With the summer festival season coming to an end, Laneway Festival has become a bit of a tradition for Australian audiences to discover new acts that are going to dominate in the future. With acts like Lorde, Chvrches, Florence + The Machine, Mumford & Sons, Tame Impala, HAIM, Amy Shark, Billie Eilish, Vance Joy and Flume playing it in the past it has built a reputation on it’s own. They’ve become a tastemakers of the future and rightfully so because their line ups are usually always spot on for where the musical trends are heading towards. 2019 sees the festival delivering a very homegrown heavy line-up with minimal international acts making the cut. This caused a lot of backlash from people questioning the reasons behind this decision and criticising the weight of the headliners. But at the end of the day, a massive spotlight has been put on Australia around the world as a country that is continually delivering some of the biggest and most promising newcomers. So why not embrace that and celebrate the future of Australian music with a festival that prides itself in that?
As the clouds hovered over the Brisbane Showgrounds for the first day of the 2019 travelling festival, the humidity turned up to make sure you didn’t forget it was still summer. And every single act on the line up didn’t let you forget it by making comment on it throughout the day in case you forgot how you felt. With the early birds turning up in full force they started packing the Good, Better, Best stage in anticipation for Ruby Fields. Whilst they were waiting the annoying festival traditional singalong of DJ Otzi’s ‘Hey Baby’ ignited and didn’t stop until she came on stage. Kicking off proceedings with ‘I Want’ and ‘Fairly Lame, Fairly Tame’ the singer-songwriter was immediately shocked by how many people were in attendance. “How you going Brisbane?” she questioned which the crowd replied to with a massive cheer. “Good I guess then” she reacted before playing unreleased new track ‘Travel’ which hears her proclaiming that she’s not wife material. “It’s cooking up here” she observed as she played ‘Libby’s Pink Car’ and future new single ‘Climate’ which she promised to include a lot of Aussie references. But in comparison ‘Travel’ seems like a stronger choice as a follow up single to her Triple J Hottest 100 breakthrough. Her live show has become even more polished since I saw her last at The Foundry in April and the strong crowd in force were screaming all the lyrics along to ‘Ritalin’, ‘P Plates’ and her Like A Version cover of The Church’s ‘Unguarded Moment’. It wasn’t by much of a big surprise that she closed her electric set with the unstoppable ‘Dinosaur’ which recently peaked at number 9 on the Hottest 100 which was a massive feat.
As the crowd made the massive trek over to the Never Let It Rest stage, Mansionair’s lead singer Jack Froggat kicked off their set with his angelic vocals. Early crowd favourites ‘Hold Me Down’ and ‘Falling’ had the crowd swaying and singing along instantly. “Brisbane it’s so good to see you again. We are Mansionair!” Froggatt exclaimed. As he grooved across the stage during ‘Easier’, ‘Violet City’ and ‘Technicolour’ you couldn’t help but be whisked away by the theatrical nature of their sound. “It’s so good to be back in Australia playing shows. You have no idea!” Froggatt confessed before they made their way to the end of their set for the epic closer ‘Astronaut’ which is taken from their debut album ‘Shadowboxer’ which is out on March 1.
G-FLIP is one of Australia’s biggest rising stars. And with only 4 songs officially released it’s kind of crazy just how big of an impact she’s made not just domestically but overseas as well. She’s truly on the path to follow Amy Shark and Dean Lewis’ footsteps and become one of Australia’s biggest new exports. Packing the Good, Better, best stage early in the afternoon her set was a memorable affair of pure talent. Kicking off the set with a epic drum solo on her slick light-up drum kit she offered the future single worthy track ‘Acting Out’. Picking up a guitar for the mellow ‘Wake Up Tomorrow’ she then slowed things completely down with the heartbreaking piano ballad ‘Bring Me Home’. With a massive smile beaming from her face she couldn’t believe just how many people were cheering her along. “Killing My Time’ created one of the biggest singalongs of the day with people on top of others shoulders and screaming the lyrics proudly. Unreleased track ‘I’m Not Afraid’ is a future anthem waiting to be unleashed that saw her smashing portable drums before asking the crowd to do a chant for her Nana who was listening to the Triple J stream. Wrapping up the massive set with ‘Drink Too Much’ and ‘About You’ she jumped into the crowd and started hugging everyone as she didn’t want to leave.
Over on the Dr. Martens stage, Camp Cope were turning the volume up with their grungey and meaningful punk rock. ‘How To Socialise & Make Friends’ and the important ‘The Face Of God’ were early favourites that instantly won over the crowd. Stopping for a brief moment they acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and thanked everyone for coming to watch them. “This next song is about loving yourself, which is so important” they confessed before ‘Keep Growing’ which the crowd cheered back to in support of. Wrapping up their forty minute set with ‘Jet Fuel Cant Melt Steal Beams’ and ‘The Opener’ they really had the crowd feelings like they were apart of the performance.
