St Jeromes Laneway Festival @ Bonython Park, Adelaide 10/2/2023

After an agonising three year absence Laneway 2023 edition was an incredibly welcome return and an indie lover’s dream. So many varied styles of indie music made for an excellent day and the 29-degree weather was perfect. The lineup was so good I wish I had ventured interstate to catch another one like I used to do in the Big Day Out days to be able to see all the acts.

First up was Adelaide’s own Coldwave who was the Triple J Unearthed winner to play at Laneway and sounded so good on a big stage. I have seen them before and after a brilliant set today I can not wait to see them again. Their inspired dual guitar and trumpet sounded both melodic and abrasive at the same time. This six piece deservedly needs to appear on some big stages again in the near future. Their Same Window, Different House EP has just been released and they played all the songs from it as well as their first two cracker singles Watch It and Plagiarise.

Second up was JACOTÉNE who was the Triple J Unearthed High winner who to me was a pleasant surprise. She sounded like a cross between Meg Mac and Amy Winehouse and like Coldwave I expect big things for her future with her soulful husky powerful voice and catchy beats. I Need Therapy was excellent and I can’t wait for it to be released on streaming platforms.

After a break, I saw The Lazy Eyes from Sydney on the main stage. They really impressed me when I saw them last year at the Crown and Anchor and then supporting The Strokes later in Sydney. They played most of the songs from their 2022 SongBook debut album as well as an interesting cover of the Bee Gees More than a Woman, I love their Psychedelic Rock sound and the highlight was Fuzz Jam which has an incredibly catchy bass riff and was one of my highlights from 2021.

Yard Act, from Leeds UK, told us they travelled a long way and the most appreciative crowd was very grateful they did. Yard Act along with Phoebe Bridgers was the two stand-out acts amongst some excellent acts. Yard Act’s album, The Overload, is outstanding but live they are actually more powerful. They remind me of a post-punk version of The Fall. I love their British humour and their driving bass, guitar and drums on tracks like The Overload and Payday. They saw someone in the audience dressed up as a character called Graham from their videos and got him up on stage for Fixer Upper which was a highlight. They seemed so happy to be here in Australia and only this year as a thank you to us started including a top-notch cover of Aussie Band “Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s which way to go (who incidentally played at Laneway in 2010). They told us that 100% Endurance was about the very reason we were here today in that we should all enjoy ourselves while we can. They ended their exceptional set with The Trapper’s Pelts from their 2021 EP.

Next up was The Beths from Auckland NZ who highlighted their latest album Expert is a Dying Field. I feel that the title track from this album was criminally overlooked in the triple j hottest countdown last month. I love the Beths and they put on a forty-five-minute set that was a vibrant and energising display of power pop. Liz Stokes is a great singer and songwriter. Highlights were Silence is Golden and Knees Deep from the latest album and I’m Not Getting Excited from the 2020 Jump Rope Gazers album.

A quick walk over to Everything Ecstatic stage to see the crazy 100 gecs from Missouri USA which consists of Laura Les and Dylan Brady. I was quite surprised at their popularity at Laneway. I thought they were a niche band but I was wrong as there was a huge crowd of dedicated fans cheering their name before they went on stage. Most of the released songs were huge singalongs with the audience. Their new album is released in a month and the new songs were all very well received. 100 gecs play a high-intensity form of dance music which sounds like a fast version of video game music. In fact, Laura’s electronically treated vocals remind me of the character GLaDOS, in the video game Portal. They have such fun songs and the highlights were mememe and Doritos & Fritos.

On the main stage was Girl in Red (Marie Ulven Ringheim) from Norway who put on the most spirited performance of the day. She dived into the audience while singing bad idea! and the crowd held her up and gently returned her to the front. Her band dressed in black and ably supported her and echoed the energy she displayed. She has some amazing songs and some of these were we fell in love in october and dead girl in the pool which seemed the most popular with her large fan base in Adelaide. The set ended with the song, I wanna be your girlfriend, which started her career when she uploaded it to Soundcloud in 2016.

Fred again.. was up next for me on the main stage after I had a break and he was a revelation. Fred Gibson had an illustrious career before he stepped on the stage. He wrote hits for Ed Sheeran, George Ezra and Clean Bandit. In 2019 he started releasing his own music under the moniker Fred again and he has been getting bigger ever since. The songs were performed by Fred and his friend Tony as DJ. The sound system sounded incredible and the crowd were going crazy to every song. This was the biggest crowd of the day and the only time it was a little hard to get a great vantage spot. Fred had four songs like Jungle and Turn on the Lights again in this year’s triple j hottest 100 and they were definitely the most well-received. Angie (I’ve Been Lost) sounded brilliant and sampled Angie McMahon’s Pasta after he saw her perform it in a small club a few years ago. The set ended with the absolute bangers Marea, Billie and Delilah and one wonders how huge Fred Again could get in the future

Phoebe Bridgers from the US was up next and I have been waiting to see her perform for a few years and was absolutely not disappointed. What I witnessed was a brilliant performance. Phoebe has the gift of a beautiful voice that matches her songwriting skills. It is clear that she loves her audience as much as they love her. Most of the set was from her recent album Punisher but I was very happy to hear Motion Sickness which started the set and Scott Street from her first album Stranger in the Alps. Phoebe is an artist that employs a full band that recreates her songs wonderfully. Kyoto was played and dedicated to her late father. Phoebe played a song called Emily I’m Sorry which she played solo. This song was a preview of her latest boygenius side project and by herself, Phoebe was no less powerful. I Know the End was the perfect song to end her set. It begins slowly and then the pace quickens and explodes reminding me of a few Sufjan Stevens songs.

I headed straight to see Fontaines D.C. on the Lion Arts Factory Stage and missed the first five songs as it was impossible for me to leave Phoebe early but luckily Fontaines D.C. played my favourites towards the end of their set. The band is from Dublin and sounded perfect tonight. Most of their songs have a wall-of-sound vibe with monotone vocals from Grian Chatten who sounds similar to Ian Curtis from Joy Division. Their intensity is revealed in many of the songs like A Hero’s Death which reminded me of The Strokes. The super catchy Jackie Down the Line was a highlight of the set and a favourite of mine from last year. The penultimate song was the heart-thumping and hypnotic Boys in the Better Land from the first album and is an absolute corker. At this time I am looking at my watch thinking their time is up and they won’t play my absolute favourite of theirs which is I Love You from their latest album. Thankfully they start playing it and it is superb. I can not wait to see this band again one day.

Lastly, on the Lion Arts Factory stage, I saw the magnificent Turnstile from Baltimore US. Another fantastic choice by the Laneway programmers. Turnstile describe themselves as hardcore but there are punk and nu-metal overtones in their overall sound. Their songs are usually short and intense. The opener MYSTERY, BLACKOUT and HOLIDAY all from their latest album sounded amazing and were very appreciated by the crowd. The guitar riffs in UNDERWATER BOI and DON’T PLAY were exceptional. There were no mediocre songs in their set and it ended with TLC also from the 2021 album Glow On, a great end to this year’s Laneway.

I thank Port Adelaide for hosting Laneway for all those years but a festival on grass is so much better in my opinion and Bonython Park was perfect. There were plenty of toilets and food options and it was super easy to get from one stage to another. Bring on 2024 Laneway!

Laneway Review By Richard De Pizzol

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