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Laneway Festival

College of the Arts, Rozelle

February 4

Some things do not make sense from a distance, or even the morning after.

How is it that at times during his highly entertaining, penultimate main stage set, Nick Murphy - the producer/singer/electronic soul artist formerly known as Chet Faker - sounded more rock ‘n’ roll than Tame Impala - ostensibly a psychedelic rock band but often enough a trippy, quasi-electronic dance band - which followed him?

Was anyone not there going to believe that agit-prop hip hop duo, A.B. Original, whose cracking 2016 album Reclaim Australia was anger personified, had the most entertaining, sometimes even light-hearted, set of the day?

What would sensible folk say if told that the none-more-Aussie Aussieness of Dune Rats (“thanks for sticking around to watch us you c…s,” were the exuberant first words to the milling/moshing/munted crowd) made deliberately dumb – but deceptively smarter - cartoon punk rock plenty more enjoyable to people no longer popping pimples than the oh-so-cool pop groove of English press darlings Glass Animals?

And really, is there any way to explain how D D Dumbo, who mixes ‘80s high bass funk jazz, ’70s art pop and a voice like a much-mocked, seriously uncool former singer of The Police could pull an even larger crowd than the indie rock all-ticked-menu of Car Seat Headrest? And deserve it.

It all may be as hard to explain as how a long, long day and night of high heat, thick humidity, understrength Mojito in the Cuban bar/overpowering ganga at the Future Classic stage, and more glitter on faces and bodies than a five-year-old‘s disco princess party, was a seriously fun time.

More successfully varied and more consistently rewarding than last year, Laneway didn’t just balance the shouty charisma of White Lung and the heartland rock of Gang Of Youths with the developing hip hop soul of Sampha The Great and the neuroscientist electronica of Floating Points.

Or just give the polite pop and efficient musicianship of Whitney as much room as the esoteric rock and flamboyant musicianship of Tash Sultana.

In a sense that’s music festival 101, the least we can expect.

What Laneway does for extra credit though is make that balance as comfortable, as natural, as the balance in the crowd, which you might assume is the home of 20somethings but actually contains at least 25 per cent 40something (and up) adventurers.

A place where everyone can see this t-shirt slogan (worn by a full-figured gentleman enjoying his second youth): “make awkward sexual advances, not war”, and know this at least makes sense.

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