Review: St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Fremantle 5 February 2017
“I truly believe this is the greatest Australian festival.”
No, that’s not St Jerome’s Laneway Festival founder Danny Rogers talking.
That’s Kevin Parker, frontman of 2017 festival headliners Tame Impala, on stage during the closing set of the very last Laneway instalment for the year.
Although ol’ Kev was a bit emotional during his hometown show in Fremantle, that has to be one of the best endorsements a festival organiser could hope for.
The event took over Fremantle’s Esplanade Reserve on Sunday, with a spacious layout in the shadow of the port city’s famous Norfolk pines.
The sun beat down on the capacity crowd until the late afternoon, but with plenty of watering holes around, plus a few sunscreen stations, it wasn’t too much of a problem.
Early risers got to enjoy locals Dream Rimmy as well as Adelaide pop talent Jess Kent who ended her set with the infectious Paces hit 1993 (No Chill), on which her vocals featured, and a roaring cover of Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name.
Melbourne garage rock sweethearts Camp Cope followed, drawing an instant crowd with their heartfelt tunes including Lost: Season One, Done and Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams.
For a band that’s never played in Perth before, they sure have some devoted fans. They left the stage to chants of “come back soon” – and we hope they do.
I truly believe this is the greatest Australian festival.
Sultana came out on top, drawing a massive crowd to the main stage for her set in the early afternoon sun.
Sweaty fans were rewarded with almost an hour of looping, beatboxing, improvisation and unbridled energy from the 21-year-old whose single Jungle reached number three in the recent Hottest 100 countdown.
There was plenty of flying beer as purveyors of stoner rock Dune Rats played songs from their new album The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit on the Spinning Top stage.
Thankfully, the Freo Doctor was right on time – a nice breeze wafting through the festival grounds as Gang of Youths appeared on the main stage.
Their set was an assault on the senses; their head-thrashing energy rousing tired festivalgoers out of their 4.30pm slump.
Energy levels only rose from there, with highly danceable sets from Sampa the Great – who more than lived up to her name – and A.B. Original, while Glass Animals brought some serious chest-pounding beats.
Norwegian flags flew for the highly animated and engaging Aurora whose ethereal presence and angelic voice made for some very classy power ballads. You had to miss part of Tame Impala’s set to catch her but it was worth every moment.
Despite the sweaty start to the day, plenty of energy was kept in reserve for the appearance of West Aussie world-beaters Tame Impala.
This was the last show of the band’s Currents tour, and mastermind Kevin Parker was clearly stoked to be capping it off with a home gig.
“How amazing is it to be playing in Fremantle again?” he said.
“This is a part of the world that’s very special to me.”
He added, cheekily: “I could walk home from here. I probably won’t.”
People didn’t just sit on their friends’ shoulders, they stood high as they took in tracks like Let It Happen and Apocalypse Dreams while Tame’s trademark psychedelic visuals unfolded behind.
Confetti exploded into the sky while Kevin and friends played the festival out with Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and New Person, Old Mistakes.
At that moment, under the twinkling lights of the Esplanade’s famous ferris wheel, Fremantle certainly was a very special part of the world.