Thousands of house and dub step lovers poured through the Royal Randwick Racecourse’s gates on the weekend to attend the biggest dance party of the year; Future Music Festival.
World-class DJs, hot shot producers and all the rage bands traveled from all corners of the earth to lay down dance encouraging beats including; The Chemical Brothers, Pendulum, Leftfield, Dizzee Rascal and Mark Ronson. The Music Feeds Team slapped on some red imitation Ray Bans, stocked up on glow sticks and headed over to the festival to bring you the highlights and lowlights of the day.
Doing a fantastic job in warming up the crowd in the early afternoon sun were Grant Smille, Gypsy & The Cat and Ajax. But it was around the 3pm mark that punters got to business and the big guns started to march on stage.
There was a timeslot clash with Ke$ha and Tame Impala so the crowd divided into two categories; trashy, bubblegum pop lovers and hallucinogenic tree-hugging hippies. Both completely different acts and both unbefitting of the dance music bill; Ke$ha and Tame Impala each surprisingly lured in large crowds (though I hate to admit Ke$ha took the cake there).
I caught the first half of Tame Impala’s set and regardless of it being my fifth time seeing them I was still utterly enamored by their psychedelic dream pop magic. Their mind-bending melody was the perfect retreat from the pulsating electronics being whipped up by Loco Dice and Sound Of Stereo.
Unfortunately but undeniably, the atmosphere over at Ke$ha’s stage was significantly more electrifying. I arrived to find a fist-pumping nation partying amongst a field of glitter and confetti and compliantly chanting all the lyrics to her chain of chart topping tracks. I have good reason to believe a lot of people came to Future Music just to catch a glimpse of the burgeoning American pop star; not only were girls emulating her with feather encrusted shoulder pads, bejeweled eye make-up and unacceptably skimpy clothing; but when I jokingly told a couple of people Ke$ha had cancelled, their jaws dropped to the floor and they threatened going home. Very interesting.
Up next on the main stage was dance-punk outfit Art Vs. Science who had our blood rushing and bodies jumping from the get-go. Naturally the crowd went crackers to their 2009 hit song Parlez Vous Francais? as well as new-fangled contenders Friend In The Field and Magic Fountain. Although Jim Finn’s vocals sound more like militaristic shouting rather than singing and the music is an eclectic collision of drums, distorted guitars and experimental keyboard sounds, there’s no doubting this concoction works well for Art Vs. Science – the crowd simply loved what they heard and really dug the bands’ energetic performance.
Personally, my highlight of the day was Mark Ronson and The Business Intl; a frisky electro pop and R&B super group featuring members from Spank Rock, The Pipettes and Phantom Planet. Ronson’s funky disco bandits were playing tag team with lead vocals and really knew how to work the crowd. Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow was called upon to perform a few numbers and blew everyone away with his otherworldly vocals. The trendily attired band also treated fans to The Bike Song and a rendition of California a.k.a. The OC song before finishing their pleasurable set with infectious pop gem Bang, Bang, Bang.
Meanwhile over on The Likes Of You stage British electronica veterans Leftfield led their legion of fans through a highly influential discography that flaunts their hallmark blend of house, dub and progressive music.
The Presets are always a crowd favourite at Aussie festivals; their catchy lyrics and immediately recognizable hooks are faultless. But, to be honest, I’m getting tired of hearing the likes of People, Talk Like That and Are You The One? at every single gig. Apocalypso is way past it’s expiry date and if The Presets don’t get their arses into the studio and conjure up some new material for their fans to revel in, then I’m afraid they will be too.
I’d already prepared myself for sheer disappointment with MGMT’s set after hearing a string of bad live reviews from friends and colleagues. But the American psychedelic rockers were nowhere near as awful as I’d anticipated; they were just very average. I can certainly see why MGMT have let down previous gig goers; they don’t interact with the crowd, they don’t dance and Andrew Van Wyngarden has shed his technicoloured cape, long hair and tie dye headbands and swapped them for basic black tees, a shipshape haircut and Ray Bans. I’m not an avid fan of the new Congratulations album, but I did thoroughly enjoy dancing to multihued hits like Kids and Electric Feel that catapulted them to stardom in the first place.
I was rather surprised to find Sven Vath looking quite lonesome in The Likes Of You tent, especially after a little bird told me his sideshow at the Metro was positively spectacular. I suppose everyone was busy busting out to the dynamically cheeky rapper Dizzee Rascal or Perth electronic rockers Pendulum who dazzled crowds with their signature lasers and thumping beats.
And last but not least, the majority of Future Music’s punters flocked to the main stage for an explosive closing set by the highly coveted Chemical Brothers. Dance devotees alike experienced a 90min onslaught of audio and visual sensory overload with possibly the most amazing lightshow I’ve ever witnessed. The London duo dished out hit after hit from their illustrious career and put the icing on the cake for what was an incredible day.
If Future Music Festival 2011 was any indication of what we can expect from music in the future, then count me in for FMF 2012.