After a whirlwind tour across six cities, the dust from Laneway Festival 2020 has finally settled. Headlining pop superstars The 1975 and Charli XCX awed thousands of punters, but there were also many rising stars who stole the show, The Chats and Tones And I being just two prominent examples.
When the NME Australia crew weren’t running around Laneway in Melbourne and Sydney talking to punters and artists, we were checking out as many sets as we could – particularly the performances by young upstarts with much to prove. These were four that impressed.
100 score top marks in Laneway Sydney
Winning triple j’s Unearthed competition to open Laneway Sydney’s main stage was a coup for 100, but it’s just another string to their formidable bow. The band – who incorporate elements of noise, pub and garage rock – are fresh from a huge 2019. They stole the show at a monthly residency at Sydney’s legendary Lansdowne Hotel, and ended the year by supporting The Barking Spiders at a special secret gig. They also released two killer singles, ‘Just Us’ and ‘Weightless’, both of which have served as set staples ever since.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of catching 100 live, imagine what it would have been like to see punk giants like The Saints or X in their early, wilder years. 100 are a band that follow in the footsteps of bands such as these, while also making a point of blazing their own trail along the way. – David James Young
Spacey Jane up the ante
This time last year, you’d have been forgiven for thinking Spacey Jane was the title of some kids’ cartoon. But the Perth band have put in work to make a name for themselves since – including, but not limited to, a string of sold-out national tours, several singles on high rotation, a spot in triple j’s Hottest 100 and slots in both Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festival. It all culminated in one of the more undeniable moments of Laneway Sydney.
Not many bands currently on the circuit put as much energy into their performance as Spacey Jane do, from leaping guitarist Ashton Le Cornu to bopping bassist Peppa Lane. Their sets are electric and infectious; even if you don’t know a song, you’re moving by the time it’s finished. With single ‘Skin’ on the way and a huge national tour on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to invest in all things Spacey Jane. – David James Young
Agung Mango kickstarts Laneway Melbourne
Agung Mango – another triple j Unearthed Laneway competition winner – took the stage at Footscray Park a mere 15 minutes after Laneway Melbourne’s gates had opened, but he performed as though he was a nighttime headliner.
The half-Balinese, half-Italian Melbourne MC is still exploring his lyrical identity – Mango’s equally comfortable chanting vibey aphorisms about partying in Japan (‘Woke Up InJapan’) as he is exploring insomnia (new single ‘Rodent’) – but as a performer, he’s consistently thrilling. He flexes a deadly double-time flow similar to fellow Aussie Genesis Owusu; when Mango spits a barb, it pierces.
A full band locked into Kendrick Lamar-style groove propelled the rapper through a dense 30-minute set punctuated by circle pits. The energy went up a notch when Mango hauled a group of bum-bag wearing, Adidas-sporting kids onto the stage to serve as impromptu hypemen.
Mango was so wrapt he went overtime and had to orchestrate an abridged version of his final song. The MC is yet to release a full-length record, but an EP recorded with most of the live setup at Laneway is due later this year. – Joshua Martin
Benee blows the masses away
Nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter Benee has been on the rise with her brand of electro-pop that’s joyous to a fault. Stella Bennet writes about intimacy with irreverence and forensic attention to emotional detail: her biggest song ‘Glitter’ revolves around the time a stranger dumped a bottle of the stuff on her head in a gay club in her native Auckland.
Even after a bumper 2019 with the success of her dual EP releases ‘Fire On Marzz’ and ‘Stella And Steve’, Benee, with this Laneway tour, proves she’s only getting started. Drawing one of the day’s biggest crowds at the usually muted 2:30pm slot in Melbourne, she pranced through all 10 of her recorded songs in slinky live arrangements. Benee has shed the rawness of her early live performances, and now balances a flippant stage persona with genuinely anthemic pop music.
Although Benee told the Sydney Morning Herald late last year that she’s committed to a constant trickle of releases, she’s about to embark on a mammoth world tour until May, so we’ll have to wait to hear what this rising star has in store. – Joshua Martin