St Jerome’s Laneway Festival @ Hart’s Mill, Port Adelaide SA 7/2/2020

Alternative music lovers descended on the streets of Port Adelaide to head to the historic Hart’s Mill for the 2020 St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. From humble beginnings this festival has grown to be become a mainstay on the summer festival calendar. Top job to Adelaide on selling this one out well before the day going a long way to help securing this event in our city next year. The changing face of those attending Laneway was quite evident this year with a predominantly younger crowd making this punter (me!) feel quite old and out of place. No doubt it was the big international acts including the likes of The 1975, Charli XCX

As with most festivals anywhere the first people you see are the wonderful men and women in blue, and undercover, patrolling the streets for anti-social behaviour and drugs. Whether it’s right or wrong that’s a whole other debate but I’m not sure what people are thinking though when trying to get this stuff.

The weather outlook was hot and humid making it a tough day for punters, bands and crew. Fortunately the thunderstorms held off despite some light showers during the evening providing some very temporary relief. As a punter working out what to see is always the challenging part as inevitably there is always a timetable clash somewhere on the schedule. I think one of the highlights this year was the Girls Rock Stage in the Waterside Workers Hall. The Hall is an absolute gem of a venue, despite being more of a sauna with the humid weather, showcasing the talents of the wonderful Hatchie, Kucka, Lonelyspeck, Stacy Says, Shahrae, Stabbitha & The Knifey Wifeys and Katie Pomery.

Benee drew a big crowd and clearly this artist is on the rise with a slew of hits including the likes of Supalonely, Soaked, Find An Island, Evil Spider and Glitter. There’s no denying the talent of global sensation Tones & I (aka Toni Watson) who has clocked up a billion streams across all platforms. With the trademark tracksuit in tow she opens with Never Seen The Rain. Tones has come a long way in a short space of time even since her show at Lion Arts Factory last year. There’s some great songs in the armoury with Johnny Run Away, a cover of Chet Faker’s Drop The Game, The Kids Are Coming and the global conquering Dance Monkey.

Hockey Dad were huge on the main stage the crowd were really starting to let loose. These lads have some great tunes and it was great to hear songs off Blend Inn with big hit I Wanna Be Everybody proving to be a big winner. Other highlights for me were Homely Feeling and Seaweed. The band of the day for me were the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets. Woah! Holy smokes! These guys rule and it was the perfect pick me up to keep soldiering on for the next few hours. Keen For Kick Ons? and Found God In A Tomato were superb moments in a set that felt way to short. Kudos to these guys playing with full gusto even with the sun literally smacking them in the face.

The DMA’s are one of my favourite bands and there’s no doubt that there’s bigger things in front of them overseas this year with their new album The Glow set for major chart action. I really dig new tunes Silver and Life Is A Game Of Changing but it’s the set staples of Play It Out, Lay Down and Delete that really does show how good a festival band they are. Starting to suffer the effects of the hot and humid weather it was time to see what else was on offer. Ruel had a huge following on the main stage but West Thebarton were stirring up a storm on the Friends And Freedom Stage.

Hatchie! She’s wonderful! For me Hatchie should have been on the main stage but nevertheless her set on the Girls Rock Stage was fantastic. With so many great songs to choose from Without A Blush and Stay With Me and not so old singles Sleep, Sure and Sugar & Spice. It was great to have been able to sit down and watch her set in full. Coming in on the end of Ocean Alley who brought a chilled vibe to the main stage it was King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard who impressed me… a lot. These guys play with such manic ferocity it seemed like they made it rain to which it did. Opening with Self-Immolate and Perihelion from Infest The Rat’s Nest it was game on. It was great hearing the likes of The Great Chain Of Being and Sense. It was the back end of their set which was the holy shit moment. A trilogy of songs from the Murder Of The Universe album in Digital Black, Vomit Coffin and the title track to close their set. I seriously hope we see more of them this year.

Fortunately I did bring a two sided dice with me! Charli XCX or The Chats? The Chats won out for me and I definitely didn’t regret that choice one bit. The Chats mantra is don’t take yourself too seriously or try too hard at what you’re doing. It was a massive crowd at the Friends And Freedom Stage, probably overcrowd, with people trying to find the best vantage point to see classics such as Smoko, Mum Stole My Darts, Pub Feed and Identity Theft. The Clap was for those by raise of hands admitted to having one or more STD’s and I think new songs 4573, Do What I Want, Ross River and Billy Backwash’s Day from the forthcoming album High Risk Behaviour suggests we’ll be hearing a heck of a lot more from them over the coming months.

With The 1975 left to see everything that could possibly ache did and not even a twelve pack of Voltaren Rapid would have helped. The 1975 are a class act and it was good to see that they didn’t compromise on their full stage production. There was a sense of anticipation about their set considering they have a new album Notes On A Conditional Form is about to drop in April. Will we get a preview? Yes, yes, yes we did! Opener People was one and Me & You Together Song was another. The fans got the hits in Chocolate, Sex, Give Yourself A Try, TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME, Love If We Made It and The Sound.

It was a slow stagger back to the car for the drive home and I definitely won’t miss long queues as well as the hustle and bustle of getting around at Laneway. It was a solid day’s music and now it’s time to start speculating on what will be St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2021.

Live Review By Rob Lyon