With 45 years of history and 32 festivals under its belt, there’s no disputing the status of Glastonbury on the global festival calendar. Each time English dairy farmer Michael Eavis turns his Somerset fields into a sea of flags, tepees and mud, revellers and outsiders alike clamour to get their hands on tickets.
Top-billing superstars guarantee headlines, but they do not make Glastonbury, or any other festival. Rather, it’s the smaller platforms, on stages and in tents far from the main stage and TV cameras, that create essential pilgrimages for music’s tribes. This is especially true in New Zealand, where expertly assembled line-ups lower down the bill are proving to be the hits. The Red Bulletin went backstage to talk to the organisers pulling the strings.
First up: St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Creating magic in an urban space is what the event is all about. Perhaps the most successful of its kind, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival has sold out three times in the last four years and is about to do it again in 2015. Since it first came to Auckland in 2010, Laneway has moved from downtown Britomart to Aotea Square, before settling at Silo Park’s waterfront, each locale following the organisers’ ethos of repurposing city spaces.
“We’re not about being in a stadium or on a farm,” says Mark Kneebone, co-promoter of Laneway’s New Zealand leg. “It’s about turning a city space into a festival site. People seem to really dig it.” Laneway has four stages, including the Red Bull Thunderdome, housed in Silo Seven. The festival’s small size means punters can stroll between the platforms.
The festival’s edge comes from the artists it books. To keep ahead of the curve, Kneebone and co-promoter Ben Howe begin their search for artists the day after the festival ends. “We never take ourselves too seriously,” says Kneebone. “We don’t see Laneway as a bellwether for what’s cool or hip. It’s a festival that’s just about getting great bands to play their guts out. Everything else comes second to that.”
When: January 26, 2015.
Where: Silo Park on the Auckland waterfront.
Sounds: Full-spectrum musical offering with a left-of-centre, alternative bent. Headliners FKA Twigs, Flying Lotus, Banks, Future Islands, Jungle, Little Dragon, RATKING, Lykke Li, St. Vincent, Rustie, Royal Blood, Vic Mensa, Connan Mockasin, Angel Olsen, Angus & Julia Stone, Belle and Sebastian, Eagulls, Jon Hopkins.
Sideshows: A sophisticated selection of food vendors, bars and cafés, plus plenty of grassy space and shade from the midsummer heat.
Why you should go: Laneway has attracted an impressive pool of alt-music talent over a five-year run, but nothing touches the 2015 roster.