Thousands turn up for Laneway indie music festival's early acts

Canadian electronic artist Grimes (centre) performing at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay on Jan 30, 2016.
Canadian electronic artist Grimes (centre) performing at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay on Jan 30, 2016.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - Fears of sparse attendance for the early acts at music festival St Jerome's Laneway Festival Singapore, prompted by a new "no re-entry" ruling implemented this year, proved to be unfounded.

There was already a sizeable crowd, estimated to be a few thousand strong, when the first few acts started performing in the scorching mid-afternoon sun on Saturday (Jan 30) at The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay.

Many were crowded around one of the two main stages, dubbed the Bay Stage, when home-grown indie-electronic band Riot !n Magenta started performing a little after noon. Most of the audience comprised teenagers and young adults.

The doors opened at around 10am and the festival is expected to last until midnight. The festival's sixth edition in Singapore features its largest line-up yet, and the addition of a new, fourth stage.

Close to 30 acts from around the world, including critically-acclaimed Canadian electronic artist Grimes and Scottish synthpop trio Chvrches, are on the bill.

Citing "safety and security" issues, the organisers barred the festival-goers from re-entering the venue if they exit the festival grounds, which spans about 22,000 sq m or three football fields.

This new ruling led to speculation that fans who are unwilling to stay the whole day for the festival would give the early bands a miss.

However, many came early and said they intended to stay until the end.

One of them, Mr Han Qingguang, a 25-year-old healthcare executive, arrived at 11am with a group of five friends.

He said: "We're all here to watch different acts at different times. We have no problems with the no re-entry rule because we're prepared to stay here for more than 12 hours."

Then there were music fans like freelance designer Zaki Shariff and programming executive Japheth Ng, both 26, who thought the new rule "sucks" but came early anyway.

The festival started in Melbourne, Australia in 2005, and held its first Singapore edition in 2011 at Fort Canning Park.

It has been held annually since. It moved to Gardens By The Bay in 2013.

The turn out has been growing steadily, from 6,000 in its first outing here to a sold-out crowd of 13,000 last year.

Other popular acts that performed in the afternoon included American virtuoso bass player Thundercat and American alternative R&B group The Internet.

American shoegaze band Diiv pulled out at the last minute due to a "family emergency", said the organisers, but there were several unannounced Singapore acts such as rap trio Mediocre Haircut Crew, who performed during electronic act Fauxe's set in the indoor White Room stage.

Crowd pullers such as Grimes, Chvrches, British alternative rockers The 1975 and American indie outfit Beach House will play the late sets.