Five Things We Learnt at Melbourne Laneway Festival 2016
Last week we learnt some stuff at the wonderful Sydney leg of LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2016, this time around I’m in charge. I’m Tom, I’m the editor here at Purple Sneakers, and thanks to the St. Jerome’s Laneway team, I was lucky enough to spend the day at the Melbourne leg of the festival. I learnt some things too.
The lineup was eclectic and dense, the day was bright, blue skied and fucking scorching (at least to me); the festival was sold out; Laneway Festival Melbourne had everything going for it and it delivered. Amongst other things I learnt that; Juanita Peaches make a good sandwich; the PIP area is great if you need to get to a toilet quickly; the Very West stage is VERY West; DIIV literally melt in the heat; the Mistletone stage was where it was at; Shamir is so talented and I get more and more bitter towards the spritely youth of Melbourne every year.
But here, my beloved readers are the big five! The lessons from Laneway 2016 that are the most important. To me. (Plus a sneak-peek at our Laneway Gallery).
1. Punters just seem to be getting worse and worse
Getting a theme here? Here’s a disclaimer, I’m pretty cynical, so maybe that feeling of disdain towards the majority of society clouds my memory.. But, I remember a time where I could go to a festival and just not see a douche. Maybe I should go to Meredith or something, but this year, you guys, you punters.. you sucked. Not all of you, but a large quantity of you. I don’t know where you are the rest of the year, but boy you come out when it’s festival season.
Here’s a lesson for you. If it’s 1pm and you’re already vomiting in the street from all the Carona’s you’ve had – you’re being a douche. If you’re standing near the front of a stage and just talking garbage loudly and ignoring Shamir‘s set – you’re being a douche. If you’re fist-pumping so hard with your bros (who are all wearing matching outfits) that you keep knocking people over – you’re being a douche. And finally, if you’re pissing in the middle of everyone just because it’s easy to flop your penis out – guess what? You’re being a douche!
This is no shade at Laneway; this is shade at a particular type of punter that just goes to a festival “for the vibez with da cr3w” and fails to anything other than smash pingaz to music they don’t actually care about and walk around shirtless. You suck and I hate you.
2. Watching HEALTH live is like being at a metal show
I mean this in a good way, not in a like, seeing HEALTH is like seeing Korn kind of way. Performing as a trio, the LA natives came together to deliver the most on point and certainly loudest show of the day. I was standing next to the monitors and almost threw up from the bass levels.
They have years of experience playing and working within the US noise scene, and even though some of their music shows a softer, more pop oriented side – the band know how to use it to their advantage. They make catchy, intelligent music that blends electronica with powerful beats and searing noise – and it works. It’s loud, it’s confronting, and maybe it didn’t work as well as it could’ve on a sun filled hill stage, but it was different, it was enthralling, it was fun. HEALTH owned that stage and showed up so many acts with a more popular sound.
3. PC Music may be divisive, but it’s damn good to watch live
I’ll be the first to admit at first I hated the idea of the future of music being PC Music sounding, meta-trash. And I’ll be the first to admit I still don’t fully get it, I feel like one day A.G Cook and Hannah Diamond will come out and be like, “hey guys, sucked in, this was just a big joke to see if we could get you.” And maybe they will. But if you put aside that QT is more performance art than music, that there’s a good chance she lip-syncs live and that the whole crew polarises critics… the QT / SOPHIE show was actually so great.
First off, ignoring all PC prejudice, SOPHIE‘s 2015 album was just a really strong body of bouncing electronica. Regardless of pitched-up vocals, the production was interesting, intricate and featured so many sounds I’d never heard in music ever. Add that he’s also an insane producer and DJ live, then you know that set was going to be damn fun. Just imagine those sounds from the LP, louder and surrounded by punters who love it and get it – then you’ll see what I saw. Throw in QT‘s antics of just constantly being on brand, and ‘Hey QT’s painful infectiousness, and suddenly the whole set is a highlight. Don’t think so hard about it and just dance.
4. You need to get over your bullshit about Grimes
I managed to briefly catch up with Huw of Good Manners fame towards the end of the night. Whilst during some classic festival chat, we got onto the topic of Grimes where he exclaimed that “I don’t get why people don’t like her new stuff, I love it!” (Or something like that). That actually got me thinking about how people have felt about Art Angels. There’s been a lot of talk about selling out, betraying her roots, that her old stuff was better etc etc. To me, this is all bullshit, if you think like this, you need to get over it. Congrats, you knew Grimes when she released ‘Genesis’, that doesn’t make you special. The fact you think she’s selling out means literally nothing.
Art Angels isn’t like her other music, and yeah, it’s pop as hell. But it’s really fucking good pop music, who actually cares where she takes it? She’s doing what she wants and hasn’t that been the M.O of Grimes all along. Her set may be more of a ‘show’ now, with proper choreography; and she sings with her vocals fed through her headphones – but hearing the power in her voice and seeing the power in her performance (and ridiculous bass) demonstrated the makings of a true pop star. Find me someone that saw her close with ‘Kill V. Maim’ and didn’t just love the shit out of it.
5. Purity Ring are more of a headliner than you think
Looking at the timetable, Purity Ring had it kind of tough. Up against Flume, Hudson Mohawke and Chrvches at the top of the bill is pretty intense, and to be honest I had my doubts about the duo’s ability to deliver a headlining set. Fuck, I was wrong. Backed by a truly awe inspiring light set-up (made by Corin Roddick of the band), Purity Ring have totally nailed their live show. Megan James moved in and out of the dangling lights, almost hiding in the subdued moments, before emerging with a thundering voice, commanding the entire stage and ensuring that every intense moment they create was felt through every member of the crowd.
I can’t say I was that fond of their latest LP, but live, those tracks were standouts, each track was given new life in an organic setting – each note bouncing across the Mistletone hill and creating chaotic movements from even the most timid of punters (me). Their music has always been dark and brooding, but with the darkness of a Footscray summer night, and the shimmering lights around them – this was a truly stunning way to witness Purity Ring… and close another fantastic Laneway Festival.
Keep your eyes on the site for the rest of the Melbourne Laneway Gallery.
Words & Photos by Tom Hutchins
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