Nothing rings in a Perth summer like a February music festival, and where better to enjoy the final festival of the season than under the Norfolk Island Pines of Fremantle’s Esplanade? The city full of free love spirit, individuality, boss vegan food joints and an unrivalled underground music scene. It took all of these things to the next level, for the ultimate summer cocktail when St Jerome’s Laneway Festival came to town.
Ensnared by the signature eau de toilette of the day – sweat, Five Seeds cider, Banana Boat SPF 50+ and the occasional whirl of Mary Jane (distinct and available at every Aussie music festival near you) – an interview I had caught on Triple J earlier in the week resonated in my head. When asked what music festivals meant to them a caller spoke about how a day immersed in live music provided an escape from society, was soul healing, and unified our generation. Looking through the sea of meme-worthy festi-tees; salty sea gypsies, unicorn haired forest nymphs, bohemian babes, and a mix of once Colgate white Gogo boots and trusty Doc Martens danced up a dust storm together– embodying that sentiment.
If a line-up doesn’t tickle my pickle, I’m not the type of festival-goer to impulsively buy a ticket the day of to avoid that FOMO feeling (props to you if you are, you’re probably living your best life). As a student, if I am spending a week of rent on music, you better count on there being a stellar line up.
Drifting in off the back of Yellow Days’ surf-rock riffs, we were greeted by the celestial vocals of Ravyn Lenae. Bum bags hanging on soft hips swayed when the Chicago based firecracker boasted neon pink corn-rows and complementary fluorescent green aerobics tights. An audience possessed by her sultry spell casted words of love – unrequited, self, lost, found, and everything in between – matching her movements and lyrics to some crowd favourites like Sticky and 4 Leaf Clover.
A second member of the Zero Fatigue music collective (to which Ravyn belongs) Smino took the wheel of the funk train continuing the journey the Chicago soul queen had started. His Kanye West inspired rap melodies charmed the bodies of the crowd, compelling a synchronised wave of popping and locking for the duration of his set.
Moving to the Ferris Bueller stage brought a change in pace with Melbourne rock trio Camp Cope belting out feminist prose to a roaring audience. Singer and guitarist, Maq’s frustration toward sexual assault and toxic masculinity was palpable not only in the band’s lyrics. Commanding centre stage, she implored all men in the audience to work together to ‘stop it at the start’. This vexation became tangible when the pioneer of feminist rock and deadpan vocals, Courtney Barnett joined Maq, Kelso and Thomo on stage to finish their set.
Euphoria was reached by many listening to the honeyed falsettos, dootsy guitar melodies and intergalactic synth riffs of Perth legends Methyl Ethel. Ahead of launching their latest album, Triage, the guys treated their fans to a mix of gems, new and old. However, the reviews were mixed with some disappointed they didn’t experience the eargasm that is Twilight Driving. Many claimed it would be like Rex Orange County getting up and leaving Loving is Easy off his set list. Lucky for fans of the English recording artist, not only did he deliver his biggest hit, but gave his rendition of Alicia Keys’ No One. A little ditty that had every festival goer singing along.
It was reaching that point in the day where girls in sweet Bianca Stratford-esque sundresses were hoisted onto shoulders, bopping away to electronic duo Cosmos Midnight. The twins from Sydney brought the people of Fremantle a little surprise inviting Asta to talk and walk with them, and of course bring the groove.
As the sun set over the trampled esplanade grounds, Middle Kids had the crowd belting out lyrics full of youthful rebellion; the perfect entrée to the main course. Australian rock sweethearts and modern-day lovechild of INXS and U2, Gang of Youths closed out St Jerome’s Laneway 2019, and their Australian tour with a performance full of punch and raw emotion. Through intellectually crafted ballads we were reminded Our Time is Short, to keep our hearts strong and to love, to live with our middle fingers to anything that is not our truth, live with our spirits high, and Say Yes to Life.