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10 things we learnt at Laneway Festival Sydney

ADAM LEWIS spent the day at Laneway dashing between stages and somehow still had energy to go to the afterparty. Here are 10 important lessons he learnt from the day.


1. Women ruled at Laneway 2015

Sure, women having a huge representation on a festival’s main stages shouldn’t be a big deal, but in such a testosterone-driven festival market Laneway’s lineup is worth celebrating. From the gorgeous country-rock of Angel Olsen to forward-thinking, electronic pop from Banks and FKA Twigs, the main stages were dominated by incredible women. Not coincidentally, it was arguably also the summer’s best lineup. Nice one, Laneway!

2. We don’t really know (or care) what genre Laneway is anymore

Laneway’s origins are as a boutique “indie” festival full of niche acts, but the festival has come a long way and is all the better for it. Instead of being linked by similar sounds, the acts all kept a mutual sense of adventure, with forward-thinking approaches found in all corners of the festival site – whether they came from pop, rock, hip-hop, dance, or something else entirely. It was the festival’s most diverse lineup yet, and this meant that the festival stayed interesting for its 11-hour length.

3. Mac DeMarco is a cult of personality

Mac’s oddball bedroom-pop is wonderful on record, but still doesn’t quite explain just how he so dominated Laneway festival. It really needs to be seen in the flesh. His afternoon set in front of a huge audience was an absolute riot, complete with crowdsurfing, on-stage makeouts, guest spots from Kirin J Callinan and Connan Mockasin, and an infectious energy that ran thoughout the whole thing. He was busy crowdsurfing during Future Islands, his mother riled up the crowd as an MC, and the festival site was covered in folks wearing his shirts. Mac was inescapable.

4. Jungle are nothing but good vibes

It’s only been six months since they were here for a show at Oxford Art Factory, but Jungle are now a huge deal. Their mid-afternoon set was just the jump-start that everyone needed, sending out percussion-heavy disco rhythms throughout a main stage that only got more and more crowded as they went along. It was the most infectious, instantly likeable set of the day, and a surprise late-set appearance from Vic Mensa only made it better.

5. FKA Twigs and St. Vincent are here to save us

When FKA Twigs ended her set, it felt for a moment like the only conversations to be had were through knowing looks. People were speechless. For 45 minutes, she made the stage her own, mixing a perfectly formed, almost otherworldly presence with a flawless live performance that made her feel miles ahead of the pop music curve that she’s carving out for herself right now. Following that, St. Vincent shredded her way through a set that pushed the boundaries of rock n’ roll, with her quietly futuristic, Bowie-inspired stage presence. It was great music and even greater theatre, giving the festival another of the huge personalities that made the day so satisfying.

6. We’re embracing our rougher edges

For a while there, a lot of Australia’s emerging music seemed almost ashamed of its share-house origins, but some of our most interesting new artists have moved past that. The unashamedly local Courtney Barnett played a huge afternoon set that previewed much of her new record while Peter Bibby made for a great opener on the Mistletone stage. Charmingly Australian, their stories are both packed with local references, slang and humour – and they just happen to also be two of our best new songwriters.

7. Laneway has grown into its festival site wonderfully

Every year Laneway seems to get a little bigger, but this year it felt like they’d well and truly nailed it. From the queues in, to the excellent food selection, to the plentiful buses home, everything ran like clockwork. There was little in the way of congestion, the stages all sounded great… and all this with a sold-out audience. It made for a great mood around the site that carried well into the night, and that makes all the difference at a packed summer festival.

8. The Mistletone stage is classic Laneway

While the festival has sprawled into the park around it, the Mistletone stage has, under a number of names, remained a constant at the festival. Whether it was a punishingly intense set from Perfect Pussy, a massive psychedelic victory lap for Pond, or Caribou’s absolutely rammed late-evening set, the programming on the Mistletone stage shared the same adventurous, indie-focused streak that defined the festival in its early days.

9. The festival ended on a high

All of the stages ended in spectacular ways this year. On the main stage, Flight Facilities created a huge party with help from Owl Eyes and Vic Mensa, backing up a massive year with an awesome homecoming set. Meanwhile, Flying Lotus was mindblowing on the Mistletone stage. His 3D visuals were stunning, perfectly complementing a set that somehow balanced his jazz and experimental tendencies into a big, celebratory closing set.

10. After the show is the afterparty!

With 11 hours of bands, a capacity crowd, and the summer sun, Laneway can be an exhausting experience. But if you can pace yourself, get a ticket to their afterparties – they are becoming legendary. This year, Future Islands did double duties with an hour-long midnight set to a packed out Oxford Art Factory, while Mac DeMarco and Connan Mockasin teamed up for a DJ set that involved a stage full of shirtless guys, on-stage makeouts, crowd surfing, and heaps of Yacht Rock. With almost a week until the next festival, the place was packed with artists and crew partying long into the night, making it a wonderfully loose way to end this year’s Sydney leg.