Spotify’s Front Left Live further validated the streaming giant’s appetite for playlisting
16.10.2019

Spotify’s Front Left Live further validated the streaming giant’s appetite for playlisting

Photo: Shevin Dissanayake
Photo: Shevin Dissanayake
Photo: Shevin Dissanayake
Photo: Shevin Dissanayake
Photo: Shevin Dissanayake
Photo: Ian Laidlaw
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Words by Leland Tan

All the biggest talents were on display in this live playlisting event.

Ask any music junkie and they’d acquiesce, playlists are the listener’s bread and butter when it comes to curated listening.

Back when burning songs onto a cassette tape for one’s romantic pining was all the rage, Spotify’s Front Left Live is the platform’s love letter to its AU/NZ listeners. Sporting half-million followers, the curation nobly flexes off-centre artists that fall between the crevices of mainstream radio pop but are not quite, hence its apt name.

The format of several headliners squeezed in a single-city show is a distinctly unpopular one, but lends credence to the relationship between artists and Spotify’s dexterity. Because unlike a full-blown festival, Front Left Live was an incredibly chummy affair, succinctly represented by Melbourne’s busker-turned-ARIA chart-topper Tones and I chronicling her Beverley Hill post-party shenanigans in parallels of the city she grew up in, and Florida rapper Dominic Fike’s mid-set query on the exotic meat selections Down Under. Unlike his fervent confession there was no platypus blood to be had, and if it wasn’t for me having a quick intermission smoko with his crew outside, he would’ve been pronounced it ‘Male-Born’ instead.

Intimacy was the platform’s priority here. But very much like a festival the acts were draped in diversity and correctly partitioned throughout the night; you had Aboriginal electronic crackerjacks Electric Fields ripping massive tides in dialects, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara, a prowess of energy unmatched by any other act in Adelaide’s circles and in The Forum too, and girl in red carving her warm indie alcove with flare only a Norwegian songbird could induce.

Such is the prowess of every act on the bill, queues were forming a good hour before doors, with New-Zealander BENEE commanding sizeable crowds as opener unsimilar to the ones she manages on tours. Nothing spelt festival more than an anointed DJ on an LCD double-deck installation brazenly spinning crowd favourites between acts, with PNAU, Cosmo’s Midnight and Bag Raiders plastered in the night.

No stranger to commanding venues, Sweden’s veteran sex-queen Tove Lo closed the night on an apocalyptic note, and you could tell most of the crowd was raring for the diva push. About five dozen impeccable hip gyrations/twerks from her later, as well as new single ‘Sweet Talk’, it was almost as if the pushback in set times was whisked away and wiped forgotten with every tenacious rotation of her talking body.

With Spotify’s Rap Caviar playlist snagging as much prosperity as Front Left, it’s only a matter of time before the platform giants are curators of not just mixtapes, but the finest gigs as well.

Now we reckon it’s only fair to venture into fan-made playlists, like that collaborative masterpiece my buddies and I got going.

Highlight: Great tunes between sets eased the (short) waiting.

Lowlight: Sets felt presumably cut short.

Crowd Favourites: Tove Lo’s ‘Habits’, Electric Fields’ ‘2000 And Whatever’ and Tones and I’s ‘Dance Monkey’.