Strolling down for another day at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, it’s a beautiful day to be spending at ‘that bloody hipster festival’ A.K.A. Laneway Festival. Despite not being in the laneway that it’s name sprang from, the festival grows from strength to strength each year, this year promising more of the same.
First up are Tinpan Orange, with an absolutely lovely brand of folk, but it’s too hot at the carpark so the decision is made to get some shade and just enjoy the lovely background music. After a quick inspection of the market stalls, which only really have op-shop-esque vintage gear, at five times the price of an actual op-shop, it’s time to catch more bands.
DZ Deathrays rule. Let that never be denied, ever. They play a ripper set, blasting through first single from their debut album, No Sleep, as well as classics Gebbie Street, House Party and Cops/Capacity. The only problems were the heat of the stage caused some electrical problems during the opener, and that the crowd was the least responsive bunch of hipsters I’ve ever seen. (Not helped by the horrible set-time of 12:40, in 27 degree heat, who thought that was a good idea?)
EMA has probably received a phone call from the 90’s at some point, they’d like their reverb back. She’d better not give it back, as she was a standout. Accompanied by a band who steals the title of most musical I.T. department from Hot Chip quite easily, her set covered nearly all of her brilliant debut, The Grey Ship being the early highlight of the day. Unfortunately, she was also a victim of the crowd that were just too cool to get into it. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE KIDS THESE DAYS?
Givers had no such problem with getting the crowd into it. Their brand of MPP-era Animal Collective/Vampire Weekend pop had the front row jumping about like nobody’s business. They were genuinely happy to have made it down and apart from having one of their stacks of speakers drop out mid-set, they put on a very good value entertainment.
The Active Child/Laura Marling clash had a lot of people gnashing their teeth and wailing to the heavens, “O Lord, Why have thou forsaken me?”, but on the day, the choice was a lot easier. Active Child, whilst having a very beautiful aesthetic on record, the aesthetic doesn’t translate well live and comes across as slightly dull. Laura Marling is all class, her warm brand of folk making for lovely listening.
Wandering back down to catch Portugal. The Man with friends, I ask if anyone actually knows much about them. “Not really,” was the consensus. By the end of the set, we were all impressed, witnessing a veteran-like performance of psychedelic rock and roll. The Laneway booklet says they’ve done over 800 shows and with such anthemic hits like Got It All, there’s no chance they’ll be slowing down anytime.
Cults were really, really bad. The mixing was all wrong, Madeline Follin wasn’t hitting any notes and it just seemed really dull. After they opened with Abducted and The Curse, I’d had enough and decided to get some dumplings. I sat side of stage whilst trying to eat a Vietnamese salad and rice with chopsticks (I’m really glad nobody I knew saw me trying to do that) and listened to Anna Calvi for three songs, who, whilst not to my personal taste, wasn’t incredibly boring like Cults, actually showing the calibre of how you should be playing live on your debut Australian tour. Also, Calvi knew how to shred. Awesome.
Wandering back up to the Dean Turner stage, the warmth of Feist’s How Come You Never Go There, her experience of playing live compared to a lot of the buzz bands on this year’s line-up shows, playing an up-tempo set of just great songs. With Comfort Me and The Bad In Each Other standing admirably against older songs like Mushaboom and I Feel It All, Feist is a lovely addition before the party to come.
After accidentally getting to the front of stage after Feist, The Horrors came on stage to rapturous applause. Primary Colours was my Year 12/first year of university album and I missed them on their last tour because I screwed around on getting tickets, so there was no way I was missing them this time. To my ecstatic delight, they did not disappoint, showing why they’re quickly becoming a lot of people’s favourite british band, nailing a best-of Primary Colours/Skying set. Mirror’s Image, Scarlet Fields and a 14 minute Moving Further away were all utterly mind-blowing.
I had seen M83 live at the Prince Bandroom the night before and was telling anyone who would listen to go see them today. They actually improved at Laneway, the few minor sound issues they had being fixed. The transcendent set was a master class in how to headline a festival, with Intro, Reunion, Kim & Jessie, Steve McQueen and Year One, One UFO all totally amazing. Sitting and Couleurs were the highlights of the festival, turning a 2000-strong crowd who were just too cool to care earlier in the day into a raving mass of people who just wanted to lose it all and not care. Marvellous.
This year’s Laneway wasn’t quite as strong as the past couple, but it was still more than worth the price of admission. If Laneway is still regarded as “that hipster festival” for as long as it lives, then long live the FCAC as the home of the hipsters. As long as Laneway festival continues to be over-18 and continues to aim for the best bands, not just the biggest, then it will continue to be the understated highlight on the summer festival schedule.