Laneway Review

by

By Liza Harvey

It was an unrelenting hot and dry day as the punters packed into the streets of Fortitude Valley for Brisbane’s 5th St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. The space filled quickly into the wee hours of the afternoon, with spots in the forgiving shade taken up fast by the sweltering masses.

The first stop I made was to the Inner Sanctum Stage, where Bear In Heaven warmed the hearts of many… well, some. Their set was nice, but perhaps a little forgettable. In their defense however, the pure humidity and excited restlessness of the freshly-arrived crowd had a fair influence on Bear In Heaven’s set. The fact they had “Bear” in their name certainly didn’t help their cause either; with the whole ordeal becoming a bit of a running joke amongst the punters, as waves of confused and purposely ironic comparisons to other “Bear-bands” floated like vicious rumors. Just goes to show that following band-name trends will undoubtedly lead to destruction of the creator by the creation.

After Bear in Heaven, I ventured out into the bitumen wasteland, where Beach House took to the stage, adorned by shiny-metallic shapes of confetti. Beach House carried all the presence of a big festival headline act, and certainly demanded the attention and respect of the crowd. Unfortunately the power of the heat was so overwhelming that many fans retreated to the shady outskirts. The thought that dusk was quickly coming was an extremely comforting thought.

When Gareth Liddiard graced the stage, flaunting a great “I’m a grumpy old bastard so fuck you” attitude, I felt a little bit of warm, fuzzy, affection for the grizzly old sea-dog. His set was without a doubt definitely one of the highlights of Laneway. Liddiard seemed to bring a bit of sanity back to the sweltering heat, shaded by the warehouses he was wedged between as well as a definite cool sense of a man none too afraid of the stage. His on-stage banter as well as giving the crowd the opportunity to pick the last song definitely added a strong sense of intimacy that often lacks at festivals. Summed up, Gareth Liddiard was highly refreshing.

It was with much anticipation that I headed back into the suffocating humidity of the Inner Sanctum to watch Blonde Redhead. My excitement for one of my favourite bands was not disappointed. Perhaps slightly delayed by the sound problems that plagued their first song, but they pushed on and didn’t crack the big-festival-act-hissy-fit-because-of-bad-sound gag. Blonde Redhead played a well balanced set filled with old hits and new, and performed everything in pure perfection, keeping the audience to full attention. Despite the band being in action since 1993, front woman Kazu Makino and twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace carried a sense of sass and sexiness that was extremely gripping. Makino took to the stage like liquid; flowing along in a way that made me jealous and want to learn how to dance like her.

I ended Laneway with Holy Fuck, and was very happy to leave it there. There was something lovely and refreshing about an electronic band that didn’t result to cheap song structures that so many popular electronic/indie/dance bands are to make their audiences move. This is what really intrigued me about Holy Fuck, and they really kept their audiences guessing which made every break and drop all that bit more exciting. What amused me most about Holy Fuck was their merchandise included pink underwear with “Holy Fuck” cheakily written on the back.

Overall, it was a real shame that the heat seemed to overwhelm everything about Laneway, making it extremely difficult to enjoy a lot of the earlier bands. One thing that amused me most about the festival was the fact that Tognini’s hairdresser had set up shop in the Laneway Markets… I thought it was a highly intriguing festival gig, until a friend pointed out how uncomfortable it would be to have to walk around with tiny bits of hair sticking to the sweat on the back of your neck and chest after getting a haircut. This, undoubtedly, put me completely off the idea…

Laneway seems to be on the way to becoming a ‘token-festival’, but I think you can hardly blame the festival organizers than the unrelenting onslaught of Jaydos look- alikes… RIP to legitimate music festival-goers? Maybe.

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