I WAS THERE | LANEWAY FESTIVAL, MELBOURNE, 13.2.16
It’s not often that one of the very first acts at a music festival set the bar at a ridiculously high standard, but that is exactly how Laneway Festival started in Melbourne this year. Perth three-piece, Methyl Ethel stunned the crowd early, boasting sounds that seemed impossible to be coming from only three members. With a sound that was equal parts Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Beach House, the guys soared through gems off their debut album, Oh Inhuman Spectacle, such as ‘Idee Fixe’, ‘Rogues’ and the Hottest 100 featured, ‘Twilight Driving’, kicking off the day’s festivities in style.
The distance between stages made it borderline impossible to catch every act on our list, but a short walk to the Future Classic stage found us settled in front of the quickly rising, Slum Sociable. The two piece were accompanied by a full band, which completely changed the expected atmosphere of their live sound and the packed lawn was treated to a vibrant, energetic set from the band.
Boy genius, Gab Strum (aka Japanese Wallpaper) followed, also showing off an extended live line up. There is no doubting Strum’s pinpoint production skills and the new live show certainly enhanced that, especially through dreamy numbers like ‘Friends’ and ‘Forces’.
METZ blew up the Mistletone Stage, despite having a relatively small crowd… small, yes, but not tame. The thirty-person strong moshpit was heaving from the get go and the crowd dedicated every bit of their energy to the Canadian trio. Latest single, ‘Eraser’ was a set highlight and inspired a hell of a lot of crowd surfing.
Shamir and The Smith Street Band followed in quick succession, with both acts drawing a healthy crowd late into the afternoon, but the 4:45 slot for me, belonged to New York’s DIIV. The band, led by front man Zachary Cole Smith, delighted fans with a mix of material from their debut album, Oshin and their latest release Is The Is Are, whilst sporting oversized shirts, tiny shorts and op-shop caps. A combination of tracks like ‘Loose Ends’, ‘Dopamine’ and ‘How Long Have You Known’ allowed the quintet to have one of the tightest sets of the festival.
Big Scary continued an amazing run at the Dean Turner stage, playing to possibly the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen them play in front of. As usual, their live set was phenomenal, with moments of gritty rock and utter beauty proving their extreme diversity as songwriters. It was also exciting to hear brand new music added to the setlist, which seemed to get the crowd geared up for the band’s upcoming, third LP.
Los Angeles’ HEALTH provided at epic set back at the Mistletone Stage, with their unique brand of electronica sending vibrations throughout the entire lawn. Even if noise-rock isn’t up your alley, HEALTH are truly a band to experience live. Drummer, Benjamin Miller, spun around his kit like a man possessed, providing showers of rhythms that honestly had to be seen to be believed. The sheer effort HEALTH put into their set actually tired me out, so I managed to sneak in a hearty dinner break before absorbing some more energetic vibes at Violent Soho.
There is no skipping around it, Violent Soho are next level big these days, and with good reason. The heaving crowd was ready to party the minute the Mansfield rockers stepped on the stage and they didn’t stop until the final chord was struck. Soho tore through a chunk of their critically acclaimed album, Hungry Ghost, while also showcasing material off what will be their third record. ‘Like Soda’ and ‘Viceroy’ were met with cheers, but it was clearly the enormously popular, ‘Covered In Chrome’ that truly threw Soho’s set into a world of its own.
A change of pace came in the form of Baltimore beauties, Beach House and their soothing, cathartic set following the sun’s disappearance. All eyes were on front woman Victoria LeGrand, who stood behind a mop full of hair, echoing her unique vocals throughout the almost silent crowd. Their set consisted mainly of material off their two (that’s right, two0 2015 albums, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, with tracks like ‘PPP’, ‘One Thing’ and especially ‘Sparks’, leaving the crowd in a trance.
The almighty clash between Flume, Purity Ring, Chvrches and Hudson Mohawk, divided (and slightly pissed off) fans for the last leg of the festival, with the majority clearly choosing Flume’s set at The Very West Stage, who pipped the headline slot over the energetic pocket rocket, Lauren Mayberry and her band, Chvrches.
Despite the infamous clash of four huge, electronic acts, Laneway once again provided the goods, while keeping many punters on their toes. If you’re a music fanatic, you would have had a busy day sprinting to each stage to catch snippets of some of the best acts from Australia and around the world.
More photos of the day below.
By Dean Valentino
Photos by Michael Prebeg