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festivals

I never had intentions of going to Laneway this year as I’ve seen most of the acts if not at home, then overseas but the line-up was every indie kid’s wet dream from three years ago. You’d expect to see and hear it all before but it was the new venue (for me anyway) and the god damn weather that made it that bit more interesting.

First stop was Beach House. Plagued with technical problems early on and hunting for a good viewing spot only proved to be a difficult feat. I retreated further back and into Menomena’s set over at the Clock Tower stage and was completely blown away. Seeing “Muscle’n Flo”, “The Pelican”, “Weird” and “Wet And Rusting” live only reiterated why Friend and Foe was one of the better releases of the past decade – I was getting a little nostalgic. The Portland group threw the challenge down and hard.

We hung around to see Blonde Redhead and caught the opening of their set with “Dr. Strangluv”, “Here Sometimes” and “In Particular” before catching a breather and something to eat. I walked away knowing little could be done to beat their show last weekend at the Sydney Opera House.

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti was running a bit late at the Inner Sanctum stage but in my head, I knew I had somewhere else to be. Oh yeah…at Les Savy Fav! It only seemed like yesterday I was in the crowd helping Les Savy’s vocalist, Tim Harrington, crowd surf above the masses in Reiby Place. That year was first Laneway Festival here in Sydney and the standard was set very high for subsequent festivals. This year, the performance was no different – Harrington climbed the adjacent shade sail, light-heartedly molested a spectator and was found somewhere in middle (usually very sweaty) of the rough crowd. Playing favourites including “Patty Lee”, “The Sweat Descends” and “The Equestrian”, the crowd was insane and today I have the bruises to show for it. Closing it out with “Who Rocks The Party”, this was the set of the day and something you just had see.

Still on a high and now feeling a little worse of wear, I knew Deerhunter would be the perfect fix. “Cover Me (Slowly)” and “Agoraphobia” were delivered fast but there was a cloud of great anticipation for Deerhunter drifting all the way to the back.

I ended the night with the trippy, instrumental set from Holy Fuck and there is only one word to describe that: epic. “The Pulse” and “Lovely Allen” sounded so good I knew it wasn’t going to get any better. As the temperature cooled, so did the mood with many heading home before the last acts for the night being Cut Copy, Gotye and !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Overall, I had mixed feelings about the second year of (and my first visit since) the relocation of Sydney’s Laneway.

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We were two girls. They were 25 bands spread over three rooms in the Exchange Hotel. Our task was to attend Essential Festival and live to tell the tale. But there was a complication. Student poverty dictated that we must brave Essential without the aid of glorious alcohol. It was going to be a long night.

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6.00pm – Cloud Control
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Cloud Control are probably one of my favourite bands right now and I was excited to see them live. As we ran down the stairs of Oxford Art Factory, the dulcet tones of “Death Cloud” were already floating up back to us. Oxford Arts has the uncanny ability to put me in a bad mood the moment that I step into it. Somehow though, the magic of Cloud Control was SO strong that it was able to counter the legions of douchebags who’d been drinking vodka redbulls since 3 in the afternoon.

Cloud Control @ Essential Festival

The Clouds played a beautifully mesmerising set that had everyone in the crowd smiling, and occasionally, dancing. When at last I heard the familiar jingle-jangle guitar of my favourite song, “Buffalo Country”, I was very nearly in love with everyone in the room. Cloud Control recently signed a deal with Ivy League Records and are working on their debut album. If this set was anything to go by, the release is going to be something really special.

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6.30pm
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Cloud Control left the stage and the spell was broken. We suddenly realised we were stuck in Oxford Art Factory without the power of the Clouds to protect us and no band for 30mins. And so we did what any self-respecting individuals would do in a panic of that magnitude. We ran across the road to Brighton Bar…for water.

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7.00pm – The Holidays
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Half an hour later and we felt confident enough to head back to Oxford Arts. Unfortunately, The Holidays did not hold the same magic for me as Cloud Control. I can only speak for myself though, a quick glance around the room showed a crowd thoroughly enjoying themselves.

