Lovely Laneways - St Jerome’s 2009

Last weekend I spent a hot, humid Sunday at Melbourne’s St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Perhaps the only reason I don’t pick up and move to Greenland during summer is that I harbour a great love for festival season, so armed with a big ol’ bottle of sunscreen (damn my British complexion) and an itch to hear some good tunes, I ventured outside for a day of toe tapping fun.

I’ve heard that St Jerome’s was a mixed experience for many, but miraculously I managed to avoid the queuing, sunburn, and inevitable arseholes that mar most festival experiences, and instead spent a lovely day outdoors in good company, and with great music aplenty. One of the highlights of my day was a truly off-the-planet set from the self described ‘cosmic gods of synth’ Pivot, and I was completely won over by the seafaring charm and hairy good-looks of Port O’Brien. I thoroughly enjoyed a great set from who are, to my mind, Australia’s best musical offering - Augie March - who played a handsome set list featuring most of their heavier material. Something about the humidity and the crowds made the mournful lyric ‘It's hot in the town with its back to the sea, O darling don't put your veil over me’ feel strangely appropriate as the sun set over Lonsdale Street, and I have been listening to this particular track on repeat since Sunday:

Brundisium - Live at PBS Studios 2003 (Augie March, Strange Bird)

Glenn Richards belts out a tune

Of course it’s not a good Festival without an amped up rock act, and with a rollicking, raucous set my favourite Brooklyn based rockers -The Hold Steady - truly delivered. The drug-fucked tragedy of their 2008 single Stay Positive evoked such pathos when belted out live, and Craig Finn, the band's surprisingly nerdy looking lead singer, leapt around the stage with such enthusiasm it was hard not to enjoy every moment of his performance. His final proclamation of ‘We’re All Holding Steady’ was surprisingly moving, elevating their performance above a simple rock ‘n’ roller to something that felt, to me at least, much more profound.

Craig Finn - The Hold Steady

Since Sunday I’ve heard a lot of complaints voiced about the running of St Jerome’s 09. I must admit that claustrophobia and a desire to sit in the shade got the better of me about half way through my day, and I fled the crowds mid-afternoon, just missing an apparently excellent set from Cut Off Your Hands. I was a little upset to have missed seeing one of the festival’s biggest drawcards, but being the ingenious young ladies that we are, my friends and I didn’t let our necessary break from the music get us down, and instead caught a tram down to Flinders Street and held a sneaky picnic on a particularly shady patch of grass. Snacks included fresh baby tomatoes, feta, cornchips and dip, not to mention a rejuvenating (believe it or not) few glasses of cheap (very cheap) wine, drunk from teeny tiny plastic cups that were kindly donated to us by the nice man at Vintage Cellars. It seems that impromptu picnics are becoming a feature of my 09’ festival exploits, (although the feta we ate last Sunday was decidedly more solid than Tara and I’s accidental Adelaide fondue.)

2009 is shaping up to be a delightfully musical year. I admit my gastronomic exploits thus far seem less than appealing, but melted cheese and terrible wine notwithstanding I highly recommend you pack a picnic when you next venture out into the sun.

Listen To: How A Resurrection Really Feels (The Hold Steady, Separation Sunday)

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