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LANEWAY FESTIVAL 2014

ONE OF MELBOURNE'S BEST

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By James Cerche
2nd February 2014
St Jerome's Laneway is one of the best festivals. While not as boutique as the likes of Golden Plains or Meredith, the variety of genre acts and left-field personalities allows for a diverse, engaging experience that very often pre-empts the year's musical fashions by allowing audiences to come to grips with new sounds and growing movements. Now in its tenth year, Laneway has curated another stellar lineup that is pleasantly dominated by the fairer sex. Booking serval all-girl bands and numerous groups fronted by women allowed for a spectacular showcase of local and international female talent.

CLIENT LIAISON
Beginning the day with Client Liaison was always going to be a rewarding choice. These guys are two of the most dedicated 80s fanatic revivalists that one could ever hope to encounter. A simple two piece, they rely on carefully crafted drum, bass and synth backing tracks while frontman Monte Morgan channels every single minute of an entire decade in his vocal and physical performance. Wide leg pants, pink shirts, double-breasted blazers and a gloriously permed mullet are backed up by Dad's dance moves and a voice equally parts Prince and Farnham. The performance is loving and detailed to the delight of a small but enthralled crowd. Be there when their debut record drops later this year. Highly recommended.

DRENGE
By far the loudest act of the day; Drenge are a pair of British lads who specialise in bursting eardrums with their bludgeoning percussion work and feedback-soaked guitar crunching. The droning riff work is pretty badass and they got a few heads knocking during the 45 minute sonic assault. The whole affair began to wane toward the end of the set due to lack of vocal variations. It's likely that fans with a familiarity of the material would have a more engaging time.

KIRIN J CALLINAN
“Hello. I'm Kirin. We're going to make as much noise as we can for the next 40 minutes. Feel free to contribute.” It's no great secret that this reviewer has been particularly enamoured with Mr Callinan and his antics since their first encounter mid-2013, and today provides no exception. This is the Kirin at the height of his powers. Having toured his debut record 'Embracism' extensively overseas since his last local appearance, the show is feeling more confident and refined than ever before. The backing band, Boy (Dave Jenkins Kr) and Boy Boy (Tex Crick), are in perfect sync on percussion and synth/bass/treatments respectively while Kirin plays MC to the massing 2pm crowd. Ripping through the majority of the album, the trio are tight, lithe and impossible not to watch from the first rhythmic crack of 'Stretch It Out' to the final refrain of 'Love Delay'. Perfect.

LORDE - ROYALS

SAVAGES
Badass, post-punking Savages had a tough job under sweltering conditions but managed to deliver another set of electrifying all-girl-alt-rock. Dressed in black from head to toe (save some shiny red heels), the ladies were unperturbed by the uncomfortable conditions and playing with their trademark tension and control in tact.

For an in-depth look at Savages, you can also check out my review of their Laneway Festival sideshow.

DICK DIVER
Local favourites, Dick Diver pulled a large and enthusiastic crowd to the front over at the River Stage while the rest of the onlookers observed from the comfort of the hill. Tracks from last year's excellent 'Calender Days' provide appropriate summer listening with their jangly guitars and pop hooks. The band are in typical larrikin form, cajoling each-other between tracks and promising an appearance from “Lordy” at the climax of their set.

CHVRCHES
A power outage quickly halts Glaswegian synth-pop stars in their tracks, bringing the main stage to silence, to the shock of the day's largest crowd. For 15 minutes techs wrestle with the equipment while the audience cheers encouragement every time they wrangle some noise out of the speakers. Finally the band returns to the stage, Lauren Mayberry remarking that “this is live music... so it's kind of what you paid for” before promising that the band will do their best to get back on track. Hook-laden singles like 'Gun' and 'The Mother We Share' achieve rousing responses as the band pour plenty of energy into reviving their set.

KURT VILE
Kurt Vile greets the River Stage punters from under a mop of black hair to rival Lorde, airing choice cuts from including the nine minute title track from 'Wakin On A Pretty Daze'. Unfortunately the sound on this stage has been problematic all day and the vocals clash with some poorly-handled guitar mixes. As a result, the band doesn’t manage to achieve the easy psychedelic charm and garage tones of their recorded output, their appearance coming off as less than inspiring.

LORDE
Doubtlessly one of the most anticipated sets of the festival for many, a large crowd assembled at the main stage to see just what the double Grammy-winning 17-year-old from New Zealand was capable of. The resulting 50 minute set was triumphant (her equipment featured a Grammy sticker over the usual glowing Apple of the onstage laptop), sassy and sounded a million bucks. Mixed to perfection and in conjunction with live kit and sample players, Lorde sung herself into ecstasy. Her intriguing twitching persona is already perfectly honed and accentuates the killer production of her electronic backing. All the singles are here and they sound great; “I thought you'd be a bit louder Melbourne,” she chides confidently. “I'm sure you can all get down to this one”. For a young act of monumental hype, Lorde delivered in spades in this live arena. It's certainly very exciting to ponder where she might decide to steer her career from here.

WARPAINT
Following Warpaint's headline set at the Moreland Stage, head Growler/Pond/Tame Impala bassist Cam Avery took to instagram, praising the band for possessing “actually the best rhythm section around”. After seeing them, it feels hard to argue. The hypnotic power that these four ladies were able to conjure was spellbinding. Roomy and seductive, the band lock into one tasty groove after another. Trading vocals around each member of the band, tracks from the self-titled sophomore record go down a treat in the dark but still pleasantly warm laneway. 'Love Is To Die' demonstrates their vocal pop breaks astride the grooving bass lines and noodling guitar and synth lines. A relaxed, engrossing end to the festival.

Virtually always dickhead-free, St Jerome's Laneway is a definite keeper and comes highly recommended for an enriching, low-key day out.

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