Laneway Festival 2023 @ Wellington Square, Perth, 12.02.2023
I barely made it to see WA’s Siobhan Cotchin, due to the poor planning of how to enter the festival. I knew as a disabled person I couldn’t walk the 15 minutes from the carpark where you were allowed to be picked up and dropped off so I spent extra time finding a side street to be dropped at, The layout of the festival was really poorly planned and not at all accessible. Siobhan Cotchin lit up the stage with her country pop that created a really nice vibe to start the day with.
Tasman Keith then added a sense of realness and clarity with his rap that always stays earnest and authentic. I saw a brief part of the Lazy Eyes set, before standing in the line for the toilets, they were fun but an anti climax after Tasman.
The next act I saw was The Beths who were a great addition to the festival and brought their friendly indie punk and turned it up a notch. Phoebe Bridgers who was playing later was standing on the side of the stage watching The Beths.
Yard Act put on an exciting upbeat performance that should’ve been on later, closer to Fontaines D.C., it was a bit too early for people to really get into their blend of British spoken word-esque punk. There was also a sound issue, from the music blaring behind the bar near the stage drowning out the band. It’s unfortunate that at a festival in 2023 we couldn’t have had a little seating area near the stage even just for the earlier bands. I did apply for accessible seating but nobody responded to my enquiry and just as well, the “accessible” seating was a ramp that looked like it could barely cope with a wheelchair and was directly in the hot sun. I guess a shade cover is too much to ask. I sat on the ground for much of the festival, often getting trampled on or yelled at viciously by security to move. There was some seating near a few of the bar areas but nowhere near the music. In 2023 accessibility really should be higher on Laneway’s radar.
After Yard Act, The Backseat Lovers played. I remember their set being a big let down energy wise after the raucous Yard Act set. It was men playing Indie Rock and there was nothing very distinctive about the Backseat Lovers’s set.
I then saw Girl In Red who brought the energy back up, she really invested in getting the crowd hyped up while jumping around the stage and her blend of 90s meets early 00s pop rock suited the festival really well.
I went to see Slowthai but somehow ended up at the wrong stage so I saw The Jungle Giants accidentally, I have to say the front person’s falsetto vocals were on point, especially considering there were so many sounds happening at the festival at once, The Jungle Giants also brought out Sycco who had performed earlier to sing a few songs with them, unfortunately you could barely hear her. The Jungle Giants are a bit hyper pop for my liking but their enthusiasm towards the crowd and in general was really endearing. People in the crowd were complaining that the bass was too loud and The Jungle Giants apologised on stage, whoever was mixing their set definitely was creating a bit of chaos.
When I realized I was at the wrong stage, I quickly saw what remained of Slowthai’s set, which was still fortunately quite a lot. It was quite refreshing to hear his grimey UK hip hop after hearing mainly synth orientated music for the past few bands. Slowthai is full of cheeky charm and was trying to please the crowd by saying “F*ckin’ oath C*nt” in his very English accent. There were girls screaming for Slowthai, he handled the shrieks with a sweet slightly embarrassed subtlety. There was quite a big gap between Slowthai and Phoebe Bridgers, but I wandered over to the stage Phoebe would be at and I saw Fred Again. It took me a good while to work out, that’s who it was in all honesty. He brought his brother out on stage for a song. It was a fun set, I danced a little but it also felt like it went on for too long.
Finally Phoebe Bridgers arrives on stage in an array of flames projected onto the big screens behind her. It felt like a weird time to schedule her set, after something so energetic like Fred Again. Under the sky that suddenly turned Violet after sunset, she sang songs off her album Punisher like ‘Kyoto’ and ‘Moon Song’ to many crying and adoring fans. She spoke of “Getting screamed at by the Murdoch Media” and called Margaret Court “A f*cking bitch” and also remarked “And I love abortion too”. Very few times have I heard an artist sound like they do on record, and Phoebe sounded great if not better than she does on her albums.
The band I’d wanted to see most of the day was Irish post punk band Fontaines D.C. and they did not at all disappoint. This is a band who really knows how to play to a festival crowd. Singer Grian Chatten stood on monitors, engaged with the crowd, moved the microphone around the stage and paraded around with a sense of joy and bewilderment. They played most of their album Skinty Fia, including the title track which seems to be rarely played live, as well as a few tracks from older releases like ‘Boys In The Better Land’. Grian said that they missed their guitarist Carlos (he’s currently awaiting the birth of his first child) who had to skip the tour, they said a few other things but unfortunately I don’t think any of us in the crowd could understand what they said. They ended the set with a charged and furious version of ‘I Love You’ and then walked off into the night.
The final band I saw was Turnstile, who unfortunately played at a time when their music seemed to instill a certain violent chaos into the crowd. Things got very hectic, and I stood right back. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t mosh at a punk show, but when it comes to literally hurting people in the crowd who are just trying to watch the set that’s really not on. Turnstile were great, super slick and super fast. They perhaps should’ve been on earlier when people hadn’t been drinking all day.
All in all Laneway 2023 Perth was poorly planned and seemed poorly scheduled. As someone who’s been attending Laneway Festival since the early days, it’s sad to see that decline in quality. That being said there were a fantastic selection of acts so there was quality to be found in that regard.
Photos from Laneway Festival 2023 @ RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane