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Laneway Festival

St Jeromes Laneway Festival, Sydney 2015

Celebrating ten years of Laneway. Embracing the vast diversity of indie music. God bless Laneway forefathers Jerome Borazio and Danny Rogers for the incredibly insightful vision first realized in Caledonian Lane Melbourne in 2005. I salute you.

However stellar the entire line up this year, a handful of artists shone particularly for me, and without a doubt for so many others too.

Following my experience at Laneway this year, there are a few additional acts I’d like to mention briefly. It’s impossible to engulf everything at a music festival that celebrates the diversity of so many worthy acts, and I am more than confident that I missed a number of just such an opportunity.



Ms Maidza filled in for Lykke Li at this year’s Laneway. Li’s loss was Maidza’s gain, and she used the golden opportunity to the full.

This talented Zimbabwean born Adelaide teenager emcee, lyricist, singer and rapper, was an absolute pocket rocket on stage and a treat to watch in action. I knew she’d have the whole crowd literally jumping and it’s not just because I happen to be a fan OR because my son has seen her live thrice because she’s just that good… Well, maybe.

Her performance could be described as a fusion of dance floor celebrated rap and dance R&B, highlighted with impossibly soulful vocals for one so young. Her set consisted of insane beats and drops, solid bass, rap, perfectly pitched vocals and the more than occasional swinging the old hair back and forth… (The girl’s got some serious length going on). She had very good reason to look so confident during her performance. She just so happens to be an absolute natural, and more than equipped to manage a festival crowd. She was having an absolute ball up on stage, a gorgeous grin from ear to ear from beginning to end. I couldn’t help but return the smile as I looked up toward her in admiration, such a breath of fresh air.

You only had to recall her popular track titles themselves to have understood a real party was about to take place at the Red Bull stage. Her hyper fans only turned more hyper when she introduced her popular U-huh track. I wish I’d had a video recorder at the ready because I would’ve loved to have images in motion of the new outdoor nightclub Ms Maidza had just single handedly created.

Just as I thought things couldn’t get any crazier, Ms Maidza broke into Brontosaurus, and I’m not entirely sure what happened after that. I’m having trouble remembering. I might have blacked out momentarily. All I can tell you is that I too had suddenly found myself ‘stomping’ my feet hard and fast against the ground beneath me, like a bloody brontosaurus. Did I feel silly I hear you ask? Well no. I would’ve felt sillier if I hadn’t been stomping my feet like a bloody brontosaurus, because I would’ve been the very only one NOT stomping my feet like a bloody brontosaurus. I can’t be sure, but I think the earth shook.

Switch Lanes is one of the songs I voted for in the Triple J top 100, so you can well imagine how happy I was when my girl Tkay sang it live for me. I didn’t get the chance to thank her. I hope she gets to read this.

This track, as all others, was delivered flawlessly; she’d scooped up the frantic crowd in the palm of her little hand. I recall questioning how one so tiny could use the entire stage at all times, and at such a pace – a reflection of the incredible energy she oozed. Enough to continually pass on to an already manic crowd, with a great deal of spunk to boot.

Tkay Maidza is invigorating but composed, and clearly not willing to fall into the same trap as many of her contemporaries, consciously maintaining much dignity in the process and basically keeping it real. Tasteful that is.


(ALBUM: OUR LOVE October 2014)

I had voted for the single Our Love in the Triple J top 100 and had felt both privileged and thrilled to see its author perform it live at Laneway.

Also, I was more than a little intrigued to observe an actual Doctorate in Mathematics recipient, whose real name happens to be Daniel Victor Snaith, hop up on stage at Laneway under the guise of Caribou and apply his electronica mastery. How often does that happen?

What I had found was a man who has gained global recognition through his elegant, luscious, refined, divine and terribly infectious music - but who still stood before us all with apparent modesty. His spirited and stunning creations have fuelled the power to connect so many fans feverishly wearing down dance floors worldwide, and that’s no happy accident. As it was no happy accident that on this day at Laneway, there remained literally no standing space BEFORE he appeared on stage. But I found one. Right up front too. Just the way I like it.

