Parklife, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Overall, Parklife remains a spectacular festival.

Rating:

Now in its ninth year, the magical electro-pop festival Parklife continues to mesmerise audiences. Although this year, the sold-out fest is contending with a rather large proportion of gatecrashers who managed to bypass the barricades. Nevertheless, on the Air Stage, local dance act Art Vs Science enliven proceedings their hit ‘Parlez-Vous Francais?’ which has punters chanting along. On the Water Stage, Sydney electronic crew Infusion deliver pumping techno beats, attempting to invigorate a rather nonplussed crowd with stomping tracks such as ‘2 Player Game’ and ‘Try It On.’

However, on the Fire Stage, it’s Chicago’s finest, hip-hop crew The Cool Kids who have the predominantly female crowd going nuts. Indeed, one girl gallantly attempts to clamber aboard the stage, before being tackled by security. Displaying their exceptionally smooth rhyming techniques, MCs Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish deliver spellbinding tales over penetrating deep bass, resonating throughout the crowd. Engaging punters with a spot of call-and-response banter, such as the obligatory, “Say, hell, yeah,” they proceed to launch into some impressive beat-boxing techniques, over deep bass grooves, with tracks such as ‘Gold And A Pager,’ subsequently converting the area into an old-school block party. “All the pretty girls make some noise!” the MCs implore, to which the female contingent reply in kind.

Next up, Lady Sovereign takes the stage, much to the delight of the cheering crowd. “Melbourne!” she yells, as she surveys the crowd, while sporting a shock of red streaked hair and fluoro sunglasses. Showcasing her rapid-fire rhyming skills over syncopated beats and booming bass, the MC has the crowd signing along to the tinkling piano refrains of ‘So Human.’ Soon after, the familiar creeping electro bleeps of ‘Love Me Or Hate Me’ have the crowd chanting along. On the Water Stage, La Roux cut quite lonely figures, as singer Elly Jackson and keyboardist Ben Langmaid resemble a postmodern version of The Eurythmics, with their melancholic ‘80s-style electro-pop. As Elly delivers ethereal vocals, soaring over the crowd, punters sing along to the tinkling synth refrains of ‘In For The Kill,’ and the rumbling synths of ‘Bulletproof.’

Later on, Empire Of The Sun take centre stage, as green strobe lights flicker across the backdrop. While singer Luke Steele appears, bedecked in an elaborate gold headdress, befitting the otherworldly nature of the band, they launch into ‘Standing On The Shore,’ as ethereal soundscapes cast a mystical spell over the crowd. Indeed, the intergalactic time-traveller themes explored on tracks such as ‘We Are The People’ are exemplified in the onstage act, with the crew adorned with exceptional stage costumes. And their blissful electro-pop certainly epitomise the ‘chill-out’ sessions of many a dance compilation, with the tranquil sounds of ‘Without You’ calming an otherwise hyperactive crowd, who sing along. As rolling clouds appear in the backdrop, thunderous drumming and guitars emerge. With his bleached blonde hair and silver outfit, Luke cuts an imposing figure as he dances around while playing guitar. The band finishes with the summery pop anthem ‘Walking On A Dream,’ evoking images of sun-kissed beaches and sparkling oceans, before the sounds of a helicopter descend and Luke pumps his fists in the air, surrounded by rays of light. Absolute magic.

On the Fire Stage, The Rapture make their umpteenth festival appearance, swiftly delivering their trademark disco-funk explosion with aplomb. As fireworks light up the night sky, there are cowbells galore; while the band churns through hits such as ‘Get Myself Into It’ and ‘Olio.’ With a quick “Buenas noches!” they leave the stage to a cheering crowd. Meanwhile, on the Water Stage, A-Track plays his utterly magnificent disco-house collaboration with Armand Van Helden, Duck Sauce’s ‘Anyway,’ thrilling punters in the process. Overall, Parklife remains a spectacular festival, retaining that magical atmosphere in the parklands, despite the relatively small venue groaning under the weight of numerous gatecrashers.