It’s really touching to think that one of Australia’s most iconic festivals, takes place in the dirty alleyways of Melbourne’s west in Footscray. With the local Footscray Arts Centre holding home to Melbourne’s swing at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival again this year, catching a train three stops over from your western suburban home to a festival delivering such big names was a heart-warming feeling. Figaro touched on and caught the train a few stops over to Foostcray, and when arrived at the station you were greeted with a’many other folks that clearly had the same idea as you for the day. Walking from the station to the Arts Centre was kind of like a walking school bus, stumbling in a somewhat orderly fashion with the less drunk friend of the group playing the role of Mum for the walk and doing a head count of the squad after every block. Once getting in, after you adjusted your eyes to all the glitter painted eyes and the open tropical shirts you were settling in for the day. Melbournian residents knew from the get-go that it was going to be a big day, cause with a line-up as big and juicy as the one that was served, how on earth could it not be?
This year’s line-up was stacked up heavenly, and while we know better than to create high expectations for ourselves, acts like BADBADNOTGOOD, Moses Sumney, Anderson .Paak, Sylvan Esso, The Internet, Bonobo, ODESZA, Loyle Carner, Mac Demarco and plenty more, it was safe to say that St. Jerome’s line-up for this years Laneway Festival left big shoes to fill. But again, as we’ve said before, the main thing that comes with such a delicious line-up, is that it naturally does lead to a few clashes. Since Laneway are famous for their set-time predicaments, you find yourself wishing there was a way to split yourself up so you could catch all the sets, but alas, there is not, so there’s nothing left to do, but get your jog on. Laneway slapped together 4 different stages, spreading out the tasty names on the line-up evenly and finely across the four stages. And good golly did they serve us up a tasty meal of a day. Take a seat, grab a beer, get comfy; we have much to discuss.
The Babe Rainbow
The Babe Rainbow started out Figaro’s day at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival in the most exceptional way. The Byron Bay bunch fed out to our ears a flawless performance of their unmistakable 60’s sound. From the first opening shakes of the maraca, the audience cheered with eager as they knew the sound of ‘Peace Blossom Boogy’ when they heard it, as The Babe Rainbow’s beachy, psychedelic style soared through the crowd and created a bit of a pep in the step of the folks at Laneway. The breezy, kaleidoscopic groovy style brought to us by The Babe Rainbow was inhaled by the first audience from the first strum of the guitar to the last beat of the drum.
A big crowd arrived early to catch this one for her set. The 16 year-old Californian prodigy walked to stage, eager to get the crowd up and about as she opened with her most well known song ‘bellyache’, as the acoustic guitar strummed the noticeable pattern, the crowd at laneway took no time to get amongst Eilish. Performing songs from her recent album ‘don’t smile at me’, while also bringing new content to stage. Whipping out of nowhere a ukulele to serenade us with a cover of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ that followed into a transition for her equally beautifully calming song party favour. Sending out a cordial invitation to the Laneway crowd to “jump around with me” for the lead into her track jazz/hip-hop bass heavy track ‘my boy’. Saving her dreamy ‘ocean eyes’ for last, bringing a meditative end to what was an incredible set. Billie Eilish, who at 16 is doing sick and incredible things, conquering the main stage at Laneway is definitely one of them. Not to forget to mention how young Eilish dressed in total steeze and style from head to toe.
After finishing up from The Very West stage, we took on a hefty jog and a half to get over to the Dean Turner stage to catch the North Carolinian duo that is Sylvan Esso. The pair started off by thanking everyone in the crowd for coming to their set and celebrating by blessing us with a performance filled with the most vigour and buoyancy we had seen that day. Performing songs from their acclaimed album What Now as well their new single release only a few weeks ago ‘PARAD(w/m)E’ making even your lankiest mates find a bit of a groove and shake their hips. The electro-pop duo filled their set with dancing to match the glossy tunes and flawless singing. Performances to songs like ‘Die Young’ and ‘Radio’ were notable moments in the set and for the entirety of Laneway festival as a whole. A vivacious performance from Sylvan Esso was the very least to be expected, and they definitely exceeded our expectations.
After such a performance from Sylvan Esso, our energy levels had spiked, and thankfully, Wolf Alice we’re right on time to deliver some fine hard-core rock that we had been missing up until their set. With a collection of guitar, drums bass, and vocals more dominant than you could imagine. Each member of the band implementing and showing off their own profound roles in the band, each coming together to form one big bloody ball of energy that delivered so much heart, emotion and vigour into every song of their set. The Northern Londoners held nothing back for the crowd at the Dean Turner stage, whipping out songs like ‘You’re a Germ’ and ‘Rose’ while collecting love infused postcards from audience members and batting water bottles with the back of a guitar out to the distance to close their set, Wolf Alice were a total powerhouse.
