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Laneway Festival 2019 came to a new home and exhibited it's most eclectic lineup to date

It was a triumphant success in new surrounds.

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Image source: 
David Harris

Laneway’s always been the cool kid. Housed in a venue full of old-school charm and grit, the festival showcases the best alternative talent that one can string together for a day out in the peak summer sun. It’s like a block party thrown by some rich, benevolent madman, with the same exact music taste as you.
 
There’s been a venue change this year though, and with it the dynamic evolved too. From the bitumen that ran along the Maribyrnong at Footscray Community Arts Centre, we now have an open Parklands at Footscray Park. There’s more room to move, but the heart and soul of the old Laneway remains. 
 
Ruby Fields, who took to the LNWY.CO stage early, had punters moshing from the first strum of ‘I Want’. Most of her tunes attracted plenty of singalongs, and her quips and jokes in between kept things lighthearted through deeply personal track-matter. She finished on track number nine in the Hottest 100, ‘Dinosaurs’, to loud and infectious applause. Her guitarist also deserves a mention here – he was an absolute maniac with the axe. Trading riffs and licks at every opportunity, before at one-point jumping on top of the kick drum up the back to serenade the drummer. A surefire start to the day. 
 
Over at the Future Classic stage were Mansionair, a mix of ambient synth-pop and indie electronic rock. With just three members, it’s almost hard to believe how huge their sound was. Limitless soundscapes were carved out by an electric kit, keys and a guitar. It thumped to the point where singer and guitarist Jack Froggart gave into the catharsis and danced all over stage. His vocal gymnastics over the huge swerving beats beggared belief, and his ethereal falsetto felt almost Matt Corby-esque. 
 
From there, it was over to Byron Bay’s Skegss to raise some hell, kicking off the surf rock carnage with ‘Smogged Out’. Everyone loved them, the air erupting with screams of “Cause I fucking hate it here.” Becoming something of a festival staple, the Skegss boys relished their reputation as jokesters, preferring not to take anything too seriously. For instance, patrons lifted a bin up into the air with someone in it, and surfed it all the way to the stage. In response, bassist Toby Cregan decided to set the bin up as one of the members, donning it with a mic.
 
Then it was time to take things down a notch, and leap into the world of Masego. His sultry genre-bending tunes hit notes you didn’t think you could hear. His track ‘Tadow’ for example, hit the waves and borrowed the ears, refusing to give them back. The saxophone he caressed cried at times, but it was all strung together with an insatiably catchy groove. 
 
New York City rockers Parquet Courts delivered a much-needed shock to the system. They opened with ‘Total Football’, showcasing an infectious punk energy. The crowd ate it up, moshing and bouncing through the break-neck set. The sendoff, ‘Wide Awake’, was a visceral garage-funk virus that moved the legs and arms, the only cure being to dance. 
 
Heading towards the end of the day, it was time for hometown hero Courtney Barnett to take stage, rollicking through old favourites like ‘Elevator Operator’ to new tracks like ‘City Looks Pretty’. Everything was peppered with Barnett’s trademark grunginess, of course, and she wrapped up the set with ‘Pedestrian At Best’ - a good ol’ Barnett faithful. 
 
As the evening drew to a close, it was time for Gang of Youths, a set that was nothing short of triumphant. Packed as far as the eye could see, frontman Dave Le’aupepe strummed the opening chords to ‘Fear and Trembling’, emerging, to the relief of the crowd, through the smoke. Le’aupepe has a thing for naked candor; apparent in his confessional lyricism, his emotional dedication to his father before playing ‘The Heart Is a Muscle’, and the way he conversed with the crowd like a trusted confidant. 
 
‘Magnolia’ drew cries and screams of adoration from the crowd, while Le’aupepe leapt onto them and surfed a sea of outstretched arms. They closed with ‘The Deepest Sighs And The Frankest Shadows’ and ‘Say Yes To Life’. The band performed with huge waves of emotion, catharsis and a real love for music that seemed the only right note to end on. 
 
Highlight: The unexpected loves. In this case, Mansionair and Masego.
 
Lowlight: Confused weather – cold sometimes and even rain. But still enough heat to give your pale mate sunburn.
 
Crowd Favourite: The operatic rock performance from Gang of Youths.