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St Jerome’s Laneway Festival Brisbane: Fri, February 1 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on February 8, 2013

Laneway is always one of scenewave’s favourite festivals of the Aussie summer. It prides itself on delivering a lineup which, at the time of release, has a couple of massive headline bands, but more importantly, acts as an incredible showcase of bands tipped to hit it big in the coming year. Laneway did that incredibly this year, and I for one, had no idea who many of the acts were that were announced on the Laneway bill, but it was a joy getting into them. Some of them have now become my favourite acts.

Rumours circulated throughout Brissy the week of Laneway that it may be called off due to the extreme weather conditions of the days preceding the festival; however, it couldn’t have been a more glorious day for a festival. The sun struck down as we walked in, and it soon became clear that the traditional game of ‘pick the fittest girl in the festival’ – it goes all day, if you pick it too early, you’re exempt from recalling if a hotter one comes later, but then again if you don’t see that chick again and she was the best, you win –  was on for young and old. Laneway really does bring out the best in Brisbane talent.

We walked in to hear The Men rocking out on the Eat Your Own Ears stage to a very packed crowd for a midday slot. The first item on our agenda was initially Henry Wagons, although our plans had to be rejigged (waiting for drunk lasses… standard female festival behaviour, which begs the question, ‘Why do they even drink?’) and the first act we saw were Sydney-based chill-experts, High Highs. After interviewing this emotive three-piece earlier in the week, we were so keen to catch their set. It was an awesome performance, and I’m sure they won over plenty of new fans. “Open Season” was so good, as were the rest of the songs from their recently released album – of the same title – which was released late last month. They also played a lush cover of College & Electric Youth’s tune, “A Real Hero”, also featured in the film, Drive.

The accessibility of the stages was perfect this year, which was an absolute necessity due to the very tight times and overlaps between sets. So it was indeed a very short walk to Snakadaktal who featured on the Eat Your Own Ears stage. It didn’t take long during the very recent high-school graduates’ set (I feel I have to remind the seedy onlookers of their age), for a voice behind me to lock in Phoebe Cockburn, the Snakadaktal lead singer, as his pick of the day. Unfortunately for all the other tremendous competitors, this ended up being the winner. Congratulations, Phoebe, our hats are off to you and we applaud your endeavour and the spirit in which you play the game.

We chilled up the back for Of Monsters and Men, who I have to admit I’ve gone off a little, since the raping that “Little Talks” copped. But God those Icelandics know how to put on a fun show. It was all over in an instant, and the particularly great tracks were “Six Weeks” and “Mountain Sound”.

We hung around Car Park Stage for Alt-J (obviously…), and after the indecent things I’d done to their debut record An Awesome Wave, seeing them perform live was the logical nek step. Picking 50 minutes of music from that ridiculous, Mercury Prize-winning debut record was always going to make for an unreal setlist, and they played every track with the exception of “Ms”. I’ve spoken to a few people since their gig, and it’s all been the same response. Everyone is a bit ‘meh’ about the whole performance; in the way that you can’t fault it, but there’s nothing that was so incredible either. This is excluding “Fitzpleasure”, however, which was absolutely off chops. More hectic bass and just sheer volume – as was displayed in that track – was what I expected from the whole setlist, and I have to say I was a little disappointed with the sound quality. To be honest, it just sounded like the album… which isn’t an insult, but I guess we just wanted something a little more.

We had to run to catch the last three tracks of MS MR, who were ridic. They have a new EP due out very shortly, and showcased some awesome tracks, which got their fans very itchy for the upcoming release. Their last track “Hurricane” was worth the sprint alone, which turned into an epic singalong, or an epic perve-fest, depending on your perspective and sexual inclination. Boy, does Lizzy Plapinger know how to own a crowd… Sheesh. Forever sprinting, we necked it to Flume, who as predicted delivered a loose and carefree rave-fest; read our review of his gig at Oh Hello! later that night for more details. Alpine were also as spectacular as always, and I’m always amazed by the men’al stage presence of lead singers Phoebe and Lou. I had to leave Alpine unfortunately, due to the unavoidable clash with my pick of the day, Yeasayer. 

I spent the day nervously awaiting the result of how Yeasayer’s latest record, Fragrant World, would translate into any live setting, let alone an open arena like Laneway Festival. Well, the first two songs shut me right up and put my anxieties to bed. “Henrietta” followed by “Longevity” was insane, and it didn’t take them long to confirm themselves as the best act of the day. Singer Chris Keating was dynamic; mesmerising the crowd with his emphatic, albeit very camp hand gestures and his awesome use of the stage. Their live version of “O.N.E.” still gets me, as does epic closer “Wait for the Summer”. A great moment was when Keating yelled a big, “Come on!” to the crowd, as they tore into the “Yeah, yeah, we can all grab at the chance to be handsome farmers, yadayadayada…” (I did have to google the lyrics to that one… Guilty) part of “2080”. Everyone pretended to know the words and yelled jibberish as fast as we could until we were all out of breath. Proving to all around that I wasn’t speaking nonsense, and that the bass solo at the end of “Ambling Alp”, is indeed played on a fretless bass and not a synthesiser was a small individual victory for the day. It was an awesome set all round.

We limped over to the Eat Your Own Ears stage for Divine Fits, absolutely battered from the pounding Keating and those Yeasayer cronies gave us. After chatting to Britt Daniel earlier that week, we gathered that he didn’t really give a shit about what the crowd thought about his new project, and that he knew that the music would reign true in the end. He couldn’t have been more right about that. The reaction to Divine Fits started out timidly, however once the audience saw how much fun the band were having on stage, they all started to let loose and get into it. Daniel really has one of the most iconic voices in rock n’ roll and it takes on a mind of its own for his live show. “Would That Not Be Nice” and “Flaggin A Ride” were highlights, but the best track of the night was Boys Next Door cover, “Shivers”. He sings that one with so much passion, and I’m sure everyone went back to their houses that night thinking, “How have I never heard of Nick Cave’s first band?”

It was a ridiculous day of some of the highest calibre acts on the scene, and some acts that are only going to get bigger and bigger in 2013. We thank St Jerome’s Laneway Festival Brisbane for a mental day and we’ll see you next year!

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