St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Lonsdale St (Melbourne) 1/2/09
The first sign that things were not going to go as planned was being let in half an hour after the gates were meant to be open, forcing opening act Tame Impala, on the Lonsdale Street stage , to cut short their set. Though despite this, they still managed to warm up the crowd that had managed to be let in, with their psychedelic pop songs laced with booming drums and long, windy guitar riffs.
Gracing the stage after the three Perth boys, was the five Melbourne girls of Beaches, with a loud, strong set showing off their surfy garage, guitar-driven rock and roll songs from their debut album. This band keeps going from strength to strength; December found them at Meredith Music Festival and Big Day Out festival had them playing just the week before today.
One band I was particularly excited to catch was Canada’s Born Ruffians, whose 2008 album, ‘Red, Yellow and Blue’, was a favourite of mine for the year. Though I only caught half of their set, I was impressed right from the beginning. There was clarity to their performance; the country-esque pop songs were loud, with many who knew them singing along.
Next were the manic, fast-paced punk songs of Jay Reatard! Everybody knows that if you piss him off, he would have no hesitation in knocking your block off, but with his highly-charged set of short, sharp tunes and his hectic energy, it’s impossible to shrug his music off. He shouts, screams, rants and raves and has everyone’s attention from start to finish!
From Jay Reatard, I made my way back to the increasingly squishy Little Lonsdale Street stage for New Zealand’s power pop quartet, Cut Off Your Hands. Live, this band is fun and exuberant, and while they appeared to be just that, there was an echoey, muddy quality to their sound, obviously due to the confines of the Laneway, that hindered their performance to those standing a bit further back. I love this band, but today they just didn’t hold my attention.
I moved on to catch some of the Crayon Fields set, out the front of the Library, who just like Oh Mercy, played their gentle, light hearted guitar pop songs to all of the punters relaxing on the lawn. Though, leaving the Little Lonsdale street stage was somewhat of a mistake.
In my return to the Little Lonsdale street stage, there was a line. A very long one in which I found myself waiting in for 50 minutes, in hope to get in there to at least catch the end of the Drones set.
The line was eventually told that the stage was at capacity, leaving many festival goers very, very angry. The decision to hold Girl Talk’s set on the smaller of the two main stages was a bizarre choice to make, but instead of getting angry, I took myself off with all my disappointment to try and catch someone else.
I found myself at the Lounge stage, waiting in line, once again to try and see Buraka Som Sistema. My second 50 minute wait for the day paid off, and I finally made it inside to catch the last two songs by the Portuguese electronic act. Despite missing most of their set, I walked in to see they had the whole room dancing! Who the hell is Girl Talk!?
Though I am still a little disgruntled as to the way my day panned out, it was almost a blessing in disguise. With the Lounge stage found in a bar on Swanston street, it was a relaxed environment for me to catch the last couple of bands for the night, room to sit down and have a drink, as opposed to being molested by every person around you, squished into the one stage area.
There was something completely shambolic about this Laneway festival, as if it has grown too big for Melbourne. Though moving it somewhere else would probably defeat the purpose of it being “Laneway Festival” it would probably prove to be a more happy experience for everyone involved, with many festival goes going home feeling disappointed with the way everything was handled.