Live Review: St Jerome's Laneway Festival

10 February 2015 | 1:55 pm | Jonty Czuchwicki

Turbulent mosh-pits and jaws-dropping - Laneway Adelaide, you were soooooo good!

Laneway was a sight to behold this year. Presented at what will surely be an iconic location in years to come, Hart’s Mill proved to be a beautiful and practical place for a smoothly-run day that kept brilliant standards of quality and cleanliness most premium festivals seriously lack. The opaque water gave a dreamy quality in the urban sprawl-meets-seaside paradise locale and market stalls lined the streets of the courteous block party as people began to file inside.

Local melodic post-rockers Sparkspitter opened the main stage with an expanded cadre of musicians. The incorporation of tuned percussion and vocals gave great breadth to the band’s traditionally three-piece sound and with an equal presence of male and female musicians on stage it’s not difficult to see Sparkspitter travelling to play landmark festivals across the globe. Concurrently, Peter Bibby was performing his jangly blues rock on the Mistletone Stage to much ado.

Highasakite continued to give Laneway the best reputation for representation of female musicians at an Australian music festival.

The following act on the Future Classic stage was nothing short of inspiring. Mansionair’s lo-fi electronica was mellow, relaxing and utterly engaging at the same time. This is without sounding too similar to those who’ve carved a path in the genre recently. With a phenomenal vocal performance and creative production, the Sydney trio have much ahead of them. Meanwhile on the Lion Flour stage, Jesse Davidson drew a large crowd, though it wasn’t exactly worth tearing oneself away from Mansionair…

Connan Mockasin, who were joined on stage by Mac DeMarco, gently filled the air with psychedelic shivers in a showcase of gentle candour. The occasional cool breeze on an already scorchingly hot day seemed to spread his beautiful music through the crowd in a manner akin to floral pollen caressed by the wind. Not long after, Perfect Pussy delivered a blistering 30 minutes on the ornately curated Mistletone stage, while Highasakite continued to give Laneway the best reputation for representation of female musicians at an Australian music festival.

While Adelaide’s own Tkay Maidza spilled ill rhymes over deft bangers on the main stage, Dune Rats brought an intense energy to their set. Though arguably one-dimensional, according to naysayers, there’s a surprising depth to some of their songs. They’ve made a mark similar to, though more down to earth than Blink-182, and they’ve done this in a way that’s authentically Australian. They also incited the most turbulent mosh pit to occur across the entire day’s proceedings!

The grimy hip hop of Ratking drew a small but dedicated crowd to watch the duo perform, but across the entire festival they seemed more of an interval for Courtney Barnett, whose grunge-fuelled sarcasm could rival that of Daria and also brought the first bout of waterborne adolescents watching from the bay on their watercraft.

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FKA Twigs left the Laneway audience’s jaw collectively dropped to the floor.

As expected Pond annihilated the halfway point of the festival by confirming just how great their new material was, literally making their older material sound archaic. Fan favourite Mac DeMarco then proved delightful and aurally pleasing, especially to his legion of loving enthusiasts.

Royal Blood were one of the festival highlights. Their loud and honed two-piece rock sound drew attendees from every corner of the festival site. If you played their music backwards, it would probably be Rage Against The Machine, Royal Blood’s sound having such a similar cadence to the extrapolation of energy in songs such as Bulls On Parade that in such a circumstance you mightn’t be able to tell the difference.

Future Islands stood out as being perhaps the most remarkable performance at Laneway, with such a unique sound and approach to music as a concept that they generally had people tilting their heads in wonder, whereas FKA Twigs left the Laneway audience’s jaw collectively dropped to the floor. The combination of boundary-pushing R&B with such a one-of-a-kind voice and dynamic lighting is something you need to experience for your own good.

Little Dragon rocked out contagiously and effortlessly, but Flying Lotus proudly wore the crown as the quintessential Laneway artist… without giving too much away. St Vincent was then the last artist left performing, continuing the trend of a strong, positive representation of women in music while delivering fuzzy bass-driven wonderment to the remaining Laneway attendees.