On Sunday, 14th February, The Fremantle Esplanade was transformed for Laneway Festival’s 2016 edition.
Another prestigious lineup, with the likes of Hudson Mohawke, DIIV, Thundercat, HEALTH and Grimes, as well as Australia’s own, Hermitude, Flume and Methyl Ethel.
The day was outstanding, with a strong lineup and relatively good organisation I don’t have anything to say against the organisers and promoters that help put it all together.
That being said, I can’t tell if it is more likely that I’m just become more of a 20-something-gremlin with slowly eroding bitterness each day, or if there were some things this year at Laneway Festival Perth that were different. Bearing in mind that I am the sort of person that carries very little style, and I have never fallen into the category of someone you’d try to impress, this is my little analysis of the world below the pedestal that seems to have plagued the freshmen of Perth and rendered costumes disguised as outfits and the popularity of a musician have more merit than the talent does.
Starting out the day with DIIV, the brooklyn outfit premiered their newer stuff with the release of their second LP ‘Is The Is Are’ just 9 days before the fest. Sporting their usual shoegaze riffs and a new drummer, people began crowding in the final few songs as more people began pouring in the gates.
The Internet seemed to be the very culmination of the general-consensus-kind-of-day, with ‘Girl’ getting a noticeably better reaction than some of their better tracks from Ego Death. One of those instantly-famous-by-association band where people came for the rep and stayed for the sway party and the badass herself Syd the Kid being the most handsome bitch on the bench.
Obviously Thundercat’s set ruled the world. Feeling the most at home in the little Laneway near the food vans, I found a lot of humour in seeing people trying to tie together two dance moves amongst the psychedelic-soul base. And then laughed even harder catching myself – the whitest person alive doing the same. It couldn’t be helped, but there’s no way we could be expected to keep up with the funk. I think the electric set by Bruner and the virtuoso keyboardist/drummer was magnified by how little he seemed to care about the “festival” aspect of his performance. Several times during the set I overheard things mid funk-groove-jam like “is he going to start playing a song soon,” or “when is he going to play ‘Them Changes.’” Thundercat didn’t need no approval, he’s just there to do his thing. Although I can understand different artist are for different things, and while stage presence is important… I respect an artist that can stand by his music alone without glitz and still be one of the best acts of the day. Rather than artists that seemed to float on the merch t-shirts and popularity of their head-banging live show.
Yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyea I know that might come across as harsh but I would respect the overbearing popularity more if I didn’t hear “Is this Violent Soho?” during almost all other heavier acts to play during the day.
After a calculated prog rock act from Battles enthralled the small crowd with mathmatical genre-bending and all star John Stanier, concurrent drummer to Tomahawke, I caught a few stand-out songs from Shamir, before heading to Vince Staples, who got the entire crowd chanting “Fuck the Police” like the little rookies we are as he serenaded us with sentimental street stories of Summertime 06. And definitely stood out as a highlight for me.
Moving through the final headliners I could see a disconnection to songs being played that hadn’t yet come to the forefront of the fans. People seemed to only hang around waiting on the song they knew word for word. Was it just me? Or was there a noticeable shift in music this year with the main focus on glitter?
Obviously unlike any festival over the past few years there was countless merrymakers vajazzled to the nines, but this reviewer couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that because we’ve lost so many bigger festivals to the sound/venue nazi’s, there was just too many big fish swimming in what used to be a specialised boutique pond, just for the sake of farewelling the festival season?
Laneway this year for me didn’t give off the sense of a connection that can be felt at festivals like Blues N Roots, and Camp Doogs. Rather than a sense of a thousand little adventures all in one place interweaving, it seemed like the little festival that could had gotten too big for its britches with bitchiness left, right and centre. It seemed Laneway is fast becoming just a replacement for Big Day Out and Soundwave – except in a venue half the capacity. Where did the soul go?
The irony behind it being on one of the most romantic days of the year is a great analogy for the way I believe the day was taken. Forging relationships with false accusations of character, hoping he won’t notice that you just wanted to get on his shoulders long enough for Syd the Kid to spot you and welcome you into her entourage. Or hoping that she doesn’t realise that beyond the $300 sneakers and the I-dont-care attitude there is nothing but a fuck boy who wants to be told he’s beautiful.
Gone are the days that a mosh won’t at least once have that weird push-off from left to right increasingly causing flow and fall. You know the one where some fucker on the left of you thinks its funny to shove you this way, and vice versa till you’re literally a fucking ocean of sweaty anger. Gone are the days apparently when you can lend a lighter to someone during The Battles and expect to get it back, or even turn your head and dance with a group of randoms in Vince Staples without someone assuming I’m trying to cut myself a piece of their yick.
So I think it’s time we recoil the cooked. Remember why it was we started dropping dat mol in the first place and get off our literal high horse because we are too afraid to just share in the music anymore. Don’t let that underground society bondage chain you down. Remember who you came to see and separate from the confines of the immediate group you came with.
As Laneway is fast growing as one of Perth’s last great festivals, it’s up to us to make sure it keeps its warmth, because it appears we all seem to be growing and getting a little too big with it.