Fuzzy killed Parklife! It was unimaginable, unnatural and downright evil that a 13 year strong EDM festival was killed off. Fuzzy promised us intelligent dance music, electro hybrids, a stress-free eight hour festival and that their new baby, Listen Out, would redefine partying. So how did the first ever Listen Out Festival go down?
Sydney’s Centennial Park played host amongst blustery winds and a burning sun for perfect festival conditions. Crowds built in anticipation for the first in a long series of festivals coming this Spring/Summer. The usual festival crew was there as always. Fake tans marched en masse, ridiculous tight clothing, shirtless buffoons and the usual assortment of indie kids.
Once the gates were open, revellers were treated immediately to Triple J Unearthed winners Cosmo’s Midnight starting the party with a groovy set at the 909 Stage.
A real treat to festival-goers is the accessibility of the festival set up. The distance between the smaller 909 stage, the Red Bull stage and the headlining Atari stage was quite confined and relieved stress levels for those with timetable clashing issues. The roaming fields of green, tall leafy trees and white table sets provided much solace and room to move allowing everybody to focus on one thing.
Dancing, and dance they did.
Staying at the 909 stage, a big shout out must go to Ulladulla’s electric Yahtzel who gave a scintillating performance. In what can only be described as ghetto flume style electro, Yahtzel proved why he is a huge up and coming producer. He treated early birds with high-octane energy with tracks ‘Girls’, ‘Slow Motion’ and ‘High With Me’, featuring pristine vocal samples and frenetic synths. In turn, causing crowd members to rave and party.
Heading over to the Atari stage, amber sunglass wearing DJ Laura Jones was midway through a deep set of house electro music. Jones kept the energy rolling with pulsing electronic phrases and by playing her awesome track ‘Love In Me’. Whilst on the other side back at the 909 stage, Sydney’s own Hayden James continued where Yahtzel left off. He began with his huge hit ‘Permission To Love’, featuring disco grooves, wholesome vocal samples and distinctive synthesizers. James performed admirably whilst losing most of his crowd to RÜFÜS.
RÜFÜS has emerged as one of the most promising young indie dance acts since the release of their LP Atlas earlier this year. Starting out with ‘Modest Life’, RÜFÜS drew fans into their universe amongst smooth synth passages, constant drumbeats and electrifying guitar.
Girls swooned to lyrics, ‘be my lover today’ and the crowd pumped to hits ‘Take Me’, ‘Rendezvous’, ‘Tonight’ and crowd favourite ‘Desert Night’. RÜFÜS drew an immense crowd, and future Listen Out goers must check out their amazing live show.
RÜFÜS drew a lot of energy and to defeat that hangover many people headed to the Grill’d Burger Park. Food outlets were limited, especially as Grill’d was out in the open whilst other outlets were hidden away amongst the trees. Walking past the now operating Red Bull Stage, DJ’s Sosueme provided a chilled out, almost club vibe while playing ‘90s R&B hits like Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’. It is a small club stage but awesome if you are waiting in line for drinks.
The VIP area seemed like a great idea for an emergency bathroom stop as the general lines were horrific. The VIP section again emphasised how stress free Listen Out is, with their own secluded bar and Spotify Lounge to boot. Spanish DJ John Talabot was in the country for the first time ever and played an impressive set at the 909. Their distinctive style, featuring their own vocals and a drum pad proved another layer in the diverse dance music onion at Listen Out.
As the sun started to set, big time American production and DJ duo Classixx performed a stunning set featuring covers of classic Phoenix tracks ‘Lisztomania’ and their huge hits ‘I’ll Get You’ and ‘Holding On’ forcing people to scream ‘Do you like bass?’ On the other side, UK music duo AlunaGeorge welcomed the night to big beats and funky vocals by Aluna Francis. Performing their own cover of ‘White Noise’, AlunaGeorge also played their big tracks ‘Your Drum, Your Love’, ‘Attracting Flies’ and ‘You Know You Like It’ in a confident and sexy set, one of the best of the night.
On the other side, a shitstorm was about to ignite. American rapper Azealia Banks, draped in a turquoise outfit, stepped out onto the Atari to a packed crowd with DJ Cosmo and two similarly dressed backup dancers. Banks let the profanities and quick rapping verses ring out. However during ‘No Problems’ Banks threatened to walk out after fans were throwing junk on the stage and in her cover of ‘Harlem Shake’, Banks actually did walk! It was shocking and totally unprofessional that the co-headliner walked out 20 minutes into a 50 minute set. Eventually she returned to perform megahit ‘212’ and left shortly after. So just a heads up to future peeps heading along – play by her rules or she will walk.
With that, American hip-hop producer Just Blaze, TNGHT, Beni and British DJ Duke Dumont were the power DJ’s to head out the evening before the real show began. Duke Dumont however was the highlight of these four. His set was breathtaking, invigorating and his mix of ‘Need U’, ‘The Giver’ and his remix of ‘Look Right Through’ in a myriad of strobes, lights and big beats ensured everybody remembered his name.
The entire day built to this moment with UK producers Disclosure delivering an explosive set. As the most successful and hyped duo for the past year since ‘Latch’ arrived, these guys deserved their place as the headlining act and kudos to Listen Out for providing a timetable that reflected that. Disclosure, polite as always, delivered right out of the gate with ‘F For You’, ‘When A Fire Starts To Burn’, and ‘You & Me’ producing a seizure inducing set.
Definite highlights were the re-emergence of AlunaGeorge to perform ‘White Noise’ and the brilliant closing numbers ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ and, of course, ‘Latch’. The real gem here was the singing Disclosure face that is imprinted on their singles and LP, which sung both songs in the absence of London Grammar and Sam Smith. It was a real change up and gave the audience something to focus on amongst the cacophony of synth, drum pads and electro beats.
Listen Out was a brilliant festival. Its strong lineup, accessibility and focus on redefining how you want to party made for a relaxed and carefree party atmosphere distinctive from other EDM festivals.