Mother Nature turned it on for Parklife 2011 in Adelaide, the last stop on this year’s Parklife Festival. Judging by the rainy weather that came before in Sydney (being dubbed ‘Mudlife’), October 3 was a lucky day indeed.
Ever the loud, complicated, hipster sibling to the dancier Future Music and Stereosonic and rockier Big Day Out, Parklife boasted an impressive (albeit peculiar) line-up comprising of some of the best up and coming international and local pop, indie, electronic and dance acts, alongside a slew of established veterans.
Collarbones, whose set I glimpsed at before seeing Kimbra, were the surprise ‘act-I-didn’t-know-before-but-now-love’ of the day. Despite the tiny crowd, the local electronic duo (and winners of Triple J Unearthed) delivered an unusually lively set for so early in the day; and anyone who dares to cover Jenny From The Block at a predominantly indie festival has serious chutzpah.
Pint-sized Kiwi popette Kimbra didn’t fail to charm the crowd, taking to the stage in a brightly coloured $3000 dress by Melbourne designer Jaime Lee Major. Performing a bubbly hour-long set, which included a cover of Prince’s I Wanna Be Your Lover, Kimbra was uproariously energetic throughout, treating festival-goers to singles Cameo Lover, Settle Down and a number of new tracks slated for the US release of her debut album Vows. A brilliant way to officially kick off Parklife 2011.
The Yacht Club DJs are always a festival favourite. Who could resist the lure of sunny weather, dance music, remixes of Bette Davis Eyes and Bohemian Rhapsody whilst men and women dressed in silver space suits dance onstage and inflatable beach balls skim across the crowd? I sure couldn’t. The Aston Shuffle (another favourite) kept the ball rolling with their euphoric dance-pop jams; single Your Love being an obvious crowd pleaser.
New Zealand group The Naked & Famous were the second surprise act of the day. Scoring two songs in the last Triple J Hottest 100 and having a number of tracks featured in popular TV series Gossip Girl, their stock is slowly rising. The set, drawing on songs from album Passive Me, Aggressive You, was one of the most entertaining things I’d seen at Parklife 2011 thus far. Sure, most of the crowd only seemed to sing along to the ‘yeah yeah yeah’ during Young Blood, but rest assured, it definitely made me (and many others) want to hear more from them.
Scottish electronic musician and DJ Mylo was the first (and only) real disappointment of the day. The crowd dispersed quickly after The Naked & Famous, and Mylo’s less-than-energetic set certainly didn’t do much to bring them back. It was hard to believe that a few hours prior Loot & Plunder and The Aston Shuffle were performing on the same stage to crowds three to four times bigger. This coming from the same man who gave us Drop the Pressure and the amazing remix of Kylie’s I Believe In You? Yawn.
Meanwhile, on more exciting terrain, Adrian Lux and Death From Above 1979 delivered impressive sets and made their inclusions on the Parklife line-up well justified.
Santigold (my personal favourite) gave an incredibly strong and tightly choreographed performance, and then some. Despite revealing that a number of her crew’s bags were stolen upon touching down in Adelaide (for shame, would be thieves), the show went on. Starting with new single Go!, the criminally short set (only 45 minutes) was non-stop colour and fast-paced energy. Ms White even brought a group of lucky crowd members (including a certain Glam Adelaide writer) up onstage during her frenzied hit Creator. The new material, including set-closer Big Mouth, were definite highlights. Adelaide waits with baited breath for Santi’s new album and next live show.
Santigold producer and one half of Major Lazer Diplo was a choice pick and the perfect follow up to Santi’s musically diverse set. Proof that DJs need not just stand behind their decks (take note, Mylo), Diplo kept the audience interaction on the up throughout his hour-long DJ set. Highlights included remixes of Nicki Minaj’s Did it On ‘Em and a much unexpected dubstep mix of Madison Avenue’s Don’t Call Me Baby. I was lucky enough to see Diplo back in 2008 (before Beyoncé was sampling his songs and the feuds with M.I.A) and I distinctly remember an onstage verbal spat unfolding with the Parklife sound technicians for not having his set play loud enough. Thankfully they listened, and there were no repeat dramas this year.
Gossip were by far one of the most enjoyable and consistent acts of the day. Leading lady Beth Ditto claimed her ‘voice sounded like sh*t today… that’s what happens when you’re in a punk band’ but in reality, she was pitch perfect and delivered one of the best vocal performances I’d heard in a long time. While I’m sure a good portion of the crowd were simply there for Heavy Cross (the band’s biggest crossover hit), Standing in the Way of Control, Simian Mobile Disco collaboration I Wrote The Book and a surprise cover of Jolene by Dolly Parton were my standout picks. Beth was in great spirits and thanked the crowd more than enough times for supporting her band and keeping them out of ‘working fast food jobs, y’all’.
Despite Katy B’s sudden exit from the Parklife festival, fellow UK bass artists Example and Nero made up for her departure in spades, delivering wildly crowd-pleasing sets and enough grimy dubstep and obnoxiously loud dance tunes to poke a glow stick at.
The last act for the day was indie favourite Lykke Li. She earns the title of ‘Strangest Parklife Stage Entrance’ from me. The smoke machine, strobe lights and bizarre sci-fi sound effects seemed entirely out of place for a folk artist, especially when the last image my mind conjures up when listening to her album Wounded Rhymes is ‘disco’. It was clear though why she’s struck a chord with Australian festival-goers and has such a devoted fan base. Her vocals were spot on, and despite being clad head-to-toe (literally covered in a giant black veil for the first song), she oozed sex appeal, and remains a force to be reckoned with amongst rival indie musicians. Just save the obscure stage tricks for Björk and Alison Goldfrapp, thanks.