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LIVE REVIEW: St Jerome's Laneway Festival 2023

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2023! Never in my life have I seen a festival lineup that has spoken so directly to my soul, and oh my god did we have fun as we headed to the Brisbane Showgrounds.

Photography by @thattomvu

Felivand opened the day up as the Triple J Unearthed winner and she was such a great choice. Her music just glows live- she has such a gorgeous voice with this lovely mellow tone, and it’s complimented perfectly by her whole band. Her music is deliciously bass driven, and that really shines through in the live performances. She played a few popular singles (‘Ebb and Flow’ was incredible) as well as a lot of tracks from her excellent debut album Ties- a couple of highlights for me were ‘Big Little’ and ‘Butterfly Wings’.

There was not a single dull moment in the program, and after Felivand we headed on over to see Jacoténe. 2022’s Unearthed High winner hasn’t officially released much music yet, (though I would absolutely recommend checking out her ‘I need therapy’ demo on Unearthed!), but listen to any of her live shows and you can immediately see why she won. She gets on stage and this positive, sunshine-filled personality just shines through her- and she has SUCH an incredible voice- I can’t wait to see what comes next for her.

Adam Newling’s set was another gem. His music utilises a really gorgeous blend of indie and country sensibilities, and is so heartfelt- he amassed a huge crowd at the indoor Hell Fck Yeah! stage. Really lovely, unique sound- I absolutely loved the harmonica in ‘Singing Blackbird’ and ‘Sweetness’.

His set had a really special moment as well in the form of bassist Tas Wilson being proposed to by girlfriend Sammy Flipo, with the help of fans in the front row, who unrolled a banner reading ‘Tasman, will you marry me’. In an Instagram post, Sammy shared that they met four years ago at Brisbane Laneway- making this such a cute full circle moment.

He said yes of course!

We stuck around the Hell Fck Yeah! stage for a few more sets, and got to see the absolutely incredible indie rockers The Backseat Lovers and The Beths. Both international acts, hailing from the USA and New Zealand respectively, they brought their absolute all and filled that stage with so much energy and good vibes- from the crowd singing along to every word of the Backseat Lovers’ ‘Kilby Girl’ to The Beths wonderfully in sync guitar in ‘Future Me Hates Me’, they were a couple of my favourite sets of the day.

After that, we popped back to the conveniently back to back Good Better Best and Never Let it Rest stages as the day continued and some of the most highly anticipated acts started to take to the stage.

Hearing Finneas’ ‘Till Forever Falls Apart’ live nearly made me cry, and it was my first time seeing Girl in Red live after listening to her music for years, so I was just feeling over cloud nine. Despite the absolutely insane February heat, there was a super fun, energetic crowd. Lots of pride flags, dancing, and singing along to some of her biggest songs, like ‘We Fell in Love in October’, ‘Midnight Love’, and my personal favourite of the set, ‘Bad Idea!’.

Fred again, who’s Laneway appearances drove Australia into an absolute craze, delivered an absolutely phenomenal set. The drop in ‘Delilah (pull me out of this)’ was so much fun.

My highlight of the night was without a doubt Phoebe Bridgers. I had a phase about a year ago where I’d just watch the Coachella performance of ‘I Know the End’ every single day for about a month, just blown away by the set, the atmosphere, the skeletons and the lights- so seeing the stage getting set up at Laneway, with the mic stand all covered in fairy lights, I was totally ecstatic before Phoebe (and her skeleton-suit adorned band) even took to the stage.

Her music is so powerful, both musically and lyrically, and the emotion was palpable throughout the set. There were some sad moments- it was her first time performing ‘Kyoto’ since the passing of her father, but some happier ones too- to the delight of boygenius fans everywhere, the Brisbane show was treated to the first ever performance of ‘Emily I’m Sorry.’

the set wrapped up with ‘I Know the End’. Accompanied by gorgeous storybook illustrations, hearing this song live was nothing short of a religious experience, and hearing the scream at the end of the song with Phoebe Bridgers and a whole crowd of people was utterly cathartic.

The night ended with the dazzling HAIM giving an absolutely incredible performance- I don’t know a single person that left not a little bit in love with them. ‘Gasoline’ and ‘Summer Girl’ were so amazing, and hearing ‘The Wire’ in the encore changed my life.

And that wrapped up Laneway! With new memories and aching legs we headed back home after cramming in as much music as we possibly could (and there were so many more acts I wish I could have made it to!) to eagerly await 2024’s festival. Such a great post-covid return for one of Australia’s best festivals, I am already so incredibly excited for next year!

Check out some of the incredible artists we mentioned on Spotify:

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