There were some bumps along the Laneway road, but it was stellar ride nonetheless.
I’m loser with no friends so I had to plough through the hipster fest alone but I have absolutely zero regrets. However, I only attended half the festival and entered the grounds at 5pm. There was no re-entry and I didn’t feel like wallowing by myself for a full day. Plus, I didn’t want to throw my money down the drain by paying for overpriced food which could at least pay for a week’s worth of lunch. Even though I only attended half the festival, I left with a full heart (yes, this is a cringe-inducing sentence).
I was there when Laneway alumni The Internet started their set to a very eager audience who were happy to welcome back the band. I was kind of indifferent to their return and was honestly just patiently waiting for Mac Demarco’s set to start. But band members Syd and Steve Lacy are enjoying some sort of rising influence and you can hear the enthusiasm from the crowd. They were extremely excited for Steve Lacy so much so that I was wrapped up in the energy (which was mostly made of attraction for Steve). While I was bopping my head along to The Internet, waiting for Mac, I realised that The Internet might just continue to rise in popularity if this alluring charm of theirs manages to captivate an even bigger audience.
Another returning Laneway alum is Mac Demarco, who is probably the prince of the indie scene but being trapped amongst his fans was tormenting (and I’m one of those fans). I’m fine with a couple of people shoving me to get to the front as long as they’re aware that they are horizontally challenged. I got shoved by so many huge titans and they all blocked my view of the pepperoni playboy (which made me pissed). God bless Mac Demarco for his music because it was the only thing that made me forget about how I’m sandwiched between jerks chanting “USA” out of nowhere. Chamber of Reflect on your behaviour please.
Shout out to Andy who sang “Under The Bridge” out of key but his candid rendition still makes me laugh and brings me joy because I too relate to not having a partner.
One of the harder bands on the line-up, Wolf Alice, definitely brought it. Ellie Roswell, the lead singer of the alternative rock band was at that moment, the epitome of female empowerment. She looked so elegant in her white dress and neatly tucked blonde hair but the girl could shred on her guitar while delivering some impressively fierce vocals. She balances the line of femininity and ferocity with such effortlessness that just leaves me absolutely envious. As much as I love this band, I hit a low point during their set when they were performing one the fan favourites “Bros”. Ellie told the crowd to dance along with their best friend and since I am a lonely loser, had nobody to dance with (oh woe is me). I had to just constantly tell myself that I am an independent mofo that doesn’t need anybody while internally crying and screaming. I just had to yell my unwanted emotions out as I sang along to their song “Space & Time” (which is a banger btw).
Slowdive legitimately had me in a hypnotic state that I don’t remember much except an inner feeling of calm and ecstasy. Also a girl yelling “IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL I COULD CRY” which sounds extreme but I share her sentiments.
The highlight of the night was hands down the man who just oozes charisma and confidence, Anderson. Paak. PAAK ME, I love this man. His stage presence is truly divine. Hearing and watching him perform with a million dollar smile was like catching a glimpse of paradise (despite being drowned by sweaty young adults). The man got me to get low during “Lite Weight” which basically meant doing squats for 5 minutes and I willingly obliged despite being averse to exercise – that’s how much this man has me wrapped around his little pinkie. And it wasn’t just me, he had the whole crowd bewitched. It was an unforgettable atmosphere that was thirst-inducing (not just for water, but also for Breezy Lovejoy making some hot moves on stage). One qualm I did have was the technical difficulties his set endured, forcing the already aggravated crowd to wait another 20 minutes. I had to breathe in the musky air of the people around me and listen to them chit chat arrogantly about their superior music taste (me heaving a big sigh right around here). But would I wait an eternity for Anderson. Paak? Yes Lawd!
Anderson isn’t the only one who possesses a magnetic stage presence because Father John Misty, or Josh Tillman, has a way about him that you just gravitate towards. Mr Tillman has a lot to say about the glaring flaws of humanity (which I think sometimes just goes over a lot of listeners’ heads) but masterfully constructs his beliefs into songs that are memorable and substantial. You can look at his music as somewhat preachy, but he sways you with his melodies and cleverly written lyrics that is brimming with playful wit. It’s hard to knock Father John Misty as merely pretentious especially after he delivers a fervent performance that just shows he belongs on the stage. I regret not being closer to the stage to soak up his spirited energy because I talked to a stranger in an attempt to make friends, and I don’t think she liked Father John Misty so we stood near the back. (She eventually ditched me when she left to “go to the bathroom” but I was secretly relieved to be by my lonesome again).
I stayed around for Bonobo and The War on Drugs knowing that these two were kind of the stars of the whole line-up. But look, I’m neutral on these two musicians. I don’t hate them, but I don’t love them either. It’s possible that I might come to be more interested in both of them in the future, but for the time being, I’m okay with sitting down and watching them on the screen.
Like Anderson, Bonobo also suffered from technical difficulties (like Laneway, get your shit together because I did not pay good money only hear problems with your sound system). It’s especially frustrating with Bonobo as his sound is recognised for being more polished or refined. It’s what makes his music more prominent than his (I want to say electronica?) counterparts. What made it even more disappointing was that his vocalist’s mic had some issues as well and her voice couldn’t shine through (use your customers’ money to fix this Laneway). But the silver lining was that I think people were drunk enough to dance and wobble their head along to Bonobo anyway.
I had similar feelings during The War on Drugs’ set as I did at Slowdive’s set. It was made clear why this is a grammy-nominated band with their excellent musicianship and songs that conveyed a magnitude of emotions and earnestness. I’m complimenting the band to the high heavens now but the truth is I left early because I wanted to catch the last train home (woops). Nevertheless, I sincerely enjoyed what I did hear and experience from their set and I think the band’s heartfelt indie rock sound was a perfect choice to close the entire festival.
Laneway wasn’t perfect; I was alone, there were technical issues and I hate crowds (hipsters that remind me of my own presumptuous self are particularly bad). But music has always been a priority for me, something that I religiously follow and something that also acts as a companion (perfect for someone with no friends, like me). Laneway delivered on that front and I wouldn’t mind being slightly miserable again if I can revel in amazing live music.