Future Music Festival Sydney 2011 - The Review
Music lovers across the world would have heard plenty about Australia's summer festival season, where hundreds of thousands of partygoers slap on the sunscreen and head out into the rolling grassy hills and blue skies to enjoy pumping tunes.
Music lovers across the world would have heard plenty about Australia's summer festival season, where hundreds of thousands of partygoers slap on the sunscreen and head out into the rolling grassy hills and blue skies to enjoy pumping tunes and performances from some of the world's finest. The most renowned for 20 years has been the enduring rock/dance fusion that is the Big Day Out, but nipping at its heels this year for sheer size and mass appeal is Future Music Festival.
From its humble beginnings back in 2006 as a one-off event in Sydney catering to 6,000 people across a small section of Randwick Racecourse, with a mostly DJ centric lineup featuring the likes of Armin van Buuren, David Guetta and Erick Morillo, it’s now morphed into a juggernaut of a national tour that hits five states across two weekends with sideshows aplenty, still hosting some of the world’s most successful DJs, but now alongside spectacular live electronic acts and a growing crossover roster of indie-dance bands.
This year more than ever there was something for everyone across a multitude of stages, with the sold-out Sydney show now hosting a whopping 50,000+ punters across every last corner of the same venue, including a massive walkway laid across the midfield of the actual racecourse, with a mini-stage set up in the infield spewing out foam, bubbles and party tunes for anyone who might get bored during the lengthy commute.
Most of the punters enter via the North side of the racecourse grounds, and upon entry it’s a short walk to a domed Pavilion space that’s been host to the trance stage over the years, with tech trance icon Sander van Doorn curating the arena under his ‘Dusk Til Doorn’ banner. Take a short stroll towards the grandstands, and plonked right on the edge of the racecourse itself is the ‘Dim Mak’ stage, named after the LA electro label operated by party monster Steve Aoki who headlines later in the day to a massive crowd – who greet him with an enthusiastic “WHOOP WHOOP” when he drops his immensely popular Bloody Beetroots collaboration Warp 2.0.
This is just the beginning though, as you’ll find a majority of the located crowd across the walkway and over the other side of the racecourse. To your left after exiting the walkway is the Likes of You Tent, catering to lovers of underground techno and hosting the likes of Sven Vath, Leftfield and more. To your right are the two massive main stages placed right next to each other, separated by a huge VIP marquee. During the peak of the festival it’s simply mind boggling to look out and see how far and how densely the crowd stretches back from the flashing lights of the stages.
The first big international act to hit the Future Music mainstage just after 3pm is US popstar Ke$ha. She’d been a divisive addition to the lineup, with the underground dance enthusiasts crying bloody murder, but she’s a reflection of how wide an audience the festival is catering to now. You can’t fault Ke$ha for her enthusiasm as she blasts through her portfolio of sleazy hits like Take It Off and Blow. Following soon after are reigning Australian electro heavies The Presets with a characteristically spirited live performance, and immensely popular UK rapper Dizzee Rascal.
Over at the Mazda2Flamingo stage right next door, home to many of the crossover indie-dance acts, a sizable crowd collects early for Mark Ronson and his sizable Business International live posse, the lot of them bursting into a raucous sing-a-long when the band plays their version of The O.C. theme song California. Next up are New York’s MGMT, their swag of electro-tinged psychedelic rock tunes making them the perfect crossover act for Future Music Festival. After the sun goes down Aussie dance-metal titans Pendulum belt out a powerful set that surprisingly draws the biggest and most sprawling crowd for the entire day.
If there was one act that was fitting to headline the sprawling extravagance of Future Music Festival this year, it’s UK veterans the Chemical Brothers who bring with them one of the most stunning audio/visual spectaculars ever seen. You couldn’t possibly undersell the stupendous technical rider that would have been needed for this show. As the Chems rip through a mashup medley of their hits (Do It Again, Chemical Beats, Hey Boy Hey Girl), the crowd are bright-eyed and bedazzled by the hypnotic music and trippy visuals.
However, there’s nearly as many punters enjoying Swedish house star Steve Angelo’s massive tunes at the Mazda2Flamingo stage next door, as well as a sizable contingent of underground dance fans being wowed by Richie Hawtin’s mind-bending Plastikman audio/visual live show, and the trance faithful reaching for the lasers over at Cosmic Gate, proving there really is something for everybody this year at Future Music Festival.