Brisbane was one of the first cities to get a taste of this year’s Laneway festival. With a lineup consisting of artists from Australia and around the world, and covering genres from indie to punk to electronica to rap, Laneway offered a wide range of options of music fans.
Arriving at Brisbane Showgrounds on a warm Queensland morning, I was greeted by the site of many a punter dressed in their festival best with even a few Cotton On Festival shirts scattered about. Ruby Fields opened the Good, Better Best stage for the day, and her catchy, upbeat music reverberated throughout the venue. Closing the set with her latest single ‘Dinosaurs’, the crowd exploded in an uproarious cheer just from the first few opening notes.
The MOJO Beverages x Girls Rock stage was tucked away up one end of the venue, and I headed over to catch some of WHALEHOUSE!’s set. Brissie-based WHALEHOUSE! are a punk band that are always a lot of fun, and their Laneway set was no exception. To give you an idea of what I mean, they finished up with a song about spaghetti – the lyrics were literally “I don’t care what your favourite food is if it’s not spaghetti”. Amazing.
Another standout on the MOJO x Girls Rock stage was local outfit Being Jane Lane. Their set included a sick cover of Grinspoon’s ‘Just Ace’ that had people flocking to the stage to check them out.
There was a lot to explore at Laneway, including different exhibitions. The beautiful I Wish For You project is inspired by the One Million Stars To End Violence project, which was a hanging instillation of 6000 stars along a walkway.
Over at the Dr. Marten’s stage was Camp Cope. They opened with a cover of Green Day’s ‘Warning’ that transitioned smoothly into their hit single ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’. During the set, Georgia Maq asked the audience to look out for each other, and stressed the importance of making festivals a safe place for everyone (a sentiment the crowd seemed to strongly agree with, as it was met with cheers and applause).
Camp Cope/ Photo: Rebecca Reid
By this time in the day, the festival was getting really busy, and navigating my way over to the Never Let It Rest stage while balancing a bowl of kofta was a feat in itself. After much dodging, myself (and my bowl of food) made it through unscathed. The tent was packed for Middle Kids, and the band played a great set. Seeing them play ‘Edge Of Town’ live was one of the highlights of the day. The build in the bridge section was executed well live, and the whole crowd was dancing and jumping along to the music. Sadly, a lot of people seemed to disperse after the song ended, which was a shame as Middle Kids put on a great show until the end.
Next up, Denzel Curry. There was so much energy in the crowd, it was infectious, particularly during crowd-favourite ‘CLOUT COBAIN’ – the audience went wild for this one.
Over at the Future Classics stage Masego put on a dynamic performance, even pulling out a saxophone! The two female backing singers onstage really added to the music.
Later, back over at the Dr. Marten’s stage, The Smith Street Band were wooing the crowd. Frontman Wil Wagner looked so happy to be performing, and he was smiling and laughing with joy while singing. Is there anything happier than hearing a singer break into a laugh while singing? I don’t think so. The band announced they were going to be performing “a brand new song for the first time ever” and launched into playing a riffy little track called ‘I Still Dream About It’. Smith Street ended their set by playing ‘Death To The Lads’, which the crowd shouted back at them, enthusiastically.
The Smith Street Band / Photo: Rebecca Reid
The Good, Better, Best Stage was covered in beautiful golden fairy lights as Courtney Barnett played which added a beautiful ambience to the set. A few songs in, Barnett brought Georgia Maq onstage and together the two performed a rendition of ‘Nameless, Faceless’.
Barnett played a variety of songs including ‘Sometimes I Sit…’ opener ‘Elevator Operator’, and ‘Charity’ from her latest album, before closing with arguably her most popular song, ‘Pedestrian At Best’.
The Never Let It Rest stage was bursting with people during What So Not, and the air was thick with the heat that comes from multiple bodies crammed together in tight proximity. As I walked in, the lights were flashing and people were jumping wildly along to the music. As ‘High You Are’ started up the crowd roared with excitement.
The energy was phenomenal. The audience seemed to turn into a wave pool with each drop, jumping in time with the music in an almost trance- like fashion. What So Not knows how to control a crowd, and I wasn’t the only one who noticed it (a random dude turned to me and commented it out of the blue, so clearly it was having an affect on people).
Gang Of Youths / Photo: Rebecca Reid
Unsurprisingly there was an absolutely massive crowd for Gang of Youths, and the band played a large variety of songs during their 75-minute set. Frontman David Le’aupepe gave a touching speech about the resilience of the “strongest muscle in our body” before launching into ‘The Heart Is A Muscle’. For ‘Let Me Down Easy’, Le’aupepe set down his guitar and really worked the stage,
showing off his dance moves (which the audience loved) as the band played. ‘Magnolia’ saw Le’aupepe reaching into the crowd to clasp hands with fans in the front few rows, before being held up by the mass of people and crowdsurfing across them.
I listened to Gang of Youths play their last couple of songs as I walked out of the venue, surrounded by sunburnt, beaming festival-goers.
Gallery: Laneway Festival – Brisbane 02/02/19 / Photos: Rebecca Reid
Laneway Festival continues this weekend in Melbourne and Adelaide.