St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2016 was a knockout this year, with a huge & diverse lineup and The Wandering Lamb got the chance to check out the festival held at Sydney University’s College of the Arts. This years impeccable line up to suit all musical tastes included Chvrches, Grimes, Purity Ring, DIIV, Metz Methyl Ethyl, Big Scary, The Smith Street Band and the return of Baltimore’s Beach House. Another exceptional line up and another year of difficult decisions battling a line-up schedule of bands in one jam-packed day.
Imagine, a sandstone castle with luscious green courtyards hiding in and around the buildings. Do not be fooled, these buildings housed the Callan Park Lunatic Asylum for the Mentally and Criminally Insane up until the early 20th Century so the place is eery as! Today it plays host to some of the most necessary bands on the world independent musical circuit.
After trudging through the meadows to find the entrance our day began at 3pm with Fidlar the surf/skate/garage punk gods from Los Angeles. The band toured with Laneway off the back of their latest LP Too (2015). Their 45 minute set was well co-ordinated screaming guitars, raging percussion and so much sweat. Highlight of the show was their intro to Cocaine, when Fidlar’s bromance band, Dunerats came on stage & lead singer Zach asked the crowd to sit. It’s quite funny to see so many obedient “Why Generations”. (It went went off!).
We caught Australian act Big Scary after that which helped change the pace. TWL had been in great anticipation for the new LP since the release of single “Organism” in 2015. Most of the crowd was happy to chill or dance, and we most certainly had a boogie when they played what seemed to be a groovy new song from said (impatiently) anticipated album.
The temperature hit 30 degree and it was time for a cider and a wander around to the Mistletoe stage where we found Melbourne band The Smith Street Band setting up for their epic set. Old favourites like Ducks Fly Together were matched together with new loves like Surrender. The crowd was A-typical for a TSSB fan base and as they poured out from the closer parts of the stage, the sweatier and bloodier they became. One guy merged from the crowd covered in blood all over his face and shorts, perhaps this was the guy who we were told crowd surfed and got dropped right on his head OUCH!
Next up for a live experience were Brisbane’s Violent Soho but to do this one as a solo punter. (I am quite a little person so I dug my way through the crowd and managed to stand next to a bunch of dudes who seemed intent on continually standing on each others shoulders doing shoeys, the art of shoe-off, beer-in-shoe, scull-said-beer-in-shoe). This went on.. for the whole show. Favourite tracks “Viceroy” which was only released about five days before Sydney’s Laneway and unsurprisingly most of the audience sang along. There was some pushing and shoving and this chubby shirtless young man helped shield us (although covering us in his perspiration). “Covered in Chrome” would have been the highlight for most, I really enjoyed the part before I had to bolt out of there because my shoey mates started a death pit right where I was standing.
Tired after that, we devoured a $10 pizza that tasted like tin spaghetti sauce and mozzarella. We could hear Grimes & Chvrches at a distance.
Waiting patiently at the upcoming Flume stage for friends who others who were at Beach House (who were amazing apparently) we got a little antsy and then decided instead of waiting we would dig our way deep into the Flume crowd, ending up around 15 people deep from front of stage! There’s not much we can say about Flume without us ensuing jealousy as clear headliner the live show really pulled through with the goods. Harley Edward Streten stood at a triangle desk highlighted by neon lights and reflective imagery in the background. Flume played old favourites like Hold On and a remix of Hermitude’s The Bass. He introduced us to some new sounds that sounded like choppy-digi sound bites, but the true highlight was the two most recently released songs. Special guests Vince Staples and Kûcka killed it in Smoke and Retribution and the whole crowd sang Never Be Like You (perhaps it was mainly the high-pitched ‘Never be like you’ line) along with Kai who also appeared on stage. And yes, the whole crowd say “Hey Baby” (DJ Ötzi) at the end. St Jerome, see you again in 2017 for another year of new artists and amazing performances.