Changing Lanes 2011

Last year’s inaugural Changing Lanes felt like a proper festival. Which is kinda weird because there were no tents, no fields and not a naked wasted hippy anywhere in sight. Instead, there was a street, a stage and a pub. Doesn’t sound much like a festival, you may think. But that’s where you’d be wrong, Changing Lanes 2010 was an incredible festival experience. A labour of love for its founders (they had to bend over backwards to convince the local council to give them the green light) the Sydney-based, one-day event was made up of brilliant Aussie bands, DJs, food stalls, artists, and had simply the most organic, home-grown feel to it. In 2011, the festival moved to a new venue. Goodbye grungy Newtown, hello hipster haven Surry Hills. A bigger event, a new location, more punters, would Changing Lanes 2011 retain its charm?

Thankfully, the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it rule was strictly adhered to. Sure, everything was a little magnified this time round, but this was still the same Changing Lanes that we swooned over last year.

As the sun beat down relentlessly, Sydney’s best new band, Cameras (above) were a lunchtime treat, even though a 1.30pm slot wasn’t really ideal. While their atmospheric sound is best suited to playing in the dark, they still gave one of the performances – if not the performance – of the day. We’ve gushed plenty about Cameras on these pages over the past couple of years (and, trust us, there is more to follow when their debut album drops next month) so we won’t rave for too long this time. Suffice to say, they won’t be playing this early at festivals for long.

Elsewhere, DJs on the FBi stage belted out some crowd faves and The Gaelic hosted a bunch more acts, such as the divine Lanie Lane and the brilliant and bizarre ‘country surf’ of Mikelangelo and the Tin Star. As we have often seen at Brighton’s Great Escape, the problem with having a festival that utilises indoor venues is that, once they’re full, they’re full. So there were eternal lines snaking from the three clubs/bars that hosted stages. Simply, it’s the nature of such a beast. If you weren’t organised and didn’t arrive early to whatever you wanted to see, you probably missed out. No point grumbling about it. Besides, the quality on the main stage was so high that there was always an outstanding option to fall back on. Like Aussie legend Gareth Lilliard (below) of The Drones, who played a devilishly downbeat acoustic set, introducing each song with a funny-as-fuck preamble.

Just like last year though, the music was only half of what was going down at Changing Lanes. For instance, after the street artists had done their thing with spray cans, there were fashion installations to enjoy, most notably from the ever-interesting Jesse Willesee (check out the pics below). There were also market stalls from the likes of Dear Pluto and, of course, no festival would be complete without a spinach and cheese gozleme. And the band(s) played on too. Bleeding Knees Club started a little on the ropey side, but by the end of their set, their perky indie pop had even the most sun-drunk of punters dancing.

As night continued to fall, Devonshire Street grew more atmospheric. While Gay Paris and The Snowdroppers did their thing in The Gaelic, Papa Versus Pretty rocked the life out of the main stage, before headliners PVT (below) ended proceedings. As always seems to be the case with PVT, their instrumental offerings were comfortably their strongest and most visceral. That is what we fell in love with them for in the first place, after all.

And once PVT had ripped the crowd apart with their shuddering math rock, that was it. Another year done, and another big thumbs up from Will the festival move on again next year, or has it found its home? Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, it has laid some pretty amazing foundations over these past two years.