by Tristan Rayner in New Music on Tuesday 11 February 2014

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival is the hipster festival in Australia each year, and the 2014 version of this great indie band experience was drenched in sun, and, well, ladies – both in the big crowd liberally making use of sunscreen (and, later, after-sun soothing aloe vera) and enjoying the performances onstage.

It was the most female performers we’ve seen at a festival – and we’re not just talking 90s Girl Power. No, at Laneway the likes of Lorde, Haim, CHVRCHES, Savages, The Jezabels, Warpaint, Daughter, and more, were wielding axes, punishing drums, and belting out vocals. And nearly all came with a big stage presence.

Add in a dash of Triple J’s Hottest 100 winner Vance Joy, some funk from Jamie xx, and understated rhythms from Four Tet, and you could why such a happy crowd made their way around the four stages.

The stand-out performance was from Lorde, with her soulful vocals. Her setlist featured the Grammy award winning ‘Royals’ (which could only manage second on the Hottest 100 this year.) The biggest crowd turned up for this empowering, feel-good song, with the highest ratio of boys on ground to girls on shoulders since the last Finnish Wife Carrying Championship.

Special shout-out to The Red Bull Music Academy stage, which hosted the dance tunes, including Jamie xx. It was a hot, sweaty environment, perfect for the rolling beats on offer. Close friends were lost in the pit, and new friends made in the accidental bumping crowd.

Laneway seems to get things right: while the lines for the toilets only grow longer, there are a number of quality food outlets (shout out to Longrain), beer lines are short, and cider is plentiful. All you have to watch out for is feeling desperately uncool, as hipsters rock the vintage, the retro, the bra-less and the bold.

‘Till next year…

[Photos by Elise Boyd]