Continuing Laneway’s biggest year yet, the Melbourne leg of the St. Jeromes Laneway Festival was a success on Saturday, last week. Sporting a two-main stage set up (similar to Groovin’ the Moo or Download) and having its first year at Flemington, it was a fantastic day for the thousands of attendees, but it did suffer from both the heat and some teething problems. Thankfully, the transport wasn’t one of them with multiple ways to get to the festival with ease.
The excitement for the major headliners kept the thoughts of heat at bay as the festival touted a massive lineup for Melbourne. US juggernaut HAIM sat alongside, pop sensation, Joji and the phenomenal Phoebe Bridgers. Yet, there was a long line of other acts before those three, including metal powerhouse Turnstile, Fontaines D.C., Yard Act, Mallrat, The Jungle Giants, Fred Again, Julia Jacklin, and more.
There was a great selection of food across two separate areas, including the well-known Italian restaurant Gradi, as well as a long line of food trucks on the main lawn making it easy to get some food when you needed to. There was also a combination of areas that allowed for people who needed a rest; a fantastic addition that all festivals should take note of.
The day opened with the Triple J Unearthed winner, Pricie who was a welcome addition to the lineup. She brought the energy early, which was important for such a long day of music.
Pricie was soon followed by Adam Newling across on one of the side stages and Tasman Keith on the main stage. As the energy across Flemington Racecourse grew, so did the crowd. By the time, Mallrat was on stage, it was hard to move amongst the main stage crowd. This was the biggest setback throughout the festival, and it made it hard to move from location to location, especially if you wanted to move from the main stages across to the Dean Turner or Everything Ecstatic Stage.
The main side stage; the Dean Turner stage was home to many of the day’s heavier acts, with, Yard Act, Fontaines D.C., and Slowthai all making a mark throughout the day. While the Everything Ecstatic Stage was home to electronic acts such as 100 Gecs, Chaos In the CBD, and later in the evening, Ross from Friends.
Fred Again.. was a highlight of the festival, the UK producer giving it his all to a packed crowd on the main stage. The artist who recently became massive via TikTok arguably brought one of the biggest crowds of the day.
Phoebe Bridgers was a special act and while there were acts to come, it was clear that much of the crowd had come to see Phoebe specifically. There was almost a continual crowd chorus through, “Motion Sickness”, “Kyoto” and “Chinese Satellite”. It was also nice to see her sing a cover of one of her group, Boygenius’ songs as well, in “Emily I’m Sorry”. Hearing a crowd, thousands of strong screams all together at the death of her song, “I Know The End” was haunting and wonderful.
Joji was an interesting act with a huge amount of production throughout his set, standing on a raised platform surrounded by LED panels, his set was fun but ultimately disappointing as he spent much of his time on stage bantering with his bandmates. That being said, his final two songs “Slow Dancing in the Dark” and “Glimpse of Us” were great to hear live, especially after their popularity through TikTok.
The final acts of the day, sadly clashed, meaning every person at Laneway had to make a difficult choice between hard rockers Turnstile or HAIM; a nearly impossible choice. Turnstile’s pit was energetic and rough, but exactly what you’d want from the band, while on the other hand, HAIM brought a dance number through “My Song 5”, a percussion line through their opening number “Now I’m In It” and the energy you’d expect from such a talented group that didn’t leave the entire set.
Sadly, HAIM’s hour set felt far too short for a band that was exclusive, but they were a fantastic send-off to the Melbourne leg of the festival and made sure that everyone in the crowd enjoyed the end of the festival, sending it all off with “The Steps”.
Overall, Laneway’s move to Flemington for Melbourne’s leg has been a positive one, but the change in stage setups made it a little difficult to get around especially with the massive crowds that appeared in the afternoon. That being said, the lineup made up for this, with acts that rarely come to Australia supported by some of the up-and-coming talents through the Australian music scene.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Laneway is now finished for 2023 but look forward to a new announcement for 2024 toward the end of the year.
You can see more of Dan’s photos from Laneway Melbourne HERE