SYN Goes To Laneway 2012

Festivals are a sprawling affair, filled with friends, music and drinking. But is it a good combination over ten hours? This was my second attempt to get into the spirit of Laneway and in summary my thoughts remain unchanged: the day starts off grand, some technical issues can appear but it is not really that annoying and then the people get grungier over time which kills the mood. In retrospect it was still a decent day – apparently it is a lot nicer crowd than bigger festivals but still, it reaffirmed for me that with Melbourne having such a thriving local music scene that festivals come up second best.

Being the second festival held in Footscray it was a step up from when it was held in the city the last time. Situated right on the Maribyrnong it was pretty spacious with surprisingly good food and drink stands, albeit there were progressively longer queues as the day went on, but they remained efficient.
Dean Turner Stage – The only stage set in an actual laneway and as a result of that there was a corridor of people rather than a proper audience. Acoustics were great with little technical issues.
Young Turks & EYOE Stage – Best space for the crowd, worst sound. Delays for certain artists and sitting through some sets were physically painful.
Windish Agency Stage – Best aesthetically, the hill was a great place to sit down and watch a set, plenty of room for the hardcore fans right up the front to stare ardently or to thrash around. Some technical glitches (see: Jonti)

The Crowd:
The beautiful people – Laneway festival goers are the most attractive bunch of people I have ever seen. Not a hair out of place, sashaying from stage to stage in obligatory sunglasses, girls pulling off animal prints, guys in a vastitude of vestiture, generally likable and enthusiastic about being at a festival with a good line up. Essentially making up the bulk of the crowd and compared to most other music festival goers, rather tame.
The people who try too hard – Sometimes festivals appear to be an awesome time to look like a homeless person who decided to hijack a clothing donation bin, standing in place as not to ruin the ensemble, complete with obligatory pensive looks. Spenders, bow tie and suit pants; skinny jeans, knee high boots and a smoking jacket; canary yellow trench coat with beehive and thick gold chains; unnecessary eyewear; sari and leather jacket; technicolour cloak with a two foot tall goblin face complete with tassels (my personal favourite). They would tell you what act is coming up next but why bother, you probably haven’t heard of them anyway.
The bogans – Fairly minimal through the day, although they became apparent as they day went on (cashed up bogans know how to blend until alcohol is consumed.) Dreadlock dude in Blundstones and Bintang singlet guy were sighted frequently. Only there for that guy with that song, you know the one, the one that goes ‘da doo doo dah’. Yeah, that guy. Oh, and the excuse to drink all day.
The muzzas – N/A

Husky – Great band, although a bit too down tempo to kick off a festival. Gideon’s keyboard solo and new track were highlights.
Geoffrey O’Connor – Such a dork but very fun. A sense of the 80’s was in full effect, complete with smoke machine and a cover of ‘Addicted to Love’.
Jonti – Technical difficulties were a killjoy. Perhaps it was because of the nature of having such a computerised set or maybe stage issues, either way over half a set just fixing things was not fun. He was nice and the sound was good in those brief moments things worked.
Austra – A crowd favourite with a great set, strong vocals were supported by operatic belly dancing. Definitely one of those times the majority of the people came because they knew the one song but they entertained everyone with aplomb.
Active Child – Beautiful as always, bit too short a set. Another example of where people were there for one song and then the crowd dissipated somewhat after ‘Hanging On’.
Twin Shadow – Painful to the point of being so horrible I almost walked away. Not because of the music but the stage sound was so loud people were actually clutching their ears. Highlighted the rockier aspect the songs, vocals were lacking.
Feist – I would tell you how she sounded but I was too distracted by getting pushed aside every ten seconds.
Yuck – Not so yuck, pretty darn good, actually. Moshers in front of the barrier added to the entertainment.
Toro Y Moi – Definitely a pick me up at the end of a long, long day. Great to see a performer so lively on stage.

Seeing a woman getting knocked down and myself been shouldered and sworn at in the middle of Feist’s set by people barging in while standing a foot away from  a security guard who did nothing was a real let down. I was in such a bad mood after that that I left once I found my mates; they too wanted to leave. Nothing personal to the festival at all but any sort of gathering of young people drinking all day is going to be messy at the end and for me the positive vibe that resonated through the day dissipated quickly, hence why I prefer side shows. It was lower key than something like the Big Day Out and a more niche line up which is part of Laneway’s appeal, the latest location is a definitely a step up from previous years and I was not kidding about the crowd – they really were that good looking. However, would I go back next year? It all depends on the acts involved.
by Mason Smith

February 15th 2012
Read more by jakec

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