Laneways, loud music, and drunk chicks chain smoking ciggies in the gutter - you’d almost think you were in inner-city Melbourne circa 2007. We weren’t, however, we were spending a blissfully sunny Saturday on a small Sydney street thanks to the city’s independent youth radio station, FBi. For their second year holding street festivals, the network decided to move to - where else - Surry Hills, following the success of their small but surprisingly well organised Newtown event in 2010. Much like its debut, the Devonshire St location proved to once again draw in the under 25 hipster crowd.
WORDS: Emilia Terzon
PHOTOS: Mark Sherborne
Cashing in on these credentials were little vintage stalls, such as one by cult boutique Dear Pluto, held in the locations’ offshooting “laneways” (lets be honest about them just being normal streets, eh?). It seemed strange at first to have this element at a music festival where, as the day progressed, shopper’s started to look more and more substance-addled. Yet, as the easy beats of summer-lovin’ Melbourne outfit Oscar & Martin started to play, much money could been seen exchanging hands: in fact at one point in the afternoon it looked like this was the main focus for many a young female.
Not to be outshone by fashion was Triple J favourite of the moment, Big Scary. To the lesser clued in indie music fan, this Melbourne duo sounds a lot like a hybrid of other circulating bands - Dappled Cities, Bon Iver, maybe even a more upbeat version of the The Middle East. Live in concert however, they truly managed to become one of the more enjoyable acts of the day, with cutely upbeat songs like ‘Autumn’, juxtaposing the coming Spring months perfectly for all the listeners. As soon as they finished there was heady movement to the bar - for some fairly pungent cider or an RTD - and the lines for the event’s venue-based acts started to pile up.
It was unfortunately here that FBi’s less than amazing organisation on the day started to become evident. Reactions weren’t exactly comparable to the outcry against Laneway Festival’s infamously crowded event a few years back (and it must be remembered that Changing Lanes patrons were paying a fraction of the price), yet lining up for twenty minutes plus to see an act wasn’t the most enjoyable part of the day. As one attendee noted: “I can’t believe I’m lining up to get in to The Gaelic. Usually I’d line up to get the hell out of that place.” Luckily once they were inside, Lanie Lane - hot off her much hyped collaboration with Jack White - managed to create a fun hoedown like atmosphere. Kudos go out to any little lady that can stand capture a crowd solo with only herself, a guitar, and a very cute cowgirl hat.
Entering out of The Gaelic - and avoiding the heaving dance venue next door - saw many a group sitting away from the mainstage, where they huddled in groups with plastic cups of cider, cigarettes, and plates of (really amazing) Turkish gozleme. Many of them rose to watch The Vasco Era - easily one of the most engaging acts of the day - who used a fun lighting set-up against the impending dusk light. Ending the day was another drawcard, PVT, who drew a manically obsessive crowd. There were soft calls of “drainer” from younger audience members and, as the serious electro act progressed, the edges of the festival started to whittle out. Left over in the dark and cold night was the diehard fans who, along with everybody else who attended, seemed to enjoy the day: an easy, cheap, and relatively organic festival that fit for a city increasingly embracing its inner-Melbourne.