Review: Laneway Festival 2018 – Adelaide

We sent Harriet Cheney to Laneway Festival in Adelaide. Here’s what went down:

What better way to kick off the weekend than with a sunny Friday arvo, by the water listening to some of the world’s hottest indie musicians? Adelaide is the first stop on Laneway Festival’s Australian tour (with Singapore and Auckland last week) so a pretty good vantage point to get some spoilers on what’s to come in other cities.

This was my first Laneway outside of Sydney and it rocked… here’s why:

Less people, same bands = greater band per capita ratio = more music just for you.

Being the first national tour stop, the bands are hyped and excited, and out and about watching other bands

The four stages are really close, so it’s not a mission to check out every single artist (with no sound interference).

The Future Classic stage is in a warehouse shed with giant turbine fans on the ceiling, giving the more experimental electronic acts an intimate space to play beats and the audience a space to retreat from the sun while getting their rave/head bop/sway on (loved this stage so hard, with it’s perfect sound and sweet line-up).

The historical setting of Harts Mill in Port Adelaide on the Port River (which incidentally is a dolphin sanctuary) has a stage overlooking the water, people spilling all over the car-free streets, lots of trees and super quaint old brick buildings from another era (with the first mill on this site being built in 1855).

The food trucks are on point and include Francesscos’s Osteria serving up delicious vegetarian Venetian soul food.

Now onto the music side of things…

Of course Laneway brought us another solid line up and an overall excellent day. The set times were a little odd for some bands, but as the times change for every State to give the artists variety, that’s to be expected.


Dream Wife – they played early in the day, but these punk rock babes have a great stage presence, full of attitude and sass.

Wolf Alice – This four-piece are total pros who drew a huge audience for a 4.15pm set and every song was a winner. This killer English band oozed effortless. And while each band member has a very distinct personality, the slick, no bullshit singer/guitarist had everyone captivated

TOKIMONSTA – What a total groove fest from this American producer/DJ, on the future classics stage. She pumped out beats that made it impossible to stand still, sampling everyone from Charlie XCX to Kendrick Lamar

Moses Sumney – This dude performing is an absolute vision! Not to mention a soul master with a HUGE vocal range. Super chill, super arresting and super talented. It made me want to see one of his solo shows, as it would be a treat to fully sink into his groove.

Aldous Harding – What a mesmerising, unique and spine-tingling performance. At times she looked possessed as her eyes rolled back to make only the whites visible, at other times she’d stare off into the distance as if she was facing a demon from the past. Dressed all in white, with legs spread a wide as possible, she played the Spinning Top stage away from the raucous and by the river – a space that allowed her other-worldly spirit to soar.

Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals – This was the set of the day without a doubt. It was so much freakin’ fun (as you’d expect from the American rapper/producer/funk machine and his lively crew). There was a huge crowd, lots of mosh jumping, incredible energy and just epic levels of fun for all. Best view in the house goes to Laneway photographer, Daniel Boud, who watched the set suspended from a cherry picker 15 metres up. Oh the sweet life.

Bonobo – It took a few songs to get the sound sorted for this (bass too high, vocals too low) but as the set progressed (and we moved back, closer to the sound tent) the English producer and his band hit their stride. Trippy graphics played behind the band and the audience surrendered in hypnotic bliss.

The War on Drugs – As a huge fan of the latest album from these guys, I was really hanging out for this one. It was great musically and even in terms of the band’s onstage performance, but their set was at 10.30pm and after a long day and so much music, a mellow set on my tired ears made it hard to fully appreciate. And the younger punters who just wanted to dance didn’t know what to do with themselves (especially after the high of Anderson .Paak and Odesza). I would have loved to see The War on Drugs play early evening. Hopefully other States get to hear this beautiful band (who look like bikies, but make cathartic folk-rock music that sits somewhere between The National and The Shins) a bit earlier in the piece.

Shout outs also to KLLO and Sylvan Esso (pictured above) on the Future Classic stage – two new discoveries for me that made a big impression.

Of course there were a heap of other great artists/bands alongside the few mentioned above. Laneway Festival is a day of such reliable music programming – with bands you know and love, mixed with new talent that is interesting and sometimes challenging. The crowd is sweet, the fashion is fun and it’s very well run. This is my fifth Laneway and it’s still the one festival on the Australian calendar that I never like to miss.

Find out more about Laneway festival here:


Review by Harriet Cheney. Photos by Marta Davis.