The Laneway Festival is about leading new and revered seminal music. The festival has always been interested in finding what's fresh and great and bringing it to unique settings and surrounds to be appreciated by music lovers.
The size of the festivals, the locations and the way we encourage community all form part of the way in which the Laneway team strive to present an urban music experience like no other.
St. Jerome's Laneway Festival began in 2004 when Jerome Borazio and Danny Rogers decided that summers in Melbourne would be far better with more live music in unique settings. In a true example of actions speaking louder than words, they started to put great bands into St. Jerome's Bar (RIP) in Melbourne's Calendonian lane.
First came the St. Jerome's Summer Series each Sunday afternoon featuring 'new' bands of the time like The Presets and Architecture In Helsinki; next it extended to include a monthly Saturday night called Brains (which was actually a residency for The Avalanches, who turned the little bar inside out).
Still not satisfied that they were doing enough, one night Danny and Jerome convinced The Avalanches that they could close the lane, remove the bins and throw a proper laneway party. The Avalanches' mate Monkey quickly made up a poster, they asked a few friends to play and so began the annual St. Jerome's Laneway Festival.
Fourteen hundred people attended the first laneway festival. It was packed, smelly and full to the brim with great local music, and the vibe was awesome, utterly awesome...
Since that first, fateful day in a back alley, the festival has quickly developed into a national touring event and a favourite summer festival for many great, music-loving humans.
After the first couple of Melbourne events, sights were set on Sydney. Teaming up with Chugg Entertainment, St Jerome's Laneway Festival found itself nestled into The Rocks, taking a liberal reading of the term laneway but staying very true to the recipe of great music, unique spaces and boutique size.
Sydney (and Melbourne) in 2006 hosted artists such as Broken Social Scene, Les Savy Fav, The Gossip, Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Avalanches, The Posies, The Hold Steady, The Raveonettes and The Drones. Sydneysiders loved it, with one respectable journo going as far as to hail it as the most important counter-cultural idea to happen in Sydney music in 10 years.
Just as Sydney Laneway was becoming established, Brisbane venue The Zoo took the lead in luring the festival north. Brisbane, long known for its thriving indie music scene, grabbed Laneway with both hands and made it their own. The combination of street party and great music (including Midnight Juggernauts, Yo La Tengo, Peter Bjorn and John, The Walkmen, Camera Obscura, The Sleepy Jackson and Gersey) proved to be a huge success and set the tone for years to come.
In 2008 Laneway found a home at Fowler's Live in Adelaide and not even the Indie cars (sic – actually bigger sic, since the Clipsal 500 was actually on) were a match for the indie music, atmosphere and the great crowd that made the 2008 Adelaide Laneway so great.
Specifically, we must pay tribute to Feist, Gotye, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Presets, Kevin Drew, Dan Deacon, The Panics, Okkervil River, Little Red, Devastations, The Brunettes, Via Tania, Bridezilla and everyone who played that year because Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide were all fantastic!
A Fasterlouder review of the inaugural Perth Laneway Festival in 2009 sums up the general feelings towards Laneway's move west: 'The promoter's move to bring the festival to Perth is the best decision taken since Howard's rejection from parliament. The awesome turnout attested to the West Australian respect for great music, which rivals that of our purportedly more urbane eastern counterparts.
'Jerome is truly a saint for Perth music lovers who no doubt pray for a heavenly reincarnation in 2010, despite the flagrant obstacle of the Nullabor. Just about flawless in its execution, the event's venue was a perfect example of musical harmony, with each stage placed as though the cultural precinct was designed from its very inception for Laneway to one day grace its paths. The festival was sparkling, exhilarating and packed almost to the brim. Bring on the announcements for Laneway Perth 2010!'
Not much more to add there really, except to say thanks to the following people – among others – for contributing so massively to the 2009 events: Girl Talk, Stereolab, Architecture In Helsinki, The Hold Steady, The Drones, Cut Off Your Hands, Four Tet, Tame Impala, El Guincho, Jay Reatard, Buraka Som Sistema, The Temper Trap and No Age.
In 2010, the festival implemented some significant changes to adapt to the growing stature of the event. After some considerable issues with the Melbourne site in 2009, Laneway left its birthplace and move to the burgeoning cultural hotspot of Footscray, with the support and assistance of like-minded friends at Footscray Community Arts Centre. The Sydney event relocated from the pretty, albeit restrictive, site at Macquarie Park to the historic courtyards of the Sydney College of the Arts in Rozelle. In 2010, Laneway also made its way across the Tasman, staging a sold out and well received inaugural Laneway in Auckland.
All the relocations were hailed a resounding success and were game-changers for the festival. Equally, the line-up was the strongest in Laneway's seven-year history: Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, The XX, Wild Beasts and many others made their live debut in Australia in an epic year that saw many of the acts break through internationally after their announcement on the bill.
