Live Review - Laneway Festival, Brisbane - 2019

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This year’s St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival marked the 12th year of the event in sunny Brisbane and with its outstanding rep I had high expectations for my first Laneway experience. As the day began and I tried to get by bearings, stumbling across the Print Fest (Comic, Zines and Print store) and Jet Black Cat (Vinyl store), instantly making the occasion dissimilar to most, if not all concerts usually held at the Brisbane Showgrounds.

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The girl power was strong right from the start, with killer performances from dinosaur-loving Ruby Fields and multi-talented G Flip. The musicians pumped the crowd up by inviting them to sing and dance along to their tunes.

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While the hot, sticky temperature peaked in the arvo sun, Triple J Unearthed winner KIAN burst onto stage looking far too cool for the weather. The young star had an instant effect on the crowd by sending the girls into a frenzy with his charismatic blend of charm and lovability. After he performed some of his moving new songs (yet to be released), recently dubbed Young Australian of the Year Baker Boy joined him to sing their track ‘Cloud 9’. To no surprise, KIAN finished his set with his breakout single ‘Waiting’, proving the future of Aussie music scene is in safe hands.

I was in desperate need of a feed and a beer after the first half of the festival and the short break gave me a chance to observe one of the other most entertaining things about festivals – the fashion. Most guys went straight to striped button-up shirts with chino shorts and Vans, unless of course they wore something completely and utterly random. The ladies on the other hand wore almost anything imaginable, with an odd trend of train conductor hats.  

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Methyl Ethyl were next up and having never seen them live, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The band’s alternative look and sound had everyone vibing hard, especially when they gave a wholesome recital of their 2018 hit ‘Scream Whole’.

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As the searing sun sunk into the surrounding buildings, Skegss lit up the ‘Good, Better, Best Stage’. The fun-loving trio knew exactly how to energise the rowdy Brisbane crowd, banging out ‘L.S.D’. Whether you were a fan of the band’s Australian rock tone or not, the Skegss audience shifted the intensity into fifth gear when bass guitarist Toby Cregan began crowd surfing as he belted out ‘New York California’.

Cosmos Midnight were next on the ‘Never Let it Rest Stage’, forcing me to make the trek across the showgrounds yet again. After having a seemingly slow start to their set, the twins took the show to a completely new level with the addition of a guest vocalist.

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I was unsure what to do/who to see next as I was already exhausted from all the walking, but Wil Wagner of The Smith Street Band drew me towards the ‘Dr. Martens Stage’ with his strong Aussie accent and wholesome guitar riffs. The Melbourne band brought an unexpected sense of vitality to a somewhat drained crowd, including myself.

After listening to a few homegrown Aussie rock songs from Courtney Barnett I decided to get ready for my most anticipated set of the day – What So Not. The DJ instantaneously lit up the stage and blew every other act out of the water. The electronic timelessness of What So Not made the show completely different to anything else, even security nodded their head along to a few songs. In particular, ‘Jaguar’ was one to remember, as every crowd member sang along to the buildup of the bass-heavy track. The DJ demonstrated to any aspiring producers in the audience how to execute an exceptional electronic set.

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Gang of Youths closed out the festival, and I was sceptical about whether they could top What So Not’s blinder. It didn’t seem possible, but the energy shot up yet again for the last act. Lead singer Dave Le'aupepe’s mention of life lessons throughout the performance brought the audience closer both physically and spiritually, while making me realise the significance of transcendent connections at any music gig. The group put on an exquisite show, which was infused with tender masculinity and sex appeal. In a massive explosion of confetti, Gang of Youths closed the day with the legendary guitar riff from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2019 was without a doubt one of the most impressive displays of Australian and international music talent I’ve witnessed at a local event, and I cannot wait to see how they build on it for next year.   

All photos by Charlie Dally-Watkins.

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