With the crowd well and truly warmed up, Middle Kids had no issues in getting the crowd singing along to opener ‘Never Start’. With the guitar solos coming in hot and the crowd jumping along and getting uber sweaty they powered through ‘Old River’, ‘Your Love’, On My Knees’ and ‘Don’t Be Hiding’. “Hi Laneway! This is the first song we ever released, singalong if you know it” they asked the crowd when introducing the song that started it all, ‘Edge The Town’. With the pitt heating up further and the crowd swaying around ‘Bought It’, ‘Salt Eyes’, ‘Fire In Your Eyes’ and ‘Please’ kept the energetic vibes flowing. Closing their set with the massive ‘Mistake’ the crowd screamed along to the anthemic chorus with the sun beginning to set.
Changing up the vibes completely Cosmo’s Midnight turned the Never Let It Rest stage into a giant rave. With ‘Talk to Me’, ‘History’ and Get To Know’ creating the big singalong’s, they were joined on stage by guest vocalist and Triple J favourite Asta. Over on Good, Better, Rest stage Rex Orange County pulled an impressively massive crowd for his Australian debut. The English singer-songwriter kicked off his set with ‘Apricot Princess’, ‘Television/So far So Good’ and ‘Uno’. “We’re going to get straight into this, but do you mind if we slow it down for a second?” he questioned. And the excited crowd obviously said yes as he swooned them with ‘Waiting Room’ and ‘Untitled’. He was so engaging with his full band set up and his humble in-between song banter. A brief cover of Alicia Keys ‘No One’ impressed with a different arrangement before he went straight back into it with ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Best Friend’. With the crowd loving ever moment of his set they didn’t want it to end but sadly he had to but not before he played the mega hit ‘Loving Is Easy’.
One of the best things about Laneway Festival is that they bring acts to Australia that have giant potential that also don’t realise they have quite a following down under. And Jorja Smith is one of those artists. Her loyal RNB and soul crowd packed out the Never Let It Rest stage as her live band introduced her for the opening number ‘Lost & Found’. “This is my first time here, so thank you for having me” she gushed before playing the crowd favourites ‘Teenage Fantasy’, ‘Feburary 3rd’ and ‘The One’. Immediately the crowd singalong’s were passionate and massive as the diverse audience also watched in awe of her soulful aura. “Are you gonna sing with me?” she questioned before going into ‘On Your Own’, ‘Where Do I Go’ and a cover of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’. The melodramatic set was full of all the soulful vibes and the crowd didn’t want her to leave after she wrapped it up with ‘Let Me Down’, ‘Blue Lights’ and ‘On My Mind’. It’s safe to say she will be returning soon after that massive reaction.
Walking low key on stage with fairy lights and a red curtain draping the stage, Courtney Barnett humbly asked the crowd “Hi, how are you?”. Launching straight into ‘City Looks Pretty’, ‘Avant Gardener’ and ‘Need A Little Time’ the crowd immediately began to singalong to her quirky and powerful lyrics. Welcoming Georgia from Camp Cope back onto the stage they performed the politically charged ‘Nameless, Faceless’ which received a massive applause from the crowd. Not wasting much time in between songs she kept the setlist rolling with ‘I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch’, ‘Depreston, ‘Elevator Operator’ and ‘Chariots’. During ‘Small Poppies’ she summed up my thoughts from the 12 hour music festival with the lyrics “I wanna go to sleep for an eternity”. But the day wasn’t over yet. After all, she still had ‘Pedestrian At Best’ to scream the lyrics along to.
Over on the Never Let It Rest stage, What So Not turned the warehouse stage into a massive nightclub that showcased his massive new live show. With massive inflatables flying through the air and a cool light show keeping you alert the coolest thing about his live show was the live guitar which elevated his sound.Songs like ‘Gemini’, ‘Waiting’, ‘Stuck In Orbit’ and new single ‘We Can Be Friends’ were thrown into the mix.
Wrapping up the days proceedings the 2019 headliners Gang Of Youths walked on the Good, Better, Best stage for what may be one of their final Australian shows for this album cycle. After all it has been two years since they released the highly acclaimed ‘Go Farther In Lightness’ so you could only hope for new music soon. Opening up with ‘Fear and Trembling’ they launched straight into the festival ready hooks. ‘What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out’, ‘Atlas Drowned, ‘The Heart Is A Muscle’ and ‘Go Farther In Lightness’ followed. With multiple tours and festival appearances since this album came out there is nothing too shocking or new about this live set and instead feels more like a greatest hits show with all of the songs being regular heavy rotation favourites on Triple J. David Le’aupepe is an incredible frontman as he immediately captures the audiences attentions and doesn’t hold back from delivering his all vocally and physically. ‘Let Me Down Easy’, ‘Magnolia’ and ‘The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows’ continued this sentiment before they closed their set with a confetti storm during ‘Say Yes To Life’.
With the majority of the Laneway line-up being no strangers to the touring circuit, this festival seemed more like a showcase of some of Australia’s biggest tours of 2018. With the likes of Gang Of Youths, Courtney Barnett, What So Not, Smith Street Band, G-Flip, and Middle Kids only recently completing tours and festival runs it really seemed more like a taste test than anything. It was dedicated to those people who missed out on attending those tours and wanted another chance to see them. There was a few international acts like Jorja Smith and Rex Orange County who were down under for the first time that created a lot of buzz but the spotlight was really on the Australian cast.
Check out full gallery captured by Claudia Bill Photography HERE;
Photos By Claudia Bill