Seven albums in and this genius just knows what he’s doing. It was clear to us all on the day. I’m notreferringto his knack for crunching numbers either. The enthusiasts were there to party with one of the most anticipated acts of the day, which they did.

When Caribou and his three accompanying musicians lit the fuse to release Our Love into the stratosphere, suffice to say the Caribou loving devotees were beyond euphoric. Well a million and one hands in the air can’t be wrong. Well, maybe at least a few hundred on this occasion…

When you imagine what was on stage during all of this, guitars, a few synths, a couple of drum kits, and a bunch of microphones, you can appreciate the unparalleled talent involved to achieve every sound expressed… Let alone a whole synchronised set to impress. Unworldly ability. Caribou led his own vocals, always a little delicate and understated, not at all extroverted. The crowd didn’t seem to mind at all though; they were too busy moving to the music. An overwhelming vibe ruled the whole set. I might have mentioned that. I thought Our Love really locked the tone, but I Can’t Do Without You took it to a whole other level.

Truly an exhilarating set, and I am of the strong conviction that many of the Laneway fans will more than likely seek out Caribou again at one of his upcoming sideshows.


(ALBUM: DOWN TO EARTH October 2014)

This Sydney based producer duo, Hugo Gruzman and James Lyell, have mastered the dreamlike electronic pop/indie pop pairing, effectually. Their obvious talent has gained momentum and deserved recognition internationally. Having been invited to South by Southwest, Austin Texas in 2013 was no happy accident. Our Sydney lads have done us proud.

The ordinarily elusive team did draw an astonishing crowd at the Park Stage. The fans were achingly impatient and extremely revved, all on board and ready to fly.

As the intro to their album sounded through the speakers, we knew it was time to take off. We were treated to what we’ve already come to love, from their first song in 2010, Crave You to Two Bodies off their debut album, and everything in between.

Owl Eyes lent her vocals predominately throughout the set. Her soft, sweet voice has grown accustomed to wrapping itself around Flight Facilities’ music – which can be categorized as ethereal, dreamy, infectious and irresistible. Add on magic dance hooks, forcible pulsating beats, and at the very core lots of heart, simply stylish flowing and fluent pop. I did appreciate this and absorbed it like a thirsty sponge as all the others, who had surrendered to a continuum of dance right from the start.

However, I just felt it a great pity that Owl Eyes’ vocals might not have been strong or loud enough to layer itself just above the music, to enable further projection into the vast outdoor festival space.

Toward the latter end of the set, we were all treated to an unexpected surprise when, along with Owl Eyes, none other than Vic Mensa appeared on stage to perform Down On My Luck.

Tucked away neatly in the background, the boys were busy managing a few different decks, bending, looping, altering and mixing. In a word, cleverly creating unique sounding music for our pleasure.

The hugest disappointment arrived at precisely 10:01pm, when in the middle of Owl Eyes blissfully singing a tune; somebody switched a major ‘off ’ button at the main. No, I’m serious, there was no further sound – and you kind of need sound at a music festival, you know, for it to operate properly. I continued to watch poor little Owl Eyes on stage proceeding as normal, oblivious that her audience had lost all audio. Looking around at the crowd, I noticed the confusion spreading like a bad tweet gone viral. I did not however detect any angry brawls. Honestly, how classy and polite a crowd for having walked away peacefully, and waving sweet bye bye’s to Flight Facilities as they were doing so.

It was an unfortunate end to a set, particularly as the last on that stage for the day. It still remains unclear, but my assumption would be that the time frame allocated for the artist would need to be observed exactly. I still thought it terribly mean and bully like, not what one would expect in the customary fashion of festival spirit. Before I left, I did yell out toward the stage “so sorry guys, but we have to leave now…thank you!” You know, just to be courteous and make them aware. I really do hope they heard me.

Mary Di Matteo

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