The most frustrating set clashes of Laneway Festival 2023

Set times are out and it’s time to start planning your Laneway experience – here are the most difficult choices you’ll have to make…

It’s less than a month until Laneway Festival makes its glorious comeback, with its first edition since early 2020 set to take place across five Australian dates (and one New Zealand date) in February.

Returning with a stacked line-up of both international heavyweights and homegrown favourites, Laneway 2023 has something for everyone. And while those with the unenviable gig of organising timetables for this year’s events have done a pretty good job at ensuring clashes aren’t too painful and there’s little overlap for similar audiences, there remain some tough decisions for eclectically-minded festivalgoers this year.

Check out this year’s set times here and see some of those difficult choices below.

Joji vs. Fontaines D.C.

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Fontaines D.C.
Fontaines D.C. CREDIT: Kevin Condon

Where: Brisbane and Perth
When: 8:25pm on the Never Let It Rest stage vs. 8:10pm on the Hell Fck Yeah!/Born Sandy Devotional stage

While not sharing much in common stylistically, both Joji and Fontaines D.C. will make their long-awaited Australian debuts as part of this year’s Laneway, making for a tough choice when it comes down to who to see towards the end of the night.

Joji comes prepared with latest album ‘Smithereens’ (featuring TikTok-fueled mega-hit ‘Glimpse of Us’) while Fontaines have got their latest masterpiece ‘Skinty Fia’ to draw from. Ultimately, this is probably going to come down to what sort of Laneway experience you’re after and whether you’re more inclined towards slow-burning pop ballads or searing, gloom-drenched post-punk.

Phoebe Bridgers vs. 100 Gecs

Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers at Mad Cool Festival 2022 (Picture: Andy Ford for NME)

Where: Sydney and Perth
When: 9pm on the Good Better Best stage vs. 9pm on the Everything Ecstatic stage (Sydney), 7:30pm on the Good Better Best stage vs. 7:25 on the Everything Ecstatic stage (Perth)

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Did you hear that? It’s the sound of thousands of very online, very emotional Laneway attendees’ hearts breaking at the realisation they’ll have to pick between Phoebe Bridgers and 100 Gecs.

No judgement here: it’s a very difficult decision. Gecs are bringing their experimental pop excess and wild stage show to Australian shores for the first time, while Bridgers has not visited since her debut tour in 2019 – releasing acclaimed second album ‘Punisher’ in that time. The good news is, whether it’s Bridgers’ lighters-in-the-air torch songs or Gecs’ glitched-out, hyperactive hyperpop, you’re guaranteed a stellar show either way.

Haim vs. Turnstile

Brendan Yates of Turnstile. CREDIT: Andy Ford

Where: Adelaide and Perth
When: 10pm on the Good Better Best stage vs. 10pm on the Lion Arts Factory stage (Adelaide), 9:30pm on the Good Better Best stage vs. 9:30pm on the Born Sandy Devotional stage (Perth)

A few years ago the overlap here may have been relatively minimal. However, since releasing their Grammy-nominated, hardcore crossover opus ‘Glow On’ in 2021, Turnstile have brought an entire legion of new fans from outside the genre all the way in. (They’ve also just dropped off the Sydney and Brisbane stops of the festival because of the Grammys, which makes their remaining Laneway sets all the more precious.)

Both bands are the final acts on their respective stages and offer a tempting way to close out your Laneway experience: the stadium-sized pop-rock of Haim – who recently revealed they’re working on album four, by the way – or the frenzied, sweaty moshpits courtesy of hardcore punk’s leading flagbearers.

The Beths vs. Harvey Sutherland vs. The Lazy Eyes

Liz Stokes of The Beths. Credit: Dave Simpson/WireImage
Liz Stokes of The Beths. Credit: Dave Simpson/WireImage

Where: Melbourne
When: 1:45pm on the Dean Turner stage, 1:55pm on the Everything Ecstatic stage, 2pm on the Never Let It Rest stage

A fun – that is, painful – three-way split relatively early in the day for Melbourne Laneway attendees, divvying up a few of the most exciting local (or in The Beths’ case, just across the Tasman) acts of the last couple years.

Both The Lazy Eyes and Sutherland released their long-awaited debut LPs last year, while The Beths reached new heights with ‘Expert in a Dying Field’. If you’re keen to get your boogie on early then Sutherland’s neurotic instrumental-funk jams are the perfect soundtrack to do it. If guitars and drums are more your thing, it’s a slightly tougher pick.

Mallrat vs. Julia Jacklin

Mallrat. Credit: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

Where: Sydney
When: 4:30pm on the Never Let It Rest stage, 4:50pm on the Hope Springs stage

Jacklin’s late addition to the Laneway line-up in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane is cause for celebration, but it does present a potentially challenging decision for Sydney festivalgoers who are also Mallrat fans.

On the one hand, we recently declared Jacklin’s ‘Pre Pleasure’ the best Australian album of 2022, and getting to hear some of those songs live for the first time is a hugely promising prospect. On the other, the likes of Mallrat’s ‘Butterfly Blue’ cuts such as ‘Your Love’ and ‘Rockstar’ – along with older favourites like ‘Groceries’ and ‘Charlie’ – are perfectly primed for the summer festival setting.

Stay tuned to NME for more Laneway updates and Australia music festival news

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