Live Review

Good Vibrations, Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

The premier dance, funk and hip-hop festival spreads its cheer.

Following legendary line-ups in previous years, the premier dance, funk and hip-hop flavoured Good Vibrations festival manages to spread its cheer, despite the raging inferno of bushfires gripping the state. Indeed, the unbridled joy at this fest offers a welcome relief from the hellish devastation. Gameboy/Gamegirl kick off proceedings on the Mr J stage, bringing their hyperactive Atari-style electro breaks to the cheering crowd. After delivering tracks such as ‘Pump And Rumps,’ singers Tranter, Katy and Jess, obviously affected by the heat, disrobe, leaving the girls in bras and trousers while Tranter goes bare-chested, revealing a rather obvious paunch. On the Roots stage, Phrase delivers rather belligerent rhymes over Rage Against The Machine-style thunderous guitars before singer Jade McRae joins him to sing jazzy vocals on ‘Get Me Home.’ Back at the Mr J stage, Miami Horror delve into ‘80s style Prince territory with thumping drums and squealing guitars. Sterling covers of Stardust’s ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ and Pnau’s ‘Embrace’ have the crowd singing along.

On the Roots stage, hip-hopper Wale makes his intentions clear, declaring, “I spent 20 hours on an airplane, I wanna party with y’all.” Accordingly, his crew launches into menacing bass-lines and the booty shakin’ track ‘Dig Dug,’ while Wale implores girls to “shake it” on stage, a request to which they dutifully oblige. His band finishes with a scintillating version of Justice’s ‘D.A.N.C.E’ before the DJ pumps out Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ as girls continue to dance around the group. Newly appointed pop icon Sam Sparro takes the Good Vibrations stage, asking, “What’s goin’ on, Melbourne?” to cheers. Launching into the gloriously funky ‘21st Century Life,’ he then delivers a cover of Cut Copy’s ‘Lights And Music,’ before displaying his jazzy vocal style on ‘Pocket.’ After requesting the crowd to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his drummer, he says, “Now, it’s time for us to go back 20 years, and re-visit my childhood,” as his band deliver a raucous version of Black Box’s ‘Ride On Time,’ with his backing singer bellowing the Loleatta Holloway sample parts. Sam saves the best ‘til last, with the haunting bass-lines of ‘Black And Gold,’ while his gospel choir-style backing singers dance around frantically. “Thank you very much!” he says. “Good night!” to a cheering crowd.

Roni Size Reprazent deliver their trademark drum ‘n’ bass sound on the Roots stage, at one point showing the crew’s expertise with a live double bass and drum combination, thrilling the crowd. Back on the Good Vibrations stage, electro outfit The Presets elicit a rapturous response as they launch into ‘Talk Like That.’ Surrounded by their name spelt out in revolving mirrors while dry ice emerges from the stage, they look every inch the all-conquering dance heroes. Bedecked in a glittery gold jacket and red sunglasses, singer Julian Hamilton says, “Nice to see you again. We’re The Presets by the way.” A stunning set follows, featuring the Gary Numan-esque ‘Are You The One?’ and the churning bass of ‘My People,’ which has the crowd singing “Na, na, na,” along to the thunderous synths. “Thank you Melbourne, that was the most fun we’ve had in a while,” says Julian. Judging by the roar from delighted punters, the feeling is entirely mutual.

Back on the Roots stage, The Pharcyde deliver their jazzy grooves and booming rhymes on ‘What’s Up Fatlip,’ and ‘Y? (Be Like That)’ as the crowd chants along. Then, on the Good Vibrations stage, legendary big beat pioneer Fatboy Slim emerges, to the mystical refrains of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’s ‘Pure Imagination,’ before the familiar piano refrains of ‘Praise You,’ ring out, much to the delight of the adoring crowd. Grinning wildly, he looks to the heavens, arms outstretched, as punters cheer. After delivering the churning techno of ‘Star 69,’ snippets of The Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations,’ and the symphonic ‘Right Here, Right Now,’ he ends his set with John Paul Young’s ‘Love Is In The Air,’ as he blows kisses into the air, to appreciative fans.

Following messianic oratory from a Barack Obama speech, with the declaration, “Hope is not just for optimists. Hope is not ignoring the task ahead or road blocks that stand in our path,” rising synths welcome Q-Tip onto the stage. Backed by a spectacular jazz-rock band, the rapper delivers his inimitable, laid-back rhyming style. Acknowledging his loyal fan-base, he gives the crowd a quick thumbs up, before launching into his former crew A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Find A Way.’ He then delivers an encore, in defiance of the strict curfew of event organisers. “This is going to be like, 5,000 of us against 10,” he says, much to the delight of the crowd, as he delivers a rousing version of ‘Do It.’ “Thank y’all,” he says, to screaming punters. Overall, his set is a rather fitting end to the hip-hop, funk and soul celebration that is the Good Vibrations festival.

Tags: Q-Tip, Features

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