Gig Reviews

Future Music Festival 2012 – Royal Randwick Racecourse, Sydney 10/03/2012

It seemed that the weather was in favour of the punters as gates opened for the 2012 Sydney leg of the Future Music Festival. The smell of fake tan lingered in the air as some festival goers decided to pass the time before gates opened by playing ‘Spot Snookie’, and it wasn’t a hard game. It seemed that the entire cast of Jersery Shore had come to see the festival, as hordes of steroid-infused gentlemen asserted their physical dominance, pushing their way to the front.

Attendees slowly made their way into the event as local DJ heroes Stafford Brothers & Timmy Trumpet opened proceedings, hosting this year’s Las Venus stage. Their first attempt to entice the crowd failed to some extent as fans waiting for Jessie J to take the stage were not too enthusiastic to hear non-stop Electo-House for an hour before the songstress made her appearance. However, their remix of Matt Corby’s Brother was a girl-on-shoulders dance-a-thon, and was an indicator of what to expect in the coming hours. Hype had been circulating around the ‘Price Tag’ singer for some time, and when she skipped on stage, the entire audience was happy to dance along to the funk-filled set. Powering through her top songs, including a little cover of Bob Marley’s One Love, she went down a treat with the masses in one of the bigger sing-a-longs of the day. The singer leaving the stage announcing that she “will be back very soon”, the feel-good mood remained somewhat until Drum & Bass duo Chase & Status tore up the stage. Their epic setlist caused absolute mayhem, pulling out their classics Hypest Hype through to Pieces. MC Rage assisted the duo with hyping up the crowd, ensuring that there was indeed a wealthy-sized mosh pit during their epic rendition of Fool Yourself. However, the highlight of the set, which came as no surprise, was Blind Faith, which saw collaborator Liam Bailey take the stage to produce impeccable vocals that caused an atmosphere within in the crowd that is somewhat difficult to describe with words.

Over on the Mazda2 Flamingo stage, New Zealand indie rockers, The Naked and Famous, played to quite a sizable crowd who knew most if not every word. The band made it quite obvious as to why they are such a success and crowd favourite in Europe as they enticed the crowd playing tracks from their 2010 debut album Passive Me, Agressive You. Singer Alisa Xayalith’s vocals were near perfect as they blasted out Punching in a Dream and Young Blood.

One can often judge the popularity of an act at a festival by the amount of photographers that stand in front of the crowd just prior to his/her/their arrival. And the popularity of the next act came as no surprise to many as the security’s worst nightmare, Skrillex, was about to dupstep his way into Future Music Festival history. His settime was only slightly delayed as droves of egotistic males tried to breach the safety of the festival, unsuccessfully attempting to barge their way through the entry to the Las Venus ‘D’. When this proved a failure (due to the quality worked in regards to the security), punters proceeded to climb anything they could find in order to get a quality viewpoint for the chaos that was about to unravel. Opening with a sample of his cult track Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, he caused a frenzy as hysterical girls were passed over the front, and the overall demographic of the crowd dramatically changed. Mosh pits started and circle pits followed as the security began to worry. The torrent of confetti added to the sheer spectacle of his live performance as he tore through tracks from his most recent EP Bangarang with the addition of a sneaky few tunes from his upcoming album Voltage, which is due out 23rd April. Finishing with his track Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites mixed with another possible new song, Sonny Moore left the stage to a scene of an absolute mess as girls who had thought they were strong enough to stay within the violent crowd for the set were dragged out of the masses, collapsing from heat exhaustion as the dubstep pioneer became a crowd favourite, and number one on the medic tents most hated list.

Viral sensations Die Antwoord blasted the roof off the stage as they entertained the crowd at The Likes of You stage, most of whom went for the novelty rather than the music. Vocalists Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er were up to their usual antics causing a ruckus as DJ Hi-Tek proceeded to “spin dem’ next level beats” to quote Yo-Landi herself. Their internet hit Enter The Ninja went down a treat alongside with beats from their newest release Tension, including lead single I Fink U Freeky, which was accompanied by a surprisingly wide array of provocative dancing and phallic symbols.

As festival goers were just coming back from the beer stands, Friendly Fires took the stage, playing songs from their entire discography. Blue Cassette and Hawaiian Air were crowd favourites, alongside their first single Jump In The Pool, however their set lacked originality and was too similar to their 2011 Good Vibrations set. That said, both Good Vibrations and Future Music booked a sensational act, which were a favourite to the indie-pop contingent of the crowd. With an Australian appearance record that is rivalling The Wombats, some time off from our shores to perfect a new live show and possibly a new album would be greatly advised, just to ensure that their show can be even more exciting and entertaining than it was on the Mazda2 Flamingo stage.

