A festival in a lane is a pretty dumb thing. Like, why on earth would packing a bunch of people into a narrow space with no emergency exits be a good idea?
Well it wasn’t, and that’s why Laneway is no longer in lanes. Sydney’s Laneway Music Festival is at SCA and Callan Park, complete with plenty of grass and a natural amphitheatre.
The festival itself is a lot like other festivals: the drinks are overpriced, the sun is too hot, the shade too minimal, the timetable has some woeful clashes, the people are mostly under 30, and mostly white. The bands are a little more niche and the people are a little less patriotic, but a festival is a festival, and when it costs upward of $150, you attract a certain crowd: namely, the group of people willing to spend that much on a day in the sun.
That being said, this is the only festival I’ve ever been to that the mayor demanded stage time. They didn’t put it on the timetable, probably because no one would go if they knew it was happening. But before Lorde started (Laneway’s biggest coup since Splendour had the same coup six months earlier), the audience was asked to get excited for possibly the most irrelevant thing I’ve seen since Pearl Jam headlined Big Day Out last weekend. Leichhardt mayor Darcy Byrne came onstage to reluctant cheers to spout his thinly veiled political rant about Labor’s commitment to live music.
Some commitment, Darce. The act I was most excited for, Laneway veterans Warpaint, started their 50 minute set around 20 minutes late – a product of the previous set’s overstay, and technical difficulties. However, as the closing act with a strict end time of 11, the set was 6 songs long. The band squeezed in a 7th – a fuck you to whoever would be trying to sleep in the neighbouring area – and then left. Turns out Labor loves live music, but only before 11pm.
The acts fell into three reasonably neat categories: the women sang indie pop, the white men DJed, the black men rapped. The volume of female performers was great, and also probably a very conscious decision given the criticism levelled at triple J recently.
Overall, the sets were short, and mostly on time. Most of the acts left you wanting more – which is fortunate, given many of them have sideshows for upwards of $50 you can go to (if you can afford it).
I feel like saying what was good and what wasn’t is a pretty major wank-fest, so I don’t think I’ll do it. But I think my highlights for the day were the bassist from Haim’s weird bass-face, Earl Sweatshirt pointing out the whiteness of the crowd, dancing to Danny Brown, and the tacos I had for dinner.