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St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2016: Howl & Echoes’ Best Bits

Another Laneway done and dusted, and another almighty comedown to suffer through. This comedown is one that only comes from an unreal day of magical music moments, and this year provided more than it’s fair share. These are the best bits of Brisbane’s St Jerome’s Laneway Festival for 2016:

SOPHIE but not QT

Splitting their set between two of PC Music‘s biggest names, my expectations were pretty high for these two. I have been following their strange and intriguing musical careers for a while now, and I was thrilled to finally get the chance to catch them both in action. SOPHIE took to the stage first; his rollercoaster brand of electronic, with huge builds and drops that change quickly enough to give you musical whiplash created an unreal atmosphere as everyone tried their best to dance to the erratic, unpredictable music. It’s not the most accessible music by any means, and you are totally forgiven for not “getting it”, but there is something about how bizarre it is that has me hooked. Both acts are more performance artists than musicians, holding up a mirror to the music industry to show how it really is and pushing boundaries to see just how much they can get away with. It was enthralling from start to end, and when QT took to the decks, the Red Bull/Future Classic tent was a writhing pit of bodies. However, I’m not entirely sure what happened, but the vibe shifted dramatically as QT launched into her saccharine pop set. Perhaps it was the time slot, clashing with key players The Internet and The Smith Street Band, or the persistent rain, but whatever happened, it was a strange and underwhelming end to what was a thrilling beginning.

Thundercat, Thundercat, Thundercat

As far as technicality goes, Thundercat was probably one of the most advanced and talented musicians on the bill. Not to overshadow anyone else playing (Lord knows there were some extremely talented musicians in their own right on the lineup), but there is something about Thundercat’s total devotion to his bass guitar that had me utterly transfixed. It was tough dragging myself away from FIDLAR and the raucous moshpit they were riling up over at the Never Let It Rest Stage, but the torn feeling I was experiencing as I headed over for the remainder of Thundercat’s set vanished as soon as I heard him play. The best part of the set was when he dropped the impeccable Kendrick Lamar track, Complexion. His bass sounded totally sublime as he glided his way through the number, his backing band getting down as they worked through the track. Although the crowd was surprisingly smaller than I expected, this was a special moment that I felt lucky to be a part of. Read our interview with Thundercat here.

DIIV’s triumphant return

DIIV have had a rough couple of years. They were at the pinnacle of their career back in 2012, when an unfortunate, casual incident involving heroin and the police saw everything come crashing down. Since then, frontman Zachary Cole Smith has endeavoured to not only get straight and clean, but to deliver the album we were all waiting for, and reward those loyal to DIIV with the record they deserve. Is The Is Are is that record. It’s a behemoth with 17 expansive, sprawling tracks, and in the lead up to its release it seemed DIIV may finally be on their way to being back on top. Laneway marked their return to the scene, and what a return it was. Playing to a small but nonetheless adoring crowd, Smith greeted screaming fans with “Hi, we’re called DIIV and we’re from New York City” before launching into their tremendous set. Featuring a mix of new and old tracks, it was enough to bring a tear to my eye as they ripped into Doused, ending what was one of the best sets of the day.

Grimes showing everyone how it’s done

A festival set can be a tough one to pull off. You’re sharing the stage with countless other bands, you’re playing to a crowd that is increasingly weary after their big day, and you don’t exactly have the luxury of having a lot at your disposal in terms of stage #aesthetic. However, if you’re Grimes, you don’t actually care. Never to do something without giving her all, Claire Boucher marked her return to Australia (the last time she was here was in 2012) with an all-out set up and onstage extravaganza. Back up dancers, extensive set ups for herself and her friend HANA (who supported her at her sideshows), and a setlist so jam-packed she barely had time to speak between songs, Grimes absolutely killed it. Starting off with her comeback single, Flesh without Blood, it was full throttle from start to finish and it was a marvel to watch unfold. Special moments included the astounding Genesis, the breakthrough Oblivion and the frenetic closer of Kill V. Maim. Let’s just hope Grimes comes back sooner rather than later.

Honourable Mentions:

GoldLink – for dropping Justin Bieber‘s Sorry midset
FIDLAR – for getting the crowd so riled up it almost turned into a riot
Shamir – for his nonchalant, shoulder-shrugging delivery of his sassy lyrics and incredibly fun tracks
Flume – for reminding everyone why he is one of the biggest artists in the whole world

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