Anneliese Pomering, Sydney - Australia - on 5/10/12
Pulse takes on Parklife Sydney and gets demolished by an epic day of dubstep, bass and house, proving that 13 years on, it's still one of the Australia's biggest and best festivals.
The gods were definitely smiling on the Sydney leg of this year’s Parklife festival, providing near perfect weather for what was to be a massive day of music in Centennial Park. Signaling the beginning of the summer festival season and end of a national hibernation, the crowds were in full force for one of Australia’s favourite festivals, and prepared to go hard. Bonded by a common love of good music, all sorts of colourful characters turned up the day’s events providing indie rock, pop, dubstep and house. Unobtrusive security and faultless organisation heralded the start of what was to be a legendary and exciting day.
And what better way to start such a day than with one of the most popular house DJs Lee Foss destroying the Kakadu stage with an impressive set, receiving a huge and unexpected crowd reaction for so early in the day. The infectious good vibes continued with Art Department, one of the most anticipated acts of the day, delivering an intense and flawless set. The Kakadu stage had the best sound you could ask for at an outdoor music festival, covered by a tent to secure the bass, perfect for the house and dubstep acts who graced the stage.
Following on from Art Department, it was positive to see the majority of the crowd remain for the next highly anticipated act from the UK, dubstep pioneer Benga, touring his live show across Australia for the first time. Bringing his crew of MC Youngman and vocalist Marlene, Benga tore through his repertoire of fresh music from his upcoming album and all his classics too. The full experience of the live show provided some of the best bass of the day and gave fans a fuller appreciation of his talent as a producer and live performer. This writer had the unfortunate position of front row directly in front of the tower of sub woofers, but it did give me the full effect of one of the best, chaos-causing dupstep sets of the day and a bass face that took days to recover from.
Up next was a live act I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about. Anyone who has seen Modestep before will tell you, they’re an outfit like nothing else. I decided I needed to see it to believe it, however nothing could prepare me for what I was set to experience. Known for being a live band first and electronic act second, Modestep performed dubstep the way it is meant to be heard. The band features drums, shredding guitar, DJ decks and Josh Friend with his soaring vocals, which together create the heaviest live dubstep and bass you’re likely to ever hear, with the intensity and sheer epicness of a rock band. Modestep worked the crowd up into a frenzy, near destroying the stage and tent with their single ‘Show Me A Sign’. Heavy as all hell, the band flawlessly performed their tracks as well as some rock re-workings of the some of the biggest dance and dubstep tracks of recent times from the likes of Knife Party and Doctor P.
Headliners Nero were a must-see, however, the group’s stadium scale performance and set were overshadowed by extremely disappointing sound for such a massive crowd. Sound at an outdoor music festival can be make or break for an act, and unfortunately during Nero’s, some of their biggest songs like ‘Innocence’, ‘Guilt’ and ‘Promises’, the choruses were drowned out about five rows in, not reaching the heights they needed and proving to be a real let down. Despite the sound issues, fans went as hard as they could for the ever-popular ‘Crush On You’, which provided a little salvation for the performance.
Another act in the long list of artists choosing to perform live over a DJ set was legendary British drum and bass producer DJ Fresh. Fresh and his band provided a much welcome dose of dnb for the festival. Opening with his massive hit ‘Gold Dust’ accompanied by vocalist Fleur, DJ Fresh pulled off a stellar live show of tunes from his new album which received a massive crowd reaction. The highlight had to be his last song, Fresh’s biggest and most recent hit, ‘Louder’, movingly introduced acoustically with Fleur on vocals, before exploding into the chorus, almost drowned-out by the crowd's sing-along. Some fans may have been disappointed by the abundance of live performances instead of DJ sets at Parklife this year, but for others it provided a rare experience to see their favourtite producers show off their array of talents and hear their music the way it was meant to be heard.
Personally, my most anticipated act of the day was UK dubstep producer Rusko, who shared the closing act space with Swedish pop star Robyn and Aussie dance heroes The Presets. It was certainly a sacrifice to miss The Presets performing their new album, but one absolutely worth it. As soon as the man himself walked on stage, all guns blazing, arms flailing screaming at the crowd, fans knew they were going to be in for one hell of a show. My absolute personal highlight of the day, Rusko combined brilliant showmanship, his sense of humour and high energy with a flawless, perfectly executed and riot-causing set, featuring classics of his such as ‘Woo Boost’ and ‘Cockney Thug’ and new tracks ‘Somebody To Love’ and ‘Thunder’.
His energy was unmatched by any artist performing that day, non-stop dancing for his entire set featuring the best, most strange, moves I’ve ever seen, earning even more of my respect as an artist and performer. By the end of the day it was refreshing to see an artist not take themselves so seriously and ready to get as messy and rowdy as the crowd was.
One couldn’t have asked for a better way to bring in the warm weather and season for music than with Parklife. Boasting the world’s biggest and most talented live acts, perfect weather and a relaxed, fun and appreciative crowd, hats must off to Fuzzy for providing such a memorable, exhilarating day for music lovers.
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