We've said it before, and we'll say it again — coming up with predictions for each upcoming Laneway Festival line-up is indeed very fun. There's nothing greater in the live music scheme of things than to put together your own dream list of acts that might dominate Gardens By The Bay.
But even we have to admit, 2017 is a tough year to predict. Maybe it's due to the fact that several high-profile indie acts — Bon Iver, Tame Impala, M83, Damien Rice, even upcoming ones like Blood Orange, Foals among many others — have already appeared on our shores in the past year. Or maybe that we've finally given up on predicting hip-hop acts for Singapore — a genre which features an overwhelming list of innovative and forward-thinking artists we'd love to see here.
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Nonetheless, we've powered through, and it has only made the challenge even greater for us to tackle. But instead of attempting to fulfill the estimated quota for the usual number of acts in a given line-up, we've expanded our choices to a cool 30 in total — shortlisted from a list twice as long.
So strap yourself in, debate amongst your friends, send us your hate mail for not putting in CHVRCHES, and pick from our choices in a poll below to voice your opinion as well! Let the games begin.
If you remember, Warpaint was the first ever act to take the stage on the first ever Laneway Festival Singapore all the way back in 2011. At the time, the all-girl Californian indie-rock band were relatively unheralded, but oh my, how things have changed. At this point, Warpaint would likely be considered one of the biggest names on any festival they’re on - and we think that it's about time this fully matured 2016 version of Warpaint made their return to Singapore. And with a world tour for their forthcoming album, Heads Up, planned for early next year, we think this might be a pretty good bet.
Yes, we know. It's perfectly safe to say that Frank Ocean may just never appear on a Laneway line-up — let alone even perform in Southeast Asia — and even his tour rollout after Channel Orange was surprisingly sporadic. With the erratic and mysterious release of Blonde, along with his B-sides collection Endless, we'll never know what the R&B singer has in store for us, so we're keeping an eye on him just in case.
The indie rock band have kept mostly silent since their heartrending and well-received sophomore album Hummingbird, but they look set for a big return with their upcoming album Sunlit Youth. We last caught the band at an amazing headlining set at Urbanscapes 2014, so we know that this band deserves a prime slot at Laneway next year. Fun fact: the band recorded demos in Thailand after their show in Malaysia, so it only seems fit that they play a big show for the new album at Southeast Asia's biggest indie festival.
BAND OF HORSES
Band of Horses are indie veterans, and can always be counted upon to draw a crowd on any bill. Hot off the release of their latest LP, Why Are You OK?, Ben Bridwell’s Southern-tinged alternative rock outfit are still as relevant as ever. The band hasn’t been back to Singapore since 2013’s Big Night Out either, which means fans are probably starting to miss them by now. And judging their last show here, we probably expect plenty of watery eyes in the crowd should Laneway decide to hitch their wagon on these band of horses.
2016 is ANOHNI's breakthrough year — presenting a new, fearless version of the emotionally-wounded singer we previously knew as Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons. While ANOHNI's debut album is rife with politically-charged songs, we hope Laneway provides her the stage for her long-awaited local debut.
Laneway typically has one act on the lineup headed up by a renowned female indie luminary every year — so why not triple that predilection in one fell swoop with Canadian-American supergroup case/lang/veirs? Made up of three acclaimed women with over three decades of experience in music making — namely k.d. lang, Neko Case, and Laura Veirs - this band is as talented as they come. This one seems like a long shot but it’ll certainly be a lauded move for Laneway’s programmers.
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
While they've already performed twice in Singapore — along with a recent show across the causeway at Good Vibes Festival — it seems likely that the beloved indie rock quartet would earn a spot on Laneway's line-up as the biggest way to kick off 2017, just after the release of their upcoming album.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN
Oh, what a 360 turn it has been for Carly Rae Jepsen. Once a publicly-deemed "one hit wonder" with the massively-successful 'Call Me Maybe', the singer has become indie's premier pop darling since her unadulterated masterpiece Emotion hit the interwebs a year ago. After a celebrated set at Pitchfork Festival 2016, along with the well-received Emotion Side B fresh off the shelves, we think that it's only fair for Laneway to open their doors to the 'I Really Like You' hitmaker — this is especially after hosting fearlessly engaging sets by Grimes and The 1975, both equally unhinged pop acts. Her first set in Singapore was also at Gardens By The Bay in 2013, so this can only be full circle for the pop star.
