The Internet get the crowd moving at Laneway Fremantle. Picture: Sara Hannagan

Review: St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Fremantle, 14 February 2016

7.5
You do you and I'll do me.

It was a perfect summer’s day as St Jerome’s Laneway Festival rolled into Fremantle on 14 February.

Punters were decked out in everything from monkey costumes to sandwich boards and safari suits – in keeping with the positive ‘you do you and I’ll do me’ ethos of the event.

Perth’s own Methyl Ethel got the crowd jumping early, while Metz thrashed their way through a short set – jolting many a bleary-eyed hipster awake.

New Yorkers DIIV (pronounced ‘dive’) were summery and fun, drawing a large crowd out of the shade with their chilled-out melodic rock, while DMA’s, out of Sydney, turned heads with their fuzzy, guitar-based sound.

Located at the tree-lined Esplanade Park, in the shadow of a 40-metre high ferris wheel and with a salty breeze wafting in from the nearby Indian Ocean, no one can dispute that Fremantle is one of Laneway’s finest venues.

Located at the tree-lined Esplanade Park, in the shadow of a 40-metre high ferris wheel and with a salty breeze wafting in from the nearby Indian Ocean, no one can dispute that Fremantle is one of Laneway’s finest venues.

The festival also sprawled into the grounds of the University of Notre Dame, in Freo’s historic West End.

This cute addition made for a nice change of scenery when visiting the Red Bull Music Academy Stage, although things got pretty sweaty on the tarmac in the midday sun.

The Fremantle Doctor arrived just in time, bringing the temperature down a few degrees as the action heated up.

Japanese Wallpaper charmed the pants off those who were jam-packed into the narrow street, with special guest Airling lending her voice to the mesmerising soundscapes created by Melbourne producer Gab Strum.

Things got heavy again with Fidlar, who played a sweet cover of Weezer’s Sweater along with their hit West Coast (there’s no track that screams ‘summer 2016’ louder).

Las Vegas native Shamir gained a whole lot of new fans with his spot on the Laneway bill. At just 21 years old, his music transcends genres and is an intoxicating mix of soul, R&B, house, disco and pop influences. Shamir’s skilful performance was a definite highlight and we’re betting he’ll be back in Australia before too long.

Big Scary looked right at home on the Ferris Wheel stage as the seasoned festival performers delivered a few new tracks as well as well-known hits like Gladiator.

The Internet delivered a blistering performance which included tracks from their latest album Ego Death, though the crowd was so lethargic lead singer Syd Internet had to ask if “y’all are asleep”.

There’s something about the Smith Street Band that sends Aussie fans into a frenzy. Masses of people jammed the Mistletone Stage as the loveable larrikins dropped song after song about life in the ‘burbs.

Hermitude were as solid as ever, massive beats pulsating as the sun dipped below the horizon.

Bass virtuoso and recent Grammy winner Thundercat impressed with his set which morphed into a non-stop jazz-funk jam session helped along by a supremely talented group of musicians.

Battles drew a small but enthusiastic crowd and those who came were rewarded with a rare display of highly technical prog rock experimentation, unlike any other act around today.

Grimes lit up the stage with her cartoonish electro-pop complete with dancers, pink and purple lighting and smoke machines galore.

It was quite a sight up close, but those up the back were content to sit around chatting and mainly ignoring what was going on up front. A few big screens either side of the main stage might have solved that problem and kept more people from tuning out so easily.

Beach House – possibly the most aptly named band there is – had people swaying and gazing at the moon during their dreamy set.

Unfortunately was hard to see them due to a severe lack of lighting but you get the feeling that’s how Beach House like it. They say your other senses are heightened when you can’t see, and Beach House sure sounded pretty sweet, with Victoria Legrand’s wailing vocals floating softly alongside rippling guitar and synth.

Critically acclaimed band-of-the-moment Chvrches were one of the most highly anticipated acts of the day, and gave an energetic performance with the animated Lauren Mayberry moving about the stage and connecting with fans, many of whom were on each other’s shoulders to get a glimpse.

The Glaswegian band played songs off their second album Every Open Eye and were chuffed to hear fans in the most isolated capital city in the world singing their lyrics right back to them.

Purity Ring were mysterious and enigmatic, as expected, with smooth, clean vocals set against heavy synth bass and electronic beats.

Vocalist Megan James was lucky not to get tangled as she weaved in and out of an elaborate vertically-hanging lighting setup, while producer and synth master Corin Roddick played a custom-made synth/percussion machine that lit up every time it was hit, adding to the spectacular light show.

It was a commanding performance by the duo, who make a surprisingly big sound for just two people.

It was a shame, then, that Purity Ring were scheduled at exactly the same time as Flume, with many a fan seen flitting frantically between the two stages.

During the half-set we managed to catch, Flume hit it out of the park with silky smooth beats, samples of some of the biggest names in music, plus a guest appearance by Perth’s own KUČKA.

No festival review would be complete without a mention of food, and we can report that there were plenty of quality food options and lines moved quickly – meaning less time waiting in line and more time enjoying the music.

Aside from the odd stumbling drunk and an unusually high number of fence jumpers (props to security who really had their work cut out) the atmosphere was pretty chilled.

All in all, the day was a winning celebration of music and individuality with a relaxed seaside vibe that only Freo can deliver.




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