St Jerome’s Laneway Festival began with humble roots in the now-defunct Caledonian Lane in Melbourne’s CBD. It was 2005 and featured heavyweights The Avalanches, Cut Copy and Architecture in Helsinki taking to a makeshift stage in a pencil-thin laneway. Since then, the festival has blossomed to become a true stalwart of the Australian summer festival season.
As well as touring to the country’s capitals, Laneway has stretched its legs to New Zealand and Singapore, consistently delivering high class lineups from both local and international acts (this year’s includes Tame Impala, Nick Murphy a.k.a. Chet Faker, Jagwar Ma and Camp Cope).
What started as a street party (and an excuse to have fun) has turned into one of Australia’s most beloved festivals. We spoke with co-founders Danny Rogers and Jerome Borazio about the events that inspired Laneway, and what they’ve learnt building their own festival empire.[related_articles]4135[/related_articles] [related_articles]4135[/related_articles]
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, New York City[media_embed]https://youtu.be/KDEpwwqH2Zo[/media_embed]
This party was arguably the ultimate of all Bed Stuy Brooklyn street parties. Not only did they present the most insane line-up of all time (Mos Def, Kanye West, The Fugees and more), but they did exactly what a great street party should achieve which is bringing the community together, inviting all walks of life into their street to enjoy the spirit of summer.
Notting Hill Carnival, London
While living in West London circa 2010, I had the good fortune of making friends with Russell Henderson, one of the founding members of the Notting Hill Carnival. He explained that the festival started for neighbourhood children and soon turned into a walking procession with around 500 spectators. Fifty years later, the Notting Hill carnival represents the most epic of all street parties in the world with over one million people coming to West London to celebrate reggae, football, music and all of the amazing community offerings that spawn from it.
Brunswick Street Festival, Melbourne
Before our cities in Australia became homogenised and conservative, cultural hubs like Brunswick Street in Melbourne would close once a year for the weekend to celebrate numerous elements that created the culture of the street. The street would close to make way for people, bands and DJs performing – giving people the opportunity to converge and celebrate life in the area. Nothing was more exciting than heading down to one of these events, bumping into friends; meeting new people and often finding yourself sharing a moment with someone you didn’t know, who was just there to be part of their local community.
Warehouse parties in the 1980s
One of the most inspirational and boundary pushing events I’ve been to was when X played in an old warehouse in North Melbourne. I remember walking in, it was steamy hot, and there was a certain energy in the air. You could feel the anticipation, everyone was there to have a good time. You could feel the sense of community. It was the most basic set up, there was no stage. But X belted out the most incredible set. It had almost a rebellious feeling. For me, it showed that there was a strong community in the music world, there are people willing to push boundaries.
I’ve worked in bars and put on parties my whole life, so obviously a lot of things have gone into inspiring Laneway. But those warehouse parties in Melbourne, man. There’s nothing more exciting than walking into a room and just seeing people having a great time. It’s not an indulgent thing – but with Laneway, just seeing that many happy people and thinking I had something to do with this. I love it.
Miscellaneous events & festivals over the years
Laneway has been inspired not necessarily by any one festival but all different events. It could be a street festival in Malta, Primavera Porto, SXSW. All the different elements of food, music, and culture. Even when you’re a kid when you’re overseas, you get inspired. I’ve seen some great things at Field Day in London, I’ve been to crazy dance parties in caves in Croatia. The way our American partners put on our Detroit show, that was inspirational. Going to see The Hard-Ons play in a skate bowl. It’s a culmination of all these things and that incredible feeling of being part of something that keeps me motivated.
(Lead image: Laneway Festival/Facebook)
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival kicks off on Saturday January 21 at Gardens By The Bay in Singapore before stopping in to Brisbane, Melbourne, Auckland, Adelaide, Sydney and Fremantle. For tickets, lineup and event information, head here.