The sun is shining and it only looks like there is a slight chance of rain later in the day. With a line up that features an assortment of dance artists from a range of genres, Creamfields looks like the place to be. As we walk out into the main stage arena, the crowd is already pumping to the electro-house styling of Dada Life. The Swedish duo can and will play an energetic set to a degree that it makes you wonder why they are playing so early in the day. The raw ability to blow over the crowd and drop great track after great track made them an absolute highlight of the day.
While waiting for Bingo Players to follow up Dada life on the main stage, we took a wander to explore the rest of the acts and stages. Local favourite Cassian was hidden away in the Outrage stage, a room that had the potential to emulate a small scale underground rave, were it not only containing 30 people. The result of which was an echoing room with the bass resonating through the hardwood floors and distorting the songs so much that most people left immediately.
It seemed most of the stages were empty, with everyone hording into the main arena. We join the crowd and head over to Bingo Players. I’ve heard a lot of hype behind this Dutch duo so I’m very excited to see what they’ve got. Sadly, the first half hour of their set is predictable dance-pop hits and the second time we hear Swedish House Mafia’s One (Your Name). It becomes immediately clear that we have our Creamfields song of the day. Bingo Players had the potential to have quite a memorable set if it weren’t for the fact that they dropped the sound in an attempt to make the crowd sing-a-long every 10 minutes. Fortunately, Martin Solveig soon came to the rescue.
The Frenchman is no stranger to Australian soil and his electro-pop songs are catchier than Swine Flu, only more desirable. The second he steps behind the decks, pure magic fills the arena. Dropping in a wide variety of classics from Dead Prez’ Hip Hop to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers Can’t Stop and a show stealing moment, a previewing of his new track with long time collaborators Dragonette, Big In Japan. This set right here is why you come to a festival.
We sneakily duck out to catch a bit of Gabriel and Dresden on the Cream stage. Horden Pavilion sounds like Ibiza, feels like 4 in the morning but looks like a fairly empty warehouse. It is a real shame that more people didn’t venture out of the main arena for sets like this because Gabriel and Dresden pack a powerful set and were far more engaging than Chuckie back on the main stage, who followed in a similar suit of Bingo Players, but he traded in the sing-a-longs for a book of cheesy crowd ‘pleasing’ one liners. Bring on Skrillex.
The dub-step man of the hour and one of the biggest sets of the day, Skrillex was beyond engaging and enthusiastic about being here in Sydney. I am not big on my dub-step but after this set, I’m pretty eager to jump on board. This was the first set of the day that everyone was locked in from start to finish.
We have half an hour before deadmau5 takes the stage, which means only 20 minutes to catch a bit of Surkin without missing out on the Sydney debut of the now famous cube. Surkin was sadly locked away in the empty Outrage room, performing to a handful of people. It is a real shame because for such a young DJ, Surkin puts together a captivating blend of French House, but this is the second time he has come down and had his set overlap with deadmau5. It seems most of Sydney will not know what they are missing.
I’d love to stay at Surkin but it feels wrong to do a review of a festival without seeing the headliner, so we hurry back to the main arena. The cube is there and waiting. When the time finally arrives (it was a long 10 minutes despite Grant Smillie putting on a better set as a filler than most acts did with a full hour), a ghost appears at the top of the cube and the music begins. The visuals show an original Super Mario Bros. recording but with the addition of a ‘deadmau5’ character. Then the visuals slow down as the ghost disappears and the mouse head returns. The next half hour can only be described as wasted potential as the cube is barely utilized in enhancing the rather drab presentation of music. You may as well go home, put all your deadmau5 songs on shuffle, turn on your computers visualizer and dance to that. After 30 minutes, things start to pick up, but it isn’t enough to hold the crowd as the numbers start to dwindle. Not so much so that the arena seems bare but enough to make it clear that this headliner spot reeks of average. This is quite possibly the most lackluster headliner set I’ve seen since Fatboy Slim attempted to play Sydney Good Vibes blind drunk on a faulty main stage. At least when he was playing right, it was fun.
All in all, today was a pretty fun day with a few moments of brilliance and the rest was entertaining at best, but this is not what you want from a festival. I’d much rather take a few of the acts from today and go to each of their sideshows because Creamfields lacked a certain magic, it lacked a continuous flow of quality performances.
Maybe this is just the state of dance music in 2011. The culture is there but the interest is dwindling. Maybe because today didn’t bring too much we haven’t already seen a thousand times before, the crowd just didn’t care. Maybe the people have forgotten about the music and are just there for the all day party with the repeat of dance billboard hits. Either way, something needs to be done because I walked out with the idea of Communism circling around in my head. Yeah, it is good in theory, but it is just the same old shit rehashed without any individual character.