Festival Review: St Jerome’s Laneway Festival – Perth Cultural Precinct (09.02.13)

Well that’s it. The last Laneway Festival of the year has come and gone. The festivals run of shows came to a sweltering sold-out climax at Perth’s Cultural precinct. Looking at the line-up (Of Monsters and Men & The Reubens in particular) it’s hardly surprising that Perth along with a number of the other dates sold out. Though despite it’s sold out status, it felt fairly quiet until the majority of the punters arrived a couple of hours into the day.

Laneway has quickly cemented itself as one of my favourite festivals; it’s laid back and always attracts a high quality line-up; this year being no exception. My only real issue is that is always leads to the next visit to the record store being an expensive one.

I opted to kick off the day with Kucka, the winners of this years Path to Laneway competition. Despite playing to a middling and passing crowd, the band clearly relished the opportunity to be playing at a major festival. It was solid performance, albeit slightly quirky, with an interesting mix of synths, vocals, and percussion.

Next was Norway’s Kings of Convenience who drew an impressive early crowd to the leafy Museum stage. Indeed it seemed like most of the crowd had come down early specifically to see them. It was a charismatic and entertaining set; the kind which tends to win over new listeners (like me). It was quite a relaxed set, beginning with a few tracks just as a duo, before bringing on the rest of the band.

Poliça attracted a fair sized crowd with a pretty solid set. The band was forced to play without their bassist, who had to fly home, so it wasn’t really a standard Poliça show. That being said lead singer Channy Leaneagh still proved herself to be a captivating performer, with the highlight of the set being her sublime vocals, cutting through the atmospheric instrumental backing.

There were a few bands on the line-up this year that I’ve been waiting years to see live. Real Estate where one such band, having been a fan of theirs since their debut album, I was glad that not only that I got to see them live finally, but that they more than lived up to expectations. The band’s crisp, jangling guitar work was the perfect accompaniment to the searing summer sun. It was unsurprisingly a fairly chilled out set, with the band moving between tracks from their two albums, as well as dropping in a new track.

It was then time for The Rubens, unsurprisingly the festival had started to get busy around this point. The band’s hit “My Gun” has been near ubiquitous on the nations radio, and always seems to be the way; many had turned out in the hope of hearing it. It was a bit of an underwhelming set from the band. Not bad; but it just never really seemed to get going. The opening few songs were definitely stop-start, with the band having to pause for people to climb down from trees, or needing to get a new microphone. It interrupted the flow of the set, that being said the vocals were quality throughout.

Up next were Of Monsters and Men, arguably one of the main draw cards of the festival. It certainly felt like the majority of the festival goers had descended onto the Museum stage in time for their set. It was a fantastic performance, and one of the highlights of the festival for me. Of course there were many people there purely to hear “Little Talks”, which has hit high rotation of the nations radio stations, and came second in last months Hottest 100. But beyond that one song the band has so many other great songs to choose from, many of which are tailor made to be sung and hollered by a festival crowd. With plenty of audience interaction, and chorus sing-alongs it was anything but disappointing.

Another band who I’d been waiting to see for quite a while were Japandroids and much like Real Estate earlier in the day, the duo of Brian King and David Prowse, more than lived up to expectation. The bands set was raw, raucous and great fun. A fantastically energetic performance that saw King throwing himself all over the stage guitar in hand, whilst Prowse powered away on the drums. The crowd certainly enjoyed it, with those closest to the stage getting a bit a battering from those around them.

After a bit of a break to rehydrate and grab some food, I arrived back to the stage in time for Chet Faker. Despite being a fan of his debut EP, I’d never seen him play live. I was sort of expecting him to just to turn up with a laptop and maybe a keyboard. So to see him have a live band alongside him was a welcome surprise. All in all it was a solid performance, that was let down a little by a few technical hitches at the beginning. I did however find myself impressed with Faker’s vocals, which were more soulful and RnB tinged than I remembered them being from the EP.

I closed out the festival with Nicolas Jaar. Which although delayed was well worth the wait. Jaar weaves and creates music that is both intriguing and captivating. Much like with Faker I was expecting it just to be him and a laptop. But, a guitarist and a saxophonist instead joined him. The saxophonist in particular giving the set an added free jazz feel; Jaar’s music is quite genre defying at times, drawing from a wide range of sources, something which was easily seen throughout the set.

Then all too soon, the day, and the run of Laneway Festivals had come to an end. Until next year…

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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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