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SLIP DOWN THE ALLEYWAY // CHRIS GOES TO LANEWAY

Monday, February 21st, 2011 by Chris

Laneway Festival

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Cultural Centre, Northbridge.
12/2/2011

By Chris Wheeldon

The Big Day Out one weekend, Laneway the next, never a dull moment in Perth. The difference between the two festivals is mammoth not only in punters but also in bands and the mentality of the day.

Laneway is a hipster and wannabe hipster’s paradise. A place where indie kids can shrug shoulders with original indie kids, a place where the day counts but it seems the music is much more important.

Set in the wonderful surrounds of the Cultural Centre, Fringe World glistened in the sunshine and the newly renovated urban garden created the perfect backdrop.

After finishing a quick stint on radio and dodging my way through the bike race taking place through Northbridge I walked in to catch the end of The Antlers. A band that recorded are a cavalcade of sounds and melodies, live they struggled to convey the complexity of their recordings.

Violent Soho, over on The PICA stage however had no sense of complexity. Instead they were straight up ballsy rock and roll. Harking back to the sound of Nirvana and Magic Dirt, this Brisbane band leave little room for your ears to recover and it was only 4pm.

Over on the Frances Street stage there seemed to be a bottle neck as people clambered for shade and to get a sight of the wonderful women of Warpaint. Brooklyn in a nutshell, this four-piece sound checked away lulling people into the belief the show had started. When it did the swelling crowd were treated to a tribal, bass filled set of songs that echoed through the afternoon air.

Dashing off to check Menomena I was surprised at the small size of the crowd. One of last year’s finest albums should have indicated higher interest but the extra space was wonderful. They set about a well-crafted and extremely enjoyable forty-minute set. Musicians in every sense this five piece dance about instruments and sounds that bellow from their arrangements.

I set in for a couple of hours at the PICA stage as the sun began to set. PVT began their final show of a very long tour in true form. This was a show form the Sydney boys that they had clearly been looking forward to. Their energy, passion and talent oozed from the stage and into the hearts of a growing crowd.

Blonde Redhead boasted the most impressive resume of all the bands on Laneway this year and their set showed their pedigree. Decked out in white the New York natives created a wall of sound that filled the amphitheatre, bouncing back off the library glass. Standing in that wall of sound is the best way to listen to Blonde Redhead, their music and melodies grip you and envelope you as they dance around on stage.

Les Savy Fav leave nothing on stage when they play. Word spreads quickly when things get crazy. It took Les Savy Fav half a song before singer Tim Harrington was off. He dived into the crowd and managed through forty minutes to see every inch of his audience. Technically the show suffered a little but this band put a smile on your face that goes nowhere until they leave.

Elsewhere, Arial Pink’s Haunted Graffiti played to a massive crowd treating them to, not just a musical feast but a show, costumes and lights and dancing. Glam is not dead.

Holy Fuck took off on the PICA stage. Their intricately woven sounds show a complexity that most mathematicians would struggle with. This was one of those shows that to really enjoy you had to be involved. This is not a band that will engage you with witty banter but instead tear your head off with electronic music that you may never hear unless Holy Fuck were in front of you.

Deerhunter finished my evening with their treble filled aural explosion. Catching the last few tracks of their set they seemed a little washed out and at times their drummer battled with timing. Bradford Cox owned the stage even if he struggled to think of ‘anything cool to say’. However it seem that they may have played one too many shows in recent times, they seemed tired and little ready to head back home.

As the hipsters and crew headed off into the night, perhaps to forget they were hipsters and revert back to their bogan credentials, the indie fest that is Laneway provided an oasis for the festival going audience. It’s interesting how successful music festivals can be when they concentrate providing good music.

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