3 St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Comes to Detroit

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival Comes to Detroit

Photo by Bridget Waldron
Photo by Bridget Waldron

It was a set-up almost too good to be true: blue sky, rolling hills, 70-degree weather, and a full day’s worth of excellent music, delicious food, cold beer, and excited crowds.

The creators of Australian-based St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival have transported their eclectic music celebration to U.S. shores, and lucky for us (and them), they chose our very own Detroit as their new home. This past Saturday marked the inaugural festival at Meadow Brook Music Festival in Rochester Hills.

The festival boasted a crowd of about 7,500, creating a unique blend of intimacy and energy.

The day began with a lively, synth-filled performance by Haerts followed by Youth Lagoon on the neighboring stage. Trevor Powers’ dreamy, ambient sound was the perfect accompaniment to the early afternoon sunshine and plentiful daisy crowns dotting the crowd.

The afternoon passed in a sunny haze of delicious food truck samplings (my personal favorite being Clarkston Union’s homemade mac and cheese), community art installations, giant plastic cups of beer, and stellar performances by artists across genres—the small but popular Movement/Ghostly Stage pumped out dance-y beats and moody electronica throughout the day and boasted two performers who hail from Detroit, Matthew Dear and Shigeto, and the festival’s sole rap representatives, duo Run the Jewels, got the crowd going with their old-school hip-hop vibes.

Courtesy of Caroline Erickson
Courtesy of Caroline Erickson

Another native Michigander, My Brightest Diamond, put on a riveting performance, with an intro from Detroit Party Marching Band. The local group brought their gold glitter-infused jams into the thick of things.

From folky Scotsmen Frightened Rabbit to Solange, it was hard to choose which stage to head to, but the small size of the festival made it easy to bop from show to show.

As dusk set on the lush grounds of Meadow Brook, Washed Out performed amidst flowers and fairy lights, and despite initial technical difficulties, created the ultimate soundtrack for the few days of summer as well as the last few hours of the event.

 Evening saw the festival bring out the big guns—headliners Sigur Rós and The National.

Sigur Rós spread out across the Pavilion stage while their ethereal sound filled the arena and the hill beyond, where my friend and I stargazed to the epic sweep of bowed guitar and poignant, Icelandic vocals.

The National, as the highly anticipated final performance, did not disappoint. The excitement of the crowd was palpable as lights blinked on stage and mics were checked. Lead singer Matt Berninger and co. stepped out on stage to thunderous applause and immediately launched into “I Should Live in Salt” off their new album Trouble Will Find Me, Berninger’s soulful baritone eminently suited to the brisk fall evening.

The highlight of the show came during the roaring anthem “Mr. November,” when Berninger’s famous crowd-wandering had concert-goers shifting in a group-effort to track him through the horde, hundreds of hands keeping the microphone cord from hindering his progress.

As a longtime fan of The National, I had goosebumps that had nothing to do with the evening chill, and spent the entire show with a ridiculous, irrepressible smile on my face—an expression that perfectly sums up my entire Laneway experience.

They don’t call it Detroit Rock City for nothing.

Bridget Waldron, Contributing Writer


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