The heart of historic Port Adelaide turned in to a mecca for indie-alternative music lovers who were there for St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2018. The weather was perfect and the venue at Hart’s Mill keeps getting better each year. Like any year the debate rages on about the relative merits of the line-up, who should be on, who shouldn’t be on, how am I going to juggle timetable clashes, what do I see and what do I miss in anticipation they might be back again for their own tour? Arguably on paper the line-up could have been bolstered by a couple of higher profile acts but like an onion once you peel back the layers there was plenty of new and innovative music to discover for the first time and spend the coming weeks chasing up their previous releases.

Laneway Festival is so many things to so many people whether that’s hanging out with mates or catching some of the brightest hopefuls who are about to break big time. We’ve seen it with Mumford & Sons and Florence + The Machine. I had about half dozen bands on my list that after listening to their albums I wanted to see first-hand. What was pleasing was a few surprises from left field that got me thinking that they’re pretty good. My dilemma compared to previous Laneway Festivals hasn’t changed in terms of who to see, how long to see them for, full sets versus parts of sets and my thought process goes on and on and one. How vested do I get with some of these exciting prospects.

For me, the pick of the bands early was City Calm Down. These lads know how to play and there’s no doubt in my mind they should be much bigger than they are now. Super tight, look and sound brilliant. A great batch of songs including the likes of Pleasure & Consequence, Your Fix and In This Modern Land. Amy Shark is on the way to becoming an absolute world beater and her set was more upbeat than her recent headline show at The Gov. It’s hard to top smash hit Adore but the single Weekends is pretty damn good.

Wolf Alice are an exciting prospect and play with plenty vigour, intensity and plenty of spirit. Newish album Visions Of A Life has no doubt pushed them in to the spotlight and hearing songs such as Don’t Delete The Kisses, Beautifully Unconventional and Formidable Cool I was more than satisfied with what I experienced. The Internet hit the main stage after and whilst not my cup of tea they certainly got the crowd going. Three or four songs was just enough before heading off to see Aldous Harding. There’s quite a buzz about Aldous Harding and whilst interesting didn’t really do it for me.

At this point tough decisions had to be made whether to see all of Mac Dermaco or Pond or Moses Sumney. Mac Dermaco certainly brought the Laneway Vibes to Adelaide and Salad Days is definitely a testament to that. I reckon Pond would have been close to getting best on ground at Laneway pulling a big crowd on the Spinning Top Stage. Hot damn! They were great and not being as au fait with their back catalogue I will be after seeing these guys play.

Client Liaison were bloody good bringing plenty of colour, pizazz and energy to their set. Got to love the pastel colour judo outfits and the Inxs cover I Need You Tonight. Their album Diplomatic Immunity is much underrated and it was good to hear a lot of these songs getting a thorough going over. Anderson .Paak really made a big entrance making his presence felt getting the crowd jumping but exit stage left to Father John Misty. I don’t know why I’ve never paid much attention to Father John Misty but this performance makes the Laneway highlights reel for me. Wow! Wow again! Talk about being bowled over by brilliance. It was a classy performance with so many standouts but for me Total Entertainment Forever and Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution were great moments.

It is right about now that old man syndrome starts kicking in with sore back, knees and feet and the thought running through my mind that a chair would be brilliant right about now. Totally unfamiliar and not being totally invested in Bonobo, Slowdive and Odesza it was great to see some artists that I wouldn’t ordinarily go and see or buy their albums. There’s no denying that Bonobo and Odesza are on the cusp of something amazing and Slowdive are experiencing a career resurgence after reuniting in 2014 played a stunning set which I’m glad to have seen them again because the likelihood of them returning is slim at best.

The aching body paled in to insignificance once The War On Drugs hit the stage. Brilliant is an understatement and was like watching a masterclass. All the songs you would expect from this Grammy Award winning band were there including the likes of Holding On and Under Pressure. Red Eyes and An Ocean Between The Waves were set standouts and after four visits to Australia it’s great that they finally made it to Adelaide. Many question their headline status but for me they were more than worthy.

As the night closes on another Laneway Festival Adelaide should be reminded that to keep getting these events we need to keep turning out and supporting them. Let the anticipation and speculation for Laneway Festival 2019 start now.

Review by Rob Lyon