This year’s Hottest 100 had more Australian artists that ever before – a full two-thirds – and Laneway 2017 boasted a similarly Aussie-heavy line-up. The crossover between the two institutions is significant, and as Julia Jacklin serenaded early arrivals, it was no surprise to hear a reprise of her Like A Version cover of The Stroke’s ‘Someday’. Swaying back and forth to her winsome set was a suitably mellow way to start the day.
After that it was time to explore the site and find a spot of shade on a warm day. Thankfully the temperature was down from some of the dangerously hot past editions, but with the main stages looking out over a parking lot some relief was needed.
As always, the coolest spot to hang out was the Vitalstatistix hub in the Waterside Workers Hall. This year it was like walking into Tim Burton’s imagination as gothic peroxide blondes wandered around and a craft table offered punters the choice of wedding or funeral veils.
Camp Cope’s introspective indie rock is the perfect soundtrack to a hot Summer day spent trying to find the energy to get off the couch, so when Nao followed them onstage it came as a shock. The slinky beats seemed better suited to a late night slot and the physical effect of the bass was palpable, rattling the nearby sheds. Still, the soaring vocals and lush sounds announced that it was dance o’clock.
Now that we were awake, it was time to once again venture away from the main stages. A.B. Original played the role of festival MCs and Adelaide boy Trials took particular joy in introducing some other local heroes. Bad//Dreems’ hypermasculine music is anything but subtle, and it’s best heard live and very loud. The beefed up pub rock is the soundtrack of summers past and by the time they were a couple of songs in, the crowdsurfing was underway. Songs like the vitriolic ‘Mob Rule’ are made to be yelled out at the top of the lungs and throughout their raucous set, there was as much energy coming from the crowd as the band.
Tash Sultana exists on another plane entirely, and provided one of the festival highlights. Alone onstage, she switched between instruments with ease as she looped layer upon layer of Eddie Hazel guitars and beatboxing, hopping around onstage with a cheeky grin the whole time. When she unleashed her beatific voice, the effect was incredible and the fact that she looked as excited as anyone in the crowd to be at Laneway only made it more special.
A.B. Original were always going to give a highly charged performance, but when they got the crowd chanting “fuck the police”, it was clear they were not holding back at all. Like almost every other act, they included a Like A Version song, and Caiti Barker helped them out on ‘Dumb Things’ before they closed things out with the anthemic ‘January 26’. There’s a place for angsty post-breakup songs and dumb fun, but the political lyrics provided an important counterpoint to the other acts. The fact that the g-funk bangers were still fun to dance to is a hell of an achievement and it’ll be good to see these guys at more festivals very soon.
Dumb fun definitely describes Dune Rats, who on the day of their record release officially took Frenzal Rhomb’s old position as the band most likely to leave dazed punters and a pile of unclaimed shoes in their wake. They invited a fan up for a champagne shoey, started a hell of a moshpit and generally caused enough of a ruckus to make sure that no one missed Young Thug too much.
Nick Murphy was far more restrained, and despite the recent name change essentially played a Chet Faker set. The scheduling meant there weren’t any other strong drawcards at the same time and it sounded pleasant enough without being terribly engaging.
Throughout the day, rock and electronic acts rubbed shoulders and headliners Tame Impala neatly brought both worlds together. Winding up their ‘Currents’ tour, they played plenty of songs from that album, a heavy disco feel permeating the dreamy, blissful vocals and gauzy guitars. While we all danced away, confetti cannons showered us as we enjoyed another great Australian act and found a reason to celebrate the weak Australian dollar.
Photography by Nigel Liefrink