but Sarie has them, and also I probably won’t post because I was a sunburnt sweaty mess.
On The Horrors: Meh. Didn’t care for them very much. I don’t know if it’s just their style, but it felt dispassionate and uninspired. Perhaps that’s also due to the fact that I hadn’t been standing and participative during this set, perhaps not. What I do remember from this time was that Sarie and I saw an Erlend Øye doppelgänger, at whom she shouted “Hi Erlend!” He waved back and that is how we knew that he was not a doppelgänger, but instead Pedestrian Erlend Øye.
That paragraph was not about The Horrors.
On M83: AGH. Best people to close a show with. There’s something about their performance that I think brought together the people who lasted until the night. If you’re a fan of M83, you would know how thick and layered and just complex their music is, and what amazes me so much is that they were able to replicate these sounds live. Maybe it’s the combination of the lights, and the people who’re still together and not sick of each other after twelve hours together, and being able to spend this special thing with people that I loved that made it feel so extraordinary.
This is the National Museum of Singapore at night. We cut through a garden to get to Kopi Tiam, which was open 24 hours. We ate duck at 2 a.m. and talked about our favorite parts of the day over dinner. I don’t know, but if I were to call some things magical, I think Laneway would undoubtedly be one of those things.