Photography: Max Reilly
On its 15th year anniversary Laneway Festival arrived in Melbourne last weekend. From its humble beginnings Laneway has managed to become one of the most highly anticipated events on the Melbourne summer calendar. Since its inception, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival has been well-known for its A-grade line-ups and multiple stages.
Following 2019’s collection of artists, this year's festival had to live up to a high standard. Despite doubt and judgement, fans were delighted by yet another line-up of epic proportions, compiled with world-renown talents to local up and coming artists. Laneway’s rise in popularity can credit to their ability of hosting stages for artists on the brink of popularity as well as locking in artists with impressive discographies and captivating performances.
Last Saturday marked Melbourne’s opportunity to witness fantastic talent within Footscray Park. In a city where no one could possibly predict the climate, the sun was unmistakably brighter than usual.
The new location was impressive, vast open spaces and picturesque visuals, a perfect venue to host a large event. Situated parallel with the Maribyrnong River, the new Laneway spot was a winner. Music enthusiasts young and old seeped in and began to fill the wide-open areas as first acts began to play.
Going against a truly unjust set-time, Pist Idiots was the first band to start my day. As beloved and well-known as Pist Idiots are, it meant that loyal and passionate fans could absolutely belt their memorable lyrics. But what an underrated mosh! Circles formed left, right and centre, while people were hoisted up onto their mates’ shoulders, battling against each other in the open pit as crowds cheered on, ultimately, winning a grin and chuckle from frontman Jack Sniff as he continued the performance. An excellent start to the rest of the day.
The beauty of festivals with heavy artist contrast is that you can often be exposed to acts that you have never heard of and/or listened to. For me on a personal level a particular artist that grew on me was Oliver Tree. An artist whom I had no previous knowledge of caught me right off guard as he made his entrance on his signature scooter. His performance style was unique, holding an ability to be quirky as well as entertaining. His presence on stage was filled with crowd engagement, addressing his audience that “you all better be drinking water you c**ts,” a perfect way to encourage hydration in this country. What a discography. Oliver keeps it simple yet catchy, with memorable lyrics from songs like Hurt and Cash Machine along with a power to have all audience members jumping up and down simultaneously. Unexpected yet pleasant surprise.
Spacey Jane. Where to start. Rising in popularity, whilst miraculously making it into the #80 in this years Hottest 100 countdown, fan anticipation was at an all-time high as they awaited their set at the Future Classic Stage. This four-piece West Coast collective held an unparalleled stage presence, wholesome audience engagement and friendly demeanour; definitely winning the crowd over. Spacey Jane preview their versatility in performing through contrasting song types from Good Grief to the set opener Thrills. With high-octane sounds, Spacey definitely treated their most loyal fans as more and more people flooded into the mosh surrounding the stage. Lucky enough I was able to meet with Adrian, the drummer from the 4-piece who had decided to see the festival for himself. He stated that ‘Melbourne drew in a pretty big crowd it wasn’t bad at all’ and that he had been ‘loving Laneway so far and can’t wait to play the next few shows.’ Look out 2020 these guys are definitely going places.
From electro pop to indie folk to psychedelic rock. This festival had something for absolutely everyone. But some sets stood out more than others. The Dean Turner stage seemed to have a King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Rare-breed psychedelic rock collective, King Gizz put on a spectacle back at their home roots. Playing fan-favourites like Rattlesnake and recent projects like Planet B had crowds losing all mentality. Filling up almost the entire stage, it is always mesmerising seeing the band work cohesively together. Barely taking a break, these Melbourne boys went track after track with no signs of slowing down. High energy and impressive musicianship, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard was hard to follow.
As the sun went down and the evening began to commence it was nearly time for the huge headliner, The 1975. The UK Indie-pop band drew quite the crowd and attention from attendees as people crammed into a space to the stage. Followed by roaring cheers, frontman Matt Healy emerged out of the smoke as the stage graphic previewed the track to begin set; their new heavy single People. Being far from the stage wasn’t an issue for attendees as fans sung out well-known anthems in unison, creating a wholesome environment of community and shared interest in the music. It was made obvious that Matt Healy had fully recovered after his inability to perform at Brisbane’s laneway set, performing In fighting fit condition and standard. The 1975 played an impressive, yet also pleasing list of music featuring their most recent singles to old school favourites from the past. Matt Healy was nothing short of an impressive performer, incorporating elaborate dance techniques and humour, making the band enjoyable to watch visually. These boys had the audience in the palm of their hands.
On a more serious note, the band had planned a sort of intermission or interlude to their set.
The 1975 had decided to use their platform as a front for political awareness sharing their concerns on the issues of climate change and lack of responsibility from world leaders. A snippet from teenage climate advocate Greta Thurnburg was played while supported with heart-wrenching visuals of natural disasters. With a musical act the size and influence of this band they hold status where addressing world issues transcends any other form of media, as all crowds collectively shared a passion for their music and for what they had to say.
Matt Healy announced the band’s album short-coming and proclaimed their return again in the next few years once again. This was followed by fan excitement, anticipating the short wait for the UK collectives tour once again. And just like that Laneway Festival concluded. Undoubtedly a one-day touring festival to be recognised as one of the most enjoyable music calendar dates in history. Laneway has provided and will continue to provide.