Oh Laneway – you sure know how to rub a gal the right way. What a line-up St Jerome’s Laneway Festival brought this year. While unforgiving set-time clashes saw me miss out on Bat for Lashes, Nicolas Jaar, Divine Fits and Yeasayer, I managed to sweatily make my way around to the likes of Twerps, Snakadaktal, Real Estate, Rubens, Pond, Of Monsters and Men, Chet Faker, Alt J, Ms Mr, and our old mate Flume.
Let me waste no time getting into what was nothing short of an unbelievable, star-studded afternoon.
A high energy, youthful slurpee of an entrée. These guys are as fun to watch as they are to listen to. Never have I wanted to be a twerp more than watching them shake their stuff around at Laneway. After a little ‘Through The Day’, a squeeze of ‘Anything New’ and a sprinkle of ‘Don’t be Surprised’ my lust for festival life had begun and I started rocking out with my cock non-existent.
These guys are great live! Who knew? Here I was thinking that they were a bunch of good-for-nothing kids just set out to spray paint naughty words on the pavement. Boy is there egg on my face.
I was beyond impressed with their set – they had more musical integrity and sophistication than their name would suggest. Seeing newie ‘Dance Bear’ live along with better known ‘Air’ showcased a whole new side to the spring chickens – a particularly attractive one. Oh, yes – and they’re all massive babes.
I am surprising myself by saying this, but Real Estate playing ‘It’s Real’ was one of my personal highlights of the festival. The sun was shining, there was an air of mystery as to how the rest of the day was going to pan out, and everyone was perpetually bumping into unexpected friends in the depths of the crowd.
‘It’s Real’, was a stand-out track in the sense that it was my mental anthem to the mental hype-reel of the day’s events. Bottom line, the song is mental live, in a really, really good way. The Real Estate boys knocked ‘em dead – so very glad that The Ripe was able to score a cheeky interview with them backstage.
Well, The Rubens were certainly lapped up well by the crowd – it was an absolute lap-fest out there. There is good reason behind this – the dashing young lads have it all. They’re a bunch of tall, dark and handsome men who just so happen to be exceptionally talented.
‘My Gun’ got the swooners a swoonin’ and ‘Never Be The Same’ got the head boppers a boppin’. It was naturally ‘The Best We Got’ that got the jumpers a jumpin’ though – and there will be about 500 sets of sore calves in action today as a result.
While ballooned condoms floated majestically through the crowd, lead singer Sam’s beautifully rusty vocals echoed around the venue. Minimal interludes drove the crowd crazy in suspense, as did their cheeky boyish banter. “You all doing alright? Fuck yeah!”
Well fuck yeah – we were doing OK, you weirdly pretty family (+ drummer).
Have you ever seen a video of a kitten falling asleep? Of course you have – videos like that are the sole purpose of the internet. In any case, Recently hyper-exploded Icelandic five-piece, Of Monsters and Men were just about as adorable. Little bowler hats, dragon capos, sing-alongs, accents and swaying hands – their set was a few songs away from establishing world peace.
‘King and Lionheart‘, ‘Lakehouse‘ and ‘Mountain Sound‘ saw nothing less than an army of fanboys and girls screaming along enthusiastically, saliva spraying freely on necks across the board.
Clear favourite, ‘Little Talks‘ inspired even resting or retired partiers get up from their cross-legged slumbers and dance, even hundreds of metres from the stage.
If you haven’t seen these guys live, pause your cat video and have a quick stalk – it’s pretty worth it.
Well here’s a stellar piece of advice! If, hypothetically, you have a hypothetical ex-boyfriend that has just told you that he hypothetically has a new girlfriend, don’t watch Chet Faker’s set at Laneway by yourself while the two of them are hypothetically watching you while holding hypothetical hands from a distance.
Luckily, I was speaking in hypotheticals, and of course, that didn’t happen to me. But if you have seen Chet Faker live before, you will be familiar with the raw, emotional intensity that I am talking about.
After addressing what was “…a fucking technical nightmare” (Chet’s words) on the River Stage, the ensemble launched into Burial cover, ‘Archangel‘. You don’t need to have heard the original to be taken aback by this cover, live or otherwise. Chet sings like a tortured, densely bearded angel. ‘Terms and Conditions‘ had a similar effect on the crowd, many of whom were enjoying the set sitting down on the hill, letting the bass-heavy set reverberate through them.
I could have been paralysed in the beauty of his voice, but there was simply no time for it – Alt J had begun on the Dean Turner stage and my little pegs had to get moving.
I thought I was such a badass climbing the fence to get a better view of Alt J. This feeling was short-lived when I saw people crowd-surfing in wheelchairs, a triple-shouldered totem, and one unfortunate little guy who climbed, and eventually fell to his near death out of a very tall tree. My half-metre of bonus height felt weak in comparison, but nonetheless served as enough of a platform to enjoy the magic of Alt J.
It is without a hint of sarcasm that I say that they were spectacular. When listening to the quality and individuality of their record, it is hard to imagine it translating well into a festival environment, but they knew what they were doing.
‘Breezeblocks‘, very organically melted the house down, as did ‘Matilda‘, ‘Fitzpleasure‘ (twice), ‘Something Good‘… let’s face it – just their entire repertoire was and is dynamite. Yes, even live.
Ms Mr didn’t prove to pull the crowd I thought they were entitled to, although the intimacy of the set worked to their favour and they turned out to be one of my absolute favourite acts of the day.
In her checkered, skintight onesie, the powerhouse lead vocalist stole the show. While her vocal range and enthusiasm was enough to take anyone aback, it was the absence of a cameltoe in her outfit that really boggled the mind.
Well known tracks, ‘Bones’ and ‘Dark Doo Wop’ were incredibly satisfying to watch live – accompanied with the same energy and eeriness they acquired their celebrity from. Lesser known, and brand-spanking new tracks such as ‘Fantasy‘ pulled fans from across the demographic spectrum.
By the finale, ‘Hurricane‘, bogans, preppies, hipsters and 50-year-old free spirits pulled together to support the little New York act. Ms and Mr alike were noticeably humbled by the turnout, and extended their gratitude to the crowd a number of times for just showing up.
Laneway saw the first ever Ms Mr set in Melbourne – and I’ll say it – they can come again any time they like.
Have you heard of this Flume guy? Apparently he has a fan or two. Or like 5 kilometres of dense crowd. The little fella finished off Laneway with a bang to be reckoned with. And from the squiggly little blob I could see a few times over the horizon, he seemed to be having a pretty good time.
What can I tell you about Flume that you don’t already know? His beats are red-hot, his enthusiasm is infectious and his talent is unmistakable.
The energy in the crowd was unbelievable – an absolute human stampede wriggling and writhing around in (or possible on) ecstacy – just thrilled to be a part of the atmosphere.
With a line-up as good as it was, what else can you say but bring on Laneway 2014 – I’ll be there with stilts on.
REVIEW BY ALISON ERLANGER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHELSEA DENNISON