Review and photos: Laneway Festival Sydney

Grimes by Phil Erbacher

Laneway Festival Sydney has grown exponentially since we attended its debut at Circular Quay all those years ago. These days it’s a pretty-bloody-massive event in the music calendar, and this year saw another high-calibre list of international and local artists perform to a sun-drenched crowd at Sydney College of the Arts in Rozelle.

Highlights for those who had their shit together enough to arrive early were Slum Sociable and Banoffee (pictured, below) while the more tardy amongst us enjoyed the backend of a fine Metz show before heading along to catch UK artist East India Youth. His eclectic mix of electronic beats with pop sensibilities and experimental noise went down a storm as the afternoon sun beat down.

Banoffee by Phil Erbacher

By now, shade was at a premium and those who chose to wear jeans (guilty) further regretted their decision.

Backs grew sweater, noses redder and people visibly wilted as Big Scary inexplicably neglected many of their most popular songs in order to play a whole bunch of new and unfamiliar tunes. Not the best way to enamour a festival audience. Still, despite this moderately disappointing turn from one of our favourite bands, there were better things to come.

Hermitude by Phil ErbacherLaneway by Phil Erbacher

The afternoon belonged to two acts. firstly Hermitude (pictured, above).

They’ve been doing this for long enough to know how to work up a crowd, and so they did with a collection of bangers which turned the entire field into a heaving, sweaty party. Cameras set up above the duo showed us exactly what they were doing onstage to work such magic, not that many people were paying attention to such technicalities. It was time to dance. 

Similarly, Shamir (pictured, below) created a smaller yet no less fun disco vibe of his own on the Red Bull Music Academy Stage with his infectious, danceable songs and beautiful vocal. 

Shamir by Phil Erbacher

On the Mistletone Stage, Royal Headache were tearing shit up.

With shirtless singer Shogun typically landing somewhere between mildly perturbed and thoroughly pissed off, and with the other three members sporting Keep Sydney Open t-shirts, the four-piece belted out visceral-yet-melodic punk songs which prompted frenzied crowd-surfing aplenty. No-one even cared when they departed the stage five-minutes early because Shogun’s voice was fucked. We were pretty exhausted by that stage too.

Royal Headache certainly offered one of the day’s high points. In a Sydney scene which, these days, seems to be leaning increasingly heavily in an electro direction, they showed that guitars, drums and good tunes are hard to beat.

Health by Phil Erbacher

After Thundercat noodled nicely on the guitar and Health (pictured, above) delivered frequencies so bass that they almost caused widespread pant-soiling, it was time for one of the big guns.

Riding high on a Wave of critical acclaim for her latest album, Grimes (pictured below and top) delivered a perfect setlist. Opening with Flesh Without Blood, she mixed the old and new to a fervent crowd and further enhanced her reputation as one of the most interesting artists around.

Flanked by two dancers and backing vocalist HANA (pictured below), she battled through a cold to give a vibrant performance, sending the audience nuts with a closing double of Oblivion and the adrenaline-fuelled Kill Vs Maim.

Grimes by Phil Erbacher HANA by Phil Erbacher Grimes by Phil Erbacher

It was always going to be hard to top Claire Boucher’s visually and aurally stunning show, but there were still some notable acts to follow.

As the sun disappeared, the Mistletone Stage saw Beach House play a soothing set of songs which didn’t delve much further back than their two most recent albums. Still, dreamy stuff.

Meanwhile, Chvrches (pictured, below) drew a big crowd and gave a performance which certainly warranted attention. Vocalist Lauren Mayberry is an engaging presence and their electronic songs have just the right level of pop sensibility to make them pleasing.

Chvrches by Phil ErbacherChvrches by Phil Erbacher

Over on the Park Stage, Flume gave a perfectly acceptable headline performance, most notable for some guest appearances including one from the brilliant Kučka, before the night was rounded off by Purity Ring (pictured, below) and Hudson Mohawk.

After which, sunburnt, sweaty and tired, we all traipsed home with ringing ears, in no way ready for the Monday morning which was to follow all too soon.

Purity Ring by Phil Erbacher

Review by Bobby TownsendAll pictures by Philip Erbacher. There are dozens more photos from Sydney Laneway on our Facebook page, included heaps of crowd shots. Can you see yourself? Here are a few more photos from the day to whet your appetite.

Laneway by Phil ErbacherGrimes by Phil Erbacher Laneway by Phil Erbacher Laneway by Phil ErbacherLaneway by Phil ErbacherLaneway by Phil ErbacherLaneway by Phil ErbacherLaneway by Phil ErbacherBanoffee by Phil Erbacher

See more photos on Facebook soon.