So on the weekend I went to this really cool party in an enchanted garden location and the likes of Azealia Banks, Disclosure, Classixx, Duke Dumont, Touch Sensitive, Rüfüs, TNGHT and Aluna George were all there. No, it wasn’t a dream it actually happened. Crazy huh?
I feel that it is more appropriate to say that on Saturday I attended a really rad outdoor party as opposed to a music festival. That’s the vibe of the fresh new event known as Listen Out that took place and debuted for the first time in Melbourne on Saturday, nestled within the city at the beautiful botanical gardens.
Organizers of Listen Out intended to strip away all the things we punters don’t like about major music festivals (such as serious timetable clashes, painful hikes to various annoyingly spread out stages, teasingly short sets and overwhelming crowd numbers) to create a new redefined way of experiencing music live.
The line up manifested the philosophy of ‘the best’ not ‘the biggest’ which I thought was clever as it meant each act was able to interact intimately with their audience and perform a longer more thorough set.
The weather gods of Melbourne put on a perfect 25-something-degree day with the right amount of sunshine to chill out and set the day right. Upon arrival around 2, I realized how small the event vicinity was which I saw as a good thing as it meant I wouldn’t have to leave any artist early to make it in time for another.
I started my day of with Rüfüs at the Atari Stage cleverly positioned in some shade (nothing worse than looking up at an act and being blinded by the sun). The Sydney-based trio has been one of the most talked about acts of the year and has become one of the most requested artists on Triple J. I was super excited to see these guys, as I was one of the many unfortunate to miss out on their sold out multiple Melbourne shows. Sundream and Desert Night were absolute standouts from their set for me. As soon as dreamy lead vocalist Tyrone sung the opening lyrics the fellow members James and Jon followed through with such soft and smooth rhythms that it would’ve just been awkward to not move a little and embrace the feel good tunes.
Following Rüfüs at the Atari Stage was UK producer Duke Dumont who I know as the creator of the infectiously catchy tune Need U 100%. Being a one-man show he didn’t have the interactive stage presence the previous act had but I did love his set for the fact that it made me feel like I was transported to some Vegas pool/day club. Staying at the Atari stage to catch a few discoesque sublime beats from Classixx (live) was a smart move. The L.A DJ duo won me over with their French inspired beach vibes summer charmer Holding On. It’s very hard to believe that the Listen Out tour has been the first time they’ve played live in Australia. We should definitely have them over more often.
Quarter to six I made my way to the other main stage called the 909 in under 4 minutes (thanks again to the neat set up). Here I was awaiting AlunaGeorge – UK duo comprised of the angelically sweet vocals of Aluna and production prowess of George. Opening the set with the very cheeky Just A Touch track AlunaGeorge were killing it, I knew they were because when I looked behind me to get a glimpse of the crowd all I could see was hands in the air, grinding and grooving bodies everywhere. ‘I love it when I see you having fun’ she sang and I’m sure she could tell everyone was having A LOT of fun. They’re best known for their highly talked about and popular track Your Drums, Your Love so unsurprisingly as soon as that came on the crowd got even more into it singing along. The chorus in that tune is nothing but pure bliss this along with the sun well and almost set on the Botanic Gardens, AlunaGeorge’s set was one of my favorites of the day.
Now let’s just take a moment to discuss the series of events that happened down at the Atari stage just after 6pm. Azealia Banks had a bit of a shit one in the Sydney leg of Listen Out as she stormed off stage 20 minutes into her 50-minute set due to people in the crowd chucking rubbish at her. Her Melbourne crowd was cool, calm and collected. I was pretty excited because I knew her set would be incredible with lots of new tracks she’s been working on since her last visit (In March for Future Festival). 6:25pm came around and the Harlem rapper hit the stage with her two baben’ dancers, opening the set with the new ATM Jam track. 90 seconds into the performance a full beer can was thrown at Azealia. She consequently let go of her mic, walked off stage never to return and tweeted a quick apology saying ‘Sorry to all the festival-goers in Melbourne!!!!!! See ya tomorrow in Brisbane!!!!!!’. A mixture of cheering, booing and even crying erupted from the crowd with lots of mixed opinions about the whole situation.
Just after 8pm the Atari stage was the place to be. It was actually the only place to be as the other two stages were done and closed off for the night. The well-planned set times meant that everybody was able to see the massively awaited Disclosure. Considering the release and success of their album ‘Settle’ – the crowd was buzzing, lyrics were memorized ready to be belted and everyone was getting geed up by the famous disclosure face done up in pyrotechnics. I had my fingers crossed that this set would go off on a grand scale note to really make Listen Out worth its while. And it did. It went beyond that; the UK-based brother duo exceeded my expectations. Opening their headlining live set with F For You was the perfect way to tease the crowd for what was yet to come. Intricately layered beats, smooth synths and deep UK house pervaded each track they played from the older stuff like Boiling and my personal absolute favorite bouncy Flow to their newer ‘Settle’ tracks such as You & Me and When a Fire Starts To Burn.
Despite a favorite act cut short due to crowd stupidity and a lack of food options Listen Out really did live up to its boutique party vibe hype. I can definitely see it becoming an Australian staple music event.