Live Review: Laneway Festival Melbourne

LANEWAY by Sophie Metcalfe

As the moving Laneway carnival swung through the southern coast, Chloe Mayne and Sophie Metcalfe pulled on their boogie shoes and shimmied along:

As the summer festival season hurtles ever onwards along the tracks, I’m feeling somewhat seasoned with the whole shenanigans. My earlier memories of one-day music festivals were like fireworks; trying to scatter my body in a spectrum of directions, sprinkled across every stage with a sort of exhausting omnipotence. This time, then, I decided to approach Laneway more like a swan; slow and steady-moving, neck fixed firmly and elegantly ahead. Rather than flitting about frantically, I tucked my wings in nice and close and watched the celebrations unravel like a beautiful silk knot. As a result, I sat tight and watched a bunch of full sets that left me nice and giddy.

The festival location is cosy and unique; nestled into the cluster of streets around the Footscray Community Arts Centre and leaking along the waterfront, you feel like one segment of a huge and thriving creature. Railway lines overhead carry passenger and freight trains like gliding serpents, while local residents can be spotted through the chicken wire walking their dogs along the river path.

LANEWAY (31 of 68)

It was the Mistletone stage that opened its arms to me for the majority of the festival; wonderfully curated and with lush lawn spanning out from its shoulders all the way up the hill, it became a sort of home over the course of the day. The first gleaming torch was carried forth by DIIV; itching to see them since Oshin accompanied me on winding train rides and late-night walks back in 2012, the release of Is The Is Are? just before the festival pulled me right back aboard that nostalgia ship. A glaring summer afternoon, the sun beat down upon the stage with such ferocity that the keyboard and its accompanying gear repeatedly overheated and switched off; in fact, the entire set was riddled with technical wormholes that demanded to be ducked and dodged. Traversing a delicious balance of older and newer sounds, there were moments during our adventure in which the band were able to grow and ebb and crash together in perfect chaos, which more than made up for the electrical struggles. It was those moments that lulled my eyes to a close and I was in the top bunk of a train cabin, whizzing through the Alps in darkness with my headphones in again… It was fingerlickin’, dreamy.

Health by Sophie Metcalfe

As HEALTH strode out into the blaze, it was as though a sonic shield were pulled over the sky and we were plunged into the depth of night, despite the summery embers and sweat trickles reminding us of real time outside the bubble. Loaded with kaleidoscopic hair swirling that near made me dizzy, there was a slick balance between control and chaos that knocked your breath out. I spent a large amount of time during the set watching a water bottle on the stage sway and teeter, thrust off balance by bass so powerful that it pulsed giddy tremors right through to my knees.

Anticipation couldn’t have been much higher for Battles; at least three people had given me wide-eyed, earnest run-downs of what they could best describe as a transformative sonic ‘experience’ prior to hopping on the train that day. Pushed forward by equal-parts soothing and devolving mathematical rhythms, it was near trance-like in its ever-pressing consistency, subtle changes filtering in like passing train carriages. The stage set-up was simple and allowed the whole thing to breathe an almost intimacy, which was refreshing as the sun began to curl up its fingers and retreat.

LANEWAY by Sophie Metcalfe

My tale’s end was courtesy of Beach House who, like DIIV, had been sitting in a special nook close to my heart’s beat for some time. Twilight sunk in and we sunk into it, the cool arms of the lawn hugging our backs as the songs emerged and soared like shiny apparitions. A backdrop of simple shifting fairy lights, scattered and pulsing like stars was the ideal finishing touch to a stunning performance. Slipping silently homeward on the train that night, it left that glowing warm feeling in my cheeks and belly, the afterburn of something deliciously cosy to tuck away for safekeeping.

Laneway was a magnificent day-outing that encapsulated some of the best that Melbourne has to offer; a cross-section of the urban and natural landscapes, delicious beer and a conglomeration of new and beautiful faces. We’ll see you next year, friends!

Laneway Festival Melbourne review by Chloe Mayne. All photos by Sophie Metcalfe. We’ve posted all of Sophie’s photos on Facebook, so check them out. There are heaps more. Here are a few to whet your appetite…

Laneway by Sophie Metcalfe Laneway by Sophie Metcalfe Laneway by Sophie Metcalfe Laneway by Sophie MetcalfeLaneway by Sophie Metcalfe Laneway by Sophie Metcalfe

We’ve posted all of Sophie’s photos on Facebook, so check them out. There are heaps more.