It was the onset of a breezy, Sunday afternoon in Fremantle where the wide, open space of the Esplanade was decked with four stages, non-desecrated porta-loos and a myriad of foodcarts who’s cuisines were sure to give a sense of pseudo dysentery come Monday morning—all a part of the mardi gras-esque level of entertainment found at Laneway 2018.
Heading down with the early crowd of stragglers the first act on the menu was T$OKO. Now, for those who aren’t at full brain capacity until 2pm, ditch the coffee my friend, because listening to trap music at 12pm in the day is enough to get the juices flowing. Don’t ease into a set with an easy, meditative folk act, just get real angry with some spicy, venomous rap lyrics.
Feeling laced by the sanguine blade that was T$OKO’s tongue, the Triple J Unearthed Winner was pretty stoked to be kicking off the festival, laying thanks for the friends, family and house mates who could come. When you’re feeling this ‘dank’ early in the day, you don’t know whether to feel satisfied or violated – T$OKO did the trick.
It was satisfying to see rising, local star Stella Donnelly playing Laneway. Announcing to the crowd and providing a flashback about her Dad taking her to Bluefest gave off serious ‘then-and-now’ and ‘this-is-your-life’ vibes. With a sizeable crowd already drawn to her jangly, folk-rock rhythms coupled with cynically honest lyrics, there was a poignantly, comedic quality to her set.
Miss Blanks’ brand of hip-hop/rap was ditty and acidic. Once more plunged into the maelstrom of sharp-tongued rap, it was hard not to be impressed by the synchronicity of the backing dancers behind Blanks. Asking the small disparate group of punters to come closer, a small group of six got trapped out and went pretty hard into her music.
Melbourne Punk Rockers Cable Ties brought out a few tenacious anthems, being the first rock band to hit the stage, some of the punkish members of the crowd were grateful to see the sight of a rock band. Over on Spinning Top stage, English band Shame was also pumping addictive rock rhythms, with lead singer Charlie Steen donning a white cowboy hat and stripping off to his shorts, you could tell the pommy rockers hadn’t yet acclimatised to the heat of Australia.
Rushing over to briefly catch Alex Cameron play Stranger’s Kiss, it was a little underwhelming to see Cameron tone down his ironic hyper-masculinity. Still the ballad of Stranger’s Kiss pulled on the heartstrings just a little bit.
Dream Wife energised the Laneway crowds with an eager enthusiasm with lead singer Rakel Mjöll darting around and shouting the lyrics at punters like as if she was giving them manically sage, life advice. Playing out wild, jangly guitar driven anthems like Fire and Hey Heartbreaker, it was hard to not get caught up into their hyper-caffeinated take on alternative rock.
Introspective folk was felt with (Sandy) Alex G, with a live band featuring strings and acoustic instrumentation, there was a pleasantly rustic quality and was a distinct departure from the past two hours of alternative rock.
Tantalising, bouncy pop emanated from 17-year-old rising pop sensation Billie Eilish. A triple threat of minimalist electronic production, introspective wispy vocal and a youthful cynicism allowing Eilish to musically tear upon the Laneway crowd. Hitting out Belly Ache and Watch and briefly letting out a freestyle rap mid-set – there was something beautiful about seeing young talent absolutely shred.
There was a slight delay when waiting for Moses Sumney, with suspect technical issues being to blame. Sumney, having now moved well beyond any worries about the issues Sumney tore straight into a soft and soulful set. It was hard not to liken him to a bit of a soul wizard, wearing jet robes that billowed in the wind, he had probably cast a spell on the crowd. Piercing the air with his unique, high-pitched vocal, he left the punters in a bit of a daze/euphoria.
With the late afternoon heat kicking in, it was surely a test for Amy Shark, who’s love of sports jackets were tested. Eventually surrendering to the sun and ditching her signature fashion accessory, it didn’t stop Shark from crooning Weekends and Adore, with plenty of chorus chants from the crowd.
Things got groovy with Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever in possibly one of the most upbeat, joyous crowds in the entire festival. Seeing festival goers thrash out to the crescendo of swooping guitar soloes at the end of French Press was a sight to behold.
There was a treat for the crowd who endured for a 30 minute delay due to technical issues for Loyle Carner. Enacting the stage scheduling equivalent of ‘fuck it’, Carner treated the crowd to a juicy freestyle set for the entire period. Those who probably caved and nipped out for a quick toilet break were probably spewing. There was a certain reverence in the air as punters clambered onto the walls on the outskirts to stage, trying to glimpse a sight of the rapping maestro.
