I was sad to hear that Parklife was off the cards in 2013; sad for the fact that such a well run, intelligently booked festival didn’t have enough punter support to justify its continued existence. But never fear, the crew at Fuzzy are back with ‘Listen Out’; Parklife’s boutique replacement, and the vibe is still alive. Parklife is dead, Long Live Parklife
The first thing we noticed when we walked into the site was how tiny it was. They weren’t kidding when they said it was going to be a smaller party. The proximity of the stages and wide corridor between them made it easy to move around, although you could hear a bit too much of the ‘Atari’ stage on the ‘909’ stage for my liking. Nevertheless, we’ll put that down to a teething problem.
The first act we saw was Rufus, who drew a particularly excited crowd for their time slot; the sort of enthusiasm that recently saw them sell out multiple (3 or 4) nights at the corner. They put on a pretty fun show, not miles removed from a young Cut/Copy, and had a great mid-afternoon festival vibe going on.
Moving across to the 909 stage to catch the start of Spanish dynamo John Talabot, the initially small crowd built steadily through his excellent set comprised mostly of tracks from his similarly excellent ‘fin’ record of 2012. Opening with the slowly building Depak Ine, Talabot and touring partner (and collaborator) Pional put on a great show, using drumsticks to trigger sounds and providing live vocals. A great builder of a set, culminating in incredible versions of ‘So Will Be Now’ and ‘Destiny’ it was an early highlight and one that we were still talking about at the end of the day.
Caught a little bit of Duke Dumont while ducking back to get a drink, he was banging it out but didn’t really grab my attention as we stayed on the 909 stage for ‘Touch Sensitive’, who put on a cracking show. Sporting a shiny blue bass guitar behind his laptop and other equipment he was certainly makin’ musical love to his instrument and taking every opportunity to insert a bit of a slap or funky twist in the tunes. With a bit of experience I suspect he’ll stop taking every opportunity to slap the bass and the live show will be less novelty but on the whole it was a cool, and different, performance. As expected, ‘Pizza guy’ rocked it in that Washed-Out-making-tracks-with-Flume kind of style that he’s got going on.
Classixx asked us if we liked bass, and were OK but not epic so we took the opportunity to go get some food, and subsequently missed Alunageorge, which was a pity. On the upside, Azealia Banks threw a tantrum and didn’t play her set – which was great (not for the promoters though). She’s nowhere near good enough for her level of diva behaviour and seems intent on making this sort of thing her ‘brand’. Who really knows why she chose to spit the dummy but a very good source had her arriving earlier with a bus full of people that weren’t on her guestlist and subsequently threatening not to go on stage later unless all of them got passes at once. Enough word count wasted on her!
One of the things about Fuzzy events is that they are the ‘thinking person’s’ dance festival, and often many of the acts are high on talent but low on dumb fun. This invariably leaves the door wide open for someone to come through in the late arvo/early evening and smash it out of the park with a party set. Enter ‘Just Blaze’, who stepped up to the plate on the 909 stage armed to the teeth with party hip-hop, trap and dubstep and enough turntable chops to pull it all off. It was hands in the air, sing along madness and really took things up a next level as he opened with Jay Z’s ‘Public Service Announcement’ and went through a ton of huge tunes (and remixes) including most of Kanye’s Fantasy record, and a buttload of Daft Punk remixes (including, of course, Kanye’s Daft Punk sampling stronger which was used to full effect). He kept it out of ‘cheese’ territory well, although I would have been happy with a 15min shorter set. TNGHT came on afterwards but for all my excitement about seeing Hudson Mohawke, they just couldn’t maintain the energy from Just Blaze’s set.
And on to the headliners, wunderkinds ‘Disclosure’. Hands up who, at the turn of the century, would have taken a bet that said two kids, aged roughly 5 and 7 at the time, would define the zeitgeist in 2013 by building a sound heavily influenced by artists such as MJ Cole and the Artful Dodger?!
Of course you wouldn’t have.
But so goes the twists and turns of popular music and we sit here with 2013’s hottest electronic act having reinvented the sounds of 2-step and UK-garage; and released a cracking album in the process. In a nice move by the organisers, the main stage was set to be the only stage open for much of the last hour of the festival and all of a sudden the crowd seemed a fair bit bigger when crammed into one corner. With their familiar ‘face’ artwork up on the screen behind them, they got straight into it to a very up-for-it crowd. For me though, they weren’t really nailing it. It was OK, and we were having fun, but it wasn’t excellent. And then they played ‘You and Me’, and there was a palpable change. Whether the wind dropped or the mix got a bit better, the sound improved and so did the energy in the crowd. Dancing, joy everywhere. And things only went north from there. ‘Stimulation’, that epic slice of mid-2000s-esque house, set the place on fire. The Jessie Ware remix dropped, to suitable rapture, and White Noise tore it apart too. Finishing with Latch (their weakest song for me, but I’m massively in the minority here) everyone streamed out of the place glowing. A fitting headline slot to a great first Listen Out.
Note – Yes, there were some pretty ugly lines to get into the venue early in the day, and in peak hour it looked like the bars were struggling to keep up; but I’m confident that these are first-year teething problems and that the organisers will be able to address next year; hence I haven’t focussed on them. Onwards and upwards for listen out #2 next year.