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This Is Northern New South Wales

The Laneway Festival – Brisbane

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I’m certainly biased, I was pumped to see Warpaint and Kurt Vile, but the joy of the Laneway festival is their knack for curating a mix of bands that are on the cusp of hitting it big, it’s all about checking out those bands you don’t know.

After sliding effortlessly through the front gates we headed for a big ol’ shed to see Autre ve Neut. They hail from Brooklyn and despite it being mid-afternoon it was dark and it was loud and Arthur Ashin was in full swing, wailing with the synth, head-in-hands.

It was easy enough to move around the RNA showground, the barns and the fencing gave it the feel of a rural show, which suited the en-trend vintage Akubras and felt hats that were ubiquitous this year.


Youth Lagoon took ages sound checking, but it took me a while to realise. Then the guitars started rocking and the crowd pushed forward and Trevor Powers pounded that keyboard. He hit it so hard! It sounded so good. He wore a hat and spectacles and the guy on bass wore one hell of a beard.

I had heard only one of Daughter’s tracks previously but as soon as I came within earshot of Elena Tonra’s voice I was hooked. Like a Siren she pulled everyone in, her gaze was off to the sky and we all stood open mouthed as the guitarist played with a violin bow. They killed it.

Chvrches were on the main stage and as I dashed to get some shots I was pushed and shoved, their fans were pretty serious. Down the front it got even more hectic as girls squealed and guys shouldered their way forward. Lauren Maybury is tiny but her voice filled the arena. The sun was dropping and the crowd was starting to loosen up.

Kurt Vile was next and he didn’t disappoint. A mop of wiry curls covered the intense concentration on his face. His lyrics tell stories and everyone in the crowd was spellbound. Beer got thrown and people pushed the vibe almost to a mosh, but not quite. There was plenty of room to move.

The crowd never got heavy all day. It was a treat to be able to dash between stages without having to battle a crush of topless blokes. There were no lines for beer and everyone was smiling.


Then came Lorde, just after dark, everyone wanted a taste. She was on the main stage and the crowd was the biggest of the day and even those at the back had a good view. Fresh from charming the pants off the Americans she still seemed the same young Kiwi lass beaming with confidence and with fabulous hair. Her voice soared as she flailed her arms, she danced and jived and it got dark and it got everyone fired up for the night ahead.

Cloud Control, yeah! It was super dark over at the car park stage and these guys were getting plenty physical with their old stuff and their new stuff. It blended together so well and everyone sang along. Their guitars took a beating and there were sparklers and I tried to film some of their most energetic tracks but the sheer power of their shredding was too much for my little mic to handle.

In the back of my mind I was distracted by the knowledge that Warpaint were up next. I squeezed up front early-on to get some photos and to get as close to these legends as possible. There’s no pretension with these gals, they have their own sound and they don’t need the trappings of trends to rock out. I had high hopes and they went above and beyond expectations. Despite a few gut wrenching technical problems they soon got it sorted and pounded out the classics. They lamented their curfew and assured us they weren’t going to sleep any time soon. Their voices soared and Stella Mozgawa on the drums nearly knocked me off my feet. Warpaint’s sound is a contradiction; it’s the lightest of vocals and synth floating on that pounding bass drum. Solid.


From the sublime to the crunchy, Earl Sweatshirt was sweaty from the start. His jersey was crisp and neat and Taco’s beats were relentless. The Odd-Future flavour of hip-hop is decidedly HIP but it was still a strange contrast to go from a day of alternative rock and folk to some foul mouthed kids from the streets of LA, but the crowd lapped up the juxtaposition. It was dark in there and people’s eyes were wide and there was nothing left to do but dance.

Laneway delivered! In tune and on time. Amen.

Words and Images by John Treadgold

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Words and Images by John Treadgold