[Live Review] LANEWAY 2018 (Sydney)

Sydney College of the Arts, Rozelle
Sunday February 4, 2018 :

There’s no better location than the stunning grounds of Rozelle’s Sydney College of the Arts to house the iconic St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Born out of Caledonian Lane in Melbourne’s CBD, the festival is still thriving years down the track and I suspect that has something to do with organisers’ ability to maintain it’s original roots.

This year’s addition wasn’t short of inner west fashion statements with some impressive fruit themed hat and shirt combos along with the usual mismatched op shop trend paired with doc martins or mid socks and adidas. It seemed like the cloudy morning fooled everyone. As soon as those clouds parted everyone was toast, myself included.

The Babe Rainbow were radiating blissful vibes when I arrived. Not knowing much of the band, I assumed it was an all female line-up, how completely wrong I was…Oops. Nevertheless, chanting the lyrics “Breathe in, breathe out” felt quite therapeutic as their bluesy psychedelic sounds eased the crowd into the big day ahead.

Most mesmerising act of the day goes to Billie Eilish. Wow that girl can sing. Her red tracksuit screamed edgy yet her voice was delicate and pure. Accompanied by two unknown (but great) multi-instrumentalists, Eilish pumped out a huge sound with Triple J favourites ‘Bellyache’ and ‘My Boy’. Just when we thought the set couldn’t possibly get any better she pulls out a ukulele and starts to cover Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ and everyone’s mind is officially lost.

Labor MP Anthony Albanese introduced Amy Shark to the stage after giving a quick one-minute speech declaring his opinion on the government’s responsibility to facilitate fun rather than shutting it down. Albo is one of the only members of parliament trying to connect with the younger generation and what better place to do so. He has my vote! I saw Amy Shark at Splendour last year where she pulled one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. It was deja vu at Laneway, with ‘Adore’ being a stand out favourite once again.

Jack Bourke of City Calm Down was the last of the band members to walk on stage for their mid afternoon set. Distinguished traits comparable to The National frontman Matt Berninger and a voice akin to The Cure’s Robert Smith and Morrissey, Bourke’s style holds it’s own. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him. It was hypnotic and brooding until the very end when he finally gave us a little grin.

Opening with ‘Under Control’ off Ego Death, The Internet had the crowd bouncing and singing straight up. Syd’s personality is infectious as she cruises to the trip-hop soulful tunes the guys are putting down. ‘Just Sayin / I Tried’ riles everyone up with the lyrics “You fucked up” being screamed from every orifice capable of making sound. 

Anderson Paak. dropped some epic beats but sadly (from where I was standing at least) the sound seemed quiet. For one of the acts I was most excited to see I left feeling a little disappointed. Bonobo and Odesza provided the dance anthems for the evening although many were torn between Father John Misty and BADBADNOTGOOD who were playing at the same time.

I missed POND but I’ve heard from a very reliable source that they ‘melted faces’ with their jam sessions. The War On Drugs was my last stop and holy shit did they deliver. It was a beautiful way to cool down after a crazy day, swaying to the mellow tunes off their latest album A Deeper Understanding.

Reviewer : Louie Smith
Photographer : Peter Dovgan

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