The Holidays @ Essential Festival

For me, The Holidays just sounded like any old ‘indie’ band trying to emulate some mediocre group from Merry Old England, like the Kooks or something similar. A few catchier numbers showed potential but could not hold our attention for long. We took some snaps and left, unable to stand the slurred cries of, “Play ‘Holiday’! Nahhh, play ‘Holiday’! NAAAH, PLAY ‘HOLIDAY!’” from some drunk guy behind us any longer.

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7.30pm – DZ
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On the other hand, DZ made Essential Festival TOTALLY worthwhile! I’d heard many good things about this Brisbane duo but had not yet had a chance to see them live. Suffice to say, expectations were high and they still completely surpassed them.

With the guitar and drum kit combo, you could perhaps liken them to The Mess Hall. In reality though, DZ are like nothing you’ve ever heard before. They have a ferocious energy mixed with a “don’t care” attitude, tearing through the upbeat set like men possessed. The sound was so unbelievably loud and abrasive that I’ve had a ringing in my ears for three days and don’t particularly mind. New favourite band? Yes indeed.

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7.50pm – Belles Will Ring
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We had to skip the last ten minutes of DZ to catch our favourite lo-fi psych rockers, Belles Will Ring, play next door at Spectrum. I’ve seen the Belles play so many times but am never disappointed. They treated the crowd to a lovely mix of old and new music, including all the favourites from Mood Patterns and a selection from Broader Than Broadway.

Belles Will Ring @ Essential Festival

I am always blown away by the complexity of the melodies and harmonies in a Belles set, displayed most eloquently in “The Coldest Heart.” That song is an absolute masterpiece, it literally gives me the shivers. Too soon the Belles were announcing their goodbyes and we left Spectrum in quite a mellow and contemplative mood.
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Preceding Sunday’s Laneway Festival there were threats of a scorching weekend in Sydney of temperatures in the high 30s and approaching early 40s, so sure, everyone got a bit paranoid after seeing the footage of the horrific fires running through Victoria. But arriving at the gates of the Laneway festival near Circular Quay the heat that was expected was not evident which was comforting to those of us who knew we would get cramped in narrow laneways and in The Basement. Alas! As I shuffled my way up to get my tickets scanned I was stopped for numerous minutes after a young blonde girl was caught with a flask of alcohol in her bag. tsk tsk. But she got off scott-free, they just took her flask. Knowing me I wanted to see her get booted out, there are rules for a reason, but I think I wanted to see it happen because I do like drama sometimes. It amuses me. Plus, I could feel the sun on my skin and it was starting to burn to that 30something degrees that was predicted over the past 7 days. Buzz. I was through the entrance and inside the mouth of the festival.

Reiby Place

The first thing I did was bounce over to see Philadelphia Grand Jury who didn’t do a bad job at drawing a bit of a crowd in Reiby Pl, but as per usual people just stood and watched like robots. The only exception was obvious through some sing-alongs and foot-tapping to ‘Going To The Casino’ which has had radio play and was played on the new Underbelly. Gasp! But in the tradition of seeing PGJ my friend Mel and I shook our hips, jumped, screamed out lyrics and swung our hair around..with the addition of jumping around like kangaroos. We’re pretty sure they loved it.

Yves Klein Blue

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Well, everything in this post except Wolf Parade, that is. Dan Deacon will be headlining one of the most amazing mini-festivals to finally reach Sydney. The lovely folks at Mistletone Records are bringing their seasonal event to Sydney on February 27, and bringing with them High Places, Lawrence Arabia, Beaches and Mark Barrage. I have delayed my flight so I don’t miss this. You shouldn’t either.

