Laneway 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, Friday 1 February 2013 – Part 2

Laneway 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, Friday 1 February 2013

The Rubens are easily the worst band of the day, a country mile out front, head and shoulders above everyone.  In fact they’re the worst band I’ve seen in a long, long time.  If you told me they were a high school band who had won a local competition to play at Laneway, I probably would have believed you.  They collectively have a rabbits in the headlights look about them and the songs they play are under-developed and plod along without anything in the way of dynamics or passion.  They remind me of someone but I just can’t put my finger on who, although I think it’s some rotten serious male rock band from the mid to late 1970s that bravely soldiered on while the music scene left them behind.  Even more depressing than the band themselves is just how many people are here to watch them, it has to be one of the largest crowds of the whole day.  They’re the lowlight of the day by a considerable margin.   I’m embarrassed for an Australian music industry that continues to support bands these and gobsmacked that a few weeks later they’re supporting Springsteen at his Hanging Rock show.

Once again I have photographic evidence that I was in the same room as Nite Jewel but have no recollection.  To be fair, the middle of the afternoon becomes a blur of different stages and as many bands as I can squeeze in and, from memory, I didn’t even spend a whole song in the photo pit before rushing off to cover the next act on my timetable.

Next up there’s a choice of Of Monsters And Men or El-P.  Of Monsters And Men sound like the new Mumford and Sons, which makes it a really easy choice to go and photograph El-P.  Whenever I see his name written in the music press, I always misread it as ELP (as it always seems to be capitalised, especially in adverts) and my interest instantly perks up at the thought of a bit of ‘Fanfare For The Common Man‘.  Plus all the cool kids and people who look like they have more refined musical tastes are heading for the Eat Your Own Ears Stage.  It’s hard to photograph hip hop acts but always rewarding when you get a good shot.  Musically, it doesn’t do anything for me but choosing El-P over Of Monsters And Men is still the right choice.

Policia were another band I checked out when the End Of Year lists came out and I was looking to see if I had missed anything good from 2012.  Listening to a few songs at a listening station in Rough Trade East when I was in London before Christmas, it didn’t sound like I had missed anything special but watching them play live, they’re utterly captivating and I end up taking a ridiculous amount of photos of singer Channy Leaneagh during the first three songs.  I stay for almost the entire set, although by the end the songs have become a bit too samey and, in retrospect, especially based on the post-Laneway comments, I should have gone to see the start of Cloud Nothings, one of the very few bands I missed during the day.

I really struggle to comprehend the attraction of Alt-J, I really don’t get it. They sound what I imagine Mumford and Sons would sound like if they listened to a load of Warp records and decided they wanted to become Radiohead.  As for The Rubens, the masses are out in force to see them but then you never can account for taste.  There’s a gap in my timetable for almost the whole of their set so I stick around and make use of the VIP area to watch them but they still leave me completely bemused.

Originally Ms Mr weren’t on my schedule for the day.  I’d had a listen on Spotify and had decided to give them a miss.  However, thanks to a 20 minute window between Alt J and Pond, and because it’s on the way to the Eat Your Own Ears stage (not that anywhere at Laneway is particularly out of the way), I decide to make the most of the opportunity to add another band to the day’s total.  It’s a great decision as Ms Mr turn out to be the surprise act of the day.  There’s some nice lighting and I really enjoy my time in the photo pit photographing them and watching them for a few songs.

The last Pond album, Beard, Wives, Denim was probably my favourite Australian album of 2012.  It’s a year when Tame Impala got all the praise and rave reviews but didn’t really come anywhere close to matching their offshoot side band.  Pond are also a much better live band than the lackadaisical and motionless Tame Impala.  Having seen them at Splendour but not gotten to photograph them, this was one band that I was really looking forward to photographing today, even though it ends up being trickier than I first thought thanks to Nick Allbrook’s keyboard being in the wrong place and at the wrong height to get a clear view across the stage.  I make a quick detour to photograph Jessie Ware but make it as quick as possible to get back and see the rest of Pond’s set.  All the other photographers in the pit leave after the second song to presumably go and photograph Flume on the Car park stage, their loss as the third song is easily the best from a photographic point-of-view, Allbrook rolling around the stage with his mic stand.  Having photographed Flume at Parklife, I have no desire to make that mistake again but guess everyone had fun photographing the back of his laptop.  It’s more than interesting to hear the rumours on the grapevine concerning his alleged prima donna behavior throughout the day and how many people he annoyed, but you don’t get to read things like that about the current darling of the Australian music industry in the Australian music media.

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