Well, she's already kind of confirmed for Laneway, so...
THE GASLAMP KILLER
With Laneway getting more and more adventurous with their electronic programming, and their recent history with Brainfeeder bookings, we reckon that Los Angeles beatsmith The Gaslamp Killer might just be on tap for Laneway Singapore 2017. The alternative hip-hop producer hasn’t been here since 2009 when he played (arguably) the best set Heineken Green Room has ever put on in Singapore, so he’s more than due for a return. And with a new album out later this month called Instrumentalepathy, the big-haired producer should be looking tour early next year as well.
Prolific instrumental hip-hop beatmaker Clams Casino might be the most sought-after in the game according to his resume over the last couple of years — and his hazy, woozy sound has certainly permeated from the underground all the way into the mainstream. And even with his mighty body of work, his latest album 32 Levels might be the best document Clams has ever put out. With great collabs alongside A$AP Rocky, Lil B, Vince Staples, Kelela and more stoking the hype, the New Jersey native might just have too much buzz to ignore.
Malibu was released in early January this year, and now nine months later, we still haven’t found a better full-length LP in 2016. Anderson .Paak’s breakout offering is still the one to beat for album of the year and that makes him a prime name for any festival looking for a hyped headliner. And besides, indie-haven Laneway has been more open to soul, funk, hip-hop and R&B music lately, which is certainly encouraging for fans for of the rapper-singer. This still seems like a long-shot though, but if Laneway really did pull the trigger on the NxWorries member, it’d be an inspired coup for the ever-diversifying festival.
Speaking of Indonesia, it would be a travesty of rapper Rich Chigga doesn't make an appearance at Laneway. It's bad enough there have barely been any hip-hop acts on the line-up since 2011. But the 16-year-old is on the cusp of something special, and since he's not far away from Singapore at all, this would be the perfect time before he starts rubbing shoulders with the best on the other side of the world.
Canadian punk rock group White Lung seems like the ideal Laneway band so this prediction has an average chance of coming true. In all honesty, though, we figured they would have been locked down when third album Deep Fantasy was released back in 2014. But now with yet another critically-beloved album in 2016’s Paradise fresh in fans’ minds, the time should finally ripe to bring in the well-reviewed trio. This ragged, aggressive and brutally efficient band should be an energetic daytime highlight for the outdoor festival.
Laneway already has a history championing singular female artists, but we'd like to see more female producers, and Holly Herndon's undoubtedly one of the best among them. Certainly a heady and challenging choice, we still believe she'll churn out a great night-time slot for the casuals and diehards. If not Herndon, perhaps her footwork buddy Jlin?
Even though there's barely news about a new album after their hypnotic, Justin Vernon-produced If I Was, there's still space for a set by the trio, after first performing with Bon Iver at The Star Theatre last February — certainly one of the biggest highlights of that night.
On the heels of their well-received sophomore album How To Be A Human Being, their sultry R&B-pop theatrics and lively instrumentation will feel right at home at Gardens By The Bay. Plus, they were totally absent from the Southeast Asian tour circuit after their popular debut Zaba, so it's only right they make a stop now.
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD
There's almost always a token Australian rock band on a Laneway line-up every year — Courtney Barnett, Pond, Violent Soho among others — but that's more of a testament to the blossoming and vibrant rock scene Down Under. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have been one of the most celebrated acts there, and with their 2016 album Nonagon Infinity already garnering acclaim worldwide, we won't be surprised if they will be tasked to rep their homeland at Gardens By The Bay in January.
Hyperdub’s electronic songwriter, producer, and vocalist Jessy Lanza was the treasured talent behind one of 2016’s finest LPs in Oh No, which should instantly make her a candidate for next year’s Laneway. Even in this golden era of post-Internet electronic pop, Lanza’s cohesive multi-genre confluence of styles, ranging from juke to techno, is especially enthralling and uncannily distinctive. Her undeniable status as one of the most original electronic acts in 2016 should swing momentum in her favour.