Summer Tones will also be hitting up Brisbane and Melbourne. Here are the dates:

27 Feb Oxford Art Factory Sydney
28 Feb The Espy Melbourne
6 Mar The Zoo Brisbane

Definitely check out the full lineup over at Mistletone. *drools over the Melbourne lineup*

Dan Deacon

And because Dan Deacon will be here soon with most likely a new album, I thought I’d share a track from a recent split 7″ he did with Future Islands.

[MP3] Dan Deacon – Mark Brown

Well, everything in this post except Wolf Parade, that is. Dan Deacon will be headlining one of the most amazing mini-festivals to finally reach Sydney. The lovely folks at Mistletone Records are bringing their seasonal event to Sydney on February 27, and bringing with them High Places, Lawrence Arabia, Beaches and Mark Barrage. I have delayed my flight so I don’t miss this. You shouldn’t either.

Summer Tones will also be hitting up Brisbane and Melbourne. Here are the dates:

27 Feb Oxford Art Factory Sydney
28 Feb The Espy Melbourne
6 Mar The Zoo Brisbane

Definitely check out the full lineup over at Mistletone. *drools over the Melbourne lineup*

Dan Deacon

And because Dan Deacon will be here soon with most likely a new album, I thought I’d share a track from a recent split 7″ he did with Future Islands.

[MP3] Dan Deacon – Mark Brown

So all our speculations can come to an end now that the full program for the Sydney Festival has been announced. The full website launch is tonight! But here is a little insight…

St. Vincent/Annie Clark

Photo: Sarah Cass

Annie Clark, or too many of you, St. Vincent is returning for three shows at the Speigeltent. The musician behind one of the most amazing releases this year, Bon Iver, will be here. Conceptual French chanteuse Camille will be playing some shows at City Recital Hall. And Bill Callahan, or the artist formerly known as Smog, is back!

Here are just some of the musicians listed:

  • Bill Callahan
  • Bon Iver
  • Camille
  • The Cat Empire
  • The Cinematic Orchestra
  • Fanfare Ciocarlia
  • Grace Jones
  • Holy Ghost
  • Metronomy
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  • Santogold
  • Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
  • St Vincent
  • Throwing Muses

All tickets go on sale 10 November from ticketek and the Sydney Festival website. Looks like its going to be another amazing summer in Sydney.

——

Also, it seems appropriate to place this here.

Dear Ms. Annie Clark,

I am so excited you are visiting Australia again. I saw you with Sufjan Stevens this year and was very surprised you were even in the country, let alone playing with Sufjan. I hoped for some sideshows then, and to my devastation found out after the last of three Sufjan shows at the State theater, you played only one – in Melbourne at the Corner Hotel. Now, I anxiously wait for your return.

Regards,
Ro

So all our speculations can come to an end now that the full program for the Sydney Festival has been announced. The full website launch is tonight! But here is a little insight…

St. Vincent/Annie Clark

Photo: Sarah Cass

Annie Clark, or too many of you, St. Vincent is returning for three shows at the Speigeltent. The musician behind one of the most amazing releases this year, Bon Iver, will be here. Conceptual French chanteuse Camille will be playing some shows at City Recital Hall. And Bill Callahan, or the artist formerly known as Smog, is back!

Here are just some of the musicians listed:

  • Bill Callahan
  • Bon Iver
  • Camille
  • The Cat Empire
  • The Cinematic Orchestra
  • Fanfare Ciocarlia
  • Grace Jones
  • Holy Ghost
  • Metronomy
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  • Santogold
  • Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
  • St Vincent
  • Throwing Muses

All tickets go on sale 10 November from ticketek and the Sydney Festival website. Looks like its going to be another amazing summer in Sydney.

——

Also, it seems appropriate to place this here.

Dear Ms. Annie Clark,

I am so excited you are visiting Australia again. I saw you with Sufjan Stevens this year and was very surprised you were even in the country, let alone playing with Sufjan. I hoped for some sideshows then, and to my devastation found out after the last of three Sufjan shows at the State theater, you played only one – in Melbourne at the Corner Hotel. Now, I anxiously wait for your return.

Regards,
Ro