2018: the year St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival became my favourite one-dayer

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All photos: Brooke Tunbridge

This was only my second year at Laneway Festival, but with the diverse line-ups, easy to navigate layout, and the general vibe of the crowd, it’s becoming my favourite one-day festival.

In numbers, my day at Laneway 2018 went a little like this:

5 – The time that the Park Stage was flooded with people, awaiting Mac Demarco.
4 – The number of people it took to work out what ‘italian fries’ were, apparently it’s just normal fries with some herbs.
3.5 – The score Roy Molly gave the stool he was sitting on.
2 – Fence jumpers (that I saw). Much less than other festivals, or they were just sneakier.
1 – Kind person who returned my phone that I had stupidly left in a portaloo.
0 – People screaming at me asking for a photo.

Apart from the vignettes above, here’s why I love Laneway as much as I do:

Artists (mostly) get the crowds they deserve

When Father John Misty brought his show to Australia last, he played in front of a dismal crowd in a spacious tent at Splendour in the Grass. There were a few fans singing along, others in the crowd drifting past after pausing for only a moment. This time it was different, the packed out Spinning Top stage showing why.

Laneway Festival always curates a line-up which peaks the interest of many different music fans. Although the former Fleet Foxes member performed incredibly at both festivals, it was warming to see the support shown from the Laneway crowd. His witty commentary during minor setbacks with his acoustic guitar kept the crowd entertained, “all I do is this and wash dishes”.

Billie Eilish, City Calm Down, Anderson. Paak, and Mac Demarco were just some of the acts who packed out the lawn in front of the Garden and Park stages. The Future Classic stage’s crowd filled out later in the day for acts like Loyle Carner and BADBADNOTGOOD.

Punters packed into the Spinning Top stage, dodging the trees and taller people in front to try and get a decent view of the stage, which hosted Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Alex Cameron, and later POND and Slowdive.

It’s not a hike to get to the stages

The stages are all close together which I love because, well, I don’t need a reminder of how unfit I am. Ten minutes between start times? No worries, you can catch a song from one act without missing the other.

Later in the day, the entry/exit gates do get pretty congested, so you’d need to factor that in, but still not a far distance.

Credit where it was due

Whether it was applauding the bar staff member who chased after a drink thief, or cheering on the part-time gymnast Mac DeMarco doing handstands on stage, punters were full of energy and ready to share the love to those doing something worthy of their support.

Aside from loud chatter during quiet sets, there seemed to be no dickheads in the crowd. Laneway should pride themselves for having a support system set up for when something does go wrong, with the Laneway hotline. Hopefully you didn’t have to use it yourself, but it’s reassuring to know that it is was as an option to help you if you were in trouble.

I’ll be looking forward to next year’s instalment of Laneway! For now, I’ll be blasting Father John Misty and dreaming of his set.