Festival Review: Laneway Festival – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane (06.02.16)

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, colloquially referred to as Laneway, has taken on many forms since its inception of what it’s known as now in 2005. It only came to Brisbane in 2007, and marks only one more year short of a decade of the highly anticipated Brisbane event. This year, the big honchos were Beach House, Purity Ring, CHVRCHES and Flume. What makes the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival stand out is that, even after 11 years of festival line-ups, the team continue to keep things diverse, celebrating all natures of underground and mainstream music.

But who is St. Jerome anyway? Well, for starters one of the founders was Jerome Borazio. A Melbournite who opened a bar so he might have a place to drink with mates. When a pal, Danny Rogers, who had come back from the far-flung lands of the Americas spoke of music and fun soon a series of music sessions were born. Before long, the two of them had posters ready for the first ever festival in 2005. But to call yourself a saint is pretty confident. There is a real Saint Jerome who was known for being a bit of a ladies man in his college days, but always tried to repent by hanging out in crypts and begging forgiveness. Crypts and laneways are a little different, and though plenty of festival punters have their share of fun (cited by condoms found in the festival port-o-loos) there really isn’t much of a connection at all.

Regardless of its origins, it’s the changes that count. Brisbane’s leg of Laneway has moved from venue to venue. It was once at The Zoo but has now had a recurring location at the Brisbane Showgrounds. It was a little disappointing to see not much effort had gone in the way of ambience compared to 2015’s Laneway. The DJ alcove in the corridor was removed, there were no activities and whimsical paintings under the tunnel, nor were the adorable outdoor furniture on the green to be seen. In most respects, the Brisbane leg of Laneway could’ve been confused for any number of other festivals, like Listen Out or the now deceased Big Day Out of old. There’s no sign of danger for Laneway, but Brisbane supporters will continue to be left wanting if the Brisbane Showgrounds continues to copy paste the experience away from the music.

Despite that experience, the music was one to remember. The constant drizzle of the day kept everyone’s backs cool, and made the boiler-roomesque experience under the tents even more energetic and infectious. Watching hoards of people run and skip to the tent to hear one of Japanese Wallpaper’s hit “Forces” was a picture perfect moment. Shamir transformed the same stage into a sectioned off world of funk.

As the afternoon crawled on and the clouds continued to hang about, the big one was Big Scary. HEALTH drew a congregation at the Mistletone Stage, some there for their new album, others for the old days and some just to see bassist John Famiglietti and his hair-whipping dance moves.

Once the sun went down Battles showed off John Stanier’s incredible drumming. Their extended riffs, and build-ups of fan favourites were immaculate. Battles are like a good lover. They tease you and build it up just long enough before unleashing an awesome wave.

Beach House on the other hand, was like a sweet goodnight song. The projectors and lighting took Victoria Legrand from somewhere in the stars to deep down in an ocean. A dodgy cable created some technical dramas for the band, but after thanking everyone for patience and a few scares where they thought the show might have to end short, they played their last song with an air of relief only a musician can understand.

The final three [acts] showed that, in this day and age, electronic is at the forefront of the crowd for the time being. Flume, who will always be the young Flume in our eyes, delighted crowds with latest and well overdue sophomore album. CHVRCHES went for a more lighthearted way to end a Saturday night and Purity Ring celebrated their Triple J Hottest 100 spot for “Begin Again” the best way they knew how by playing to Aussie fans. Crowds headed home walking through a steady rain, feeling cleansed and satisfied in a way only listening to good music can make you.