FESTIVAL REVIEW: What I Already Knew But Laneway Reminded Me
Saint Jerome’s Laneway Festival Melbourne Saturday 3rd February
Media passes provided by Event Organisers
Words by Matilda Elgood
Over the weekend I headed along to the Melbourne leg of Saint Jerome’s Laneway Festival. It would turn out to be an incredible event, showcasing an all star lineup in our very own concrete backyard. Laneway welcomed major international acts that haven’t graced Australian soil in a hot minute, including Anderson Paak, Billie Eilish, The Internet and The War on Drugs. Punters delighted in a warm summer’s day, complete with a cool breeze, through the streets of Footscray. Here are some things I already knew, but Laneway reminded me:
Laneway hates short people
The concept of Lanway is great; an urban line-up in an urban landscape. However, it’s becoming clear that the festival heads must all be over 6 feet tall. Funnily enough, a will crowd fill out a street really fast, meaning a height requirement is necessary to physically see any of your favourite acts. And, as any festival goer would know, the visual component to a live show is just as important as the audible. Miss out on that and you may as well be listening to a live set recording at home. The landscape of most other festivals allows punters to see the stage from a variety of angles no matter your height, but this is an area where Laneway falters. As the event grows each year, Laneway needs to consider relocating to grounds that allow for its shorter attendees to get the full experience.
Anderson Paak is King
By far the best live act of the day was Cali King, Anderson Paak. Opening with one of the strongest songs from his 2016 album Malibu, ‘Come Down’, Paak had the tightly packed crowd immediately jumping. The Free Nationals, Paak’s backing band, delivered an incredible tight and soulful set with Paak often joining them behind the drumset. Paak sported an all white outfit onstage and, as the sun set across the festival throughout his set, he truly looked ‘Glowed Up’. The Californian rapper welcomed new fans with familiar covers from Dr Dre and Nelly. The energy radiating from the crowd was reaching its peak when Paak brought out a special guest (not that I could see him myself). Although I was anxiously waiting to hear ‘Dang!’, his collaboration with Mac Miller, I settled for a different Mac, DeMarco that is.
Miss Blanks is Queen
Brisbane based hip hop artist, Miss Blanks graced an early crowd. Joined by backup dancers the high intensity was contagious. Blanks created a really welcoming and safe atmosphere as she commended individual fans for their participation. Emitting an electric confidence, mirrored in a crowd that danced so fearlessly, Blanks put some charge into ‘Clap Clap’ and ‘Skinny Bitches’, two of Miss Blanks most empowering songs. Her unforgiving lyrics exploring themes of body positivity. There was a community atmosphere during the set, with Blanks sharing such raw and honest words, breaking down the barrier between her and her doting crowd.
Billie Eilish is an angel (with a cute hat)
Touring internationally is an incredible achievement, and at the mere age of 16, it is phenomenal. Excuse the un-original thought, but Eilish’s music shows maturity beyond her age. Not only in her lyrical content, but in her music’s high production value. Not to mention her voice, Eilish’s school choir roots shining through her music with her celestial vocals. The US singer has been lucky enough to be on high rotation on Australian radio, making ‘Bellyach’ a hit song of 2017. The track had the audience humming along, regardless of whether they were familiar with her other work. Again, at the ripe age of 16, Eilish has been dubbed a fashion icon. Her signature style often a casual, baggy silhouette. With Laneway no exception, she wore a oversized blue tracksuit with a pink bucket hat. I must admit, all I could glimpse of Eilish’s get up was her pink hat bobbing up and down, but the copious amount of post show photos had me obsessed.
The (very, very, very) West Stage is too far away
At the risk drifting into complaining territory, The West Stage feels miles away from the rest of the festival. And the increasing temperature through the day made venturing across the festival sight less than desirable. I constantly had to psych myself up to trek to the other side of the event grounds to catch some of the must-see acts of the day. One of which was Wolf Alice, a set anyone who missed would have been plagued with regret. The English band performed a set packed full of tracks from their recent album, Visions of a Life, released late last year. ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ and ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’ were highlights of the set. But hanging out at The West Stage, I found myself hoping that my own personal schedule would take me over to the Spinning Top Stage, where I could finally sit down at the amphitheatre and, like a dream, be able to see the artists performing.