The day started off with dark clouds and the threat of rain at any moment. A sprinkling of water showered festival go-ers as they waltzed into the festival, a pulsating mass of Gorman jackets, four dollar plastic rain coats and the occasional punter (myself) who forgot to check the weather report. There was fear in the air, and I fleetingly worried that the long and excruciating hours I spent on my colourful eye makeup would avail to nothing. Alas, as lunch-time hit and everybody’s favourite Melbourne local G-Flip bounced around on stage, the sun shone through and we all knew that Laneway Festival in Melbourne’s Footscray Gardens was set to be an epic time.
Despite fluctuating weather that left us occasionally drenched yet still somehow sunburnt, the 15th year of one of Melbourne’s greatest festivals was once again full of keen punters and vibrant acts across every stage. The first act I caught was none other than Australia’s favourite infectious, indie-punk Ruby Fields with her merry band of epic pals. Attracting a hefty crowd alive with moshing and sing-a-longs from the beginning, it was clear just how much everyone loves Rubes. Tearing through some of her brilliant tracks such as “Ritalin” and “P-Plates”, Field’s than treated everyone to her recent Triple J Like A Version cover of The Church’s “The Unguarded Moment”. Finally, the set was finished off with the much anticipated “Dinosaurs” and almost every single person in the crowd knew those words.
Moving across to the Dean Turner stage, huge cheers began to erupt as G-Flip appeared and it was hard to have thought that just a year ago this absolute superstar was making music in her bedroom. Kicking off her set with ‘Killing my Time”, G-Flip’s hometown crowd broke out dancing and singing along and it was clear that this set had been eagerly awaited. Showing off much adored new tunes “Stupid” and “Drink too Much”, the Melbourne singer finished off her powerful set with everybody’s favourite track and her insane debut “About You.” I can assure you that I was mid-crowd jumping and singing along just as much as everybody around me. G-Flip told the crowd that her whole family had come to watch and I bet they were insanely proud of this insanely talented musician and the huge shoey that she did at the conclusion of her set.
Next up a Welcome to Country presentation preceded the arrival of the uber talented and recent Young Australian of the Year Baker Boy who kicked off his set with his new track “Black Magic”. The crowds were huge and the artist was met by an adoring crowd who cheered and moved as the artist danced and rapped across the main stage. The crowds remained active and alive as Clairo took to the main stage and enveloped festival go-ers in her beautiful, airy melodies and vibrant choruses. The international act complimented the sunshine that now poured down on punters, leaving those who forgot their sunscreen (me) with a few noticeable burns by the end of the day.
Crowds were huge and some serious moshing began to happen during Byron Bay favourite’s Skeggs. I watched my own younger brother get eaten alive by the hectic crowd and wished him good luck from the safety of the sidelines. Ruby Fields joined her mates on stage for “Roadtrip” and “New York California” and was eventually carted off stage in a wheelie bin. Finishing off their set with the smash hit “Up in the Clouds” from their newest album, the band left their fans sweaty, slightly bruised and ecstatic.
Whilst New York artist Mitski crooned glamorously on the Dean Turner stage, the fierce and powerful Camp Cope kicked off their unmissable set on the Dr Martens stage, faced with harsh winds and an adoring crowd. With stunning performances off “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steal Beams” and “How to Socialise and Make Friends”, it’s no surprise that the three piece band are considered one of the best live acts in the country. The day continued on with absolutely epic appearances from UK rising stars Rex Orange Country, whose memorable track “Loving is Easy” could be heard from almost every corner of the festival and The Smith Street Band who were a late addition to the line-up but an equally as memorable one, with performances of their aussie-punk riddled cover of Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and my own personal favourite “I Don’t Wanna Die No More.”
As the day turned to night, the festival was closed with a much anticipated performance from the well-loved Gang of Youths, where frontman Dave Le’aupepe appeared through the smoke to begin their set with an acoustic performance of “Fear and Trembling.” Despite having seen the Sydney band several times before, it was quite honestly as if I was seeing them for the first time. There is something rather magical about the way Gang of Youths glue together and the way their emotional and well-written songs and infectious melodies buzz through the crowd and hit deeper than simply a handful of notes in your ear. The huge audience moved rhythmically and sang through hits like “The Heart is a Muscle” and “Magnolia” before closing their incredible set and finishing off an epic day at Laneway Festival with the much adored track “Say Yes to Life.” I’m not crying, you’re crying.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
This reviewer attended the festival on the 9th of February at Footscray Gardens in Melbourne