Will an older audience show up to Laneway Festival in 2018?

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Next year's Laneway line up puts a lot of faith in the older music lovers of Australia.

I go to a lot of music festivals by myself. There are a couple of reasons for that.

Firstly, I’m a loner with questionable social skills and a selfish unwillingness to compromise on the bands I want to see. That makes attracting a festival buddy a bit tricky.

But also, most of my friends just don’t do festivals anymore. The argument being that, at the age we are at, they’ve grown out of them.

St. Vincent at Laneway 2015. Photo by Dave Kan.

A rough look at the demographic of the audience at the past few Laneway Festivals gives credence to that argument.

With line ups boasting the likes of Dune Rats, Glass Animals and Tash Sultana (2017), and Flume, Chvrches and The Smith Street Band (2016), you can understand why they’ve drawn largely young crowds.

But a look at their 2018 line up, unveiled on Monday, it seems as if Laneway aren’t willing to accept that self-fulfilling prophecy that older audiences won’t attend festivals.

The artists they’ve booked suggest Laneway 2018 is a perfect re-entry point for anyone who thinks they can’t do festivals anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, the festival has still maintained an undercard of quality mature acts in these past couple of years (Floating Points, St. Vincent, Beach House and Whitney, to name a few), but the line up for next year puts a bit more weight on those older-facing artists to bring in the people.

When Laneway booked Slowdive, they weren’t expecting the audience on the triple j Facebook to light up. When they cut a cheque for Father John Misty, they weren’t picturing a throng of screaming teens at the front of the stage. And when classic rock throwback king Adam Granduciel of The War On Drugs signed the dotted line, no one was deluded into thinking he’d draw the same kind of crowd as Nick Murphy had the year prior.


Many of these acts appeal only to older music lovers, not your ‘typical’ festival crowd of 2017.

This line up puts a lot of faith in the older music lovers of Australia to stand up, leave the house and engage with a major music festival. Will that serve as too big a risk?

As music lovers in such a far-flung part of the world, we’d all better hope not. Events like Laneway might be the only way some of these bands can afford to come to Australia, let alone often overlooked markets like Adelaide and Perth.

So, let’s look at a couple of the key reasons you might not go to the event and see if we can’t work through them.

It’s too expensive

Yes, it is expensive.

A ticket, a few beers, perhaps an Uber there and back, a meal or two – this can easily blow out to be a $300 day if you're from the city. Even more if you're in a regional area. That is not the kind of money most people can come by easily.

But it’s not too expensive.

A day of music of this standard for $150 is a bargain.

A $10 beer seems like a travesty, but it’s not far removed from what you’d pay at Friday night knock-off drinks at most bars in an Australian city.

You have to save up for it. Which means you’ve gotta figure out whether seeing great live music is a financial priority or not. And if it’s not, then so be it.

But you can’t say it’s too expensive, because that’s just not true. 

I’ve never heard of half these bands

Good. Because you don’t have time to see most of them anyway. There are only so many acts you can see in a day, and while thousands of younger punters are losing it to Loyle Carner and Amy Shark, you’re gonna be busy, enveloped in the goodness of Aldous Harding or Bonobo.

Ask a couple of questions, listen to the radio or have a quick skim of some of the artists on your streaming service of choice and find some new names to check out if you find yourself with gaps in your schedule.

If you like funk and soul and haven’t seen Anderson.Paak, you’d be crazy to miss him. Same goes for The Internet, who are well worth rubbing your shoulders with the excitable young crowd to witness.

(Sandy) Alex G is reminiscent of great indie rock songwriters like Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) and Jason Lytle (Grandaddy). Sylvan Esso’s sleek electro-pop could provide some legitimately euphoric moments if the energy between the duo and the crowd is as electric as it could be.

If you go to Laneway, you’d have to really be unlucky to not experience a full day of brilliant music. 

I can’t handle the mud/I don’t like camping

Laneway is in the city. You can usually catch public transport to and from the show and it won’t take you all that long. You’ll get to sleep in your own bed, use your own shower and, at most venues, the chance of getting muddy is pretty minimal. At least more avoidable than at most events. 

Everyone in the crowd is a dickhead

Be the change you want to see.

Will you go to Laneway? Let us know why, or why not on Facebook or Twitter