After a successful first year, Fuzzy’s IDM Festival, Listen Out, returned to Sydney and brought with it a lineup that cheered on more homegrown talent than 2013. Flume was always going to be a huge drawcard and as such, two of the dates on the Festival tour sold-out. Sydney wasn’t at capacity but it still had a huge crowd ready to enjoy a beautiful day of electronic music.
Electronic music has grown exponentially over the past few years and the fact that this year’s Listen Out was such an Aussie affair goes to show that Australia is at the forefront of the genre right now. Apart from a herd of fence-jumping fools, Listen Out drew an appreciative crowd for those who didn’t want to shred for Stereosonic or mosh at Soundwave. Turns out, it’s a nice middle ground to be in.
Refer to our key below for the ratings of each performance. We also added the appropriate foods to accompany each set, just 'cos.
LA producer Shlohmo is a late night music-maker. His music is dark, insulated and smooth- everything that 3pm on a sunny weekend isn’t. Dressed in all-black, Shlohmo looked every bit as uncomfortable as the crowd. The thick bass tried to hug centennial park but it was just too large of a field to capture the brilliance of his sound. Shlohmo was one of the best bookings on the Listen Out bill but he was definitely disadvantaged by an afternoon set. There will surely be no complaints about his club-sets while he is here. The man embodies the RnB/electronica crossover sound that everybody is trying to emulate at the moment. It’s not his fault that nobody wants to grind in the broad daylight.
Bondax were the closest thing to Disclosure on this year’s bill. The English duo are making sunshine-infused deep-house music that, unlike Shlohmo, was perfectly suited to the mild, daylight conditions. Armed with a slinky female singer and a male who was slightly past his prime, the pair tailored a light, breezy set for an excitable and tipsy crowd. It was refreshing to see a live set amongst many DJs, with the pair performing mostly their own songs.
The track that started it all for them, Baby I Got That, brought with it an undeniable groove, while their super-smooth single Gold, showed that they can perfectly induce a bit of deep house with RnB. The height of the set came with their cover of Duke Dumont’s I Got U. For a crowd that wasn’t very familiar with their material, they were content throughout the whole thing. It was an example of perfect scheduling and weather-appropriate music.
Chet Faker was possibly the most hyped name on the bill, after Flume, and he effortlessly filled the paddock to usher in the night time. There’s no doubt that his one-man show is a marvel and he did all the right things at Listen Out. 1998 was soulful where it needed to be and beat-laden when dancing was needed while Gold created an unexpected singalong. I’m Into You was the perfect partner for the dusky heat and had the thick crowd swaying in admiration.
Despite his moments of brilliance, a one-man show like Faker’s is best enjoyed in tighter confines. Some of the sound was lost in the expanse of the crowd and sounded a little thin at times. His moments of playing with his instruments were also a little unnecessary as some began to get restless. A festival crowd, after all, has limited patience.
Enigmatic producer Zhu could’ve answered all the questions at Listen Out but instead he answered none. He took to the stage with a screen covering him from anybody’s vision and launched straight into his mega-hit Faded. It was a euphoric, throbbing moment but the whole time it felt there needed to be another climax. You couldn't tell whether he was singing nor see what he was playing and no matter how good it there was always the feeling that the crowd wanted more - probably brought on by the lack of presence.
Despite not seeing him, he had some great moments. His remix of Lana Del Rey’s West Coast was a moment of chopped and sliced brilliance and the light show that carried on through the whole set was a spectacle. His set-finishing cover of CHVRCHES' Gun was also a hands-in-the-air moment that ushered in a rare singalong. With a huge set under his belt already it’s hard to imagine how long Zhu will be able to keep this mystery up. It seems to do nothing but put more pressure on him to speak with great music.
With the sun completely gone, Orlando Higginbottom brought with him the type of DJ set that only the night time would embrace. Gone was the summertime sounds that permeated the afternoon, as the crowd welcomed a fist-full of bass, with a set of largely unrecognisable music. T.E.E.D is clearly a producer who digs a little bit deeper than most but he never came across as pretentious. For every instrumental banger, there was crowd-pleaser thrown in. They came in the way of the bombastic Core by RL Grime and Ain’t Nobody by Chaka Khan which radiated through an excitable crowd.
It’s obvious by his latest track with Aussie, Anna Lunoe, that T.E.E.D’s musical output is altering slightly but it’s no less impressive. Feels Like was a nugget of gold in the set- a slowly building, throbber that commanded the crowd to go harder. He finished valiantly on Household Goods, ensuring we got a little taster of just what to expect when he comes back (hopefully) soon with his live show.
Listen Out could’ve only announced Flume on the bill and still pulled a massive crowd. He’s the golden-boy of Australian dance music and this truly felt like a homecoming victory run. His set hasn’t changed much since his solo tour earlier this year, but it was his first major Australian Festival headline set and it went down very well. Still looking humbled by his overwhelming popularity, he dropped hit after hit. Sleepless was followed by Holdin’ On which was topped by his Hyperparadise remix. He barely even needed to say or do anything, the crowd was so enamoured with his tracks as just an audible spectacle.
He was happy to share the spotlight for a little as he brought on label-mate George Maple for a new track and her new single, Talk Talk. The pair meshed perfectly together in a display of vocal prowess and intricate production- the most seductive numbers of his entire set. His remix of Lorde’s Tennis Court and On Top further proved the strength of the catalogue he’s gathered in a short time. Naysayers may call him overrated, but there’s very few Australian artists who can command an audience like Flume does purely with his own material.