Feb 3, 2013

Sydney Laneway Festival 2013

The 2013 edition of the Laneway Festival was brought to you by Sydney's rain. A wet couple of days leading in weren't encouraging and despite occasional showers we managed to pretty much stay dry. Which lead to a satisfying and enjoyable day of great music with great friends. This year the organizers managed to clear space and have the main stage located in a grassy valley off to the main entrance which meant more room for every one and barely a bottleneck to be seen anywhere. Sydney's food trucks were added as well which meant a better selection of food and the Bulmer's Brick Lane was very popular. Who doesn't love cider? Of course there were inevitable queues for toilets but at a festival that kind of comes with the territory. There did seem to be a greater section of douches here this year. Little girls and boys more interested in how they look and their mobile phones rather than the music. But all in all this was a great day. Cementing this festival as the best to attend in Australia.

As for the music I would grade it as a good but not great lineup. The biggest stage housed the biggest commercial successes. But none that I was particularly interested in. Bat For Lashes does nothing for me and Of Monsters and Men are too bland for my tastes. I spent most of my day at the Carpark Stage or as Britt Daniel put it, "The Rock and Roll Stage". Some acts I caught through the day included Real Estate who I missed the start of. But their sweet guitar tones are always welcome. And they played three new songs. I took in the entire set of EL-P. The Brooklyn rapper gave us a ferocious set with highlights being "The Full Retard" and "Drones Over Brooklyn". He was great to watch but like a lot of rap acts he tried to make it a rock show, thus drowning out his lyrical rhymes. I also caught the entire set of Canada's much loved Japandroids. The crowd went nuts and the two piece brought undeniable energy. But I don't really get the love. The singer has a pretty average voice and their songs just aren't strong enough to warrant the hype. Anyway, what follows are my full reviews of the acts that I really loved. With Divine Fits being the complete stars of the day. Britt and Dan, say no more.

File The Men under "band that deserved a much later spot". But no matter, the Brooklyn band played a blistering, ferocious set that was somewhat better than their sideshow during the week. Mainly because the sound was much better here. You could hear the vocals much better, meaning that the complexity of their music was brought much larger into the light. They have a new album due out in March and by the sounds of the new songs that they have been playing it should be great.

Set List
Turn It Around
Without a Face
Open Your Heart
Please Don't Go Away/Oscillation

High Highs filled a great spot in the middle of the afternoon and were pretty wonderful. The Brooklyn based Australians have just released their debut album and naturally that was the basis of their great set. They write great melodies that are pleasant but definitely not lightweight. I thought that live their tunes might drift off into the air, but no so. Great drumming seemed to solidify and give each song a robustness that made them live quite an act. "Flowers Bloom" and "Open Season" book ended a totally enjoyable set.

Set List
Flowers Bloom
White Water
Once Around The House
Love Is All
In A Dream
Open Season

I made the mistake of standing right in front of the speakers during Cloud Nothings. I think I went deaf. But it was worth it. For this was an aural assault of guitars that was compelling and entrancing. The Ohio band sent the crowd into spasms of delight, with quite a big moshpit breaking out. The entire set was drawn from their 2012 excellent album in "Attack On Memory". Songs like "Wasted Days" and "No Future/No Past" have become anthems for their devoted fans and live they just exploded. The band are extremely tight playing with a admirable ferocity, interweaving complex guitar lines that produce a dynamite mix.

Set List
Fall In
Cut You
Stay Useless
Wasted Days
No Sentiment
Our Plans
No Future/No Past

So to the cream of the day. The class. The wonder. What happens when you take two modern day greats and put them in a band together. Greatness. What else? Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner are Divine Fits and they were truly great. They only have one album, but it's pretty damn good and every song went down a treat. Opening with "Neopolitans" they gave us a tight, exciting set of well written rocking songs that showed off the talents of the two front men. They write seemingly straight forward rock songs that are actually quite intricate and complex. Spare rhythms and great melodies. They seemed to being having so much fun too. We certainly were. "Shivers" was a great choice for closing. Especially given the Australian setting. The crowd loved this Australian classic. They also loved Divine Fits.

Set List
Baby Get Worse
Flaggin a Ride
Would That Not Be Nice
My Love Is Real
Civilian Stripes
The Salton Sea
Like Ice Cream
For Your Heart


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