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Live Review: St Jerome’s Laneway Festival @ RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane

Laneway Bris 2016 Tunnel

For years now the Australian festival scene has been rocked with harsh loses, from the gargantuan that was Big Day Out, to more recent let downs Future Music Festival and Soundwave. But through the devastation here stands St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, always ready to pick up the slack.

“Unfortunately, being the pale kid I am, despite hourly trips to the station by the end of the night even the part in my hair sported the tender red we all dread.”

And pick up the slack it does, presenting an incredibly diverse range of acts from carving out a mosh pit for the ex-Soundwave head thrasher to a d-floor for the singlet toting Future Music punter, sometimes literally on the next stage over. The inclusion of heavier artists personally warms my heart, being an ex-Soundwave boy, with this year’s lineup including punk-rockers FIDLAR, Violent Soho, The Smith Street Band, and High Tension.

Going into its 11th year nationally (9th in Brisbane) old mate St Jerome has come a long way from its beginnings in a small bar, and former Swedish meatballs shop, to the now yearly highly anticipated tastemaker music festival it’s become. Upon entering the RNA Showgrounds you’re first greeted by an incredibly convenient and ingenious sunscreen table, keeping the skin of its revellers safe is a good move. Unfortunately, being the pale kid I am, despite hourly trips to the station by the end of the night even the part in my hair sported the tender red we all dread. But enough nonsense, here’s the music!

The day started with slight disappointment as emerging artists Ali Barter, Good Boy, The Goon Sax, and Banoffee all scheduled at the same time or at least egregiously over lapped. My interactions were spread thin. A brief listening to the fresh faced boys and girl from The Goon Sax showed that though the group have their song writing down pat, they still have some ways to go where performance is concerned. For a guitar-pop band the guitar melody in latest single Boyfriend sounded clumsily picked and unplugged. Despite a less than perfect performance there was quality enough to put them in the upper echelon of indie-rock, surely scoring them a full schedule for 2016 and the much needed live practice.

Next I made my way over to the Never Let It Rest Stage to catch the end half of Ali Barter’s set, it was a delight. Standing centre stage the Melbourne songstress lead the three musicians that accompanied her. She looked at home belting tunes to the back of the marque, flaunting a voice infinitely larger than the singer’s actual height. Though Barter was clearly the captain of her crew, the crew deserve massive props of their own – especially the long haired guitarist (Oscar from Holy Holy) adding the licking melody that makes Hypercolour such a revelling hit.

Laneway Bris 2016 Ali Barter 1

To my absolute adulation upon checking out the Red Bull Future Classic stage I found I had in fact not missed a second of Banoffee. The electronic, RnB, Hip-Hop mishmash singer’s set had been moved up to replace the since booted SILICON. Banoffee barrelled through her set showcasing her electronic prowess dropping beats and laying out melodies inspiring glitter bombs (literally, thanks to a couple too-excited punters) and enthralling the audience into a blissful daze. She approached her set with so much energy and enthusiasm, dancing and spinning and kicking. It was great to watch but the crowd didn’t really join. It might have been something to do with the sound guys but it wasn’t until her last songs Ninja and Her that I could really hear Banoffee’s vocals and I feel a little bit cheated; as incredible of an electronic artist she is, her voice is golden and definitely her strongest attribute.

Laneway Bris 2016 Banoffee 2

Methyl Ethel were the first group of the day to really get the crowd moving. Their introduction to the set was a slow burning, anticipation building tease, strumming their guitars and holding the chords well into the first minute. From the first song the audience’s feet seemed pinned to the floor as their shoulders moved from extreme left to extreme right, their bodies waving along to the washed out guitars of the three piece. They played Twilight Driving, it was cool.

Laneway Bris 2016 Methyl Ethel 6

The most Australian act of the day were definitely DMA’s, their accent ridden anthems uniting all ears it touched. They didn’t have a crowd, they had a sea of backing vocals. Almost every song the Sydney-based trio played inspired the crowd to link shoulders and sing to the tarp that draped above us. The relaxed performance of Delete calmed the crowd before setting of into faster-paced Lay Down. To the sound of Laced, one of the bands most renowned songs, an inflated goon sack soared through the air – Brisbane’s replacement for a festival beach ball.

