If it wasn’t for the line-up full of Pitchfork approved buzz bands it would be easy to mistake Laneway for any of the other one festivals happening over the summer. There were big commercial tie-ins, some really stupid stage names (with the exception of the Dean Turner stage) and large amount of fake tan present. But the lack of massive headliner or bogan contingent made it a relaxing, although hot and sticky day.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart kicked off the day’s trend of scuzzy indie pop bands with boy/girl harmonies, which dominated most of the line-up. A large part of their set came from their excellent debut album and it is easy to see why they were so hyped over at the time. However some of the newer tracks, especially those that relied on their female vocalist fell a little flat.
Although the Windish Angency Stage was hell for hayfever sufferers, it was the most pleasant of the stages with grass facing the stage instead of concrete.
Givers were suffering from some serious sound problems. Their Vampire Weekend influenced indie pop was enjoyable enough but with the muddy sound a large portion sounded liked a vaguely catchy, danceable mess.
Laura Marling looks so unassuming on stage it’s hard to believe that she’s behind the brilliantly crafted songs found on her album. There’s a big difference between an excellent songwriter and an engaging festival act and she has yet to make that leap. Tracks like Ghosts and Devil’s Spoke sounded as good as ever but having seen her in a smaller venue, she benefits from the smaller space.
Cults were boring. Love them record but given the similar nature of the bands on the line-up there wasn’t enough to hold our attention.
As soon as she arrived on stage Anna Calvi looked every part the guitar wielding badass that she is. However she shared a clash with Fiest and her music is not quite suited to the ridiculously hot and sunny weather.
During Chairlift some guy got stuck in a tree. What a tosser.
Yuck played scuzzy indie rock with 90s influences you could see form space. But it was highly enjoyable. There’s a reason this stuff is coming back in fashion.
The Drums seemed pretty good but the sound bleed going on between The Eat Your Own Ears and Young Turks Stage (see what I mean about the names) and the DJ stage was unbearable.
M83 showed how festivals should be done. With a light show, a collection of danceable tracks, and yes THAT song their set was completely enjoyable. Playing a mix of songs from Saturday = Youth and Hurry Up We’re Dreaming by the time Midnight City rolled around it was something of an anti-climax. Although the live sax solo was equally parts great and cheesy the sound was thin compared to to recorded version.
We left not long after due to equal parts exhaustion, cigar smoke inhalation (why people, why?!) and realizing that taking the train home would probably be a debacle of sorts.
While many of the music acts weren’t mind-blowing the festival should be commended for bringing first time visitors to Australia and avoiding line-up recycling. The bar lines were short, the food was mostly edible and the heat didn’t kill anyone. Overall it was a very enjoyable day.