Mar 2, 2008

2008 St Jerome's Laneway Festival

On an overcast Sunday morning I awoke my tired body with the thought that maybe another day of music after a tiring and emotionally draining week was going to be a big ask. Especially if it rained. But then the sun came out, I ventured into the city and had THE time of my life. Now in its third year, in Sydney, St Jerome's Laneway Festival is I think the best festival in Australia. Great music plus small amount of people equals thrilling day. And this was a thrilling day, and how. I like the fact that this festival is right in the heart of our city, it is well organised and friendly and they invite the musicians that I like. Strike that, love. If there were complaints, it would be that in such a confined space maybe they should cut back on ticket sales. Sometimes it does get pushy getting from one stage to another. However, people were mostly well behaved, except for those rude people who think it is their right to walk straight through you when they wish to get to a stage. Plus, seeing bands at Reiby Place Stage is hard unless you manage to get right down the front. But anyway, it is all about the music. Which, was incredible to say the least. Like many festivals, I didn't see everything, but here are my impressions of the day, in the order that I witnessed them.

Manchester Orchestra. Biggest surprise of the day. I didn't know they were this good. I actually thought their music was more on the poppy side. But this Atlanta five piece really rocked. Hard. But with a very melodic sensibility, with space between the chords. Their singer, Andy Hull, has a beast of a voice. Going from a quiet and vulnerable whisper to a full throated roar, he was way beyond impressive. Speaking of impressive, their drummer was even more so. Jeremiah Edmond thrashes the kit like nobody's business. First thing Monday, I am going to buy their album "I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child".

Okkervil River, you own a piece of my heart. Please keep it safely. What a special, special band. More emotion and passion is rarely seen. I have waxed lyrical about Will Sheff for quite a while. But put simply, he is a living marvel. A great songwriter. A great musician. A great performer. And that voice, so full of the drama of life, I could listen to him forever. This set was basically a shortened version of their Manning Bar show. No complaints here. " A Girl in Port" was stunning again, whilst "Unless It's Kicks" just flat out rocks. To end with "Westfall" was bliss. Again. Plus, the band were having so much fun. Please, come again soon!

Set List
The President's Dead
A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene
The Latest Toughs
A Girl In Port
Plus Ones
Our Live Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
For Real
Unless It's Kicks

By I time I got to the Park Stage, I had to settle towards the back. But thankfully I could hear and see everything pretty well. So, a second dose of Stars was delightful again. This band just writes delicious and infectious melodies. I have definitely come out of this week a bigger fan then when I went in. They play with such life and joy. Torquil Campbell is charming and full of enthusiasm and life. Whilst Amy Millan is just a treasure. She is just inhabited by a beautiful spirit, such a smile and seems so full of joy and optimism. Oh, they write good music too. I was especially happy to hear "What I'm Trying to Say" and "Reunion" which they didn't play last Tuesday. "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" and "Elevator Love Letter" were charm personified as well. Then they closed with my favourite Australian song of all time. "Cattle and Cane". The Go-Betweens' classic was a wonderful choice. I salute you Torquil.

Set List (I might have this order wrong as I took this from memory)
Set Yourself On Fire
Elevator Love Letter
Window Bird
One More Night (Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead)
What I Am Trying To Say
Bitches In Tokyo
Midnight Coward
Calendar Girl
Take Me To The Riot
Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
Cattle And Cane

Broken Social Scene should have closed this festival. Without doubt. They are born to close festivals. Their sound is all encompassing, all consuming. All...perfect. After seeing them Thursday night, with poor sound plaguing them I believe, I was ecstatic beyond words through out their performance. They were just on fire. Storming into "Superconnected", they never let up. "KC Accidental" came and I was losing it. Plus, the brass was in full effect. Not only Charles Spearin, but Evan Cranley from Stars on trombone and members of Feist's band as well. Speaking of Feist, I was hoping she would join BSS and she did! Plus Amy Millan, wow. They tore into "7/4 (Shoreline)", a definite highlight of the day. Through out the set, the band grew and shrank in numbers. Even a member of CYHSY appeared. Then to close with "Ibi Dreams of Pavement.." was enough to make my head spin. This song has amazing power and majesty and during its epic close the stage was awash with people and guitars and horns. Stunning. Broken Social Scene are seriously great, scarily talented. Kevin Drew was once again the master front man. He is so imbued with life and emotion. He truly connects with people. Why, oh why didn't this band close. They just had to, surely.