Swooping in early to get a good spot for Wolf Alice was a must. The anticipation being nothing short of palpable, as expected they washed the crowd with swooping sonically-charged power chords. Staying true to their unique brand of alternative rock, Ellie Rowsell vocals would change the front crowd from a thrashing mosh to a heartfelt introspection. With the crowd singing in unison to Don’t Delete The Kisses, it showed that the love for decent love alt-rock wore on.
New Zealand gothic folk-muso Aldous Harding gave way to a change of pace for festival goers with slow placed, rustic, contemplative folk. Sometimes peppering her stage presence with the odd, cheeky guitar solo, it was welcomely rustic.
Heading back over to the Future Classic stage, it was time to catch the low-fi synth qualities of Sylvan Esso. Backed by the sharp minimalist production of Nick Sanborn and memorable vocals of Amelia Meath, the duo led a mesmerising set, filled with cascading synth samples that got the crowd moving. Seeing Meath hype the crowd with her interpretive dance moves had an infectious quality upon the vibes being felt by the punters below.
A huge crowd had already pulled in for a glimpse of Mac Demarco stretching across two stages. Catching a glimpse was going to be hard, so a spot seeing Demarco’s nose had to suffice. With the recognisable synth chords spilling from across the festival grounds from The Old Dog, you could tell punters ate up Demarco’s dad-rock nostalgia like fresh cocaine.
Next door, Anderson .Paak armed with his live band The Free Nationals exploded in a haze of tasty funked up Hip-Hop. Brimming with energy, that classic bounce felt from Paak was hard not to shake. Containing a mischievous tenacity, the vibe merely spilled out into the crowd with two punters fighting each over a highlighter, which eventually was thrown into the pit. However highlighter or not, the crowd wore on, getting intoxicated by Paaks sensual rhythms.
Sporting a huge beard and sporting black sunglasses, the ‘cool-guy-hipster-apathy’ vibe was bleeding from Father John Misty. Whether it was the story-driven anthem from Ballad of the Dying Man, to high pitched croons from Nancy From Now On to the slow, rock n’ roll punch from Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings there was a jarring introspection to be wrapped around from Misty something the crowd undeniably felt when getting lost in his music.
It was time to begin the slew of electronic acts that lay on the schedule. Kicking off with a brief hit of Tokimonsta, the cool and crisp beats were a nice warm-up for Bonobo who’s huge crowds were a challenge to navigate around. Literally getting lost in his music (you’d need an A to Z to get out of the torrid mass of humans), the environment of the crowd felt like another world.
Heading to catch the final set of I OH YOU’s stage featuring a Kevin Parker DJ set, hidden underneath a slew of pine trees, many punters had arrived to catch the jack-of-all-trades of music. Feeling like a run of the mill DJ set, most of the hype stemmed from the brand name of Parker himself rather than the substance of the set itself.
With orange lighting that could be equated to Dorito dust (and to be accompanied with a large bottle of mountain dew). Odesza felt like they had a personal army on their hands, with a platoon of drummers standing in a row on stage and keeping the rhythm with meticulous precision you could tell the duo had put a lot of thought i
nto their set. With a light show that held to be just as impressive as their electronic production, duo mesmerised the crowd with their thunderous creativity.
With two final acts wrapping up the festival – Pond and The War on Drugs , it was really hard to choose between the two. So the only logical solution was to just attend both. Pond’s set felt like the most conclusive, feeling like a reward for all the punters who stuck it out till the end. With Mac DeMarco acting as hype man to usher in the band, the crowd were ecstatic to see the beau of dad rock introduce some local heavyweights. Coveting the crowd in delicious psychedelia, the set felt like a really chill jam sesh for the band, with everyone having a good time.
Coupled with a brief appearance from Alex Cameron who did a little bit of crowd surfing, the set wrapped up laneway like a noughties American college movie – a lot of drinking and caricature characters having a good time. Catching a brief glimpse of The War on Drugs before heading home, their accentuated improvisations of the guitar really summed up Laneway as a festival nicely, a pleasant melting pot and exchange of genre’s where all fans of music can enjoy and discover acts old and new.
Photos: Ashley Westwood