I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey… well, not really, but I would like to give my review of the Future Music Festival. I will be doing this in Chapters, because I feel like it and I must apologise in advance for the poor quality of the photos, I decided to take only my smart phone with me so the camera (precious baby that she is) would not get damaged/lost. Also please note that this post is quite long, so, err, deal with it.
Chapter 1: Getting there.
I suppose I should premise this entry with some explanation as to why I would travel all the way to Sydney to go to Future when they have a perfectly good version in Melbourne; the reason is simple, the only person I knew who wanted to go was Louise, she lives in Sydney, so I decided that was as good a reason as any to go up there to see the show with her.
Now Louise lives in a lovely terrace house in inner Sydney so we thought we would start the day off with a big breaky at a local café – it was BIG and it was amazing. I had Spanish omelette with chorizo, feta and tomato with a side of bacon and avocado. I realise this is a lot of breaky but the theory was we wouldn’t need to buy as much of the horrible slop at the festival at grossly inflated prices if we ate well before-hand.
In order to get to the Festival we decided to get public transport. This seemed like a totally good idea and we jumped on the train to Central. When we got off the train we were greeted with this line of people waiting to get onto the buses provided by the festival to ship everyone out to Randwick Racecourse.
The line moved quite quickly and we were then confronted with a bus full of people who were many years younger than we, many of whom had started drinking (etc.) long before arriving at the festival.
When we got out of the buses at the racecourse we were instructed to walk through an enormous, long tunnel to get to the stages in centre. This would have been fine except it smelled strongly of horse excrement and a number of the other patrons had some difficulty navigating the whole one foot in front of the other thing.
Chapter 2: Getting into the groove
Once we were safely inside the event we realised that it was HUGE and there were not that many people there yet, it was about 1.30pm.
I snapped this shot of our fabulous orange armbands in preparation for the good times ahead. Also for those of you playing at home the next picture is what I wore, I also had magenta stockings with black fishnets over them and purple sparkly leg warmers. I was on FIRE (fashion wise)! We started off wandering around a bit, trying to get our bearings so that we could move efficiently from one stage to the next. Louise had kindly prepared an itinerary with locations before we left.
On our wanderings we found our way into the Paul van Dyk tent where there were about 30 people rocking out in front of the stage and probably the same number again taking refuge under the giant tent from the blazing midday sun. Louise informs me that Sydney had been pouring with rain for weeks leading up to my visit, but while I was there it didn’t rain at all. I like to believe it was putting on a show of lovely weather just to impress me. The vibe in the PVD tent was pretty chilled and the DJ was spinning some excellent tracks; he was a larger, geeky-looking guy but he was working the crowd like a champion. I felt like it was an appropriate start to the day’s festivities.
Chapter 3: Naked and Famous
Naked and Famous were the first band on the list we wanted to see, I had not heard much of their stuff before we arrived, but Louise assured me that they were awesome – and they were. I would call them a sort of psychedelic rock/pop group (although a true fan may correct me here). They were professional and had a really tight sound, which I thoroughly enjoyed even though I was not familiar with the music. Unfortunately we had to leave their set mid way through to move to the next set, I would however definitely encourage you all to look them up on the internets, they make good music.
Chapter 4: Skrillex
There has been a lot of poo-pooing of Skrillex, I don’t really understand why, perhaps because he’s the flavour of the month, perhaps because he’s a total emo-kid, perhaps because he’s become so damn popular in such a short time, or perhaps it’s just radio fatigue – I don’t know. Louise and I, however, decided that regardless of his less than alternative level of cool we were super keen to see him play.
Skrillex did not disappoint! The crowd was massive, it would have been almost 80% of everyone there at the time jammed in front of the Las Venus (main) stage. Everyone was starting to rock out, I was jumping, Skrillex was rocking, and it was generally really awesome. The crowd, predictably was mostly the younger attendees and they were all focusing on the music and the good times; equally predicably there were some tossers in the crowd who thought it was a good idea to climb up the speaker towers, I thought it was fairly appropriate that any person stupid enough to climb a speaker tower several stories high while clearly very drunk who unfortunately fell off would be eligible for the Darwin Awards*
It was about this time and Louise and I really started to get into the vibe of the festival; started to let go and really feel the music.
Chapter 5: Die Antwoord
Skrillex had been amazing and we were pumped to see Die Antwoord next. I have been into these guys for a while now; they are a peculiar South African group that might be best described as rappers. Their main characters are MC Ninja, a very thin, very strange looking man covered in prison-style tattoos; MC Yo-Landi who is a tiny, blonde, pocket-rocket type with a very high pitched, almost cartoon-esque speaking voice and a very sweet singing voice; and lastly DJ Hi-Tec who spins the backing tracks.
