Dreary skies didn’t stop more than 16,000 music lovers from packing into Birrarung Marr to dance, scream and cheer on a stellar selection of local and international artists hand-picked to feature on this year’s Parklife bill. Jordana Borensztajn reports.
The hugely anticipated national event, which kicked off last weekend in Brisbane, boasted some of the hottest pop and dance acts currently thrashing around the scene, including La Roux, Little Boots, Empire of the Sun, MSTRKRFT, Metric and Lady Sovereign.
The day began with a wild start for Parklife organisers and security guards when gate crashers hauled down some of the fencing along the perimeter of the event, and sprawled inside. While some culprits were caught, the large majority of escapees are believed to have successfully broken into the otherwise sold-out event. But despite this minor mis-hap, Parklife Melbourne was a huge success.
Empire of the Sun put on a far more indulgent and grandiose performance than I expected from their debut show. Not only was Luke Steele dressed from head to toe in Indian-looking tribal gear, but his show was brought to life by dancers, an impressive light show, and completely whacked-out costumes.
I know everyone was waiting with baited breath for Empire's set and it needed to completely rock the massive crowd, but I've got to say it was too over the top. The band's success until now should be indication enough that Empire fans are dedicated and would stick by them regardless of the size of their stage show. Plus, the noise and costumes took away from the crowd's first interaction with Steele as a live performer.
In fact, there were some points where Steele seemed to be hiding behind his huge mask, rather than using it to help shape his show. There was so much energy put into the cosmetics of their gig that when I look back, that's what I remember most. But everyone around me might have disagreed because the crowd was going crazy. As one of the last acts – and certainly one of most highly anticipated – fans were wild, particularly through the highlight tracks “We are the people,” and “Walking on a Dream.”
La Roux was everything I expected – and not much more. Elly Jackson’s electro-synth debut was brilliant, and there’s no doubt she performed it perfectly, but she didn’t give us any more than what she offers on her record. There was very little crowd banter, she didn’t stray too far from the sound of her studio sound, and overall, she seemed quite uptight. I would have liked to have seen Jackson let go completely, and ruffle up that almost-freaky and very questionable hairspray-overloaded hairdo. That said, the crowd loved her. The sun was setting at the exact moment she launched into “Bulletproof” and it’s pretty safe to say this would be remembered as the most memorable moment for most Parklife peeps that attended.
Local indie artist Bertie Blackman put on a killer show. Not only did she completely change the tone and tempo of her tracks, but she put on a very electro and Parklife-infused performance. Her songs were upbeat, her delivery was inspiring, and she let off a lot more sass and spunk than I’ve ever seen before. While this high-energy route clearly took a lot of effort for her to reach, she pulled it off incredibly well.
Little British rapper Lady Sovereign was another crowd pleaser. While the pint-sized artist’s hip hop and rap moves are not always easy to digest when coming from a pocket-size performer , there’s no denying she won everybody over. Her latest hit “So Human” was an absolute smash which roused a huge singalong not only from everybody who crammed into the Fire stage area, but also from thousands of people that watched The Sov from the huge hill that was facing the stage.
Frenchman Busy B’s fans were so mesmerised the entire crowd seemed like a cult following, the arena where MSTRKRFT played was so packed people missed the first few tracks as they battled to make their way to the stage, Little Boots was an absolute force of nature who boasts an incredibly powerful voice and intriguing on-stage demeanour, and crowds were going so crazy for Purple Sneakers DJS it seemed like these Aussies had never even been to a live show before.