The singer-songwriter just released the powerful and immensely enjoyable My Woman, trading in her signature acoustic guitar for loud, dominating guitar riffs and a fiercer vocal presence. Now moving further away from country/folk towards an area previously occupied by timid Pixies and Wilco worshippers, we think she'll make the perfect mid-afternoon slot and blow festivalgoers away easily.
CAR SEAT HEADREST
Similar to Angel Olsen, the once bedroom singer-songwriter project has blossomed into a full-fledged rock band in league with Guided by Voices and Pavement, resulting in their lengthy indie rock masterpiece Teens of Denial. With buzzy, headbang-worthy riffs and memorable sing-along lyrics, there's no reason for Laneway not to include them next year.
In keeping with the Australian theme, SAFIA definitely fits the bill in terms of the kind of burgeoning, young electronic acts that Laneway might have their discerning eyes on. Hot singles such as ‘Over You’ and ‘My Love Is Gone’, alongside their latest EP Embracing Me find the fine balance between large-scale radio appeal and critical credibility, which should bode well for their drawing power at a festival like Laneway.
It’s impossible to ignore the mind-blowing work Singaporean experimental electronic producer Yllis has putting out this year. In the last three months, the solo project of Monster Cat frontman Wang Wei Yang has already delivered a pair of game-changing EPs in ISLAND-01 and Exodus. While the former was a brilliant examination of post-Internet pop, the latter was a Sinogrime culture clash put out via vanguard Beijing label Do Hits. With support swelling locally and within China as well (VICE China and 88 Rising have already featured him), Yllis seems like a lock.
These New Zealanders surprised just about everyone when they released Yoncalla back in June, a synth-tinged pop album littered with disco rhythms and an insatiable dreamy atmosphere. The band made a quick stop at Malaysia last year, but with a brand new album in tow, they'll make a great addition to Laneway next year.
Taking as much inspiration from The Kills as they do from Nicholas Winding Refn, dark-noir indie rock duo Tomgirl appear to be the “it” band in Singapore at the moment. Made up of the former Pastelpower singer-songwriter Cherie Ko and multi-instrumentalist Ted Doré, the pair are riding high off the well-received release of debut record and their visceral live launch performance at Mosaic. As far as local acts go, this sure seems like a solid bet.
Besides their outstanding Godfather-influenced name (“Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes”), Australian punk rock standouts have also been turning heads with stellar releases such as If This Is All We’re Going To Be and By A Thread in recent times. With a thrilling style that marries melody, meandering guitar lines and contemplative lyricism alongside their punk foundations, Luca Brasi are definitely one of the best and most buzzworthy bands Down Under at the moment. We hope to see the Tasmanian foursome at Gardens by the Bay this coming January.
THE RANSOM COLLECTIVE
We hope Laneway continues its ties to the Filipino indie scene, and we think The Ransom Collective have a good chance if so. Featuring a familiar indie folk sound with an unmistakeable band dynamic, they would have no problems entrancing festivalgoers at any time of day.
2017 might just be the year Laneway opens their doors to an Indonesian act, after inviting Filipino indie rock ensemble Cheats this year. Our money's on Elephant Kind, but there's really so much to choose from — The Trees & The Wild (who will be performing at Music Matters very soon), prog-rock band Efek Rumah Kaca, jazz-funk band Sore, and blistering psych-rock outfit Kelompok Penerbang Roket — just to name a few.
After initially making a name for herself as an indie-acoustic artist, Sam Rui’s transition into a sultry R&B songstress this year has been nothing short of revelatory. Thanks to collabs with great producers such as FAUXE and GROSSE on singles like ‘Down’ and ‘BOYS’ - Sam Rui’s new sound has caught on in a big way. Newest single ‘Better’ is her first salvo from her forthcoming debut EP, and what better way to launch her new project than with a Laneway showcase?
This fearless foursome produced some of the best music we heard out of Malaysia this year. Combining the best of their influences with a razor-sharp sense for catchy melodies, and a fearsome live show (which we witnessed firsthand in Singapore thanks to ATMOS' recent showcase), they're certainly the band to feature on a stage as big as Laneway's from across the causeway.
Written by: Daniel Peters & Hidzir Junaini