Live Review

Future Music Festival, Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Overall, this year’s instalment of Future Music Festival is clearly another resounding success.

Already establishing quite a reputation as a ‘go hard’ dance fest, Future Music Festival descends onto this city, much to the delight of several Corey Worthington-types chanting some unintelligible techno riffs while entering the venue, as if Beavis & Butthead metamorphosed into surfer-raver dudes. Nevertheless, The Ian Carey Project soon has the crowd dancing rhythmically to an enlivening set, including the shuffling beats and buzzing synths of Kid Cudi’s ‘Day N Night,’ and the rippling bass-lines and rising synths of ‘Get Shaky,’ which leaves a sea of raised hands clapping in time, as the crowd is whipped into a frenzy.

Old-school hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash takes to the stage, while his MC ponders deep philosophical statements such as, “There are those that love hip-hop, there are those that know hip-hop. But this is how we gonna do it, put your hands in the air!” Clearly, the crowd needs no prompting, as they raise their hands, while the familiar refrains of ‘The Message’ ring out, eliciting cheers. Converting the entire venue into quite possibly the biggest block party this town has witnessed, Flash churns out the party tunes, including ‘White Lines,’ and Chic’s ‘Le Freak.’ He finishes a spectacular set with Flo Rider’s ‘Low’ and the jazzy horns of DJ Kool’s ‘Let Me Clear My Throat.’ “I want you to thank you for coming to my party!” says the MC, as punters cheer wildly.

Steve Angello & Sebastian Ingrosso take to the stage, instantly winning the crowd over with The Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up,’ The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Hey Boy, Hey Boy,’ and Justice vs Simian’s ‘We Are Your Friends.’ Then, it’s time for a rockier detour, with N.E.R.D. taking centre stage, as hip-hop producer extraordinaire Pharrell Williams makes a rather grand entrance, amid a quite majestic rock-funk band. “I wanna see everyone bounce!” he exclaims. “Put your hands up!” as a maelstrom of metallic rock emerges from the stage. Perhaps the Beavis & Butthead-type punters could revert to their metal-head personas now. After exclaiming that “This is the illest festival in the world right now,” and imploring the crowd to be “louder” than other cities, Pharrell leads the metallic attack from his band with a searing version of ‘Kill Joy.’ However, the crew soon ventures into the soulful jazz musings of ‘Don’t Worry About It.’ At Pharrell’s request, dancing girls appear on stage, before the band explodes into perhaps their most successful song to date, with the thunderous guitars of ‘Rock Star.’ Then, it’s time for ‘She Wants To Move,’ before the churning bass of The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ morphs into ‘Everyone Nose (All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom)’ in all of its glory. Overall, a storming metallic triumph.

Paul Oakenfold soon appears on centre stage, delivering hits such as The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside,’ and the Guru Josh Project’s ‘Infinity 2009,’ eliciting chants of “Woo!” from the crowd. On the Yellow Stage, CSS appear, much to their devoted fans’ delight. Removing her rather elaborate, shaggy hat, singer Lovefoxxx exclaims “Hello, Melbourne! We’re CSS!” as white balloons sway in the background. “We are very happy to be here,” she says, as the band launches into a sterling version of ‘Left Behind.’ Belting out raspy vocals over driving bass-lines, Lovefoxxx resembles a young Bjork, fronting The Sugarcubes, while the band expertly delivers a meticulous punk-pop frenzy. The pummeling bass and beats of ‘I’m Off The Hook’ is next, as Lovefoxxx advises, “You have to drink some water,” before the churning guitar riffs of ‘Rat Is Dead’ permeate the venue. Taking off her wig, while spinning around, Lovefoxxx enchants the crowd with her bewitching guile as she sings, “I know…he will never hurt you again,” like she really means it. The joyous ‘Let’s Make Love and Listen To Death From Above’ is next, with spooky vibrating Doctor Who-style sound effects, “woot-woot” disco chants, and funky guitars. “Thank you so much!” says Lovefoxxx as she screeches, amid guitar feedback. Always a festival highlight, they certainly don’t disappoint tonight.

Headline act Basement Jaxx appear on centre stage, bathed in green lights, much to the thrill of the crowd. Singer Lisa Kekaula dressed as a furious Bridezilla character, paces around the stage like a madwoman, decked out in a white veil and silver frilled dress as she belts out a thunderous version of ‘Good Luck.’ A spectacular symphonic band accompanies the DJ team of Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton, bringing a theatrical grandeur to the fest. Other highlights include the frenetic beats of ‘Red Alert,’ and the acoustic guitar refrains and heartrending wailing vocals of ‘Romeo.’ During the throbbing bass and spell-binding raga rhymes of ‘Jump ‘N’ Shout,’ the singers raise an Australian flag and Jamaican flag as they pound the stage. The anthem ‘Where’s Your Head It?’ elicits the biggest cheer from the crowd, before the crew says, “You’re wicked, did you enjoy the sunshine?” to which punters scream affirmatively. Converting the venue into a Rio-Style Carnival, the crew finishes with a triumphant version of ‘Bingo Bango,’ as trumpets ring out and Lisa dances with a toy kangaroo. “Do you love the Jaxx?” she asks, to a cheering crowd. “Thank you, everyone!” And with that, they leave the stage to screams and whistles. Despite a few ponderous moments and bothersome queues, overall, this year’s instalment of Future Music Festival is clearly another resounding success.

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