In its second year to grace the streets of Sydney, Changing Lanes Festival is moving from strength to strength. Held on lower Devonshire Street, punters spent the day moving between outdoor and indoor stages to catch as much as they could of what was a truly impressive lineup. With funds going towards FBi Radio, the festival stayed true to the community radio station’s passion for supporting a wide range of Aussie artists. Supplying us with a mix of up-and-comers and the bands that we already know and love, the festival presented punters with an abundance of exciting and dynamic music.
After catching the tail-end of Brous, a pop outfit that stands apart for Sophia Brous’ deep and expressive vocals, Cameras took to the main ‘Heart’ stage. Making rich atmospheric music, Cameras set a high precedent for the following acts. Playing to a small yet gathering crowd, the five piece delivered beautiful, intense numbers including “I Know”. Cameras’ sound may have seemed slightly out of place in the sunny early afternoon, yet they played a captivating show nonetheless.
After Cameras’ haunting performance, I made my way over to the FBi Curious stage to check out Shag’s DJ set. Also a popular FBi presenter, Shag had his small but highly enthusiastic crowd dancing along to his playful selection of hip hop hits from the 90s. Checking in with FBi Curious later in the day to see F:R:I:E:N:D:S DJs, I found that these guys were also pulling out a bunch of golden oldies. Even playing a remix of Johnny Farnham’s “You’re the Voice”, it was refreshing to see that the lads at FBi are all for playing a bunch of cheesy gems.
Heading back to the Heart stage, I was able to enjoy the vibrant pop music that Oscar and Martin play so well. A duo that combines bouncy electric guitar tunes, off-kilter beats and soft vocals, Oscar and Martin had their continually expanding audience bopping along happily.
Following this I head into The Gaelic to see Kira Puru and The Bruise. Despite the venue being almost packed out with a rowdy crowd, Kira Puru’s gutsy, jazzy voice cut through it all, sounding as strong as ever. Singing her heart out with a red wine in hand, Kira Puru was at her most striking for “The Liar”. An ensemble that blends a heavy rock backing with a soulful feminine voice, Kira Puru and The Bruise are sure to keep on getting bigger.
Then it came time to see Megastick Fanfare, delivering an explosive set on the ‘Heart’ stage. Using an intelligent overlapping of beats, melodies and vocals to produce innovative songs, this duo had everyone hooked. In contrast to the great intensity of Megastick Fanfare, Big Scary were far more melody driven. At times the duo played sweet piano-based pop songs such as the radio-friendly “Autumn”, while at other points they brought out heavier rockier tunes including “Tuesday is Rent Day”. For just two musicians, Big Scary delivered an impressively rich and varied repertoire.
Witty and highly talented, Gareth Liddiard was a sure crowd favourite. With his flair for writing lyric-rich songs that are compelling and sometimes disturbing, the singer mostly drew upon material from his debut album, Strange Tourist. After Liddiard’s acoustic performance, The Vasco Era (pictured above) brought a whole lot more noise to the stage. Playing a pounding set that sent vibrations down Devonshire Street, at one point lead singer Sid O'Neil even enquired, ‘is it a bit too rock and roll for you? Is that even possible?” Throwing in a wonderful cover of Tom Waits’ “Bottom of the World”, The Vasco Era certainly reaffirmed that they are a genuine rock act.
Catching a few songs of Mikelangelo and the Tin Star at The Gaelic, this blues rock outfit were certainly worth checking out. Making for an impressive sight, the boys sported black suits and oiled back hair while playing music straight from a Quentin Tarantino film. Creating a strong sound that rumbled throughout the venue, these guys were the perfect lead up to The Snowdroppers. A four piece that play gritty blues reminiscent of the 1920s, the lead singer (who goes by the name of Wishbone) held the crowd’s attention with his rough language and driving vocals. Occasionally pulling out the harmonica and the banjo to accompany rowdy blues numbers, The Snowdroppers sure are an act like no other.
Back at the ‘Heart’ stage, Papa vs Pretty gave a harder, louder opening than those who know just a few of their tracks would expect. Hailed for their lovely upbeat melodies, the trio made it clear on Saturday night that they are talented musicians and strong performers. Playing hits including “Heavy Harm” and “One of the Animals”, the youthful trio infused their songs with a great rocking energy. Finally, after great anticipation and to finish off the night, PVT came onto the stage. Working up a powerful, atmospheric sound, the three piece had their huge audience absorbed in the energy of their intricate techno beats.
All in all, PVT gave an invigorating end to what was a fantastic music festival. Walking away with a bunch of favourite new artists and tired legs from a whole lot of dancing, it was hard not to be satisfied with all that Changing Lanes had to offer.