Live Review: Laneway Festival – Brisbane, February 6, 2016

Live Review: Laneway Festival – Brisbane, February 6, 2016
So, I pretty much only decided to go to Laneway 2016 in Brisbane because Chvrches was playing. Arriving pretty early at 2pm, I quickly realised that this was how all festivals should be: fuck all people, heaps of places to choose from when it comes to alcohol, and so many food options! There were plenty of chill-out areas, and friendly security guards made for a great start. The festival also didn’t incorporate the main arena like Soundwave did, probably because they restrict the numbers to keep it a ’boutique’ festival.

Walking through the gates at the RNA Showgrounds has never been smoother. The more ‘punk/rock’ stage was situated right near the gate too, so as soon as I got through security I was blasted with the screams and wails of High Tension. As usual, they were putting on an in-your-face full-frontal assault.

I was there in time to see Japanese Wallpaper play some great catchy tunes. They played their hit track ‘Forces’ (feat. Airling), who indeed made an appearance for this song. Her voice could make Slayer actually sound good for once.

East India Youth was up next and, not knowing a lot about his tunes, I was pleasantly surprised. A one-man synth machine and guitar shredder, he made synth-pop seem effortless. Slum Sociable was up next with more of the same but once again, they really amazed me like East India Youth.

I had a big gap between bands so I sat through uninspiring sets from Big Scary, checked out DIIV (one-dimensional weird pop indie rock), and Royal Headache, which gave me a headache. There was also a big gap in my memory currently because of the amount of craft beer and ale I was drinking at this point. Can I just say though, hooooly fuck – I’ve never had so much choice and reasonably priced choice of a beer. (P.S. Thanks Stone & Wood)

I was keen to check out Hermitude, so while I waited I watched The Internet – a groovy as fuck, occasionally chill RnB/neo-soul group. It was pretty good background music to the drinking and eating, in fact. Hermitude were actually big letdown too because there was no charisma in their live show. It didn’t help either that the stage on which they played had pretty poor sound for most of the day.

The act which put the biggest grin on my face though was Violent Soho. They were the first band a lot of people saw that day with guitar driven hooks and grunge-punk rough-edged rock. A few years ago I saw them in some shitty venue. It was so cool to see them at Laneway and hear all the indie kids scream/sing every goddamn lyric of every song they played. Can I just say that ‘Like Soda’ is pretty much the Aussie teen hit of the decade.

Grimes was probably the biggest surprise for me. I’ve always dug her tunes, but the live show was something else. In fact it was a breath of fresh air. It included bright lighting, lasers, a hype girl with a great voice too, and two on-stage dancers busting coordinated moves that even Beyonce would’ve been stoked about! Grimes is electro- hyperactive music matched with true grime. She was also the most energetic artist I saw all day.

All in all, it was the perfect warm up to Chvrches. Yep, the time had come and I was not disappointed. Short of stalking Lauren Mayberry, I’ve followed the band from the very beginning and they just keep getting better. This was probably my third or fourth time seeing Chvrches, and this was their best live show yet (well, for me anyway). Lauren is one of the best front-women of our generation. Not only are the band’s albums amazing, but they also manage to pull it off well live. Her voice is perfect and her onstage demeanour exudes Scottish wit, self-deprecation, and the occasional general chit chat about hair, sweat, fashion etc., which made her seem like a truly humble rock heroine.

Flume was up next, but after about 10-15 minutes I got really bored. I love Flume, but it took ages for him to warm the crowd up, and again, the sound was again an issue. Purity Ring back under the tent was SICK, though. I truly appreciate good lighting now. Not only was the it perfect for their live set, but Megan James’ voice is something else. They’re an amazing synth pop duo who I think should be bigger than they currently are.

The biggest downer for the festival was the exit plan, however. Testament to the festival, nobody actually left early, so that was great. It proved a problem, though. Trying to squeeze roughly 12,000 people out of the showgrounds by closing off all but one access point was a bad idea, and certainly pissed punters off. What pissed me off most was the fact someone thought it’d be a great idea to sing ‘Hey Baby (Do You Wanna Be My Girl)’ by DJ Otzi, because then every motherfucker joined in and insisted on repeating it all the way out of the gate. After wishing death on everyone who participated in that shameful act of treachery that should’ve been left in 2002, I can easily say that Laneway is probably our most organised, cleanest, and coolest festival right now. It seems from a business sense, that all the right boxes have been ticked and fans are loving it. The festival has expanded to Singapore and New Zealand in recent times too, so it’s only going to go from strength to strength.

Written by Tom Byrnes
Mannequin Republic

Live Review: Laneway Festival – Brisbane, February 6, 2016
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