Gig Reviews

Wildlands Festival, Brisbane – 28/12/19

The festival scene across the country throughout the days leading up to New Year’s Eve is absolutely gluttonous, to say the very least. People in major cities are completely spoiled for choice, more so than they already are, and even those in rural areas have the opportunity to see some of the world’s biggest live acts as the new year fast approaches.

In this festival climate, you’d have to be incredibly brave, a little reckless and perhaps even a little mad to try and launch a new event and think it will be successful. Despite all odds, Brisbane newcomer Wildlands did just that and they did it virtually flawlessly.

The SEQ sun beamed down on the Brisbane Showgrounds on Saturday, 28th December but punters weren’t deterred in the slightest. Huge drawcards played the festival surprisingly early, like Mallrat taking to the tent at 1:50pm or YBN Cordae hitting the main stage shortly after. It was a festival filled with love and hope, which we all definitely need right now, and Cordae’s touching tribute to his “fallen brother” Juice WRLD was both sombre and uplifting.

Other states have what you might say is an equivalent to this lineup, with Sydney’s Field Day, Victoria’s Beyond The Valley and Perth’s Origin Fields all yet to happen at the time of writing, but what Wildlands did is set the precedent for how some of these acts – on their first Australian run in a long time or perhaps ever – would be received. And it was truly nothing but love.

Hobo Johnson took to the stage following Cordae, and while his screaming through his entire set – including a cover of Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’ – certainly isn’t for everyone, his devoted fans located smack bang in the middle of the mosh pit frothed on every word. A little later, Ella Mai’s undeniable charm spread well throughout the huge venue as her angelic and powerful voice cooled everyone off as the sun began to descend. She was energetic yet demure, and her performance of ‘Boo’d Up’ made for one of the days biggest singalongs.

But, if we’re being honest, Wildlands had one major drawcard that no other festival did – it would be the place where Tyler, The Creator would perform his first Australian show in over six years. After much controversy and plenty of false starts, Tyler touched down in Australia on Saturday morning, meaning his show was actually happening. And what a show it was.

Donned in his now iconic baby blue suit and blonde wig, adopting his IGOR persona which his most recent album is named after, he erupted onto the stage with a cut from the same album ‘I THINK.’ Throughout the set, he danced, flailed and took up all the space he could on what he called a “small” stage.

He had impressive pyrotechnics and a commanding stage presence, which was all his own. He shared the stage with no-one, yet carried the energy of a hundred people. His crowd adored him and hung on to his every word, as it seemed like there was a quiet understanding between the audience and Tyler of the real magnitude of this moment.

This is an artist who has pioneered the route hip-hop has taken in the 2010s and that was such an integral part of so many young people’s lives in this country who, until now, had been denied the ability to see him. So to see him grace the stage with electrifying energy, but also with elements of restraint and class, was an absolute privilege.

While the majority of his set was laden with IGOR tracks, he did pepper in a few of his seminal hits, like ‘IFHY’, ‘Who Dat Boy’ and, of course, ‘Yonkers’. The crowd belted out every single world, not caring whose sweat they were covered with as they left the mosh. As he thanked the crowd and walked off stage, there was an overall feeling of euphoria…like the wait was worth it.

And it wouldn’t have been worth it at all had Wildlands not decided to take the plunge and embark on its maiden voyage. And, after completely selling out, 2020 is likely to see it return bigger, better and brighter.

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