Steven Fernandez from Fallenfront checks out the Future Music Festival in Melbourne. Melbourne is an epic city any time of the year. During January it’s always alive with tennis fanatics, but in the last few years people have also been descending en mass during March for the Future Music Festival. In the days and nights leading up to the massive Sunday gig at Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne is buzzing with music enthusiasts and party-goers ready to rave. As far as electronic dance music (EDM) festivals go, Future Music is about as big as they get. Recently ranked as the third best festival on the planet, behind only Nevada’s Coachella and Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, Future has grown into a juggernaut brand that now tours Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Kuala Lumpur during the month of March each year. Quite simply, the Big Day Out pales in comparison… Future Music makes it look like the Very Average Day Out. With recent headline acts including Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, The Chemical Brothers and Pendulum, Future Music has set a pretty high precedent for itself to beat in terms of line-ups. With Swiss DJ Avicii and The Prodigy leading this year’s bill, I thought it was about time I jump across the ditch to check it out… First things first, Future Music Festival is an example of exactly how a largescale event should be run. It is a finely-tuned and well-oiled machine that is surely the envy of event planners the world over. The Future Music iPhone app alerted me throughout the day when my next favourite act was taking the stage, there were minimal lines and the crowd had plenty of room to roam and rave. I turned up with a crew in the late afternoon, having foolishly gone out the night before. In the 35-degree Melbourne heat, the chilled vibes of Ellie Goulding and Rudimental at 2 and 3pm were ideal as the venue started to fill and crowds started dispersing to one of the five stages around the racecourse. At 4pm everyone seemed to make their way back to the main stage for foul-mouthed New York hip hop artist Azealia Banks. Seeing her in what I reckon will be one of her last gigs before she skyrockets to mainstream success, the crowd couldn’t keep up with her lyrics but bopped intensely to her fierce tracks “Van Vogue”, “212” and a cover of “Harlem Shake”.
We left halfway through Azealia’s set to catch the end of Korean superstar PSY’s performance and to get a glimpse of 30,000 doing his famous “Gangnam Style” dance. Predictably, once everyone had heard the song that has racked up over 1,404,690,599 YouTube views, they walked away in search of something better. From the early evening onwards, we were all pretty spoilt for choice in terms of what to check out. In fact, there were so many sick DJ’s across the five stages that I had a pretty intense fear of missing out! Boys Noize in the Warriors tent were just about as crazy as some of the wide-eyed ravers painted up in fluoro. Naturally, Steve Aoki revved the crowd up from the main stage with an incredible set full of insane antics. At one point the Japanese DJ poured champagne into the mouths of people as he crowd surfed across them in a blow up dingy! Nuts!
A-trak immediately after kept the pace up as the headliners prepped for their sets. The surprise act for me was 18 year-old French DJ Madeon who smashed out some bass heavy tunes for an hour on the main stage and held his own between massive artists like Dizzee Rascal and Hardwell. Dizzee Rascal brought all the usual banter and even stopped his set to yell at a security guard for manhandling someone in the crowd. Everyone screamed in support as he told the security “bruv” to let some kid go. He played a few too many unknown tunes, but belted out “Dance Wiv Me”, “Holiday” and “Bonkers” right at the end. In the final few hours of a day that was as exhausting as it was epic, the crowd divided between the two main stages for either The Prodigy or Avicii. I’ve seen The Prodigy before, so once I’d heard “Firestarter” and been reminded of how insane they are, I headed to the front of stage for Avicii.
Given that he’d been in hospital a few days earlier and cancelled a string of Australian gigs, Avicii managed to bring the goods. Kicking off his set with new hit “I Could Be the One”, he unified the massive crowd with a diverse mix of beats, from “Next Order” by Dog Blood to “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore. Having wrapped up the set with his undeniably anthemic hit “Levels”, Avicii spelled the end of an overwhelmingly awesome day. In a final impressive move by the organizers, everyone leaving the festival boarded a fleet of waiting trains and were transported to central Melbourne to continue the party. Just a word from me for anyone going next year… DO NOT book accommodation where you have to check out at 9am the next morning. You will not be in a state to pack that early…
By Steven F