Laneway has always prided itself on picking acts early on their career (see Broken Social Scene, Feist, Gossip, Girl Talk, The Presets, Midnight Juggernauts, Gotye, Little Red, Tame Impala and The Temper Trap) but the 2010 festivals were an extraordinary display of both immaculate timing and good taste, even if we do say so ourselves!
For the 2011 events, the Laneway team continued to work on ways to improve the festival experience. The work undertaken by the team to deliver the line-up each year includes months of research, aka going to innumerable gigs, festivals, parties and anywhere else where a good tip on a special act could be uncovered. Each year, there are literally 100 more acts the team would have loved to add to the bill and it proves a decidedly difficult task making the decisions.
In 2011, Laneway launched in Asia, with the inaugural Singapore Laneway. It was a massive moment for the festival, with music fans from all over Asia travelling to the beautiful Canning Park to see their first Laneway. The festival took place in torrential rain, but the hardy spirits in attendance were not to be deterred, the event, known by some as "Rainway", instantly becoming the stuff of legend.
'Finally, a music festival in Southeast Asia that's worthy of the name,' Paul Kay, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Out Hong Kong, said. 'A fantastic venue, a packed and up-for-it audience, and a lineup that mixed unimpeachable indie credibility with balls-out, dance-till-you-drop rock'n'roll euphoria, Laneway Singapore couldn't have asked for a better debut. Even the non-stop torrential rain couldn't wash the smile from my face.'
After what many thought was Laneway best's line up in 2010, 2011's was arguably even better, featuring Foals, Warpaint, Beach House, Two Door Cinema Club, Yeasayer, Deerhunter, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and !!!, among many others.
Foals frontman Yannis Phillippakis called it 'the best line-up we've been a part of for a very long time,' while The Vine's Marcus T wrote that 'the top-to-bottom completeness of this year's Laneway line-up will be hard to beat in future years. Its roster of quality new bands coupled with on-the-cusp outright stars is veritably unmatched by any other festival. There's next to no filler...It also seems to breed a discerning music fan that's (largely) focussed on the music.'
Laneway's international profile continued to grow in 2011, with the festival holding an awesome day party at SXSW (featuring Twin Shadow, Foster The People, Givers, Hanni El Khatib and Jamie Woon) and curating a stage at the Field Day London festival, which played host to the likes of Matthew Dear, The Horrors and James Blake.
Once again in 2012, Laneway Festival delivered a uniquely forward thinking line-up, picking acts early before they exploded later in the year (e.g. M83, Charlift, SBTRKT, Toro Y Moi and Washed Out). By the time the festival came around, there was unprecedented anticipation for the event. The festival recorded its highest tickets sales ever in Singapore, Auckland and Sydney and all other shows were strong.
'This year's event seemed the most enjoyable yet… the 2012 Laneway proved that it's now an essential recurring destination on the calendar' said The Vine.
Laneway continued building on its international profile in 2012 by again hosting a stage at London's Field Day festival showcasing artists such as Blood Orange, Sleigh Bells, The Vaccines and Kindness. Laneway's presence was also felt at SXSW by teaming up with The Windish Agency, Eat Your Own Ears and Austinist to co-host the Austin or Bust day party featuring the likes of DZ Deathrays, Django Django and Zulu Winter.
Laneway Festival had perhaps its most successful year in 2013 with a string of sold out events in Australia and New Zealand, and a bunch of acts blowing up just as they were due to arrive in the country. Highlights included the majestic Bat For Lashes, highly energetic performances from Japandroids and Divine Fits, newcomers Alt-J, Of Monsters And Men, MS MR and Jessie Ware, as well as some amazing local flavour from Flume, Chet Faker, POND and The Rubens. Tone Deaf said 'Laneway does not fail to live up to its reputation, putting the mega-corporate festivals to shame with [its] authenticity'.
The festival continued its international crusade with record crowds in New Zealand and Singapore, and once again programmed a stage at Field Day London. The biggest news of the summer came at Laneway's filled-to-capacity SXSW party where is was announced Detroit, MI would be the next city to host Laneway Festival in September 2013. Sigur Ros and The National headline the inaugrual Laneway Festival Detroit with a line-up that spans the globe. This marks the first time an Australian music festival has launched in North America.
Produced with Chugg Entertainment, Palace Sports & Entertainment and the Paradigm Agency, Laneway Festival Detroit will be more than a music festival – it will be a full-on assault on the senses, with a singular line-up, celebrating Detroit's renown musical visionaries. After spending some time in Detroit a year ago, Laneway co-founder Danny Rogers said he knew the city was Laneway’s next stop and first American outpost. “Detroit is having its rebirth and as Laneway continues to evolve, we can identify with a city that is continuing to evolve as well,” Rogers said. “It seemed like a great fit and this line-up seals it.”
Organisers are busy working on the line-up for 2014 with many of the most exciting acts in the world already confirmed. The Laneway team have more plans to further develop Laneway in Australia and overseas, and hope that the journey will continue to be one of learning, of great friendships both new and old and, of course, of introducing Laneway audiences to the most vital music the world has to offer.