Returning once more to the Sydney College of the Arts, the Laneway Festival again made its presence felt throughout Sydney’s inner west. With a line up packed from front-to-back, it promised to be a stellar day as the early clouds cleared to a warm, but pleasant, Sunday afternoon.
Obviously a cost cutting measure, having a single day touring festival on a Sunday always seems an odd decision, especially for those punters who have to work on Monday. Either way, having the Sydney leg on a Sunday didn’t perturb much of the masses, as the fans rolled in early and got into the swing of the eclectic line up curated for the 2018 instalment.
Getting things started over on the Spinning Top stage, London newcomers Shame brought their disheveled and erratic steeze to a small, and at times reluctant, crowd. The English press have a history of claiming a new band as the saviours of rock. While they may not be the saviours of it, Shame were bloody great. Showcasing songs off their debut album Songs of Praise, if you haven’t listened to it yet, do yourself a favour.
Heading on over to the main Garden and Park stages, I was greeted by the closing tracks of The Babe Rainbow’s set, including 2017’s “Peace Blossom Boogie”. Next up was the punk of Dream Wife. The English act kept the crowd moving, as the summer sun continued to make its presence felt. Noting how great it was to experience some proper Vitamin D, the four-piece crushed their set.
With the biggest crowd of the day so far making their way over to watch Billie Eilish, the early stages of the set was plagued with sound issues. Opening with her biggest track “Bellyache” seemed a bit odd at the time, but as the set continued to grow, it all made sense. Throwing in a Drake cover definitely didn’t hurt Eilish’s set either. It was a fun, if a little uneven forty minute set.
Seemingly now the go-to festival act, Amy Shark drew a massive crowd, as the Sydney crowd frothed and adored every one of her lyrics. Melbourne legends City Calm Down were an early stand out, as they smashed through tracks from their Restless House album, including fan favourite “Rabbit Run”, as well as newer tracks “Blood” and “This Modern Land”.
Briefly catching the end of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s set, I was disappointed I hadn’t seen more, as they seemed to be owning the stage. Heading back down the hill for The Internet’s set, I stopped by to check out the food and drink stalls through out the site. With a smaller and decreased quality of beers made available this year, this is one of the things Laneway could look at doing better next year. Despite this, with plenty of food options around, there was enough variety for the pickiest of eaters.
Gracing the Spinning Top stage with their presence, North Londoners Wolf Alice showcased the best of their two albums. Absolute standouts were new tracks “Don’t Delete The Kisses”, “Beautifully Unconventional” and “Space & Time”, while “Bros” was a just reward for the earliest of their fans.
Now, I’m not going to lie. I liked Anderson Paak heading into Laneway. Admittedly, I was late to the game and took a couple years to catch up to the hype, but my lord, the hype is real. In the ten years I’ve been going to gigs, Paak’s set was one of the best things I’ve even seen. It was ridiculous what he and The Free Nationals were doing on stage. Playing the best of his 2016 release Malibu, for the lucky few that get to see him over the coming week, I envy you. Even writing this article out now, I still can’t comprehend what I saw.
After hitting the heights with Anderson Paak, I headed on over to catch a little of BADBADNOTGOOD. Possibly because I was still on a high from Paak, the jazz-fusion of BADBADNOTGOOD seemed neither goodgood, nor badbad.
Catching the last half hour of Father John Misty’s set, I’m still not sure if his on-stage persona is legit or a complete facade, but one thing I am sure of is how good a set he puts on. Playing a set that relied heavily on the tracks from his two most recent albums, Father John Misty is the real deal.
Settling in for the guitar driven rock of The War on Drugs, I was left entirely satisfied with my decision to see them instead of Pond. Nestling the masterpiece that is “Red Eyes” into the middle of their set proved a masterstroke, as their hour long closing set was a personal highlight from the day. Happily walking out with the vast majority of the crowd, I left Laneway 2018 pretty content with how the day panned out.
While this year’s line up may have lacked the exclusivity of previous years (booking repeat offenders of the Australian festival circuit isn’t something Laneway are known for), there’s no doubt Laneway know how to put on a great event.
The reviewer attended this event on February 4th.
Lead image by Belinda Dipalo.