The Future Classic Stage were still piecing themselves back together after the intense beauty that Moses Sumney delivered, and Loyle Carner was the perfect candidate to follow up the performance from Sumney. Opening his set with ‘Damesfly’, Carner welcomed the audience to his set of sensitive, confessional hip-hop. It only takes a short listen to quickly understand how profoundly motivated by love young Loyle Carner is, which is no surprise that the Southern London rapper laid down a d&m with the crowd thanking everyone for coming down to see him and re-thanking his mother for everything she’s done and is. Carner, you have our heart and anything else you want. Ripping out tune after tune like ‘Florence’ and ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ off of his debut album Yesterday’s Gone. Consuming a moment for ourselves to take in just how incredibly talented Loyle Carner is, for the first time on a live stage Carner burst out his recent Like A Version of George Benson’s funky ‘Give Me The Night’ with a cheeky re-write twist of ‘Give Me The Mic’. While the cover had been out for only a week the audience danced, jumped and sung along with familiarity and the crowd followed the jolly chaos as they watched Carner sing his little soul out and swing his jersey around. After the first chorus of ‘No CD’s’ we had to tap out and walk away to be able to catch the rest of The Internet’s set. While we were sad to leave, The Internet were sure to be worth it.
Born out of a side hustle for the unruly American hip-hip collective Odd Future, The Internet have taken on a whole life of their own, singing a song in their own tune and are walking on their own two feet. The Internet found and hit the sweet spot very early and very easily, playing what was an impeccably smooth and tight set what seemed effortlessly. Experimenting with elements of soul, jazz, funk and hip hop music, bringing their soul jammer persona to the stage in every single song they played. The Internet amplified with gooey, soulful sounds that demanded to be heard, with the type of lush, dreamy vocals floated over the top of silky grooves and melodies that galvanised the audience from the front to the very back. Having the audience in the palm of their multiple hands during performances like ‘Just Saying/I Tried’, me included. Who would’ve guessed that a cheeky side project from the OFWGKTA would turn into something so impeccably inaugural and mesmerising.
As the the sun continued to burn, the energy rose for Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals. Wasting absolutely no time at all .Paak strutted on stage and with the most cheeky smile we’ve ever seen and sang the opening lyrics to ‘Come Down’, taking the mosh from 0-110 in a matter of seconds. By the second song we were taken a-back, the man was a triple threat, he could do it all. He could dance, sing and drum like we had never seen before. Drumming and singing? Seems like a tough and unlikely pair, but Paak proved us all wrong, waffling on and off the drum kit playing seamlessly with such ease. It only took a matter of minutes to be brought into this dreamers funky, silky-smooth world, and you were in it until he walked off the stage…and then some. When the opening notes of ‘Glowed Up’ twinkled with tease, the crowd went mental and then the crowd was thrown a curve ball when transition to R.Kelly’s classic ‘Ignition’ hit the speakers, people screamed and knees buckled. Performing songs from his most profound work ‘Malibu’ the crowd was familiar with each lyric, breath and groove that Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals brought to stage that evening. Creating acceptance left, right and centre when he asked, “are you single? Are you still having sex with your ex? Either way, I love you Melbourne”. If you’re like me you had to work the audience like a black market scheme, trading in cigarettes to catch the chorus of your favourite song on some randoms’ shoulder, but good golly gosh was it worth it. In all honesty, I could talk all day about the performance delivered by Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals, but I can sum it up for you in two words; Yes Lawd.
The War on Drugs
Giant heartbreak fell for the clashes of all the closing sets. Our little feet were too buggered to take a walk from the Very West Stage all the way to the Future Classic Stage, which meant sadly, we missed out on BADBADNOTGOOD, which is a regret that’ll hold over our heads for quite some time. But alas, The War on Drugs held what was a beautiful end to the antics of Laneway Festival for that day. The War on Drugs’ performance of ‘Holding On’ provided what felt like the perfect ending to Laneway for us and the fellow punters of Footscray that night. Whether it was cuddling up to your bestie, finally smooching that person you moshed 8 hours with or lighting up your last ciggie in your deck. The War On Drugs performed what was an seamless and impeccable set. Oozing with a type of beautiful sadness brought to the crowd by steady guitar rock finish to the night.
As the sun settled and friends helped the less athletic drinkers up the glorious hills out of the festival, the night had ticked over and Laneway came to a close. After having attended Laneway Festival for a few years now, it’s never up for ponder or question as to why the eager yearning of what St. Jerome whips up each year never fails to come around every year. Thank you St. Jerome, we’ll see you again next year.