From a back-alley bar in Melbourne to capital cities around Australia and a date in Singapore, St Jerome's Laneway Festival has grown remarkably since launching in 2004.
The annual boutique event, which showcases indie rock and emerging bands to (mostly) discerning music lovers, will take its next big step later this year - a date in Motor City, US.
Detroit, Michigan will host the first North American instalment of Laneway on September 14, with 25 bands, including five Australian acts and "a couple of super special headliners", expected to attract 15,000 fans, according to promoter Danny Rogers.
Rogers, who manages Gotye, the Temper Trap and Chvrches, will announce the event today at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
"Over the years, so many artists have said they wished there was something like Laneway in America," he says. "An opportunity came and we thought you only live once. Let's just have a crack."
Rogers and fellow Laneway founder Jerome Borazio have partnered with Detroit-based Palace Sports and Entertainment and LA talent agency Paradigm to take the burgeoning Aussie festival to the States.
Laneway Detroit will be held at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre, on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills, which was originally built as the summer venue for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The line-up will be announced in May.
Much has been made of the economic decline of Detroit, especially the slow death of the automotive industry.
"It's a city that's had a tough modern history," Rogers says. "The last 20 years have seen a lot of industries fall by the wayside.
"But it is a city of people who are incredibly proud. There are changes going on. Because the prices of property and everything has dropped to all-time lows, a lot of artists are moving into Detroit."
The 38-year-old music maven said it was "an honour and a bit of a responsibility" to be involved in the revitalisation of Motor City. Rogers says they chose Detroit over other cities, such as Chicago or San Francisco, because they already have indie-leaning music festivals.
Palace Sports and Entertainment, which owns NBA team the Detroit Pistons, hosts 200 events a year at its three Detroit venues, including Meadow Brook.
Palace executive vice-president of operations Lucinda K. Treat says that her company was looking for an annual "tent-pole" event for the amphitheatre.
"There is nothing in Detroit that offers discerning music fans the opportunity to see bands on the rise or showcases the breadth of talent the way Laneway does," she says. "Laneway has amazing credibility in the music industry and has become a formidable, taste-making brand . . . it was an irresistible partnership."
Laneway, which launched in Perth four years ago, has helped kickstart the careers of Mumford & Sons, Florence and the Machine and the Grammy Award-winning Gotye.
In 2011, the festival made its debut in Asia. This year, the third Singapore show attracted 10,000 people.
Singapore and Detroit seem a long way from Borazio and Rogers' "summer series" of gigs from then-new bands such as Architecture in Helsinki and the Presets down Caledonian Lane in the Melbourne CBD.
"We just couldn't believe that we pulled off a party with 1400 people and that's honest," Rogers says of the first Laneway in 2004. "We never thought that would happen, let alone this."
The festival is not without growing pains, with fans overrunning the Idolize Spiegeltent stage during Cloud Nothing's set at the Perth event last month.
Rogers says Laneway is "100 per cent locked and loaded" to return to WA next year and he hopes to get 10,000 fans into the Perth Cultural Centre - 2000 more than this year.
The extra punters could be accommodated if the Perth International Arts Festival allowed Laneway to use its Festival Gardens stage, on the old WA Museum site.
"Going into that PIAF space would not only give them great exposure it would be great for artists," says Rogers.
To date, PIAF artistic director Jonathan Holloway has been against the idea, something Rogers describes as "short-sighted" and "disappointing".
What can we expect next from the little festival that could? Laneway Antwerp? Laneway Caracas?
"I would probably prefer to get Detroit right and maybe look at another city in America," Rogers laughs."Really take the same approach as we have in Australia, which is to build it slowly and if it works we can look at other cities. "It sounds boring but I'd prefer to keep my feet on the ground rather than thinking about world domination."
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