Laneway Festival

with Tinpan Orange, Husky, DZ Deathrays, Total Control, Active Child, EMA, Pajama Club, Laura Marling, Portugal The Man, Anna Calvi, Yuck, The Horrors and M83

The origins of this festival started at a tiny bar in city, for the first few years it was literally in the laneways of Melbourne amongst the dirt and grime and garbage, after about three years and lots of logistical nightmares it moved to its current home down by the Maribyrnong in Footscray. I can easily say this current venue is the best place in Melbourne for any festival I have ever been to, it has heaps of space lots of shade, easy to move around and very close to public transport.


After a quick visit to the bar to lubricate my brain for a full day of music I wandered over to the River Promenade stage to check out local out Tinpan Orange, their pleasant brand of sunny day pop/ folk was a perfectly breezy way to start the festival, perfect harmonies soft hued tunes won over the small crowd quite easily.


Next up at the Windish stage were heavily lauded Triple J unearthed winners Husky. Husky are not your usual brand of beardy folkies, they incorporate jazz along with inflection's of 70's inspired California pop, with the beautiful backdrop of the Palms Trees and river Husky's set was a perfect start to the day.


Back over to the River Promenade to check out raucous New Zealand punk rockers DZ Deathray. DZ punch through a set of short burst's of visceral energy, that make the hot and sweaty crowd and even more hot and sweaty. I watch the set from a distance at the bar, was too hot for my liking to stand out the front, the beer beckons so I stay at the bar.


I was mid afternoon by this time and I was pumped for Total Control, the band that consists of members of Eddy Current Suppression Ring and the UV Race, Total Control sounds a lot like every one of my favourite punk bands from the 70's Wire, Suicide and everything in between, their heavy style of drone and prog rock rhythms punctuate the midday sun and leave a last impression on the sparse crowd.


The sun was burning hot this stage and so I decided to have a nanna nap in the shade, as I was sleeping I could hear Active Child playing in the background his beautiful ambient electronica was the perfect soundtrack to sundrenched Saturday. As I slumbered on the lawn the sounds of the crowd warmed my ears, it was hard to move after awhile for a couple of reasons, the beer had kicked in and two I felt like lazing around a bit too much.


Back over at the River Stage EMA was about to start so I slowly dragged myself over there, EMA unique brand of dark brooding electronic sound scapes were enticing the crowd to move closer to the stage, as the set progressed the crowd grew EMA was new to my ears, I had only picked up her album 'Past Life Martyred Saints' a couple of days before hand, the album it's self is slow with nightmarish tones, but the live context is a whole another beast, she thrashes and smashes about on stage with visceral energy.


Before I went to Laneway there were only about 5 bands I had heard of, to most people this would deter them from buying a ticket, for me personally it only intrigued me more, the less I knew about the bands the better, people are too safe when it comes to music choices, throw caution to the wind I say and spend money going to see a band you have never heard of before, the result can only be one of two things, you can walk away saying what a waste of money or the complete opposite. Or the best thing you have ever heard.


Over at the Dean Turner stage Pajama Club were about to start. Pajama Club is Neil Finn of Crowded House fame new outfit. The thing I have always admired about Neil Finn is he always open to experimentation; his solo albums have always pushed his creativity into obscure realms as opposed to the straight up pop of Crowded House. As reliable as Neil Finn usually is Pajama Club didn't really do anything for me, sure Neil is a fantastic singer, but the band didn't really gel, it seemed like a rehearsal band, which occasionally get together and jam.


Later in the afternoon again at the Dean Turner stage Laura Marling properly one of the most popular acts on the day, and also one of the most unusual ones, because of the fact that most of the bands on the bill were electro punk/pop bands. Laura's sound of traditional folk was a great change to all the other bands, she had massive crowd who were mesmerized by her beguiling voice and chanteuse looks.


One of the best finds on the day were Portugal The Man, there elastic soul pop took me by surprise and continued to turn the crowd on their heads through their hour long set. From one minute to the next they would go from harmonic beach boy's pop to full tilt rock jams, their knack for bending and stretching traditional pop songs was breathtaking to say the least.


I wandered back over to the River Stage to see Anna Calvi, Anna has been heavily lauded by luminaries such as Nick Cave and Brian Eno, when people like that get behind and artist you know it has to be something special. I will boldly say I haven't seen or heard someone like Anna since PJ Harvey hit the scene 20 years ago, she has the same amazing rawness and brutal energy that PJ has, this is a big statement but I stand behind it. Anna has only had one album out but this album is enough evidence to say she has a big career ahead of her. Throughout her set she wretched her guitar like it was an extension of her body, she is only a tiny girl but she ripped massive riffs like a career stalwart.


I was intrigued to catch indie up and comers Yuck, press had being saying that Yuck were a throwback to the classic indie rock bands of the 90's such as Pavement and Yo La Tengo, it's fair enough comment, but Yuck don't really sound like either of those bands, they do have certain reminiscent sound that a lot bands from that era had, lots of distortion , awesome harmonies and killer riffs, It totally blew me away to find out afterwards these guys were British, their whole album screams classic American indie rock, yet again Yuck were another great find.


Over at the Dean Turner stage British rockers The Horrors were about to start, 2011 Had been a massive year for The Horrors, their album The Skying was huge hit for them back in their homeland, but they were relatively still unknown here. The Horrors are reminiscentof every great British band from the last 20 years, the have influences from the Cure, to Echo and the Bunnymen, their mix of gothic rock and emotional lyrics had the crowd hypnotised, the smashed through hits from The Skying and Primary Colours, the gloomy sky was a perfect backdrop to the bands dreary gothic rock.


Time for another beer at this time, so I wandered back to the bar, the headlining band M83 was about to take off, the set started off with a glittering light show with lots of lasers, then the keyboards punctuated through the lights, I automatically felt transported back to 1983, everything from the prominent back up vocals to the bombastic production reeked of the 80's, at the start I thought the band had some merit, the crowd seemed to love them, and they had the whole festival pumped. After about 5 songs the novelty wore off, and it all started to sound the same a and I got kind of bored, I was almost expecting Gavin Wood from Countdown to do a back announce at the end of the set, it had that kind appeal.


I was absolutely knackered by this stage and decided to head off early to avoid the crowds, yet again Laneway festival was a mixed bag, but the organisers do work hard to appeal to all tastes, and I can safely say it was a triumph.

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