Flood-related excuses were relayed to employers across Brisbane as the 2013 St Jerome’s Laneway Festival emerged for the seventh year running. Held on a working Friday, music lovers from South-East Queensland self-medicated in sound relief after our fierce battle with the weather gods earlier that week, which had left many in the region without power. Needless to say, the sturdy sheds of the RNA Showgrounds stood armed and ready for an exciting day of live music.
Norwegian acoustic-pop duo Kings of Convenience were first up on the bill. Also playing on our shores for the first time, they told the audience that they agreed to play at Laneway Festivals on the condition that “we play first”. This was all for good reason they explained: “Those who want to see us would come early and we would get to see them (in return)”. For their loyal fans, Erland Øye (The Whitest Boy Alive) and Eirik Bøe put together a heart-melting collection of soft folk guitar melodies and soul-soothing vocals. Like royalty, they played songs from all three of their studio albums such as Failure, Mrs. Cold, and Misread. With four songs remaining, Erland invited to the stage their backing band from Norway to help them compete with the other bands now starting (and the constant heavy machinery driving by) that disrupted the peace of their Zen-like performance. It is hard to say which combination was better in the end. However, the bonus of the band made it a 10 out of 10 performance all around.
Real Estate’s low-fi indie jams lived up to their building reputation. Following the Kings of Convenience early in the day is no easy task, but these Jersey boys more than filled the shoes left behind. The drawn-out coastal rock track It’s Real belted out blissfully to a growing crowd. The smell of Sailor Jerry’s spiced rum blossomed in company of this feel-good live summer soundtrack on a hot Queensland afternoon.
Of Monsters And Men hail from the green fields of Iceland. A world away from home, the six-piece band made the Car Park Stage their own. Following their success of their #2 place in the 2012 triple j’s Hottest 100, people turned out in droves to catch a glimpse of Little Talks. What we got was a powerful instrumental dose of indie folk. Co-singers Nanna Hilmarsdottir and Ragnar Porhallsson shared in a vibrant performance showcasing their debut album My Head Is an Animal.
On the back of a barnstorming year winning the hearts of the UK Mercury Price judges, Alt-J (∆) was a welcomed addition to the St Jerome’s bill. All viewpoints of the stage were occupied when the crowd roared their entrance. It was a truly personal musical experience. Their experimental rock has drawn much early criticisms from music media outlets across the globe, but after seeing them live it’s safe to say their Australian reputation is intact. There was no secret as to which the crowd favorites were: Tessellate and Breezeblocks saw the most punter iPhone’s in the air, followed by Matilda and the deep Fitzpleasure grind. Let’s hope they can back it up for album number two.
Now for the man of the moment: Flume. Anyone who knocks Justin Bieber off the charts is pretty cool in my books. And his fashionably late entry was equally as cool. Well, maybe not so cool at a scheduled music festival, but who cares, it’s bloody Flume! He was probably caught up back stage fighting off an onslaught of girls with a stick, right? After a pretty slow start, he opted for his dubbed ‘classics’ On Top and Sleepless. Now, there is no doubt that this boy can produce next level music; however, his performance Friday night on the grand scale needs work. His transition of tracks felt like the stop-start grind of a train stopping at all stations. Nevertheless, it still beat listening to Holdin On in the car on the way home from work.
Natasha Kahn and her pseudonym band Bat for Lashes came alive to razzle at night. With a stage presence likened to Bjork, her colourful ensemble dazzled onlookers as she frolicked around stage. This was one not to be missed. Although Laneway is strictly an equal opportunity festival, which means no official band headliners, these guys weren’t saved to the last for no reason. Natasha’s powerful coming-of-age ballad Laura stopped Brisbane dead in its tracks; her vocal chords roared with conviction. Bat For Lashes number-one selling hit Daniel capped a fun and beautiful day of bashful boutique bands. It was all in all a great start to yet another (unofficial) three-day weekend to all those who chucked a sickie.