Little went right at last year’s Laneway in Brisbane. Heavy rain in the days leading up to the festival and on the day itself resulted in the main stage being moved inside one of the tin-roofed cattlesheds, the sound was awful at every stage, even the outdoor Car Park stage, and thanks to technical issues, the headlining M83 started 50 minutes later than they should have, anyone waiting to see them missing out on seeing any of the other headliners.
With no weather issues this year, the outdoor stage made a return to the far end of Alexandria Terrace and the Future Classic stage was set up in the same building as had been used last year’s wet weather, but in the smaller entrance space rather than the massive main room. The Car Park stage and The Zoo stages remained where they had been, but the large shed housing the Zoo stage was divided in two by a large curtain, with the market stalls and bar area now physically separated from the stage area. Given the decrease in standing area at the stage, a number of banks of seats were arranged at the sides and the back of the Zoo Stage, creating something akin to a mini DIY amphitheatre. Similarly, the side of the Car park stage was given over to a VIP area, with another raised bank of seats so that anyone deemed important enough could watch the bands without the need to mix with the general hoi polloi.
Although I heard the usual horror stories regarding the crowd, I didn’t experience any. It was noticeable that out of all the recent festivals, Laneway is the one with the highest proportion of female punters. It was also the festival with the highest number of female musicians playing that I can remember., something really good to see after the recent sausage fest that was Big Day Out and with Soundwave coming up in a few weeks. Thinking about the acts that played at Laneway this year, a number of them mine similar territory, with a definite slant on electronica. In considering this, does it mean that the greatest punk instrument, the great leveller that really does mean that ‘anyone can do it’ is the humble laptop.
Although Laneway had the weather on its side this year (despite someone in my office lift on Monday morning telling her colleague that she wasn’t impressed with the festival as it was too hot and the drinks were warm) it really felt like they had raised their game after last year. The layout was better (although for some acts, e.g. Alpine, The Zoo stage area was too small), the sound was so much better than last year on every stage, even the inside stages and the organisation seemed a lot better. It was just a really enjoyable day.
One of the best parts about photographing Laneway is that you can get around the site fairly easily for most of the day and the staggering of the start times at the different stages means you can actually see a fair chunk of a lot of the bands playing. With most bands only playing sets lasting around the 45 minutes mark, you can get to relax after photographing and check out the majority of the rest of their time on stage. It’s a lot different to a lot of the big festivals where you spend the day running around between stages located at different ends of large festival site and end up seeing little more than the first three of most acts during the day.
Having said that, I was surprised to find that according to my GPS tracker I covered almost 16km over the course of the day, especially as last year’s data reported less than 7km. I did forget to turn the tracker off until I got to The Jubilee on the way home but I had forgotten to turn it on until I had completed a circuit of the festival site earlier in the day.
View 461 St Pauls Terrace in a larger map
Total distance: 15.68 km (9.7 mi)
Total time: 10:11:07
Moving time: 7:42:17
Average speed: 1.54 km/h (1.0 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 2.03 km/h (1.3 mi/h)
Max speed: 11.38 km/h (7.1 mi/h)
Average pace: 38.98 min/km (62.7 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 29.49 min/km (47.5 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 5.27 min/km (8.5 min/mile)
Max elevation: 68 m (225 ft)
Min elevation: -24 m (-80 ft)
Elevation gain: 586 m (1924 ft)
Max grade: 34 %
Min grade: -23 %
It’s a shame/annoyance that thanks to my phone battery dying half way through the day at the recent other festivals I’ve photographed at (Parklife, Harvest, Big Day Out), I haven’t been able to get decent sets of GPS data to make some comparisons between the different festivals. Given the size of those bigger festivals, and the distance between stages, you would expect a lot longer distance to have been covered over the day, although the data I did get at this year’s Laneway didn’t really point to this. For Laneway I kept my phone battery topped up by recharging it from my laptop and this might be the best way of making sure my mobile lasts the whole day in the future.
Highlights from this year’s Laneway were Japandroids (I’m just a sucker for Springsteen-esque Americana), Bat For Lashes (simply divine) and Pond (so much better than Tame Impala).
Notable lowlights were The Rubens, who I wanted to give a chance to and watched for almost their full set but were so boring and so far out of their depth they came across like a high school band who had won the competition to open a local festival. It was embarrassing.
Photos from the day and more thoughts coming soon.