Laneway Festival Singapore 2018: Anderson Paak brings blistering funk despite technical glitch

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Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals performing at the St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2018 at The Meadow on Jan 27, 2018. PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Attendees enjoy the sunny weather during St Jerome's Laneway Festival on Jan 27, 2018, at The Meadow in Gardens by the Bay. ST PHOTO: EDDINO ABDUL HADI

SINGAPORE - Ten seconds into American rapper-singer Anderson Paak's opening song Come Down, all sound abruptly died on stage.

It was clear that the biggest crowd for the St Jerome's Laneway Festival on Jan 27 - which saw 10,000 people in attendance - had shown up to see him, and the false start elicited boos.

But after an almost 10-minute delay, Paak, flanked by his band The Free Nationals, came back with fire and funk on a breathless trip as he tore through tracks like Am I Wrong and Heart Don't Stand A Chance.

Getting behind the drumkit, he was equally adept at providing blistering drum solos as well as slowing it down for balmy R&B tunes, all while sweating it out and singing in the unforgiving humidity.

The false start was a major blip on an otherwise smooth-running eighth edition of the indie music festival, which saw the weather surprisingly hold up. This was despite the threat of the occasional dark clouds over the course of the 12-hour-long festival.

In fact, the weather was nice and sunny in the late afternoon as early acts such as American singer Billie Eilish and Filipino band The Ransom Collective performed at the festival's two biggest stages.

Laneway, which started out as a modest single event in Melbourne in 2005, is now a touring festival. Singapore is the first stop for the acts this year, most of whom will also play in other Laneway instalments in cities such as Auckland, Adelaide and Brisbane in the next two weeks.

Like previous years, the more prominent acts played at the two big stages, Garden and Bay, which are next to each other. As one band played, the next one on the schedule would set up, to minimise waiting times between sets.

Popular acts that drew the loudest response include American band The Internet, who played a sensuous blend of hip-hop and R&B, and Canadian crooner Mac DeMarco, whose goofy but charming set included a birthday song dedicated to an audience member.

British band Wolf Alice played a ferocious sundown set, prompting many fans in the moshpit to jump along to their energetic songs.

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Headlining acts like Father John Misty, Bonobo and The War On Drugs closed off the night at the main stages.

There was little snark in American folk-rock musician Father John Misty's set, known for taking digs at fellow celebrities on stage. While he was certainly charismatic, even dramatically falling to his knees at one point, the intimacy of his show was lost in the vast open-air venue - his set was probably better suited for the Esplanade Theatre.

Meanwhile, British electronic artist Bonobo's live set was beautifully hypnotic and an exploration in genres. Flanked by a band that included a wind section and stellar vocals by singer Szjerdene Seraya Mulcare, he seamlessly transitioned between downtempo electronica, trip hop and dub.

A little farther away from the entrance was the Cloud Stage. More compact than the two big stages, it was much bigger than last year's set up.

While the international acts are stellar, kudos should be given to the organisers for ensuring that about a third of the 23 acts are local and regional talents.

They were not just relegated to the smallest stage either.

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Malaysian electronic music artist alextbh kicked off the festival with the first performance of the day at the Garden Stage a little after noon. Singapore indie pop quintet Obedient Wives Club also played at the same big stage just before 2pm.

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