LIVE REVIEW: St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2020 Brisbane

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

St. Jerome has changed with the times.

Laneway is not the festival it used to be. No longer is it a festival rooted in just the 'indie'. Now, it’s a broad church. This year’s incarnation saw performances from artists at the forefront of indie pop, rock, R&B, rap and more. We had the opportunity to catch some of those artists as they came through Brisbane. Here are our personal highlights.

Col3trane is a singer based in North London that plays with contemporary R&B sounds from both the United Kingdom and the United States. His set was high energy. The club-ready tracks from his extended play Heroine were well received and he maintained an upbeat party atmosphere.

It was a sorry sight for OG fans that the crowd didn't recognise his cover of Craig David’s ‘7 Days’. I suppose that’s what you get when most of your audience are millenials.

Photography: Thomas Vu

Hope D is a Brisbane favourite who for the past few years has honed her performance on a solid bedrock of striking talent. Joining her on stage was a full piece band and a massive crowd for her early afternoon slot. Both her consummate vocals and instrumental ability seem effortless on stage whether shes singing a ballad or spitting sharp rhymes. The lyrics of her debut single 'Swim' were roared in unison by the crowd, a cadre of loyal supporters that can only grow.

Kaiit is a national treasure. She’s pushed Australian neo-soul to an international audience. Even with that success, she maintains a loyal domestic fanbase. Kaiit is a warm performer that is obviously thankful for her platform. It’s a platform that’s well deserved. Along with her live band, the Melbourne-by-way-of-Papua New Guinea singer performed lush renditions of cult hits ‘OG Luv Kush Pt. 2’ and ‘Natural Woman’.

Highlight? The fits. Kaiit’s crowd were rocking some of the best outfits on display at the festival.

Photography: Thomas Vu

Tones and I

No matter where we go we can't escape Tones and I. For weeks she has been ripping up the global charts sitting at number one with over one billion spotify plays of her smash hit 'Dance Monkey'. The Byron Bay local drew a colossal crowd who sweltered in the sun to watch her perform her unique brand of crisp dance pop. Her rep preceded her as a few punters demanded "play dance monkey" minutes into her set. They were probably one of the groups who made a swift exit after she eventually performed the number - choosing instead to end with a track closer to her heart.

bbno$ is a bit of a joke. That’s not a criticism. His persona is literally a joke. He makes songs called ‘sriracha’ and ‘Welcome to Chilis’. His name is pronounced “Baby No Money”. He is comedy rap. And, if you can buy into the joke, his set is a blast. There are mosh pits. There are shoeys. It’s a good time. He is not a talented rapper. He’s not a poet. But bbno$’s set is fun. And that’s what really matters.

Highlight? Have you seen that video of UK rapper Dave bringing a fan on stage to perform? bbno$ also does that. Only difference is that Brisbane’s “Alex” (“Jacob”) performed with bbno$ for four in a row, without missing a word. Shout out to “Jacob”.

This set was tough. Earl Sweatshirt is a talented rapper. The problem? His recent material is impenetrable. It’s lyrically dense and instrumentally abstract. It doesn’t translate well to a festival. A small intimate show maybe? But not a festival. Dyed in the wool fans appeared to enjoy the set, but to the general public it was likely an incomprehensible mess.

Highlight? Earl’s DJ playing a chopped and screwed remix of Detroit scam rapper Teejayx6’s viral hit ‘Swipe Story’.

Photography: Thomas Vu

The young Kiwi sensation Benee smashed her set playing to an adoring all-ages crowd. Although reminiscent of an 'Eilish' style energy in her fashion and demeanour she stands out in contrast with a brighter synthy pop that that strikes a chord with the adolescent brain. Her presence is infectious, as she danced her trademark angular moves, flailed about and made swaggerous gestures at the crowd to thunderous applause.

Photography: Thomas Vu

Whether its a festival stage or a bandroom Ocean Alley always deliver. Fans know what to expect - a performance that is akin to their studio recordings...or better. The perfect reggae fusion that the 6 piece send out on stage are a testament to how well the band mesh. Sporting glistening guitar-work Ocean Alley don't rely on flashy lights or dance moves, instead focussing entirely on their craft. There were people running down from the grandstands to catch their hit rendition of Player's 'Baby Come Back'.