Listen Out Festival 2014 (a review!)
Words by Elliot Struck | All photos by LifeWithout Andy. F’real: Listen Out was in dangerous territory when it launched. More savvy enthusiasts might’ve found the downsizing and rebranding of Parklife – and its subsequent labelling as a boutique festival – to very much require rose-coloured glasses. Realistically though, this festival has become a snapshot […]
Words by Elliot Struck | All photos by LifeWithout Andy.
F’real: Listen Out was in dangerous territory when it launched. More savvy enthusiasts might’ve found the downsizing and rebranding of Parklife – and its subsequent labelling as a boutique festival – to very much require rose-coloured glasses. Realistically though, this festival has become a snapshot of everything good about dance music in Australia right now. Yes, there’s internationals on the bill, but the enthusiasm, the knowledge, and the appreciation that the crowd brims with, is wildly pleasant to be around. Listen Out caters for everyone, but the purists are particularly well taken care of.
And what was promised but kinda missing last year, was over-delivered on this year. The first thing you’d have noticed (after wearing the intimidation tactics of our police pals at the front gate!) is how short the lines for liquor were – and same for areas to relieve oneself in. The second thing you’d have noticed was the sound quality. This year, the clarity of Listen Out’s stages was immaculate. Every tap of top-end percussion snapped crisply, while the mids bubbled away and the sub end trembled so deep, and so smooth.
Chet Faker came out all silky on the Atari Stage. Since his cover of No Diggity and a gold certified EP, Chet’s recently gifted the world a full album, Built On Glass. Flume, who featured Chet’s smoky vocals on his album, undoubtedly shortcutted Mr Faker to success, but a sold-out tour tells no lies. His set was swollen with hits, his production and live set up was on-point and real polished, and plenty of his bigger jams had back-up vocals – from a few thousand voices. His beard was well-oiled, too.
Do you really need to know much else about SchoolBoy Q other than the fact he’s had 60,385,789 collective plays on YouTube (and that’s just across four of his songs)? The crowd at the 909 Stage consisted heavily of Tumblr lads in bucket hats, with which there is nothing wrong, and they went appropriately bonkers for SchoolBoy’s set. Break the Bank bumped particularly hard.
ZHU built a groove with his very vogue brand of sparkling OxyContin house. You’ll know this man from his 7.9-mill plays on Soundcloud jam, Faded. But Cocaine Model is an understated killer too, as evidenced by its crowd reception. Listen Out was the first time Australian audiences have been blinded by ZHU’s blistering backdrop screen and killer live set.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs came in hot with a DJ set – while it was for the most part a house-based curation, there were certainly plenty of rave elements that winked in the rearview mirror at his native UK’s earliest dabblings in four-four. His remix of Disclosure’s F For You went particularly coconuts amongst a flurry of tasteful thumpers. Bravo.
Kieran Hebden, better known as Four Tet, has a production style that’s completely bold, completely impossible to pin down, and completely deserving of the 909 Stage headline. He didn’t steal TEED’s crowd, and therein lies the brilliance of Listen Out – there’s only two main stages, and they both cater to very different palates. It’s rare that you’ll feel as though you’re missing out. Just, uh, Listening out. Sorry.
Flume was the last man standing on the Atari Stage. In a genius play that simply isn’t employed by enough festival organisers, all other stages wrapped up very close to the start of the headline’s set, so the crowd majority had nowhere to go (and didn’t really wanna be anywhere else) but Flume. In his only Oz shows this year, Harley’s remix of Lorde’s Tennis Court made its debut in his home country and brought the place down. His usual arsenal was punctuated by a few surprise bombs but album faves, and the Hermitude and Disclosure remixes, kept everyone well-lit right til the end. And, lights.
Anyone who went this year will be back next year. Listen out is magnetic and a little addictive. Don’t sleep on this party in 2015.
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