Review: Laneway Festival 2018 – Sydney

Over the years Laneway has been the hottest ticket in town delivering the ultimate servings in Indie buzz bands year after year. More often than not, each city will sell out and it becomes the most intense FOMO experience for those sitting at home on Instagram. 2018 didn’t seem to take the buzz to the dizzying heights of previous years. Tickets failed to sell out in Sydney, although you wouldn’t think so on the day given the lack of space.

Taking place in the unique Sydney College Of The Arts campus in Rozelle, things felt pretty cosy at both main stages, despite being on other sides of the venue. Fashion is forward at this event as I squeeze past extremely trendy men far outdressing the women. In a sea on baker boy hats and tiny sunglasses, eccentric festival goers dance to Triple J UNEARTHED winners Exhibitionist (pictured, below) like they don’t have to work tomorrow. It’s clear Kirsty Tickle was the rightful winner bringing huge crowds early on in the day.

My personal favourite part of Laneway is the extremely varied and plentiful watering holes for those who would like to indulge in a $10 craft beer. I think Laneway have some of the more impressive food & drink spaces in the festival market with several uncrowded sponsored marquees ready to wet any whistle. Despite the overflow on the hills, the bar line is never more than a few minutes so hangovers are free to roar in on the Monday morning.

It wouldn’t be Laneway without a hint of Melbourne and the timetable puts two of Victorians most up-and-coming bands head to head. City Calm Down draw reasonable crowds in the warm summer sun as patronage really amps up. The heavily Triple J featured lads bring electro laced pop hits like ‘Son’ to life with Jack Bourke’s Michael Hutchence-inspired stage drama. Although somewhere across the way, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are slamming head to head with their Indie-Rock/Soft Punk drawing the majority of crowds in with their sexy acoustic personas. To be fair, I hadn’t heard too much of their stuff but even from way back in the cheap seats of the long and narrow make-shift theatre, a fan was born.

Continuing with the edge often found on this festivals line-up, The Internet (pictured, above) take the stage but not without a bit of cleansing with a ceremonial sage burn. Some people like only green M&M’s, The Internet like only good vibes and we can’t blame them. Brining in the alternate hip-hop faction of the day, Syd brings her engrammatic stage presence to the forefront showing that The Internet are not just a club band. Glitter bombed bodies party up the front to the hits mostly from the acclaimed Ego Death.

Someone once said, and I’m paraphrasing, that they never got Mac Demarco until they saw him live. I am not that person.

Anderson .Pakk and The Free Nationals (pictured, below) show us that we all can’t dance and we don’t deserve them. Anderson .Pakk gets better every time I see him and it’s impossible not to be impressed. How isn’t this artist bigger than he is? The music is outdone by his stage shows as he takes charge on the drums and mixes in festival dominating drop-ins on R. Kelly & Dre.

Father John Misty is as Indie as they come. The former Fleet Fox’er turned ironic poet and Taylor Swift fan was a drawcard for this otherwise somewhat unremarkable 2018 line-up. I once sat behind him at the 2015 1989 Tour where he alleged he took acid and dreamed up ‘Total Entertainment Forever’. He’s a man with a lot to say with little awareness but doesn’t disappoint with impressive performances of ‘Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)’ and ‘I Love You, Honeybear’.

At the top of the bill we have the unknown protégé of Bob Dylan or is it Bruce Springsteen? The War on Drugs have come far and fast for an until now, cult favourite. Tearing through a high energy set of ‘Red Eyes’ and ‘Holding On’ they really took the role of topping the bill seriously and delivered an earth-shattering show as the night wore on.

Although it may not have sold due to higher than usual ticket prices and perhaps a little lacklustre line-up, Laneway delivered a very on-brand festival. It is true that it really did lack the big music heavyweights to justify the cost, but I do imagine several more years of success for this annual musical juggernaut.

A new addition to Laneway Sydney this year was the JBL Pulse Wall. Tucked away within the site, it offered a sweet party spot with some killer beats for those keen to take a break from getting sweaty amongst the crowds in front of the main stages. We’ve been fans of what JBL have been doing for a while now, so we’re chuffed to see them further support live music. You can find out more about JBL here:

Keep up to date with all things Laneway on Twitter.

 Samantha Dickson

Review by Samantha Dickson. Laneway crowd and band photos by Peter Dovgan Additional words by Bobby Townsend.