The inaugural Laneway Detroit (the first festival of its kind outside of its birthplace Australia, and Singapore) in theory was a confusing choice. Advertised as “Laneway Detroit“, the festival actually took place in the college town of Rochester Hills. Rather than taking place in an urban alleyway like its predecessors, it instead took place in a serene, hilly park. It also seemed to lack any cultural identity linking it to the land from which it came.
With that said, Laneway was a success.
A relatively short jaunt from Toronto couldn’t deter us from a lineup this loaded and fresh. Organizers have prided themselves on Laneway’s “no-headliner” policy over the years, a policy they seem to have conveniently (and fortunately for us) disremembered with the addition of The National and Sigur Rós.
Photo: Jehnny Beth, vocalist of Savages
Nestled away amongst the green hills were five stages, each home to a diverse mix of intimate performances. Two main stages (Derrick and Roscoe) placed side-by-side were an interlaced and unrelenting blend of eclectic sounds throughout the day. Here one could move to the indelible, laid-back grooves of Washed Out, the post-rock brilliance of The Dismemberment Plan, the re-envisioned goth furiousity of Savages, and the catchy Scottish bellows of Frightened Rabbit.
Just beyond the grassy apex of the festival grounds, The Meadow Stage, was the confined home to an early soulful set by Chet Faker and a bumpin’ Grey Goose fuelled rap blast from El-P and Killer Mike, performing together as Run The Jewels.
The Pavilion Stage band shell at the bottom of the hill was home to many of the days most captivating performances, including early jazz/rock dabblings from My Brightest Diamond and the emphatic synth-pop musings of Glasgow’s CHVRCHES. As daylight faded, ethereal Icelandic outfit Sigur Rós delivered a masterful set, equally epic and cathartic, as an incredulous audience gazed mesmerized in awed silence.
It will be interesting to see if and where Laneway may pop-up in North America next year should the experiment grow into an annual event. Perhaps Toronto would be a good fit in years to come.