Laneway 2017 Was An Indie Fan’s Wildest Dream

 

Photos by Josh Groom

Laneway Festival has had some killer lineups in the past, but hot damn, this year’s might’ve been the tastiest one for an indie fan yet. I think most people, myself included, managed to fit a year’s worth of exercise into one day running between all the stages, not wanting to miss any of the incredible acts performing. I’ve tried to do the impossible, and narrow down the best acts from an epic day of music.

Camp Cope kicked off the day’s proceedings, pulling an impressive and well-earned crowd for a midday slot in the hot sun. Unfortunately, they also managed to attract the attention of Dickhead of the Day, who impressively earned his title within an hour of gates opening. Surely that’s some sort of record?! Camp Cope have become an important voice in calling out sexual assault and harassment in the industry, and tackle these issues in both their lyrics and campaigns. Why you would then obnoxiously catcall frontwoman Georgia Maq I have no idea, but it did provide the perfect set-up for ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’, and (somewhat depressingly) showed why their music and messages are so necessary.

After the fast punk vibes of Camp Cope, things were kicked back down a notch by Julia Jacklin who delivered one of her (trademarked) emotional sets. Her country/indie stylings coupled with an incredibly powerful voice never fail to get the emotions flowing. A particular highlight was a cover of The Strokes’ ‘Someday’ (performed here for Like A Version) which stripped away the fast riffs and drumming of the original to place all emphasis on those tender lyrics. Who knew Julian Cassablancas had so much emotion hidden behind that music?!

In a day already packed out with quintessential indie acts, Whitney were somehow the indie-est. In case you’re wondering, the triple threat of a drummer singing lead falsetto vocals, a guitarist who can shred effortlessly but chooses to keep it restrained, and a talented trumpet player gave Whitney this award. Despite a self-professed hangover, the band tore through tracks from their debut album Light Upon The Lake, with fan favourites ‘No Woman’ and ‘Golden Days’ getting a particularly rapturous response. Props to Julien Ehrlich (drums and vocals) for being a pragmatist and dedicating the latter to “all the couples in the crowd who will inevitably break up”.

Dune Rats, Violent Soho and The Smith Street Band seem to be in some kind of competition to see who can become the Aussie festival band, and there’s always at least one of the rowdy trio tearing up every festival. Still, when you see Dune Rats live, it’s easy to see why. The lads pull a massive crowd, and with their simple but catchy approach to songwriting, they soon have everyone singing along. This means that even those who’ve managed to avoid the Dunies’ antics to this point can quickly learn songs like ‘Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana’, ‘Scott Green’ and ‘Red Light Green Light’ and get amongst the weed-tinged chaos. A cover of Violent Femmes’ ‘Blister in the Sun’ halfway through the set only helped to make things even crazier. 

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard used their main stage slot to prove why they’re one of the country’s exciting (and just generally fucking weird) live acts. Although it’s a shame not to see them play continuous sets like they were last year in support of Nonagon Infinity (where tracks would seamlessly flow into each other without a break), this loss is more than made up for by the strength of new material. The Gizz treated fans to a handful of tracks from their upcoming Flying Microtonal Banana which all sounded killer live. ‘Rattlesnake’ has quickly become a crowd favourite, and the trippy microtonal riffs of ‘Nuclear Fusion’ inspired some truly awkward dance moves throughout the crowd.

Although Whitney took out indie gold, Car Seat Headrest are a close second, and frontman Will Toledo’s frank and honest approach to songwriting has seen the band already labelled as “Indie Rock Heroes”. The set was nearly all comprised of latest album Teens of Denial, but the tracks were all given a grungy facelift, making them sound oddly similar to Sex Bob-Omb (who I still wish were a real band…). Tracks like ‘Fill in the Blank’, ‘Destroyed By Hippie Powers’ and fan favourite ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’ all became crunchy walls of sound, perfectly suited to sweaty headbanging. Even more impressive though was the crowd’s knowledge of the lyrics, with people singing along to almost every baritone nugget of wisdom to come from Will’s mouth.

As the sun set, Glass Animals took to the stage, and got limbs flailing and pineapples flying. Frontman Dave Bayley is a joy to watch, grooving his way all across the stage whilst somehow managing to maintain that impressive range. He had the crowd dancing along like maniacs from opening banger ‘Life Itself’ to closing track and set highlight ‘Pork Soda’. Aside from fan favorites ‘Gooey’ and ‘Black Mambo’, the band’s set was totally comprised of material from their recent sophomore album How To Be A Human Being, but all the tracks were reworked slightly for the live show. The guys are masters of writing quirky refrains (“Pineaples are in my head” and “My girl eats mayonaise from a jar when she’s getting blazed” are personal favourites) and it was great to see the crowd belting them out already.

Pysch legends Tame Impala closed out the day, and proved why they’ve become one of Australia’s most loved bands. Having announced that Laneway would be their last (Australian) shows for the foreseeable future, Kevin Parker and his merry band of space wizards easily pulled the biggest and most excited crowd of the day. Although it’s a shame not seeing them in tiny hot-boxed basements, Tame Impala have nailed down a massive live show, complete with flashing lights, trippy projections and confetti canons. Right from the first blast of confetti and smoke in opening track ‘Let It Happen’, the crowd knew they were in for something truly special.

Like Glass Animals, the band played slightly reworked versions of the songs as they translated Kevin’s solo work into a full band setting. The set was split pretty evenly between Currents and Lonerism, and the crowd went nuts for tracks like ‘Eventually’, ‘The Less I Know The Better’, ‘Elephant’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’. Unfortunately, the popularity of these songs did result in some pretty grim attempts to match Kev’s crazy good falsetto, but that’s a small price to pay to hear such incredible pieces of music live.

All in all, it was an epic close to an incredible day of music, and one which will be hard to top for a long time.

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About Mark Royters

Many years ago I was given an Arctic Monkeys EP. Everything changed from that moment onwards. I'm a Sydney-based music writer, reviewer and interviewer.

View all posts by Mark Royters

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