Parklife 2012 @ Sidney Myer Music Bowl
It was a brave soul that ventured out to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl on one of the dreariest spring days Melbourne has offered this year. But, as puns would have it, no amount of rain could dampen these festival-goers’ spirits. And while the words sensible and clothing don’t usually appear in the same sentence for festivals such as Parklife, there was but a smattering of short shorts and topless men. Largely, the appropriately dressed crowd knew what they were up against, and they weren’t going to let it get in the way of a good party.
Already playing to respectable crowds, triple j Unearthed winner Flume and local hip hop crew Hermitude got things off to a cracking start. And it was impossible to resist the charms of UK funsters Rizzle Kicks, who whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their rhymes and freestyles. Elsewhere, a small crowd had gathered at Madam Sing’s Junk overlooking the Yarra River. The Operatives DJs were good, but is it possible to be too early for dub step?
Back on the main stage, Chiddy Bang charmed the audience with his freestyle talent, incorporating words like “Australia”, “Germany” and “moist” into an off-the-cuff rhyme. Finishing up with his big hit Mind Your Manners, the crowd was more than ready for one of the most anticipated acts for Parklife 2012.
Plan B, who found fame by reinventing his sound into an addictive fusion of soul, hip hop and R&B, shot straight into it with some impressive beat-boxing before being joined by his eight-piece band for hits including She Said and musical response to the London riots, Ill Manors. A dub version of Stand By Me, Kiss From A Rose and Forgot About Dre completed what was a definite standout act at this year’s festival, and it was hard to top.
The dance stage kept pumping, with dub steppers Modestep and DJ Fresh delivering perfect reason to warm up those chilly feet. But it was dub step heavy-hitters Nero that stole the show on the main stage, an impressive light show backing the live vocalist and turntables throwing out hits like Promises and Guilt to the throng of eager fans.
Jacques du Cont, producer to the stars, showed his knack for timing as his set climaxed in perfect unison to the first glimpse of sunshine all day. Shortly after, French duo Justice tore up the stage with a DJ set that proved they are indeed everyone’s friends.
On the indie side of the coin, local outfit Tame Impala found lots of love in the Parklife crowd. A band destined for bigger and better things, they were the perfect opener for Boston’s Passion Pit, who dove straight into it with new material, Take A Walk. An older favourite, Sleepyhead, woke the crowd up with the help of confetti cannons. A lovely addition to be plastered on a soaking wet head.
Then it was a choice between colourful Swedish pop star Robyn and our very own dance heroes, The Presets. Both offered an appealing end to Parklife 2012, however homegrown talent won most of the crowd’s attention. The duo had an easy task on their hands – plenty of solid material, a crowd bending to their every whim, and the anticipated headlining set at a leading music festival. And while they did deliver the hits – Youth In Trouble, Are You The One and Promises to name a few – the overall energy on stage seemed a little… damp. Maybe not for the heaving mass at front and centre, but a little further up the hill, it was more than apparent it wasn’t a sold-out festival. The Presets are a pill that needs to be taken indoors or under a big top, amidst a hot, sweaty mess. And there was a little too much room. Perhaps Sweden should have won the day. (Definitely. Robyn was bangin'. – ed.)
It was the kind of crowd where a happy-go-lucky festival-goer could cartwheel down a hill and crash into another punter, only to have said punter turn around and offer a hand to help him up. And give him the phone that fell out of his pocket. Everyone was happy and ready to party. If you’ve got good vibes and good music, who gives a damn about the weather?!
BY JEN WILSON
Photo credit: Rebecca Houlden
LOVED: Plan B.
HATED: The rain.
DRANK: Bacardi, beer and bottled water.