Laneway Festival @ The Esplanade, Fremantle, Australia
Review and Photography by Sethen Sheehan-Lee
It was a mild Sunday afternoon in Fremantle as thousands of punters made their way to The Esplanade for the final stop of Laneway Festival in Australia. Well before the performances had started, I was impressed with the way the event had been organized. While the area was relatively small for a major festival, the mass shade provided from the many trees in the park created a perfect environment for an outdoor event in summer. The Esplanade itself is less than five minutes’ walk from the Fremantle Train Station and ticket holders had free access to public transport for most of the day. What a great deal!
The first few acts of the day I saw were; Omar Apollo, Col3traine, Kaiit and Benne.
While Kaiit provided one of the best vocal performances of the afternoon, Col3traine and Benne brought up the energy in the early hours of the festival. Benne managed to perfectly balance being quirky and cool during her set (which is quite the task). While I was unfamiliar with her music before attending this festival, her set was filled with some really catchy songs, so I’ll be a keen listener in the future.
Aussie Pub Rock band The Chats took to stage just after 3.00pm and they were surprisingly tight for a group with such as earthy recorded sound. Australian music record breaker Tones and I also provided a relatively intimate set considering she was performing in front of such a large audience.
One of Perth’s favourite up and coming bands (Spacey Jane) drew a huge crowd to the 2020 Vision (side) Stage. While it was the best live show, I’ve seen them do, it was a shame they weren’t put on one of the main stages. The group performance also clashed with indie rocker’s Hockey Dad and while some clashes are unavoidable, there is quite a big cross over audience between these two groups. Hockey Dad were also a brilliant live act. Their front man had a really cool stage presentence and it was clear that the group were comfortable in front of a large festival crowd.
Ruel, Ocean Alley and DMA’s also did a fantastic job at leading the festival into the evening. Ruel is hands down the best young act to come out of Australia in years and his festival performance didn’t disappoint. Despite the fact he was playing well before sunset, he still had one of the biggest productions of the whole festival. This extra effort from Ruel and his team was greatly appreciated by his fans. Ocean Alley and DMA’s are two groups who flourish in front of a festival crowd. While DMA’s aren’t one of the most popular acts in Australia just yet, their Oasis inspired anthems could lead them to headlining festivals like Laneway in a few years’ time.
Charlie XCX’s performance as a whole could be described as, simple but effective. Charlie had no; back-up dancers, backing band or any kind of general help onstage apart from a large glowing cube. Even without any type of fancy production she managed to have the audience in the palm of her hand for the whole set. Hits like, “Boys” and, “1999” were well received from the crowd and this helped to bring even more of a party atmosphere to the festival.
The 1975 are one of my favourite band of all time, so personally I was thrilled to see them live. That being said, I felt the one-hour set was far too short to cover all their hits, let along get into any of their amazing deep cuts. With the little time they had, the band still managed to perfectly balance being a traditional rock act while embracing elements of modern music trends.
A personal highlight of the performance was hearing Greta Thunberg’s speak about climate change being incorporated into the setlist through a visual story. The festival crowd seemed a little distracted during the speak however front man Matty Healy did say, “This is a festival so you can talk, just don’t yell”, before the presentation. The band finished on a high tone with a performance of the pop anthem, “The Sound” getting a majority of the crowd off their feet and dancing.
Overall, I found Laneway to be a fantastically organized event that provided for a board spectrum of music fans and took place is an ideal location for a summer festival.