Feb 6, 2012

Sydney Laneway Festival 2012


After a month of pretty ordinary unsummery weather Sydney turned on an absolute cracker of a day for Laneway Festival 2012. Thankfully the music matched the weather. There were highlights, and clashes, through out the day but I managed to see all acts I really wanted to see. The 2012 edition seemed to have the electronic/chillwave thing going on pretty well. Mostly that's not my cup of tea but I found plenty to keep me entertained through out the day. Austra would prove the great discovery of the day, whilst EMA absolutely killed it in an early set. Feist proved the class act of the day. She is really in a league of her own. I think the food situation needs to be looked at, a few more outlets wouldn't go astray and I believe there were many queues at the end of the day. And the market area could possibly be expanded to something greater. But the music was great, proving once again that Laneway has no peer on the festival scene in Australia.


EMA was a sledgehammer of a performer. Power and personality magnified. I only recently bought her debut album and quickly fell in love with it. So I was very excited to see her perform live. Her music is intense, personal powerful. Dark and brooding you could say. But she was also a delight on stage, smiling between songs and enjoying herself. Even when her guitar string broke and she was given a replacement one she didn't miss a beat. "The Grey Ship" and "Butterfly Knife" were great, but the absolute highlight was "California" where she abandoned her guitar and stalked the front of a stage in a way that was captivating and intense. A great start to the day.

Set List
Red Star
Marked
The Grey Ship
Breakfast
Anteroom
Butterfly Knife
California



The only thing I really knew about Austra before the day was that they were from Canada and they had a song called "Lose You". Which I quite liked but that was the only one I knew. Well, they turned out to be the most pleasant and exciting discovery of the day. Fronted by classically trained singer Katie Stelmanis they were a fascinating mixture of vocal rain showers and pounding synth driven rhythms. Quite intoxicating really. Might have to check out the album.


Girls are great. Of that there is little doubt. But I am really glad I went to their sideshow on Thursday night. For a couple of reasons. Firstly, we naturally received a longer set, including great renditions of "Hellhole Ratrace" and "Morning Light". Secondly the sound wasn't great here. The guitars were way too loud, which took away some of the pleasure. But pleasure was still there. How could it not be with songs as great as "Alex", "My Ma" and "Vomit". A great band.

Set List
Heartbreaker
My Ma
Honey Bunny
Lust For Life
Alex
Love Like A River
Vomit
Carolina


If the sound at Girls was disappointing it was probably worse at Portugal. The Man. I know it can be hard, for a variety of reasons, to get the sound right at outdoor festivals. Being outdoor doesn't help for a start. Then there is the practicality of sound checking on the run, but it would nice to get a clearer sound. The guitars here were too loud again and the vocal seemed buried. But it was still fun. This Alaskan band has throwback sound that somehow gels with the modern audience. I was really glad to get a couple of older tunes too, especially "People Say".

Set List
The Sun
People Say
Floating (Time Isn't Working My Side)
All Your Light (Times Like These)
So American
Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)
Head Is A Flame (Cool With It)
All The Young Dudes (Mott The Hoople cover)
Work All Day
The Devil
The Woods


In this setting Feist was incomparable. A shining beacon of joy and class. It felt short though. But every second was hugely enjoyable. Backed by the girls from Mountain Man, we were swallowed up by a wave of glistening harmonies. I also believe the great Charles Spearin was helping out on a multitude of instruments. Feist leaned heavily on 2011's "Metals", which was fine by me because it is a very fine album. "Graveyard" was probably the standout, although "Comfort Me" was great with Feist encouraging us the join in a big singalong. A pleasant surprise too was classic tune 'Mushaboom", which was turned upside down with a huge percussive bent. Didn't recognize it until halfway through. Feist in undeniably a major talent. A pleasure to see again.  

Set List
A Commotion
My Moon My Man
How Come You Never Go There
Graveyard
Undiscovered First
Mushaboom
Comfort Me
The Bad In Each Other
I Feel It All

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