St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Sydney College Of The Arts, Sydney NSW Australia 04/02/2018 written by Brendan Lewis.-


Well here we are at Laneway Festival 2018, not so long ago, in an arts college far far away… The sun’s out, spirits are high, copious amounts of ale flowing and a line-up packed with a galactic fleet of indie stars on the laneway to glory! The line-up doesn’t quite win me over this year, so winning me over may be a challenge…. challenge, ACCEPTED!

Let us see if the sith lords of Laneway Festival can turn me to the dark side of the musical force.

Upon the quick and easy entry, I figure I still have a bit of time to kill before the first Jedi challenge, I mean, band, so I think I might take a wander around and see what Laneway has to offer. (blind pun intended) If you’ve been here before, you’d be familiar with the beautiful old buildings amidst an abundance of lush trees, (because we all know I’m all about the aesthetics) but in this case for a festival, market stands galore for you to empty your accounts at, a spacious food area with heaps of fancy food options, some I can’t even pronounce, surrounded by a wall of vibrant trees, and best of all, bars, bars and more bars, offering a wide variety of naughty-water which is a pleasant change from the limited range at most festivals.

Now I suppose I better leave the bar and check out some music, which I’ve opted to “see” UK indie-rock knuckle-heads Shame over on the Spinning Top Stage, then take on the incredibly steep hill down to the two side-by-side main stages for Icelandic party rockers, Dream Wife. 

Shame has drawn quite a decent crowd for so early in the day, and gets the whole crowd rocking out and head banging, which in one dudes case, kinda looks like a chicken pecking really really fast. All in all, the energy from the band is extremely high and they connect really well with the audience, but the vocals to me just sound like yelling, similar to Chewbacca…. but we all love Chewie right?

Now over to the main stages where The Babe Rainbow finish up before Dream Wife take to the opposite stage. I regret not seeing more of The Babe Rainbow, as their cool bahama-mama Ska-rock sound with upbeat dance beats and horns definitely catches my attention! Ok, now for Dream Wife. Just like Shame, the energy in the predominately-female band is insane, and quite admirable in this blazing heat, and rile the crowd right up. The vocals are more melodic than Shame, but still a lot of yelling….. why so serious? Still, quite enjoyable and a nice energy lift early in the day!

An exciting addition to the festival is some artists doing signing in the auditorium…. wherever that is? So now it’s time for me to burn off some calories and climb up the steep hill and go do some sight seeing and find said auditorium for when Wolf Alice do signing later…. why didn’t I take the stairs? Locating the auditorium was made easier with access through a building corridor designated for PIP ticket holders (yep, turns out I’m only partially important…. *sigh*) or patrons with a disability, making navigating to and from stages much quicker!

Time it is, for Amy Shark over on one of the two main stages. Heading back down the sloping hill, I imagine patrons in wheel chairs and how they’d manage, and although the prospect of speeding down the hill full speed in a wheel chair may be exciting and the most fun thing you’ll ever do, it very well may be the last thing you ever do… So instead, luckily, there’s an accessible viewing platform at the top of the hill, although it is a hefty light-year away from the stages. Amy really brings an attention grabbing sound and performance, drawing a rather large audience and wowing us all with her pure vocals and engaging performance. Strong in the force, this young padawan is, much greatness in her future, I see!

Now that the musical calibre is really stepping up, the crowds are becoming quite large, and although the sun is getting ready to set and the bars are all cashed up, everyone still seems well managed and respectful of one another, not letting the alcohol spoil the music thankfully! After saying hi to UK indie rockers Wolf Alice, the leg work really kicks in in my itinerary, so off I go to check out a little bit of The Internet on one of the main stages, before heading back to the Spinning Top stage for Wolf Alice. 

Heading down the hill I hear City Calm Down finishing and wish I could’ve seen more, their contemporary indie-rock is a pleasant and needed contrast from the other electronic pop artists on the schedule surrounding them here on the main stages. I’m not really a fan of The Internet, although they definitely command the crowds attention and connect with the audience well, and the music is good for what it is and is pleasing everyone around me which is a positive sign. 

Wolf Alice’s sound is uplifting and energetic, with the style differing from indie-rock, pop/rock, indie-punk and all with changing energy levels and really know how to rock out with their sock out, with the whole crowd, me included, all joining in with the band….. I fear the dark side may be winning me over, with this one!

Now seeing as I am only human, and I have a nice break in the schedule, it’s time to find some food. Heading to the relaxing area jammed with all sorts of weird and wonderful food options, again with names I can’t pronounce (…. what the hell is a paola???) I’m challenged with a mass of un-even ground, gutters and un-painted stairs which I’d imagine would be difficult for anyone, whether you’re blind, or blind drunk. After locating a good ol’ Aussie burger amidst the various food options, I remembered from last year the shortage of food stalls offering Eftpos, so luckily this year I came prepared, and made sure my friend has cash on him.

Leading up to the headliners, it’s time to race around and do a bit of taste testing of a little of Bonobo, Father John Misty, BADBADNOTGOOD and Odesza, before headliners The War On Drugs and finally, because why stop the fun after the headliner, Slowdive. It seems the crowds at each stage have reached critical mass and are nicely evened out, not just all at the main stages which is a good indication of less clashes in set times for people this year. 

Bonobo catches my attention with their instrumental dance vibe, that isn’t just electronic music played by a DJ, instead it features several drummers all improvising off one another, guitar and several keyboards, this is the type of electronic music I can boogie to! Father John Misty over on the Spinning Top Stage, calms us all down with his beautiful country/indie/acoustic sound, and his sound would be perfect to have playing whilst having dinner on a romantic date, so at a festival, is a risky move, but works perfectly to balance out the high intensity of the day. Finally, BADBADNOTGOOD really make my ears prick up with their experimental hip-hop/alternative jazz, which is a really surprising addition to the festival line-up, but the energy and unpredictability of the set adds a fresh exciting flavour to the mix.

Now racing back to the main stages for Odesza before The War On Drugs, Odesza seems a little more like the typical DJ set busting out funky dance grooves that I do get a little tired of, but is quite appropriate to build the excitement in the atmosphere and keep the positive energy alive as it heads near the festivals’ finish. Finally, both The War On Drugs and Slowdive really step up as headline worthy acts and draw massive crowds with their well performed sound and energy, although neither truly win me over and leave me wanting more…. but I’m just a picky old bastard, at my ripe old age of 24, and both artists seem to have won over the masses.

Wow, what a day! The highlight for me? Definitely the never ending options for alcoholic beverages…. just kidding. To put it simply for you, if you want a thoroughly enjoyable day not completely wrecked by over intoxication, filled with loads of quality music, you won’t beat this festival!