Set List
KC Accidental
Stars And Sons
Farewell to The Pressure Kids
7/4 (Shoreline)
Fire Eye'd Boy
Backed Out On The...
Major Label Debut (Fast)
Fucked Up Kid
Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)

My hardest decision of the day was to choose between Feist and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I love both, but I was at Feist on Friday night, so I chose the American five piece. Despite myself being a little way from the stage and having a handful of complete idiots near me, I am glad I saw them. They really create an effortless groove, their infectious melodies pleasing my ear no end. They leaned heavily on their debut album, which is a great one. But I like their second effort so I was happy with whatever they played. "Details of the War" is always a pleasure to hear, whilst "Yankee Go Home" was great as well. Closing with "Satan Said Dance" was a sure fire winner, the crowd really enjoying this one. A great end to a great day.

Set List
Is This Love?
Details Of The War
In This Home On Ice
The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth
Heavy Metal
Yankee Go Home
Clap Your Hands!
Satan Said Dance

If this festival is even half as good next year, I am there with bells on. Great music in a unique setting makes for a great day. Oh, I was happy again to meet Sean, Geoff, Ro, Cara and Roshan. I didn't see Amanda today but I was pleased to finally meet you at Broken Social Scene.

More photos of this day at Flickr.


  • At March 03, 2008 , Blogger Ally said...

    i had exactly the same day as you re. bands (though i watched damn arms for about 10 minutes so i could get a good spot for cyhsy). you were right, okkervil river = amazing. owned the day in my opinion. & hearing stars and sons, that was fantastic too.

  • At March 03, 2008 , Anonymous Ro said...

    Okkervil River and Feist were pretty amazing but that day belonged to one fat bald man, Dan Deacon.

    Laneway is becoming our annual meetup place. Great, huh?

  • At March 03, 2008 , Anonymous dave said...

    bloody hell wayne, when did you write this?! seems like only a few hours ago we left there!

    was a very cool venue - my first time, but won't be my last. great bands, scenery, cool kids with funny t-shirts for people watching. plus u could keep an eye on the cricket at customs house. one woman was overheard berating her bf for doing so while at a music concert. ;-)

  • At March 03, 2008 , Anonymous Karen said...

    Wayne is hardcore :) This a great summary of the day.

    I had such a great time. Okkervil River were far and away my highlight but BSS completely blew me away.

    And Ro were you in the conga line?! I watched it as I came out of the Basement from seeing Darren Hanlon. I'm not sure I've ever seen one so big.

  • At March 03, 2008 , Blogger Wayne said...

    Ally-Okkervil River hopefully won a few new fans. They are just a great, great band.
    Ro-I have heard Dan Deacon was fun. And meeting all my new music friends is a great part of the day.
    Dave-I write best when I get home, If I have the energy, that is.
    Karen-BSS should have closed. FACT!

  • At March 03, 2008 , Blogger daniel said...

    I wish i knew what you look like. I'm sure i must see you at gigs all the time but not make the connection.

  • At March 04, 2008 , Blogger Kelly said...

    I would sell my soul to have seen that BSS rendition of 7/4 (Shorline). I had the great pleasure of seeing BSS in Dallas, Texas albeit without the magnificent Feist and it was still mind blowing!

  • At March 04, 2008 , Anonymous amanda said...

    It was great to finally meet you too, Wayne.
    Everybody, he does exist, phantom no more.
    Yeah, I was off in a mega long toilet queue while you were chatting to Sean.
    Your review summed up the day perfectly.


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