Pop and TikTok appeared to rule Laneway in 2020, which is not what you’d expect from the festival known for being different, but nevertheless it delivered with a great day. Despite a divisive line up that had many indie fans swearing off St Jerome’s in 2020, the sold out success suggested that, just like the Tones and I song, the kids are coming – whether you like it or not. Otherwise not much was different around the festival grounds despite the change in rules allowing those 16+ to attend with a guardian, except for the addition of a great game and chill out area.
Perth locals were among the heroes of the day with darlings Dulcie opening up the festival, Kučka wowing with her stunning vocals, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets stepping in for Fontaines DC and getting everyone head-banging just as much, current hometown heroes Spacey Jane proving exactly why they are everyone’s current favourite Perth band, and the ever so lovely Stella Donnelly whose voice was as beautiful as ever.
Punk was also popular throughout the day, with Pist Idiots causing a ruckus early on. The Chats lived up to their famously Australian image when lead vocalist and bassist Eamon appeared on stage in his notorious speed dealers, which was enough to earn the instant respect of the crowd. Packed full of energy this set was beautifully inappropriate, fist-pumping chaos which showed absolutely zero signs of disappointment. Introducing The Clap, Pricey (guitarist) said “put your hands up if you’ve ever had a sexually transmitted disease,” and following a worryingly vast and eager amount of hands up, this track kicked off into a head banging frenzy (death pits and all).
Hockey Dad were the last and perhaps the favourite punk offering for the day, although some quiet vocals put a small dampener on the set. Disappoint Me and I Wanna Be Everybody were favourites, along with recent single I Missed Out. The highlight however, as always in a Hockey Dad show, is drummer Billy taking over the vocals for Sweet Release. DMAs also suffered the quiet vocals curse however they still delivered with their excellent guitar riffs and crowd-pleasing setlist. Fans were delighted to hear favourites such as Play It Out, In The Air, Delete and Lay Down.
Benee may be one of the most relatable teenagers in the scene right now. Many found it hard not to sing along to her catchiest lyrics. Opening with RnB track Soaked she got the singalongs going straight away followed by a few more fan favourites in Afterlife and Find an Island. Her voice is rich in tone and free from fault; match that with a goofy stage presence and her iconically casual attire and you had an overall really likeable act. After its success on TikTok, her track Glitter was the ultimate dance party send off.
Another act who can put their success down to TikTok is BBNO$ who drew a surprisingly big crowd to the 2020 Visions Stage. The rapper clearly doesn’t like to take himself too seriously, giving the crowd lots of laughs, starting a “f*ck corona” chant, asking them “do you want some chicken?” before launching into his track Rotisserie, and getting a bunch of crowd members on stage to help him out. He even ‘Rickrolled’ the audience before playing his TikTok famous song Lalala.
Pop music took over the festival early on with Tones and I celebrating her recent success. Drawing a huge crowd, everyone was busting moves when they heard Dance Monkey. Unfortunately, Tones’ set was filled with a lot of covers, which is perhaps a side effect of becoming popular so early on. The pop takeover continued with Ruel who also had a large crowd to play with. The young star impressed with great-sounding live vocals and a sharp live backing band. His big Hottest 100 track Painkiller was very popular, causing a huge singalong.
While Ocean Alley soothed crowds with the likes of Knees, Yellow Mellow and Confidence on the main stage, J.I.D took to the 2020 Visions Stage to please the rap fans. He opened with Never, instantly showing off his ability to intricately alliterate. Thought to be one of the most exciting up and coming hip hop acts, his performance was frankly quite boring. His songs are phenomenal and he carried himself well, but if you happened to be a tag-along to his set, it may have been a little bit of a drag.
Perhaps the biggest let down of the festival was the inexplicably short set we got from co-headliner Charli XCX. After appearing onstage about 20 minutes late, the queen of pop had to shorten her setlist, meaning she only got to play Gone, White Mercedes, Boys, Girls Night Out, Lets Ride, 1999 and I Love It. Despite the short timeslot, Charli was still able to prove why she is an icon with an impressive show.
Fortunately, The 1975 lit up the main stage for the last set of the night (at least for those that weren’t watching King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard in a disappointing clash). The 1975’s sound and stage set was as incredible as we’ve becoming accustomed to on their recent tours, and stunning visuals accompanied each song.
People got everyone shouting, TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME got everyone dancing and their latest single, Me and You Together Song got everyone shouting “nappies!”
Frontman Matty Healy – decked out in a Pantera t-shirt if you don’t mind – was as charismatic as ever, and the inclusion of back up dancers, the Jaiy Twins, added something extra special to the set. The band brought the issue of climate action to the forefront by letting their track with Greta Thunberg play during a brief interlude in the set. Matty led a powerful moment when all the crowd raised their fists in the air while Greta’s voice told us it was “time to rebel.”
Love It If We Made It followed, making the moment feel even more powerful. The Sound closed the set, and the festival, in a very euphoric manner, with the crowd united and jumping together. The 1975 celebrated the best parts of pop music whilst providing a strong message about what needs to be done to help a world in crisis.
While Laneway strayed from its usual selling points with the inclusion of such large pop acts as the headliners in 2020, it managed to still stay on brand by championing exciting up and coming artists and giving a large platform to acts with important messages. Clearly the huge crowds and positive vibes throughout proved punters are still on board.
KIERRA POLLOCK & ANYA HARRIS
Photos by Linda Dunjey & Owen Gregory