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OutsideIn Festival Report Card

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Now in its third year, Astral People’s OutsideIn Festival has quietly become one of Sydney’s best festivals. As curators of electronic music they don’t come much smarter than Astral People and as such OutsideIn always has a lineup that sparks plenty of interest.

2014 delivered another stellar lineup that brought together both international and local acts, young and old to celebrate electronica, RnB, hip-hop and everything in between. Its new venue of Manning House in Sydney Uni was a perfect spot for its compact crowd, providing two outdoor stages and the indoor mainstage.

Holding it on the same week as Stereosonic made for an interesting sight on the streets of Sydney as fluoro-clad shredders walked next to kimono-wearing, hipsters. Choosing OutsideIn was a great choice for the interns- not just because we didn’t have to back-up for #2days but because the Festival grinned with a pleasant, happy-go-lucky crowd and plenty of stellar music.

Our only complaint? Stocking Red Bull as the only mixer for Vodka. For non-beer drinkers, that equals a very unhappy heart by the end of the day. It also evokes nightmarish dreams of Schoolies at 4am in the morning when you’re trying to settle your heart down because of said Red Bull.

On a lighter note, as it was set in Sydney Uni, we thought we’d take the scholastic connection very literally and write a report card of who we caught at OutsideIn.

Collarbones (A)

With their new album, Return, only released the day before OutsideIn, there were concerns that the boys may be unprepared for their debut. Those fears were quickly squashed, however. Collarbones are fast learners and they effortlessly melded the old with the new during their set. Marcus Whale is an unbelievably charismatic frontman and he thrashes his body around along with the pulsating beats of Travis Cook. Of the new album, Emoticon and Turning were clear standouts. The latter’s explosion into a bass-heavy, triumphant finish has to be one of the finest moments in Australian electronica this year. They may have begun early, but Collarbones took advantage of some mid-afternoon tipsiness.

Performance: Outstanding

Crowd Response: Good

Overall: Good

Brenmar (A+)

Chicago-born, New York-living producer Brenmar is a crowd-pleaser if ever we’ve seen one. Working with buzz label, Fools Gold, the producer churns out a set of high-BPM, bass-heavy tunes that oscillate between Jersey club, RnB and trap. As well as including his own original tunes he dropped a perfect cocktail of tracks at times drawing heavy on the nostalgia. His spin of Daniel Bedingfield’s Gotta Get Through This, deserves a special mention as the crowd went absolutely bonkers, as they did also for Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda. He gauged the crowd’s vibe immediately and followed it through the peaks and troughs.

Performance: Good

Crowd Response: Outstanding

Overall: Outstanding

Basenji (B)

Young Aussie producer, Basenji, is on many people’s hype list right now and for good reason. He’s has a pretty spectacular year, topping it off with his track Heirloom which has become a staple for any fan of Aussie electronica this year. His OutsideIn set also doubled as a birthday celebration for the producer and as such he was ready to get #turnt. Looking like he could’ve also taken to Rod Laver Arena for a hit of tennis, Basenji served up a refreshing, cohesive set of future-bass. It all culminated in Heirloom – a track that just drips with sunshine-induced beats and icy synths.

Performance: Good

Crowd Response: Satisfactory

Overall: Good

Giraffage (A-)

San-Francisco producer Giraffage was one of the main drawcards on the lineup and drew one of the biggest crowds of the day on the mainstage. His sound may be far more down-tempo than fellow Fools Gold signee, Brenmar, but it was no less effective. His own original material like Feels and Tell Me went down an absolute treat with skittering percussion and cloud-like synths. Things really kicked into gear when he dropped his remix of Janet Jackson’s Someone To Call My Lover which had an excitable crowd in ecstasy. There was only one thing that could top that and while we never would’ve expected it, his spin of Darude’s Sandstorm was the greatest moment of the day, if not our lives.

Performance: Good

Crowd Response: Good

Overall: Good

Pantha Du Prince (C+)

Introspective acts often don’t work in festival environments, particularly when the sun is still shining. There is no doubt that Pantha Du Prince is a marvel live but his OutsideIn set felt somewhat uncomfortable given the time of day and the mood of the crowd. Wearing a hood and covered in-part by smoke he gave off the same kind of mysterious vibe that his music complimented but it felt a little bizarre. With the amount of DJs at OutsideIn relying solely on their decks it was nice to see a producer with an interesting set-up but Pantha Du Prince is definitely an act to be enjoyed in the intimacy of a solo gig. He needs closed-in walls, a midnight set and a devoted audience. OutsideIn could deliver none of these.

Performance: Satisfactory

Crowd Response: Fair

Overall: Satisfactory

Cut/Copy DJs (A-)

Cut/Copy were the eleventh hour saviours of OutsideIn after Swedish producer HNNY pulled out. In hindsight it made a lot of sense that Cut/Copy should be on the bill, given that they’ve just released their Oceans Apart mixtape which celebrates Melbourne electronica. Their DJ set at OutsideIn saw frontman Dan Whitford take to the decks to showcase many of the artists featured on Oceans Apart. The set stayed at a steady, twilight-ready tempo for the most part, detouring at the end to bring it home strong. Whitford dropped SBTRKT’s New Dorp New York (a somewhat confusing choice in a set dedicated to Melbourne electronica) to an elated crowd and followed it up with the centrepiece of Oceans Apart, Brenda by Ara Koufax. It was a triumphant, hands-in-the-air moment, that made us pretty proud to be witnessing Aussie electronica right now, as we glanced around at hefty, joyful crowd.

Performance: Good

Crowd Response: Good

Overall: Good

Black Vanilla (A+)

Black Vanilla’s set was the second of the day for both Collarbones’ Marcus Whale and Guerre’s Guerre but there was no drop in energy from either. Black Vanilla have embraced this abrasive RnB/electronica crossover that requires full commitment and maximum crowd participation for it to work. Luckily for them, both those things were in order for their brilliant OutsideIn set. They layed down a set of new songs and songs from their Cloaks EP that would have made Kanye West proud. Cassius Selects beats are industrial, gritty and bass-heavy, with the crowd chests pummeled by the onslaught of music. Meanwhile Whale and Guerre stand out front working the crowd into a frenzy. The two of them go back and forth at each other with the same kind of energy as an act like The Prodigy. Whales’ final dance-break in a circle he’d created in the crowd was pretty breathtaking. As compact as the crowd may have been, Black Vanilla garnered the best response of the day.

Performance: Outstanding

Crowd Response: Outstanding

Overall: Outstanding

Check out our OutsideIn photo gallery below.