Some mainstream music festivals in Australia have suffered in recent years, and let's face it, we've also suffered as a result. Instead of fairgrounds of fun we've lived through some playgrounds of horror, with associated costs to our culture and to our souls. Which brings us to one of our saviours, St Jeorme's Laneway festival. It's just had its biggest year yet, appealing to an ever-expanding spectrum of music lovers.
We teamed up with Voena to delve into the successful formula Laneway seems to perfect year after year. We studied the artists and we studied the crowd curation. There were style leaders and the occasional cliche. Here are the results of our findings from the Sydney leg of the festival.
The Classic Fun Sieve
One classic mainstay of Australian festivals is the overpowering presence of sniffer dogs. I had the pleasure of being stuck by the front gate for about an hour and a half because someone lost a very important piece of paper. During this time I was mildly amused by the hundreds of patrons sweating balls as they snuck past the sniffer dogs.
The One That Got Away
But as there are always a couple of people unlucky enough to get caught at the gates, there are also the ones who panic and take all of it at once.
The moment pictured above was captured at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon during Perfect Pussy. He captured my attention almost in an equal portion to the hardcore noise band themselves. With what looked like blood smeared across his face, this party animal persisted to swoop kiss the poor girl behind him who he'd also swindled a ciggie off. Both performances were highly entertaining.
Culturally Inappropriate Attire
Despite well-publicized criticism of culturally inappropriate attire at such events, there always will be those few subterranean rock dwellers that missed the memo about Mexican hats and Indian head dresses. Exhibit A- this clan of Mexican hat bro's who turned up to Laneway thinking they were hot-as-chips in 'ultimate festival enthusiast uniform'.
Fashion Forecast: The Next Big Thing
I ran into this trailblazer rocking the Keffiyeh. His beauty might blind me, but I think as far as cultural appropriations trends go, this one is pretty practical for the Australian climate. Am I right?
Turbo Super Power Couple
These guys ARE Health Goth #2014.
Capturing That Special Candid Moment
Every year Laneway generates millions of Facebook profile pictures.
Crowd Pleasing Done Right
One-man R&B crooners are not a rare species these days. We did some reading and it seems as long as you've got some earth-shattering bass drops mixed in with soulful vocal interludes then you've got the bros, babes and music press in the bag. SOHN is exceptional though and quite simply could be the pick of the crop. The narrow confines of the stage were packed to the brim. This stylishly hooded star can certainly switch it up with electronic downbeat R&B, thumping drops, chilling electronic pulses, and on-point vocals climaxing at the end with "The Wheel".
Homegrown Success Story Seekae Introduced by SPOD
Each year Laneway seems to perfectly pin point the one Sydney band that generates as much hype and elation as an international. Last year that spine tingle moment was owed to Jagwar Ma at the Red Bull Music Academy Stage and this year I found myself at the same stage and around the same time of day witnessing Seekae do the exact same thing.
Albeit these guys have been around for a while they are a mega force of Australian electronic music that continually set themselves apart and prove that they are destined for much bigger things. The set I saw was much like the one I witnessed at the metro late last year, filled with tracks off 'The Worry' but it reined sweeter to me know that this album is out in the open.
Raury is a pocket rocket of overwhelming confidence, theatrics and charisma beyond his 18 years. Despite previously dismissing his music for genre confused preachy bullshit, seeing this grommet live I came to appreciate how he managed to incorporate the disparate interests of rap, arena rock and EDM into something logical and dare I say it, highly enjoyable. In a nutshell he gave us various life values like love your neighbor and a strict policy on good vibes only. It was fucking great.
Downcast but Uplifting:
A subtle, haunting set from rising artist Banks. Here's a soulful shot of her looking deep into our hearts.
Globe Conquering FKA twigs
As we are all well aware by now FKA Twigs is a really big deal. Her moves were so delicate and captivating that you didn't want to blink your eye in case you missed the next whiplash back bend convulsion she might pull. It was a unique moment in the festival because everyone was so captivated that no one danced or even moved throughout the entire set.
That time I Think I Saw Caribou In The Distance
Every festival experience comes with it's missed opportunities and clashes. Unfortunately it was at the point of my most anticipated act, Caribou. The picture you have is a view 10 times better than mine. I struggled with the view and instead hit up Vic Mensa who was good but perplexing. There was a lot of questions to the audience about what happened if he died, lots of lighters in the air, and a weirdly enjoyable Seven Nation Army cover mixed in there. I can't say I didn't have fun but he finished his set with 5 minutes of ordering the audience to buy his merch and buy his shit. Don't tell me what to do Vic.
The Pinnacle: Jon Hopkins
It was a hard decision to opt for Jon over Flylo having not seen either of them before, but as soon as it commenced I knew I made a decision I will be happy with. It was like being sucked into a womb of visual and auditory goodness. Like a journey through time as his electronic cinematic soundscapes rendered us glued to his set from start to finish without a lapse of distraction. There was a strange and beautiful moment where the crowd started moshing, then shrieking as the build came in before the drop but by the end I was just truly awestruck.
Overall Laneway was a winner this year. It seems they have refined a pretty succesful formula. Sure there were a few slips through the cracks but they can quickly be dismissed as watered down versions of the inevitable. Artist curation is a strong point as they manage to secure a diverse roster that engages audiences of every decent scene in popular music. Perhaps this dispersed catering is what attracts the crowd unlike any other festivals in Australia. Thanks St Jerorme's Laneway it's been a blast.