The Vine festival review: ‘Laneway Festival Brisbane’, February 2011

A festival review for The Vine. Excerpt below.

Laneway Festival 2011
Alexandria Street, Brisbane

Friday February 5 2011

Having missed Laneway 2010, it’s something of a shock to take in the size of the festival site at first. The space on offer has grown considerably since 2009, thanks largely to a bigger stage (New Alexandria Street) that’d be more suited to a grassy field somewhere than a slab of bitumen baking under the relentless sun.

As the festival begins, we’re subject to weather that seems so uncharacteristically Queensland of late: pure, unfiltered sunshine, which infiltrates the skin and immediately begins cooking. Thankfully there’s shade over where Rat Vs Possum are opening the Car Park Stage. Today, they’re a band defined by board shorts, an abundance of floor toms, synths and vocal harmonies (four each). Their sound regularly dissolves into tribal drumming sessions that include the whole band, and while auxiliary percussion was among 2010’s most overdone musical trait, they do it better than any other band I’ve seen rack extra floor toms. They end with a cover of My Disco’s ‘You Came To Me Like A Cancer Lain Dormant Until It Blossomed Like A Rose’, which sounds totally weird with calypso-style keyboards cutting between the song’s pounding rhythm. They more than do it justice, though, ensuring that the set ends on a high.

Inside at the Inner Sanctum stage, PVT look tired. Unshaven. Like they’ve been on the road for an eternity and could probably do with a break. This is reflected in today’s performance, which at times teeters toward inertia. Why they front-load their set with slower tracks, I’m unsure. After the title track from their 2010 release Church With No Magicm they meander to the energy-sapping ‘Timeless’ from the same release, and later, another slow track in ‘Crimson Swan’. Audience attention wanes considerably. The couple from O Soundtrack My Heart they air (the epic title track, and the scorching ‘Didn’t I Furious’) sound more at place in a festival setting, despite singer Richard Pike’s insistence that the “new songs” are “every bit as good as the old songs” (yes, he says this while introducing ‘Light Up Bright Fires’). It’s difficult to agree when the sonics of that song, in particular, sound hollow in comparison to the O Soundtrack pair. Still, as one of the most consistently innovative drummers, it’s always a pleasure to watch Laurence Pike in action behind the kit. They close with ‘Window’, whose singalongs are met with enthusiasm.

Adjacent to the Inner Sanctum is the Red Bull/Nine Lives stage, which is a large warehouse-type space that acts as a thoroughfare between the Alexandria and the Car Park stage. There’s a rotating lineup of DJs and DJ-like acts housed high above the ground in a booth; underneath, a bar serves Red Bull- related drinks. All day long, the soundsystem pumps out tunes at around one million decibels, which makes this room repellent to most punters. The ears of the bar staff will be ringing for days.

For the full review and photo gallery, visit The Vine. Above photo by Justin Edwards.

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