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REVIEW: St. Jerome's Laneway Festival '18


REVIEW: St. Jerome's Laneway Festival '18

Nick Focareta

It’s been a few years since my last St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. After the move from the CBD’s ‘laneways’ to its current home at Harts Mill, some of the magic was gone for me. So this year I decided to get back to my roots, don my finest party shirt and make the pilgrimage to Adelaide’s hottest new destination Port Adelaide. I was brimming with anticipatory jitters, stale beer and all the big questions. Would there be aesthetically pleasing historic buildings, gentle sea breezes, a sense of being transported to a quasi-industrial wonderland?

Apart from the slightly confusing layout (the Spinning Top Stage was slightly segregated from the main area via a corridor straight out of The Road), from a logistical standpoint the festival was a dream. The shade was ample, there was plenty of food available for those interested and the lines leading to an endless and moderately priced supply of tinnie's of Brooklyn’s finest were fast moving.

Now onto the music because I can only assume my second hand recounting of watching bands is the only reason you’re reading this. Mac DeMarco was first up on my list. (Quick PSA: I know Mac’s played Laneway before so this is nothing new but I haven’t seen him so skip ahead if my basic-ness offends). The dude is a crowd pleaser. Never has an audience embodied a musician more than this. Everyone was super chill, flasks were being passed around, and of course, durries aplenty were being punched. In return Mac provided a judging panel that flashed hand drawn dic pics as scores, a drummer earnestly asking what pingers were and where to get them and a guitarist soloing until there were no more frets to solo on.

I guess where live music gets divisive for some people is whether or not you can get behind an artist interpreting their own songs. It would appear that Mac is strongly for it and after his performance so am I. His energy was definitely reminiscent of someone who’d been eating whatever daddy’s been cooking up in the basement, constantly busting out handstands, ‘jizz jazzing’ up My Old Man, slowing down This Old Dog and providing us with the first Laneway live version of For the First Time.

Next up was Father John Misty, the main reason I'd dipped my toe in the music festival pool again. I Love You, Honeybear got me through a pretty tough breakup so seeing it played live with said ex-gf was a little more than cathartic. That’s the thing about a festival like Laneway; the people going are for the most part like minded so you inevitability run into everyone you’ve ever known.

I think my borderline fanatic friend (it was his fourth time having seen Father John) said it best: ‘This is the only man I’ve ever wanted to be. I now understand what my dad meant when he said Elvis IS cool.’ It was the smoothest show I’ve ever seen. His hair was blowing softly with the wind, the sun was setting behind the stage and his voice did not falter once. He played all the hits; Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings getting a special mention from me. I can now die a fulfilled man.

A quick pit stop and I was at Bonobo. I've spent the better part of the last few years both thrashing Bonobo's boiler room DJ sets and managing to miss his live shows, so I was keen as a bean to see what he had in store. With this in mind I tried to curb expectations and to say I was underwhelmed would be fairly accurate. Bonobo and his backing band put on an excellent live performance; it just wasn't what I was after. It probably didn't help that the sound engineers were phoning it in on the main stage and the vocalist was drowned out every time she opened her mouth, but the set too felt safe and punter friendly. Maybe it was the venue; maybe it was me, all I know is I’m still going to keep punishing his music.

As a fitting end to the day/night, I was given 2 choices: slow it down with some mellow indie rock or keep the bangers flowing. Naturally I chose the latter. TOKiMONSTA AKA Jennifer Lee is the illest DJ going around and having just recovered from losing the ability to comprehend music made the set she played that much more unbelievable. With a style clearly cemented in all things hip hop, TOKiMONSTA’s carefully curated set list ebbed and flowed, controlling the crowd in a way that can only be experienced. It felt like she chose every song because she loved them and not just because they were underground or shit hot atm. The set was all tied together with the dirtiest remix of Humble the world didn’t need to hear, a nice throwback to this year’s Hottest 100 winner, even if it was unintentional.

If next year's line up offers even one act I want to see, I’ll be there in a heartbeat, party shirt and all.