The first leg of Laneway 2017 was a day full of highlights, egg-frying heat, and A-grade Australian music.
It was safe to say that by the time most of the punters had found their way into the festival, the ‘secret headliner’ everyone was actually looking forward to was the sun setting to relieve them from the stifling heat.
From D.D. Dumbo playing ‘Walrus’ at the same time it appeared in the triple J Hottest 100 countdown, to Nick Murphy back and commanding the masses, here were our highlights from the first leg of the Brissy edition of Laneway.
Landing on Earth in time to open Laneway Festival, Janet Planet, Sugar Bones and their team of dance pop musicians flaunted synchronized dance moves and tunes that were by far the most fun to dance to throughout the entire festival.
Dozens of early arrivers got down and danced to the new Ikea sync ‘Boyfriend’, which somehow didn’t quite end up in the Hottest 100.
Returning to the touring life after only just wrapping up a stadium tour with Coldplay, it’s no surprise that Jess Kent dominated the much smaller Good Better Best stage at Laneway.
Cutting one track into the next, and surprising the crowd with a heavy snippet of ‘Killing In The Name Of’ right before closing the set, it was a treat to watch.
Emotive, enraged and sonically armed, Camp Cope delivered a punchy set of Australian rock in the sweltering heat. The band had the opportunity to tighten up their live chops throughout their countless live shows over the past 18 months, and the early punters were all the more appreciative for it.
‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’ stood out among the pack as the track of the set, seeing Georgia Maq capturing the crowd with sharp lyrics that were echoed throughout the main Laneway tent.
There’s no doubt that Julia Jacklin’s incredible take on The Strokes’ ‘Someday” for last week’s Like A Version helped boost her crowd, and fortunately for the masses, Jacklin snuck in her triple J-aired cover late in the set to mass applause.
Sounding even better live, Jacklin’s beautiful compositions like ‘LA Dream’ and ‘Leadlight’ hung delicately in the air while many attendees locked arms and swayed, softly crooning back Jacklin’s arresting melodies.
Surrounded by instruments and not much else, Tash Sultana is, in no uncertain terms, far better than the stadium-sellout Ed Sheeran at the looping game. From layering vocals through one mic, to beatboxing, to tremolo picking at a mandolin, to punching out a dance backbeat for her tracks, Sultana demanded the attention of the crowd, and she certainly received it.
Her hair floated and whipped around her as she turned from side to side, never stopping long enough to catch her breath, not that she seemed to need it. The tent was bulging at the seams, literally, as diehard fans attempted to pull down the walls of the tent to catch a better glimpse of the unstoppable 21 year old prodigy.
Gang of Youths
It doesn’t matter how many times you see Gang of Youths, because they never fail to blow away even the most religious of listeners live. Listening to Let Me Be Clear and The Positions on the radio or at home is one thing, but experiencing the raw majesty of the music and Dave Le’aupepe’s hip-thrusting dance moves is something else entirely.
Stunning tracks like ‘Radioface’ and ‘Poison Drum’ become readymade anthems, ready to unleash on unsuspecting festival crowds. Closing on the sublime ‘Vital Signs’, Gang of Youths are on track to be the Australian export that the world truly needs.
Brisbane stoner-rock trio Dune Rats feel like a booking requirement for a festival to take place, and that is by no means a bad thing.
Their set never disappoints, and the crowd bounced and chanted along to all of their songs, including the ultra-repetitive, ultra-fun ‘Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana’ and ‘Bullshit’, leaving more than a few dungaree-wearing fans hoarse by the end of the set.
This set was emotionally charged, to say the least. Opening with a performance from the Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal dancers to welcome the hip hop duo to the stage, the two artists converged on stage to deliver their brand of social, political and cultural change that Australia needs to face. “We were afforded a platform to tear this apart,” Briggs explained to the crowd, “and that’s what exactly we’re gonna do.”
Their performance was their strongest yet, and the crowd definitely responded to their loaded lyrics, cheering and crying out in support of A.B. Original’s message. Dan Sultan didn’t miss the opportunity to perform Hottest 100 top 20 track ‘January 26’, materialising on stage to help deliver “a reasonably large dose of reality to the crowd,” just as Trials had promised to ahead of the Laneway 2017 tour.
To say Nick Murphy delivered a strong performance at Laneway is a complete understatement. Nick Murphy’s metamorphosis from Chet Faker into his current form not only translated into a different sound, but a much stronger man on stage. From being bent over, howling into the mic in the centre of the stage, to towering over the crowd demanding a call-and-response only moments later, it’s safe to say Murphy’s new artistic project is explosive in every degree.
Early Chet Faker tracks weren’t spared in the sonic evolution, resulting in noticeably different cuts and delivery live, including indie anthem ‘Talk Is Cheap’. Looking over the crowd, it was easy to spot the Tame Impala fans eagerly awaiting Kevin Parker’s appearance, but by the end of Murphy’s sixty minutes on stage, the Parker disciples had converted and blended in among the most dedicated of Faker fans.
It was plain to see that Kevin Parker’s group of psych heroes were a perfect fit as headliners for Laneway. Parker took a moment to reflect on the band’s long slog to grow from 2009’s Laneway Festival stage openers to finally headlining the event, and that short story was the only time the frontman really interacted with the crowd.
Opting to scrap any tracks off their debut LP Innerspeaker, the Perth band locked into a dance groove with hits ‘Let it Happen’, ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ and, according to Parker, their Rihanna cover, ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’. Confetti cannons blasted clouds of colour that only built upon the trance-inducing visuals that the band had projected both behind and over themselves, feeding the crowd the final bit of energy they needed to survive through hit after hit.
Never failing to look after their fans, Tame Impala ran overtime to deliver their full set, finally leaving to a deafening room of applause and cries of, “Fuck Trevor!” A perfect end to a legendary day.