It’s a swelteringly hot Australia Day that sees the start of the nationwide St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Brisbane this year. There’s barely a cloud to be seen and temperatures are in the 30s as punters stream into the RNA Showgrounds.
Camp Cope are here to kick things off, their set full of energy and feels and the trio owning the stage and their place within Australian music after a huge breakout year in 2016. Julia Jacklin is onstage after, her bluesy sound and smoky voice allowing the crowd a brief period of respite, her recent Like A Version cover of The Strokes’ Someday going over a treat, as does lead single Pool Party, a sentiment everyone sweating their souls out can get behind. Also coming in hot with the hazy summer feels are Chicago outfit Whitney, whose mellow, breezy 70s soft rock throwback sound washes out over the baking crowd to almost hallucinogenic effect, Golden Days positively euphoric in delivery.
One of the brightest young stars on the bill follows them in Tash Sultana, who took to the stage just hours before coming in at number three on Triple J’s Hottest 100 in what was a triumphant day for her. Sultana is utterly captivating and absolutely shreds the guitar in a way that has the audiences minds melting as they sit on tenterhooks for her entire set. Her journey to here makes a moment like this all the more amazing to behold.
It’s a quick scoot over to the Spinning Top Stage to catch one of Tasmania’s best exports to the rest of the world in Luca Brasi with their hearts sewn permanently to their sleeves. It’s peak heat and the mosh threatens to border on suffocating right around a delirious Anything Near Conviction.
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard are the batshit conductors of the most frenzied moshpit of the day, Gamma Knife grabbing the crowd by the throat and threatening to leave the tent in rubble before Sydney’s Gang Of Youths get a chance to roll in. They’re as thunderous as always and evoke every emotion conceivable with monolithic renditions of Poison Drum, Strange Diseases and a Magnolia the whole crowd nothing short of bellows back at them.
Some fans may have been left with a bitter taste in their mouth at Young Thug’s withdrawal from the event after so much hype, but 11th hour replacements and local heroes Dune Rats step up to the plate in a big way. It seems like it would make a band’s job so much easier when virtually every single song is a firm crowd favourite and Dunies definitely enjoy that luxury, new songs Scott Green and Bullshit sliding in seamlessly with the old and the band scarcely sounding sharper.
A.B. Original, also acting as today’s hosts, put on an absolute belter of a set as the sun begins to set and finally provide some relief, Briggs and running mate Trials are absolutely fiery in delivery and oozing nonstop charisma and chemistry from beginning to end. On what is such a contentious day for them, the fury and disgust is so palpable in every single one of their songs, January 26 enjoying its Invasion Day debut to rapturous reception.
After sitting through a bit of Tycho and being mesmerised by the crowd and the sound, it’s time for Nick Murphy, who hits all the right notes and leaves the crowd breathless. There are more than a few tears as I look around the crowd in moments and if there was anyone in attendance who didn’t know the words to Talk Is Cheap I’ll be damned.
And then it’s time for Tame Impala and the return of perhaps Australia’s biggest rock export of the last decade. Despite a hard slog of touring their amazing Currents, the Perth outfit don’t show an ounce of fatigue even though the majority of the crowd could make a case for heat exhaustion. Let It Happen billows throughout the tent like a cool breeze, as does Feels Like We Only Go Backwards, the night air humid and buzzing with atmosphere as Kevin Parker and co are received as kings by the Brisbane faithful.
And with that it’s off into the night with either work or having to make a convincing sick phone call in the morning looming for many. Worth it indeed for what was an absolutely fantastic celebration of music, much of it right from our own backyard. On a day that seems to split the nation in half every year, Laneway was nothing but positive and respectful vibes all-round.