An electro-pop-rock sandwich -synthesisers and singsongs- new music at Laneway 2016, Port Adelaide.


St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2016, Port Adelaide

Laneway 2016
Battles, Shamir and the Smith Street Band at the Laneway Festival 2016, Port Adelaide.

Adelaide held the honour of kicking off the the Australian leg of this year’s series of the Laneway Festival (this year Laneway also visits Auckland, Singapore and even Detroit). National radio station Triple J was present to broadcast the whole day, commenting favourably on the venue, the Port Adelaide shore front:

heritage buildings, heritage beer, heritage tomatoes, heritage dreadlocks ….

Indeed the venue was a delight. What could be better than watching some of the best up-and-coming artists in the perfect sunshine, with a backdrop of historical buildings: wharfs, mills and warehouses on one side, and the glistening Port River on the other?

crowds at Laneway Festival, Port Adelaide
Also unusual, perhaps reflecting the festival’s booking policy, or the reality of not being in a muddy or dusty field somewhere, the youthful crowd exhibited a high degree of street fashion and urbanity. The glitter painting stall was busy all day, and there was even a barber in case your beard got ruffled by the cooling breeze off the ocean. One of the stages attracted a fair number of maritime visitors, with a police escort, for a free listen.
Hipster happenings at Laneway Festival, Port AdelaideIt’s not a festival without some weirdness. The heritage Waterside Workers Hall provided just that – a balcony performance by a naked opera singer, an indoor orchard,  a mirror cave and a transgender disco. Meanwhile right outside but oblivious to the festival frenetics all around, an old dude was working on his (heritage) motor. For a moment we wondered if we had inadvertantly ingested some drugs – but no, it was just normal festie weirdness.

The music programme was an electro-rock sandwich- headerliner Flume and Glasgow’s electro-poppers CHVRCHES following a more guitar-based late afternoon of heavy rockers Metz, alt-rockers Diiv, and pub-rockers the Smith Street Band and Violent Soho – all preceded by more electro beats from the soulful, if underdressed, Shamir, and a slightly nervous Japanese Wallpaper. Admitting this was his first festival gig (possibly the first time he’s performed outside of his bedsit?), Mr Wallpaper was helped along vocally by a tolerant crowd on his entrancing Between Friends. The Smith Street Band had a large and enthusiastic following, front man Will Wagner expressing his delight at their heroes’ reception and the word perfect, rousing mass singalong to every song.

Second top of the bill CHVRCHES successfully transferred the energy of their recordings onto the big stage, the diminutive Lauren Mayberry a live wire during, and a “wee blether” between songs, recalling their last Laneway appearance when a power failure forced them to sing a cappella – surely an electro band’s worst nightmare. No power loss this time, only a powerful set featuring Recover, Never ending circles, and Gun. Adelaidians don’t especially like the moniker “City of Churches” as it implies social conservatism and dullness (when historically it means social progressiveness, inclusion, diversity and tolerance), but Lauren and the band delighted in it. It certainly was their city for a night.

Unfortunately we missed Flume, but I’m sure his set was great. Honourable mentions too for Battles and Methyl Ethel. With four stages we couldn’t see everyone, so apologies to artists not mentioned above.

See more- St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.


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