Gig Reviews

Parklife Sydney – 03/10/2010

Catering to avid electronic and dance music listeners, Parklife is touted as Australia’s biggest outdoor electronic/indie music event to kick-start the music festival season. Landing in Sydney, music fans certainly didn’t let the inclement weather get them down as they were treated to a selection of acts ranging from established artists Groove Armada, Missy Elliot and the Dandy Warhols, right through to local heroes Midnight Juggernauts and Washington.

As the weather shifted from blissful sunshine to cold rain bucketing down, the less prepared kids ducked for cover under anything they could find. Some went for rubbish bin lids and disused plastic liners; the more sensible headed to the ‘Jager Cube’ dance tent to enjoy some quality tunes and dance beats. Festival punters were in good spirits and enjoying themselves despite an uncharacteristic 80 police arrests occurring throughout the day, mostly on drug offenses with one teenage woman being caught with over 200 ecstasy tablets!

Having met with Darwin Deez for a film shoot earlier in the week, I was excited to head down and see what his live performance was all about. There was no shortage of entertaining stage antics as Darwin led a slightly bizarre line dance choreography that flowed seamlessly from the end of one song into his next. Think body popping meets its long lost country cousin and together they came up with some kind of crazy hoedown dance.

Theatrics aside, Darwin displays a well-honed understanding of music composition with his ability to write catchy lyrics and music that jumps out of your car stereo/iphone or latest musical gadget. His track Radar Detector garnered rave reviews on Australian radio earlier this year and recent release Constellations seems to be picking up pace thanks to a rather pondering music video that delves into the essence of time, reality and space. All in all it was a great live performance and I was impressed with his ability to continue performing without dropping a vocal note while he restrung his own guitar with one hand! Lets hope that we get to see and hear more from this talented fella soon.

Over on the Sahara main stage Midnight Juggernauts were starting to kick off their set with a selection of songs from their recent album The Crystal Axis. It’s great to see these home grown musicians continuing their blazing dominance on the indie dance scene and not resting on the laurels of previous success. It was my first time seeing the lads in person and for an open-air festival I was impressed with the energy and enthusiasm they evoked from the crowd. I’m very into the variety of sounds and styles that they’ve managed to inject into their music. It would be great to have a studio natter with them one day and just generally geek out about their production technique and studio toys! (HINT HINT!!!!) For now they are off overseas on a massive tour across Europe/UK/North America/South America, so catch them when you can.

Next up I scurried off to see the The Wombats in action, who have managed to evade me up until Parklife. These very polite gentlemen from Liverpool put up easily the most energetic set of catchy indy-brit pop that I’ve heard for a while.  Their new album Tokyo (Vampires And Wolves) has been all over the airwaves recently, so the crowds were singing along with Matthew Murphy’s vocals (pictured below left) as he sung the tunes.

When I took a quick look at the set list times for Parklife I was pretty amazed to see the multitalented Uffie (see picture below right) on the list! Born in Miami, educated in Hong Kong and now based in Paris, this little entertainer pretty much does it all in the music world. From producing, rapping, writing lyrics and of course signing cheques (not to mention designing her own stage outfits and fashion)…. is there anything she can’t do? With a synth punk vibe she confidently glides around the stage punching out a respectable set of songs. I’m seriously in admiration and highly recommend that you go check out her amazing music videos…. seriously they are ace!

Off the back of the world breaking success of Bloc Party, Kele Okereke (pictured below left; below right is his seductive backing singer) has been forging his own solo career. Despite being a well-known introvert there’s no denying the sound of that powerful voice as he steps onto stage and lets rip with those vocal chords. There’s no shortage of effects pedals and boxes scattered around on stage as ravey synth lines cut between solid sub bass lines. The overall effect was quite a crunchy electro sound, which had the crowds stomping away like pig’s in mud… quite literally. The track Everything You Wanted was a musical highlight of the day for me, as it was also for most of the audience.

There were so many fantastic acts to see for a one-day festival that I had to move on quickly to catch sets from Chiddy Bang (pictured below left) and live electronica legends Soulwax (photo below right). Soulwax I had seen quite recently at Berlin Festival and in terms of crowd response I knew it would be a pretty difficult experience to beat the Germans! Sonically there was a noticeable lacking in bass response as no doubt the organisers of Parklife were subjected to strict sound guidelines.

Interestingly, Facebook keeps telling me I should go listen to alternative hip hop band Chiddy Bang, so I made my way down the front to see what all the marketing hype was about. There was a nice balance of freestyle and prepared rap, but stylistically they didn’t stray too far away from contemporary hip hop sound going down on radio at the moment. The crowd response was overwhelming as they quickly swelled to plague proportions around the stage in support of their music.

I caught the first few tracks of Missy Elliot, and from where I was standing she was giving it her all. I’ve heard a number of grumblings about her set from people, but I guess there must be a direct correlation between proximity to the front of the stage and audience enjoyment. For the songs I heard I thought she put in a quality performance, and it was nice to see her up close and personal. Her tracks are undeniably classic and I’m pretty happy to have gotten the chance to tick that box.

Click here to view more Sydney Parklife photos.

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