Live: St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Melbourne – 1/02/14

The day began like any other, full of train delays and four cups of coffee. Arriving at the gates with the other excited, jean short wearing festival goers, it was obvious that everyone was there for a different set of acts; the four stages committing to the best of the local and international music scene, making it difficult, if not impossible, to see all the artists one would like.My freshly caffeinated and sun-screened body was not prepared for triple j Unearthed winners, Client Liaison. Their ‘80s inspired dance music, full of sweet hooks and irresistible beats, had the early arrivals grooving along.During  their final tune, ‘Free of Fear’, it was hard not to follow along with the singer’s hand gestures, as he blazed his way through points and pulling shapes.  Check out photos from the day.While the sun made its way to its peak of 36℃, a loyal following stood on sweltering asphalt to watch The Growl perform. Cameron Avery’s husky voice resonated from the largest stage as the band slapped and plucked their way through his words. Sharp and poignant claps gave the set a sweet and soulful vibe. There was a slow grind to the crowd as The Growl played an epic extended version of ‘With the Sharp End of the Trowel’, after which we were well wished and headed back out into the rays.Dick Diver came out sporting board shorts and the most Australian of Australian accents. Opening with ‘Water Damage’, the folk tones felt right as we sat upon the grassy knoll of the River Stage and people below danced to the chords and out of tune harmonies. Dick Diver is the perfect festival band, rolling out lyrics that anybody can sing along and carelessly dance to.Skipping out on crowd favourite Vance Joy, we went and enjoyed Kiwi/US three piece Unknown Mortal Orchestra, as well as some of the boutique eateries and the life-size, puppet rhinoceros, which drew the only crowd of dickheads spotted all day (an astounding effort for a summer festival – props to Laneway for attracting such a civilized and well-behaved bunch). Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s mellow, aged sound echoed from the tree-lined stage as a freight train rattled underneath us. The band played through their popular songs, including a magical performance of ‘So Good To Be Trouble’ that even a boy gyrating against the rhino couldn’t spoil.A dark moment of the festival was the 13-minute silence after the brilliant 30-second intro into Chvrches. Due to huge technical difficulties the capacity crowd was left to make friends with those around them. In that time, I lost one friend and gained seven due to a glitter bomb and my sickening love for Tasmanians. Once Chvrches began playing again, the magic was not lost, but the spark in lead vocalist Lauren’s voice had faded; her delivery of their dark and gloomy lyrics failing to match the synth-pop jubilation of their tracks. Nonetheless one of the freshest bands of 2013 had the crowd moving to their hits, ‘Gun’, ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘Lies’.Making my way out of the dense crowd to see Jagwar Ma was a test of willpower. At points, I felt like giving in and listening to Haim, but eventually after 20 minutes and being led through by a man in a green visor, I made it to the Future Classic Stage to witness some exciting new music from the Sydney-siders as well as songs from their well toured album, Howlin’.After Jagwar Ma we joined the mass exodus to Lorde, taking our place in front of a huge speaker surrounded by lovebirds and yellowing clouds. The Grammy Award-winning teenager put on a spectacular performance, and I would like to thank the lighting people for creating the most flawless highlights across all the performers’ faces throughout the day. Lorde’s set was a grand 50 minutes of electronic beauty, accented by her disjointed movements and hair flips. ‘Royals’ saw the flying up of phone screens and the enormous unison of voices. Her band (comprised of Auckland natives Jimmy Mac & Ben Barter) were flawless as well.The last acts of the evening saw a great divide, and the decision was made to stay at the main stage and watch The Jezabels. Having released their new album, The Brink, two days prior, The Jezabels didn’t disappoint when it came to showing off their newest tracks and of course, older power ballads. Haley Mary’s vocals soared until, again, the speakers cut out. This time on one of the high notes of crowd favourite, ‘Endless Summer‘. Unfortunately, the sound never quite returned to its full muster after that.  Laneway Festival, with its overflow of high calibre local and international musicians, has been a highlight of the summer festival season. With the recent controversy surrounding the axing of Harvest Festival and Push Over Festival, not to mention underwhelming Big Day Out ticket sales, it’s reassuring to see that festivals, in this time of uncertainty, still have the capacity to do well. Maybe a new approach just needs to be considered. In the meantime, to ensure there are as many Laneway Festivals and others like it to come, do as Dick Diver’s Al Montfort says and “support your local beat”. 5 out of 5 starsReview by Bridget Krusec & Milo Eastwood (The Hoist) For snaps of the day, check out The Hoist does Laneway Festival 2014 photo gallery.  

February 22nd 2014
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