St Jeromes Laneway Festival Review.

by

hsslBy Justine Tyme (Totally not a pseudonym)

It’s lame gambit to start a festival review talking about the weather, but at 9:30 in the morning on the festival, it was pissing down like no ones business. I was crook, already popping 3 Neurofen per hour, and not looking forward to spending the day all itchy and wet. And then, miraculously, about an hour before opening, a small patch of blue suddenly exploded, and the sun was beating out full force, like Jebus himself willed it to be. So I went in with high hopes & a snotty nose, determined to soak up as much as possible.

jssJohn Steel Singers opened up the proceedings to a small but respectable crowd, most of who were hiding under the shade of a few trees to the side. I know this has cropped up before, but they do sound a lot like The Beatles at times, hey? Not in a shit Oasis “just-rearrange-the-cords-and-lets-go” way, but the harmonies, the hooks, the upbeat beats etc. It wasn’t the most spectacular set this time around, but there wasn’t anything to prove really. Everyone’s expecting them to be the next Brisbane band to make it big.jss2

Thing that struck me about the line up this year is how cohesive it all is. As apposed to a lot of festivals which are more of a grab bag/ pick and mix affair, there was a much more curated feel to the day. There was a pack of policemen wandering around from early on in the day looking rather lost and bemused, like they had no one to bust. The dunk tank was looking to be a star studded affair, with members from the various bands playing taking a turn, all in the name of charity.

htI couldn’t possibly give an impartial review of Holly Throsby, so I won’t stick on the topic for too long. A reasonably short set, but her songs usually clock in around three minutes, so that makes sense. She snuck in a couple covers, and was able to completely transform You am I’s “Berlin Chair” to suit her “broken hearted & asshumbled” persona perfectly. I totally want to be Holly Throsby when I grow up. Oh, and check out her bassist’s ass. Nice work, hot bassist guy.

tf2Tim Fite is one of the braver performers I’ve seen in a while. Dressed in a pair of uncomfortably tight pair of stripped overalls and sporting a hair cut that made him look like a circus geek, there was uneasiness when people looked to the stage. Rather than wait for the crowd to come in naturally, he simple wrangled\manhandled a flock of 10 or so to the stage. With lyrics that’d make Woody Guthrie proud, Tim’s weird ass Electo-country-Hip hop style might have had trouble drawing the crowd initially, but had no problems retaining it.

brBorn Ruffian’s ended up being another surprise highlight, rollicking through their set with a brazenness that I would describe as boyish, but that’s not quite right. They exude a very natural relaxed confidence, the kind that normally comes from decades as apposed to years together as a band. The gruffness of their combined voices for their finale, I need a life, chanting “Oh but we go out at night” made me double take, as they sounded like a pack of old sailors.

nana2jrNo Age & Jay Reatard both knocked out fast & furious sets in a double bill of No-Holds-Bar garage rock. How do you write about punk without sounding like a complete poser? Because both bands don’t have elaborate production values on the cds, the live experience is lot like just stepping into the albums, albeit on giant nasty speakers. But if you want nice clean sound quality, this probably isn’t the music for you anyway.

cohy2coyhYou kinda have to feel a little sorry for Cut off your hands’ Managers. Lead singer Nick Johnston is what my grandmother would call “a right little devil” on stage, spiting into the audience, kicking over drums & mics, and generally thrashing about with wild abandon. That said, the audience loves it, and it’s sadly rare to see someone let themselves rip loose on stage. Well, rip loose and still sound good, anyway. “Turn cold” , “Oh Girl”, “Happy as can be”, and a snearing cover of the Sonics “The Witch” got the crowd jumping, providing what was probably one of the more passionate performances of the day

 

Sadly, I have to admit that there were several glitches in the night. Over at the Carpark Stage, both The Drones & The Hold Steady had to endure technical difficulties, due to water shorting out the speakers (Or the guitar pedals, or something, I don’t bloody know. I just know that the bass wasn’t working). Both bands were able to improvise to fill the gaps, but the Hold Steady in particular lost several members of the audience in the 15 or so minutes it took to fix things. In other grumbles, for the first half offt Four Tet’s set, the atmosphere was near nil due to half of the shed he was performing in being washed out by plain fluorescent lighting! Given the stature of the artist in question, it struck me as a bit thoughtless of the organizers.

gtThe final two acts of the night were an interesting juxtaposition. Bouncing between the two of them, I noticed that within the space of 10 minutes they’d both used samples of MIA & “Sweet child o’ mine”, although there were differences in the way they did it. Girl Talk’s music is based almost entirely of sampling 80’s & 90’s pop songs at various speeds, juxtaposing them with booty shaking Hip Hop a capella’s and beats of his own creation. Buraka Som Sistema also sample a fair bit of 80’s/90’s pop songs into the still-reasonably-new style Kurudo (think Dancehall on crack and your half way there).

 
I’m in the clear minority here judging by the crowd, but I found Girl Talk to be a bit twee TBH. Half the appeal was based in the nostalgia for the original tunes he was playing, not what he was doing with them. When you’ve got half the crowd wearing your shirt proclaiming “I’m not a DJ”, you need to bring something extra to the stage, and mash ups are nothing new at this stage. Buraka Som Sistema didn’t feel ground breaking, but they played a more textured set, as well as having a bit more claim to their music, making them the more interesting act in my book.

And there was a bunch of other stuff, but I was fluey, and didn’t really take as many notes as I should have. Meh. A good day over all, not flawless, but a good alternative to all the other overcrowded, sprawling festivals around at the mo’. Is good, go next time

 All photos by author, available for ues as per Creative Commons agreements outlined here.

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