Music

6 things we learnt at Future Music Festival Sydney

JULES LEFEVRE went to Future Music Festival in Sydney to watch the demonic Die Antwoord, wait for the drops, and bow down at the alter of Drizzy. Photos by DEXTER CORNELIUS

1. It was the battle for the biggest drop

The early afternoon and sunset sets provided some of the biggest bangers of the night. EDM wunderkind Martin Garrix incorporated the first pyrotechnics of the festival at the Supernova stage; the sharp, popping percussion of single ‘Animals’ dramatically punctuated with plumes of fire. Over at the FutureDome, Nero conducted screaming dubstep with a verve rarely seen since 2011 – the shattering synths explosive during closing track ‘Me & You’. Earlier, Finnish meme producer Darude played his 2000 hit ‘Sandstorm’ for a sweaty and nostalgic audience. Avicii’s headlining set may have been eclipsed by Drake and The Prodigy, but there was no denying the spectacle: fireworks, confetti cannons, and then some more fireworks underscored the heady euphoria of ‘Wake Me Up’.

2. Sound bleed will always be a problem at festivals

Squeezed into a relatively small space on the shade-less Randwick Racecourse, sound bleeding was a problem during some of the day’s draw card acts. The two major stages – Supernova and Future – were set up roughly 100 metres from each other, meaning that if you were hanging back at either stage the sound quality was compromised. This became most evident when Avicii’s huge drops permeated Drake’s killer, but much softer, beats. In other areas, it was possible to stand in one spot and hear three stages at once (the Foamorama and Star Fuckers stages were set up opposite each other, and not far from the FutureDome), which became increasingly disorienting.

3. The Hilltop Hoods cruised through their set in style

Arriving 15-minutes late due to technical difficulties, the Hoods scrambled to recover – appearing to be on autopilot they moved through a solid but workman-like performance. Opening with ‘Chase That Feeling’, before jumping into ‘I Love It’ they paused abruptly during ‘Rattling The Keys To The Kingdom’ so Pressure could encourage the crowd to take off their clothes. They picked up the pace eventually, though, closing with the fantastically jaunty ‘Cosby Sweater’.

4. Die Antwoord are one of best live acts in the world

South Africa, or the seventh circle of hell? Wherever they come from, Die Antwoord’s performance at the FutureDome – complete with six costume changes, strange latex-clothed dancers, dog masks, and Ninja getting torn apart in a stage-dive – was as nightmarish and manic as they come. Yolandi, eyes jet black and utterly demonic, swore and spat water at the crowd, bouncing through the frantic ‘I Fink U Freaky’. ‘Fatty Boom Boom’ was combative, Ninja stripping down and thrusting at the crowd before spitting water in Yolandi’s face and finishing with ‘Enter The Ninja’.

5. The Prodigy can still breathe bring the pressure

If by chance you wanted to see Drake and The Prodigy, a scheduling clash made it near impossible, with the two occupying the same time slot at opposite ends of the field. Whomever you chose, there was no disappointment: the two acts both put on impressive and sculpted performances. Twenty-five years after they first appeared, The Prodigy are as ferocious as ever, their closing set at the Futuredome marked with rage. Hemmed in with the lashings of gritty, distorted guitar and the vocal fire breathing of Maxim Reality, it culminated in the splintery ‘Smack My Bitch Up’, before they appeared again for an encore of ‘Take Me To The Hospital’.

6. Drake is everything

As warm and intimate before a crowd of tens of thousands as he is on record, Drake meandered through a blissful set, drawing tracks evenly from all his releases. His voice was languid and elastic as he flowed through ‘Over’ and ‘Show Me A Good Time’, before he amped up for the bounding early single ‘Best I Ever Had’. He dropped in his verse from Nicki Minaj’s ‘Truffle Butter’, along with ILoveMakonnen’s ‘Tuesday’, and then dove right into ‘Worst Behaviour’. The medley style was far from constrictive with the truncated songs melting together. The crowd had waited six years for Drizzy to hit our shores, and he was giving them all that he possibly could in the time allowed. In an effort to “get closer to his Sydney people”, he hopped on an aerial platform and glided to a stage in the middle of the crowd, slipping into the gorgeous ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’ on the way. Drake is at his best when he’s tapping into that vast emotional well of his, but he left the deep feels behind when the triumphant swag of ‘Started From The Bottom’ closed out the show.