Laneway 2013 @ RNA Showgrounds, Friday 1 February 2013 – Part 3

Laneway 2013: Japandroids @ RNA Showgrounds, Friday 1 February 2013

Jessie Ware is a quick in/out photo opportunity, less than a song and a half to rush back to the rest of Pond’s set. I only last that long as the lighting is rubbish and I wait until the second song to see if there’s any improvement. There’s only two of us in the photo pit, presumably everyone else is still working hard to get an interesting shot of the back of Flume’s laptop. There’s one nice moment when she poses for us with a big cheesy grin and two thumbs up, but, as is always the way, my camera decides that under the lighting conditions it’s just going to search for focus rather than instantly snap to it, and the moment is missed. Musically it’s just too R&B for me.

The plan is to go and see Alpine but the new set up of The Zoo stage means the closed-off area is rammed and at that time of the day I just don’t want to have to fight my way through a crowd and back and again, especially as there’s only 10 minutes between the start of Alpine and the start of Japandroids on the Eat Your Own Ears stage. So instead I just make sure I get to Japandroids nice and early.

Once again it’s the right decision as Japandroids are the band of the day, at least for the few songs I see them for. The albums are good but come nowhere close to showing how good the songs are when played live, it’s like watching a two-piece E Street Band. It’s difficult and frustrating to photograph as my lens is struggling to focus and keeps searching. I’m not sure if it’s the lens itself, the lighting or the dry ice pumping out across the stage. It’s pleasantly surprising to get back home and find that I’ve taken way more photos than I would ever need and that it’s a difficult decision to cull the images down to a sensible number of the best ones to put in the gallery for this post.

Regrettably I decide to skip the second half of Japandroids for Yeasayer on the Car Park stage. As they were when they played at Laneway two years ago, they’re just another band I don’t get. They still sound like Yes or some other UK 1970s prog band to me, but as has happened all day during my personal lowlight, there’s a huge crowd to see them.

I only get to see The Twerps for a couple of songs but it’s a much more powerful and muscular sound than the more twee sound that might have been expected. Given how many were at the stage for Alpine, it’s depressing that they’ve only drawn a small crowd, an audience similar to those at the start of the very day for Jeremy Neale or Henry Wagons.

I’ve had a request to take photos of Britt Daniels from Divine Fits. The trouble is I have no idea who he actually is, Spoon are one of those bands that have completely passed me by and that I’ve never knowingly listened to. They seem to be bigger over here than they are in the UK. So I make a few assumptions as to who Britt Daniels probably is and it turns out I’m completely wrong and take a whole bunch of photos of the wrong guy and only a handful of the right guy. For all the hype about the band and the number of recommendations I’ve heard, the band are nothing special, although once again I only get a few songs to listen before it’s time to move on.

Last band of the day and Bat For Lashes could be seen as a slightly odd choice for a main stage headliner given that three albums in, Natasha Khan is still more of a cult figure rather than someone you’d consider an obvious headline act. It’s clear that the assembled masses have taken this line and the audience that have come to see her play is much smaller than had been there for some of the afternoon’s acts. Even the very dubious quality of The Ruben drew a much bigger crowd than the day’s headline act. If my memory serves me right, Bat For Lashes have visited Australia before a couple times but Brisbane has always been screwed thanks to exclusive festival shows in Sydney (and maybe Melbourne).

It’s a constant source of frustration and great annoyance when southern festivals have exclusivity that means no Brisbane shows but also that Splendour In The Grass, despite taking place in another state and in a different timezone, essentially gets classed as the Brisbane shows for acts playing the festival. While January – March and end of July/start of August are golden times for gigs in Sydney and Melbourne, there’s always a dearth of shows in Brisbane. So despite having visited Australia previously, Bat For Lashes haven’t had a chance to build up any live following in Brisbane and when Natasha Khan does finally make it, the only chance you have is via a $180 (or so ticket), rather than probably less than half that amount if you went to a sideshow where she would probably play for longer in a more pleasant environment and with better sound.

While Bat For Lashes may not be an obvious headline act, and, in the eyes of the majority of punters at the Showgrounds, not one that they’re even interested in checking out, based on merit, she’s more than deserved headliner. Some acts just have the indescribable X Factor and Natasha Khan truly has it. She’s captivating and yet so comfortable and down to earth that anyone could fall in love in an instance. It’s frustrating to come away with so many bad photos of her but the Car Park stage becomes more difficult after dark and when the photo pit is full to bursting.

After last year’s shambolic affair, with poor sound, bands starting late and over running, and the constant rain putting a whole dampener on the day, this year’s Laneway is a complete triumph. Unlike last year, this year’s Laneway ends on a real high. Although the weather was on their side this year, throughout the day it felt like the organisers really had really raised their game and their hard work and effort resulted in the best festival of the 2012/13 season. Here’s to Laneway 2014.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.