Laneway Festival @ Sydney College Of The Arts, Sydney NSW Australia 04/02/2017 written by Brendan Lewis
So here we are at Laneway Festival Sydney 2017, the weather is threatening rain, humidity is high, but the early on-set of extreme sweating did not stop fans from rolling into the festival grounds to enjoy a day of quality live music from a line-up chock full of up and coming artists, including indie heavy-weights!
Although the two main stages, Park Stage and Garden Stage, were set with lush atmospheric trees and greenery as their backdrop, which was quite pleasant, the very steep hill interrupted by a few narrow concrete stairs leading down to the stages was not so pleasant. Never the less, for those eager to start the quality filled live music early on and willing to walk, run, slide or roll down the hill, including a vision impaired guy with two thumbs “this guy!” (pointing both thumbs at myself) indierock trio Camp Cope was the clear winning choice on the Garden Stage with their catchy indie-rock hooks and Maq’s powerful soaring Missy Higgin’s-like vocals.
After Camp Cope the clouds had parted and the full midday sun struck down and if you hadn’t put sun-cream on yet, trust me when I say, you felt it, so good thing staff were handing out plenty of it on entry! But no rest for the wicked as the soulful crowd pleasing indie-folk-like sounds of Julia Jacklin, who’s voice swayed in the wind and cooled everyone off a little, was up next on the Park stage. One nice change to the typical festival set-up was that there were no dividing barriers between the two side by side main stages, so you didn’t have to walk out of the crowd at one side, walk around and back in to the next, which always annoys.
After Julia Jacklin’s set it was time to re-fuel, re-hydrate, slap on some sun-cream and see what the festival had to offer. Sitting at one of the many bars with fancy craft beer, wine and whatever other drink your pallet desired, I could hear Nao take to the Garden Stage. After Julia Jacklin’s warm indie-folk set, Nao's fun, up-beat pop sounds were a perfect contrasting pick-me-up as the crowds starting thickening.
Wandering around the festival grounds I noticed market stands, lots of nice old buildings, plenty of space between stages to avoid sound clashing, and a lovely large area surrounded by trees, chock full of a wide variety of fancy sounding food options that I couldn’t pronounce which was a refreshing change to the typical festival menu, (‘cash only’ and lots of it, was often required though) plus plenty of shaded places to sit and relax. Moving along, I did notice quite a lot of un-even ground, gutters, and random steps for even the fully sighted person to roll their ankles on and would’ve made it very difficult for patrons in wheel chairs. This and the steep hill leading down to the main stages were even more challenging at night, and I was lucky I had a cane to detect obstacles, including people, in the dark. This was the down side to the pleasant atmospheric festival grounds.
After catching Canadian, in-your-face raw punk rockers, White Lung followed by American indie rockers Car Seat Headrest with their mix of heavy hearted emo-like lyrics and bouncy beach rock sound, I did plan to race over to the Garden Stage to catch the last bit of Gang Of Youth’s performance which to my and others that I spoke to’s disappointment, clashed with Car Seat Headrest’s set. By this stage though the crowd had reached over-loading masses throughout the festival so going from the Spinning Top Stage to the main stages would’ve taken a good 15 minutes with the added “traffic” and I wouldn’t have made it there in time. After Car Seat Headrest’s set was when the clashing and over-lapping really kicked in and made planning your day a challenge with lots of leg work involved… but who doesn’t like a challenge right?
Rejoining the massive crowd at the Spinning Top Stage for the first half of D.D Dumbo before I raced over for the second half of progressive ambient rockers Tycho, I was challenged with trying to put a particular genre and sound to D.D Dumbo… psychedelic, indie, fusion-rock? It was a little like putting a blind person through a driving test, trust me, it doesn’t go well. D.D Dumbo was definitely a unique addition to the festival line-up with some funky use of violin, electronic sounds, guitar and brilliant indie vocals. D.D Dumbo aren’t quite my cup of tea but I would’ve liked to stick around to see what else they dished out in the second half of the set, but I definitely wanted to check out Tycho and was curious as to how their sound would play out at a festival otherwise absent of instrumental rock.
Tycho’s instrumental rock sound was a great contrast but not too out of place with the other acts on the line-up surprisingly, and the crowd responded quite well for the little energy the band gave out. But even though Tycho’s sound was a nice contrast and you could still dance and move around to it, it was a bit of an extreme atmosphere change when new festival favourite Tash Sultana took to the Garden Stage with her energetic unique one-man-band performance spanning across many genre’s that had the sea of fans hooked on every note.
To finish my day off I headed back over to the Spinning Top Stage nice and early to grab a prime spot for Norwegian beauty Aurora and then raced back over to the main stages for psychedelic indie headliners Tame Impala.
Aurora’s fresh indie electronic/folk-like sound really caught my and everyone else’s attention and I was amazed at the high calibre her performance was and made great use of the night sky with a great light display.
Tame Impala aren’t a band I’d go crazy over personally, but I was quite curious to see how they’d progressed since I saw them in 2013 when I honestly thought the set was a bit boring and a bit too “woah maaaaan”, they did not disappoint this time! The band have really stepped up as a headlining act plus vocalist and brain child Kevin Parker, was like a puppeteer controlling the crowd from start to finish of their perfectly flowing set of amazing lights and psychedelic indie sounds.
Looking back over it all I was very impressed with the festival crowd not going over-board with alcohol consumption throughout the whole day even when beer-o’clock rolled around and the sun went down. Of course they had a few and had fun, but were still in high spirits, respected one another and were there for the music. All in all I reckon you’d be hard-pressed to find a better quality day of live music in a great atmosphere with a crowd of true music fans!