Review by David Payne, Melbourne:
I really like St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, actually I love it. So to those that bitched about a blow out last year – well, nothing. There were only a small number of basement dwelling noisy dickwads and nobody actually cares about them. This year’s festival sold out of course and it was once again – awesome!
The immediate feeling of the Laneway Festival is that it’s put on by music lovers for people that actually dig music. This is not a festival to get trashed and throw cans at Lilly Allen before pushing smaller people out of the way to get a glimpse of some inflated rock opera. It is a diverse, well considered and quite manageable day of quality Australian and lesser known International Artists.
Dirty three were an obvious highlight for me, Oh Mercy were solid and the Philly Jay’s have well confirmed themselves as one of the most exciting live bands in the country. Bridezilla showed confidence on the larger stage but really need an evening slot to help the atmosphere of their sound. Sarah Blasko has played every festival I have been to over summer, so it’s fair to say I saw nothing new but it’ll take a while to tire of hearing her perform tracks from ‘As Day Follows Night’. Finally, a quick mention of XX as the most incredible international band of the day and definitely the sexiest bass player to grace our shores.
Review by Matt Hickey, Brisbane
I’ve been to a fair few music festivals. Which isn’t to say that I’m any more ‘hip’ than anyone – as if going to summer music festivals is any sort of exclusive activity these days. But I mention this because I’m all too well acquainted with dancing to filler line-ups while being pressed up against sweaty, shirtless ‘bro-gans’ and ‘sluzbots’ that decided bikinis were adequate clothing. It’s not an indictment on the quality of Laneway’s program in the slightest when I suggest that my favourite thing about the festival wasn’t the bands but the atmosphere. Held in a small, nifty seciton of the RNA Showround’s, Brisbane’s Laneway Fest 2010 was undoubtedly a success. There were trees, lot’s of cover from rain and/or sun, an indoor bar, bands that have good records AND can bring the shit live – and I only saw two southern cross tattoos all day. I know it’s an easy shot to target the universal emblem for bogan nationalism and one that will probably spark accusations of pretension and a sense of misplaced superiority. But hey, there was a definitely a civilised air about proceedings that is missing from, say, BDO’s Boiler Room; an appreciative atmosphere that allowed The Dirty Three’s long-from instrumental workouts to play second last on the main stage to an attentive, sizable crowd.
With that out of the way, Laneway – musically – was in fine form. While I thought the program did kind of lacked a big headliner this year, the high quality of acts from the outset alleviated any potential disappointment at the end of the night. Kid Sam were the first band that I caught proper and they were simply great. They were somehow left off my ‘best of 09’ list and also, I realised, have been criminally uncovered on whothehell.net. If anyone involved with Kid Sam reads this, you should send me everything that you put out from this point on. Their songs are moving with an anthemic quality to them, and the instrumentation is a perfect mix of technical flair and DIY sloppiness. If you’ve not seen them live, don’t hesitate when next they play your fair city.
Philly Jays were great and uber-energetic as usual. Sharing a slot with Mumford and Sons (the “poor man’s Frightened Rabbit” as my Twitter peep @albertinho calls them) meant that there was a small crowd at the start. But after those British nu-folksters ill-advisedly played ‘Little Lion Man’ about third song in, the crowd grew to an impressive size in time for a rousing rendition of ‘I Don’t Want to Party (Party)’ that devolved into a weirdly hypnotic drum freakout as per usual before leading into set-closer and Hottest 100-charting ‘The Good News.’
Highlight of the day probably went to Wild Beasts. That any band should have one singer with a falsetto like that is near unfathomable, let alone two singers! That’s just obscene. The moment when that second, almost bland looking bald singer stepped up to the mic only to shriek out the opening “watch me, watch me” from ‘All The Kinds Men’ was literally my favourite moment of the day. And there’s just something far more offputting but alluring about a booty call invitation being sung in that high, warbly male voice that kinda gives me the goosebumps. I thought these guys would be good, but I didn’t know how good.
I won’t ramble. The xx brought enough charisma (well, bass player Oliver Sims/Chuck Bass did anyway) to overcome the lull in energy that can result from not having a live drummer; The Dirty Three did as The Dirty Three do, which is generally quite enchanting; and Florence was mildly underwhelming just as she was when I saw her in Belgium last August. I was really kicking myself for not seeing ECRS again but thank fuck they’ve announced that album tour. I shan’t be missing that. Nor shall I be missing Laneway 2011.
I don’t think I spoke to anyone that didn’t enjoy the day. Although it’s grown in size, Laneway has managed to retain its boutique charm, curating line-ups of quality acts over big names for a crowd hungry to soak up every last note.