Laneway Bris 2016 DMAs 4

I was a little bit disappointed by how much the crowd thinned out after DMA’s. By no means was Royal Headache’s audience small but I expected the group to have an echoing audience similar to the last. Regardless, the Sydney garage-rock quartet delivered even more energy than the previous, and surprisingly almost as many hits. The lead singer Shogun was never stationary, moving from each side of the stage with large strides reminiscent of Jimmy Barnes and his dancing will ALWAYS be compared to Peter Garrett. As the first chords of Carolina rolled through a single jolt of lightning cut across the sky and the rain began only continuing until the end of the set.

I lost my sunglasses to FIDLAR and it was well worth it. The American punk rock group took to the stage with an earnest attitude that absolutely improved their connection with the audience. Early on in the set they launched into the absolutely tune 40oz. On Repeat sending the crowd a good foot in the air, it was killer. Soon after that the group continued with their anthem West Coast, the crowd providing the infectious ‘AHs’ of the chorus.  What must have been a fog machine malfunction or explosion towards the end of the set engulfed the back left side of the crowd sending punters sprawling and really thinning out the crowd before the band played hit Why Generation.

Laneway Bris 2016 FIDLAR 8

Hermitude managed to turn the RNA’s ex-showbag marquee into a sweaty club at 2:00am. The DJ duo had the entire crowd bouncing and dancing. Adding a sense of real electricity to the atmosphere, Hermitude set the pace for the headliners still to come. Their massive hit HyperParadise, foreshadowing Flume’s later appearance, started with an epic intro from The Tokens The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The set ended with their latest banger and hottest 100 entrant The Buzz.

Laneway Bris 2016 Hermitude 14

Violent Soho were definitely a crowd favorite this year. The entire festival was littered with the massive array of VS shirts and even a few sporting The Bennies shirts, friends of ‘Soho. The local boys belted through their 2016 Hottest 100 entry Like Soda and continued on with more mellow tracks Dope Calypso and Fur Eyes. Latest single Viceroy got what must have been one of its first live plays. When it came to Covered in Chrome nobody held back as the chorus kicked in the crowd followed with the deafening chant. I’d never heard so many people yelling ‘Yeah’ so loudly, Chris Brown eat your heart out!

Laneway Bris 2016 Violent Soho 12

Grimes started out her set with Flesh without Blood, introducing Brisbane too her merry band of fluro-clad performers. As great as the music was, Grimes’ show was just that; a show in every facet from the back up dancers, the matching outfits, the swords (yes swords!) the hand held lasers, the camouflage netting, the group basically had everything covered. Grimes encouraged the crowd to dance along with her as she laid down beats and they obliged. Her vocal range was incredible, somehow reaching impossibly high notes without screeching, all the while dancing and moving around like she was instructing a 5,000 person live aerobics class.  My favourite was Genesis executed just as well live as in studio. Can we please get a Grimes featuring Banoffee song? It would be incredible!

Laneway Bris 2016 Grimes 1

Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES came out with what seemed like a point to prove. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s non-stop movement and impossibly-cute banter made their set one of the day’s best. Her tiny figure looked giant silhouetted by the epic light show, as the trio delivered a crowd-pleasing set including a passionate delivery of Never Ending CirclesRecover, and ending on Mother We Share. Special mention has to go to CHVRCHES percussionist Martin Doherty’s dance moves during Under The Tide, which looked like Lorde’s hallway dance in Magnets mixed with Michael Jackson’s moonwalk.

Laneway Bris 2016 CHVRCHES 7

The first battering of bass hit me and shook through my body, there must have been speakers facing the ground because the floor seemed to shake as the sound built. Flume eventually rose from the fort of glowing cubes to deliver the Laneway audience his massive hit Holdin’ On. A lot of the set was new pieces, most likely from his upcoming album, they didn’t contain vocals and left the crowd confused and unsure whether to dance or not. Flume actually recently addressed this, stating his next album would be a headphones affair as opposed to festival music. The crowd were excited to see Kai join the stage as the duo leapt into current chart topping track Never Be Like You. He also welcomed vocalist Kucka to the stage for an awesome live version of Smoke & Retribution. Before the end of the set the poison of choice had worn off for a large chunk of the audience, resulting in many taking to the floor for rest, the night was definitely over.

Laneway Bris 2016 Flume 8

As post-Laneway depression kicks in I’m glad to know that there’s still such a strong standing festival in Brisbane that welcomes artists across a range of genres. I hope Laneway continues to provide that juxtaposition between incredible electronic artists like Banoffee and Grimes to rock heavyweights Violent Soho and FIDLAR. I love my guitars and I love my drums, but most of I love music of all forms and so does Laneway.

Click HERE for our full Laneway Gallery