The Creases were tasked with kicking off Laneway Festival‘s 2014 celebrations in Brisbane, and they performed admirably. They were loud, unabashedly fun, and “Louise” the scantily clad tambourine (wo)man was gallivanting across the stage in a way that all in attendance would have, given the chance. The perfect kick off for a festival.
On to Cass McCombs, the jungle sounds meeting underground drones. Their knack for a controlled crescendo was astounding, but their slower, understated moments were perhaps their best — a big call, considering the crowd and festival atmosphere.
Next up was a personal favourite, and an early treat. The Growl, heralding from WA and boasting the bass-line talents of Tame Impala’s Cam Avery, was a rumbling, howling machine. Moaning, wailing double bass met mechanical percussion, traipsing through stomps and soul, then back to rock ballads for the ladies, then back again to the perfect blow-out that is Douse The Lamps. Outstanding.
Maintaining the soulful experience, King Krule was but a skip away. Standing centre stage, his voice booming over the collective awe, he was eccentric and inventive, busy while being a relaxing listen and just a little left of centre. By this point, crowds were amassing, scrambling between stages and spoiled for choice of talent.
Adalita strutted on stage, greeted by howls and wolf whistles, legions of long-time fans flocking to the outdoor entry side stage. It was clear Adalita was in her prime, slaying her metallic red Gibson above her head, the powerful chords of Trust Is Rust asserting themselves loud and clear. Solid, but without thrills.
Away to dreamy Dick Diver and their game of never-ending game of “musical instruments”. After almost every tune, the members would swap positions, each getting their turn on vocals and some kind of guitar, flawlessly executing each of their talents as if any given instrument was their own. Theirs was an easy set, funny interplay between the quartet pairing with their mellowed rock stylings.
One of the biggest names on the Laneway bill, Vance Joy had a full-capacity crowd well before he graced the stage. Shy and unassuming, he gave a coy wave to the screaming crowds, and throughout his set he showed thanks and humility about his recent highs, as well as his sky-rocketing success.
At times his vocals seemed soft, though solo acoustic sections and a fear of overpowering the eternally-soft ukelele may be responsible. Nevertheless, his show was euphoric, punters dancing high on each other’s shoulders, adorned with flowers and singing.
Then, the moment when triple j was mentioned, the mere suggestion of his Hottest 100-topping hit created waves of cries, almost drowning out the unmistakable opening strains. An audience of thousands sang along to every word, and the smile on Joy’s face grew from chorus to verse. Such a wonderful talent, made for the bigger notes.
It didn’t take long to transform the stage from an acoustic paradise to a home for indie electronica. Chvrches were on in no time, elated festival-goers holding their place near the front of the stage. Their set was infallible, and early favourite Lies was not only a reminder for the newer fan but also a warning salvo for 2014 — the track was just one of their big moments.
High energy meets high entertainment whenever you see Kirin J Callinan. Adorned with sunglasses, multicultural paraphernalia and a band that was all glam, he made the stage his own. Part glam-rock concert, with a bit of operatic crescendo and a healthy dose of unbalanced opinion, the audience was gobsmacked — an appropriate and common reaction. Callinan is alway mesmerising, often in an almost unsettling way.
Now Haim. If you were lucky enough to get close enough to the stage to see — either in the trees, sitting on fences, or on a stranger’s shoulders — you were in for a hair-windmilling, fist-pumping, strong-stepping treat. There was an unexpected rock element about this show, and the degree to which their vocals rang true to recordings was also surprising. Those smooth-as-butter voices were on point, and loud — The Wire certainly got the ovation it deserved.
Savages held true to their name throughout a set of fierce, raw, post-punk greatness. The four vixens slayed their instruments, pounded the stage and taunted the audience for sport. Their last song, the highly explicit F*ckers lasted a solid 15 minutes, not long enough for those stuck in the trance of dance, swaying and convulsing to the strobes and the screams.
It was as if fans had been camping out all day, nailing their shorts to the ground to secure a space for the most talked about attendee of the festival, Lorde. She flounced on stage, the spotlights casting shadows of her glorious locks in every which direction, and her velvet voice rose out of nowhere.
She sailed through the hits, Tennis Court calling for the first wave of howling applause, then Royals exploded unexpectedly mid-set. On beat, a repeat performance of her Grammy appearance; it was remarkable to see.
Team brought friends to each other’s arms and the song that was “written for Laneway Festival”, Ribs, closed out her set, with more admiration steaming off the crowd than could have been anticipated.
If you had any energy left from your wild day of criss-crossing the Fortitude Valley turf, it should have been completely spent on the final triple-threat of the day. First, Run The Jewels. Queen’s We Are The Champions played as they strutted on stage, many a pose was entertained, and then down to business.
There was not a moment’s rest. If they weren’t rapping, preaching their secrets of life, or teaching their infamous hand sign (“you make one hand into a fist, the other into a pistol, and point it at the fist”) they were dancing along with the crowd, leaping across the stage like an interpretive performance, demanding respect and attention.
The crowd quickly dispersed into the fresh air, then snapped back into place for Danny Brown. His was an appearance that seemed shorter than the rest, an extended introduction only building the tension for his arrival. When it did come, he was met with elated and mildly horrifying screams. Just screams and screams.
He bounced from track to track, a lot of the time the lyrics unrecognisable through the smog of dancing, but dedicated fans (in their hundreds) kept pace. Dip was the second wind that spiralled the audience into frenzy. The intensely impressive performance propelled us through to the evening’s headline act.
Part of the Odd Future clan but clear frontman in his own right, Earl Sweatshirt bounded on stage, the audience beside themselves. Fans at the front of the barrier and those right at the back bounced as ordered, sang along when required and howled in its final moments.
He stuck to newer tracks from debut album Doris, peppering his set with better-known back catalogue tracks. Chum, one of his impressive tongue twisters and complex rhymes, was an easy highlight. His performance, like those before him, were supreme.
Photos: Laneway Festival 2014 – Brisbane, 31/01/14
Photos by Charlyn Cameron