Back on the Las Venus stage, Tinie Tempah brought his LED infused stage show to Sydney and had the crowd going from the beginning. Even fans who were waiting out for the next acts were found shouting out the words to his tracks Written in the Stars and Till I’m Gone, which upsettingly and obviously didn’t feature an onstage appearance from Wiz Khalifa. However, his part was filled in completely by the crowd. His DJ/Accompanying MC helped cause some hype around the performance, but passersbys were transformed into fans. Tinie also played his own rendition of the Chase & Status song Hitz, which didn’t see any appearance from the duo, even though they were at the festival.

As Tinie left the stage, fans who were at the Las Venus stage were given a little treat of 15 minutes of no music, which was a relief to those who were thirst quenched and trying to avoid headaches; another 15 minutes of the same DJ set of the Stafford Brothers would have caused more bad than good. Punters were eager to see one of the oldest acts on the bill, Fatboy Slim. The crowds were unsure what to expect but did have high expectations. The self-proclaimed VJ failed to live up to his name, with a lack of visuals that would entertain until the last twenty minutes of his set. Opening with a sample of his hit song Praise You, crowds got excited and into it early, but he did not hold their attention for long, playing similar 4 bar patterns with a slight pitch variation each time. It is possible that one needs a specific mental wavelength/frequency to understand Norman Cook’s lengthy hour and fifteen minute set, but more than half of the crowd were quite disappointed with this DJ, who has passed his time. His set lacked his own music, neglecting to play Weapon of Choice and Don’t Let The Man Get You Down and only playing snippets of Praise You and Right Here Right Now, which only acted as a tease for the crowd, who would then anticipate at least a minute or two of his tracks, and he failed to deliver. It was only in the last 15 minutes, where he dropped tracks from The Rolling Stones and other assorted acts, that the crowd started to warm up and dance.

Over on their own stage, Knife Party took punters on a dubstep journey as they pulled out one of the more impressive DJ sets of the night. Their track Internet Friends seemed to be the anthem of the festival, and caused an absolute shit-storm when played, and stuck in most punters heads (which caused a more than annoying bus journey out of the festival). Spectators didn’t really understand what had hit them when one half of Pendulum blasted out tracks from their EP 100% No Modern Talking and assorted remixes from Nero through to headliners Swedish House Mafia.

For the third time in a year, The Wombats touched down in Sydney. With an impressive setlist and stage show, The Wombats ensured that the indie/pop contingent of the crowd had something to dance to. Starting off with tracks such as Our Perfect Disease through to Kill The Director, it was clear from the get go that they would be playing tracks from both albums. However, on second look, it became obvious that they were sporting the exact same set as the one at their 2011 set at The Horden Pavilion (obviously minus a few songs due to time restrictions), playing songs in the identical order that they have for their entire tour. Although it was a highly impressive set, their lack of creativity did annoy some fans, who would even successfully predict the next handful of songs.

As the sun went down, so did the white banner that would mask the Swedish House Mafia set up until 8:30. The smell of sweat and beer was replaced by excitement as the minutes ticket by, with the crowd easing up after a below par Fatboy Slim performance; everyone was eager to see the Swedish deliver. And what they delivered won’t be forgotten for quite some time. Opening with their standard Together (The Attic Intro Edit), the trio pushed the crowd into a state of nirvana that is immensely hard for a live act to reach. Along with their epic sound, the Swedish House Mafia did not pull a repeat of their famous 2011 Madison Square Garden, having a completely different set list. Axwell, Ingrosso and Angello knew how to cater to each crowd, playing the 2011/2012 Summer House anthem Levels and also number 1 on triple j’s Hottest 100, Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know. The stage show itself was also a spectacle. For a regular DJ set, punters would expect some form of Pioneer DJ kit with some lights, but that said, the Swedish House Mafia are no regular DJs, and there is a reason that they are as big as they are. Combining fire with confetti, fireworks, an intense lighting display and LED video accompaniment led to a show that will not be forgotten. The only possible reason a pessimist could find to complain about it would be the lack of guest vocals. Tinie Tempah, who was spotted watching side of stage, did not come on stage for their track Miami 2 Ibiza, and Save The World singer John Martin was nowhere to be seen. This lack of vocals was made up by the crowd, who seemed to know every word, to every song, no matter what.

As the cleaners came in, the stage came down, the crowds left, the Foam-A –Rama stage closed and the beer ran out, it became evident that the 2012 Future Music Festival will be remembered as one of the biggest in recent years, and that it will surely return in 2013 with a bigger, better, faster and stronger line-up, a more diverse stage set-up and theme. The festival itself had something for everyone, and although there was the odd drunken body builder crowding the vicinity with his ego, it was a day to remember. Future Music Festival, see you next year.

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