Die Antwoord put on a show; not just a performance but a real audio-visual spectacular. They swear, they write filthy lyrics, they are down and dirty and they have a stage presence that is difficult to do justice to in words. They were inside the pavilion and it was almost completely dark inside. The atmosphere was palpable; everyone was really pumped to see them. I think being in the pavilion meant that the energy created in the audience was amplified and fed back to us; it was like being sucked into an amazing Die Antwoord vortex. Their set lasted only an hour but in that hour I jumped and danced harder than I ever have before. Both Louise and I commented afterwards that the hour seemed to last forever and they we were wishing they would be less awesome for a moment so we could catch our breaths! When it was over we all stumbled out into the light again, dazed, confused, feeling slightly naked and so, so happy.
Chapter 6: Foam Party
This is fairly self explanatory; there was a stage set-up whose sole purpose was to be the foam party. They had set up barriers and foam machines, they played phat beats that got the crowd psyched and then sprayed foam all over them at semi-regular intervals. It was quite mental.
At one point we looked into the pit, which was filled to about knee height with foam to see at guy writhing around on the ground. Firstly we were concerned that he was having some sort of seizure, but when he jumped up and went back to rocking out we realised he was just really getting into the foam. We decided not the get into the foam-pit as we were quite happy with out feet being dry.
Chapter 6: Fatboy Slim
Fatboy Slim is a veteran of the electronic music scene, he has had some excellent hits in the mainstream and has obviously kept up with walking the beat of regularly performing, however his set was vastly different to what I was expecting.
To start with he was remixing his own stuff with other artists stuff in a way I wasn’t expecting; he had the genius idea to pair his own Rockerfeller Skank with The Rolling Stone’s Satisfaction. It was not familiar to me this new mix versions, but at the same time there were awesome elements of the familiar thrown in just when I was losing touch with the set. Fatboy Slim is a fantastic performer and he was one of the few who didn’t scream into the mic trying to get the crowd pumped; he just trusted the music.
Oh and the visual display; that was trippy. At one point he had pictures of faces on the big screen (he was at the Las Venus stage so the big screen was BIG) that were merging into other faces, and the merges became faster and faster. Again it was one of those familiar/unfamiliar things; the merging face was a grotesque mask which would suddenly resolve into someone I recognised only to disintegrate immediately into the next merge. The highlight of the visual display was when an image appeared that looked like the home screen of a Mac, and it stayed there for a while. I commented to Louise that I wondered if it was going to turn into something or if something was broken. My question was answered almost immediately when the spinning rainbow ball of death started to expand, at first slowly but then faster, to fill the whole screen. It blew my mind having the whole screen filled with a rotating rainbow pinwheel.
Fatboy Slim’s set lasted for an hour and a half, but oddly felt shorter than Die Antwoord. One thing that really struck Louise about the set was that while Fatboy Slim was playing the sun was setting, adding to the awesome light/laser show he had put on.
Chapter 8: New Order
The last band we wanted to see was New Order. Louise and I have both been fans of New Order for ages and it was one of the main reasons I had wanted to go to Future Music. We were concerned, however, because they had received pretty lack-lustre reviews from the Brisbane show.
The downside to seeing New Order was that we couldn’t see Aphex Twin, another big draw-card of the event because they were billed at the same time. However the reasoning was that we knew more New Order stuff than Aphex Twin stuff and that New Order was less likely to tour again given that they were older and more volatile as a group. Plus Aphex Twin was in the pavilion and neither of us thought we could handle going back into the vortex of awesome.
New Order was professional, they were tight, they were clearly used to being on stage. Bernard Sumner was a bit grumpy (we thought perhaps it was past his bed time) and probably could have done with being a bit louder in the mix. At one stage it looked like he picked up a pair of ladies underwear that had been thrown up and tossed them on the speak stack with a look of complete boredom (because that stuff happens to me all the time, y’know?). The best thing about New Order was that most the crowd had clearly decided to see other performers so we were able to get right up close to the stage. We were also surrounded by older people who were slightly less drunk and slightly less aggressive/disorderly than the crowd had been at Fatboy Slim.
Again their visuals were amazing; during Blue Monday they showed footage of a person’s hand running through stalks of wheat, it was beautiful and poetic and honestly was nearly too much for my strung out emotions to handle.
Chapter 9: Getting home
After a day packed full with amazing sensory pleasures and hundreds of thousands of people** we were pretty keen to get home. The walk through the long tunnel of doom was horrible on the way out for an entirely different reason; some of the more boisterous members of the crowd decided that singing loudly was a good idea. Large numbers of drunk people singing in an enclosed space is deafening. It was also completely ruining the afterglow that we had from New Order. When we reached the exits we realised that we would have to shuffle back onto the buses to get back to Central with everyone who was now very loud and obnoxious. Neither Louise nor I thought we could tolerate the close quarters anymore so we decided to walk. The walk was only 5km, but after all day on our feet dancing our hearts out and with a huge crowd of others also walking home, the trip took us about two hours. We were exhausted, exhilarated and quite hungry. With all the hoo-hah and hassles that came with the festival I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Long Live Live Music!
*No-one fell off.
**Apparently only 45,000 but still a freaking large number of people!