Thursday, October 8, 2009

PARKLIFE take II

Just like last year, my review and then... this version.

It’s festival season again, and what better way to kick it off with an early Spring frolic in the parklands for the Fuzzy dance-monster Parklife. With some futile attempt to go with our friends as an Earth, Wind, Fire and Water theme, I end wearing some some black, feathered, tulled and pocked tutu to the festival. Squeeeee!


Eleanor is dressed as a whore. As usual.


With a weather forecast of 18 degrees and the sun beating down on Monday afternoon, from midday a crowd of 13,000 were lining up at the gates. Security was tighter this year, with punters greeted not only with the boom of the music stages beyond but a spot-check by police officers and sniffer dogs. Before anyone had even entered the festival drug dealers could be seen fleeing across the lawns from a team of cops. Before I'd even reached the gates my phone was bombared with texts warning me not to get busted. All under control friends, all under control - this is what BRAS are for.

In the gates now, so let’s begin with boo to you, La Roux. Punters soon discovered, to their disappointment, that the British dance duo would not be playing due to Elly Jackson suffering a case of tonsilitus. That's what you get for putting an inflammation-prone ranga as the headliner.

Second boo of the day – the bar. I don’t think I need to delve into much explanation as to why 5.0% alcohol Smirnoff Blacks being sold at $11.50 a piece is a joke. No drink tokens though, thank fucking god.


Those two cons aside, Parklife was looking better than ever this year. There was a ripple of excitement in the air, perhaps this was induced by paranoia of the sniffer dogs wandering around, or perhaps it was the first hint of that warm October sun. Regardless, we were pumped to get out dancing shoes on.

The festival had expanded this year, with the addition of a giant white tent for the main Water Stage standing out as an impressive new feature. But the crowds were still the same, with fleets of cut-off denim shorts and citrus-coloured legs striding past every five minutes. I struggled to differentiate 90% of the crowd from each other as they were all wearing the same shit, par Johnny the hula-hooping dude who was adorned in a lovely white leotard and tied-up flanny.

We head to the bar...

Three hours later... we're ready to have a choice time.


We arrive to find independent Australian vocalist Bertie Blackman setting up for her Sneaker set. With the cloud cover disappearing and the sun coming out, the crowd was in the perfect mood for the Sydney-based songstress’ indie pop. Having spent hours loitering in the bar, it was no surprise that the moshpit danced up a storm to the tribal drum beats of highly rotated JJJ song Hearts. Ending her set with a cover of Phil Collin’s In The Air Tonight, a quick bustle to the Water Stage was made to catch the start of London popette Little Boots.

Upon arriving we found the music of Little Boots a little single-layered, so we toss up and went to check out French act Busy P instead. Playing a great selection of electro, after a quick frolic we check our watches – 4:40pm. It’s time for Lady Sovereign.

... but before that another detour to the bar. Eleanor's friends join in and initiate a gang rape on the lawns. We spectate and drink.


Given her recent attention in Australian press (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/09/26/2697313.htm), the next act of the day was highly anticipated – the London badass rapper Lady Sovereign. Brisbane bouncers may not have taken too fondly to her guttermouth and hip-hop attitude, but seemingly there’s nothing Adelaide loves more than a pink-haired chav with a microphone.

Busting our rhymes in a combination of cockney dialect and pack-a-day smokers husk in I Got You Dancing and Love Me and Hate Me, she was feisty as hell, each interval between songs ridden with swear words : “You’ve got so many dangerous animals ‘ere!” she announced. “Foocking spiders and that, screw that shit!” Closing her set for the afternoon, her version of The Cure’s Close To Me, So Human, erupted a mass singalong from girls in the crowd of; “I’m still human yeah yeah yeah, it’s okay yeah yeah yeah.”

As dusk started to creep in, hundreds of punters gathered at the Air stage for Ontario duo Crystal Castles. Within moments of the pair taking to the stage, the sound of that erratic, 8-bit lo-fi synth with a drone of distortion filled the air. To the masses of pilled up ravers below, frontwoman Alice Glass conjured a frightening image: a gaunt-looking girl in an oversized shirt, black kohl smeared around her eyes, standing rigid on stage twitching her head in catatonic intervals. To the rest of us, her kookiness translated into a mesmerizing stage presence. JJJ circulated track Crimewave was met with a cheer of familiarity, whereas Glass’ screamo vocals in Alice Practice induced many a headbash across the field.

Their sound was impeccably crisp, an even balance achieved by Ethan Kath between fuzzy and clean melodies, but I must say I’m not sure an open stage during daylight particularly suited them. Crystal Castles is a band with a reputation for stage chaos – the kind of group you envision seeing somewhere in a basement full of lasers with Alice Glass rocking out so hard her eyeballs roll into the back of her head. I was disappointed along with others that they’d been allocated an outdoor stage with no visual aids, as though the show was jawdropping I felt they’d been ripped off.

It's then time for Metric. On our way over, Sally gets into conversation with some cops about a parking fine she was given a month ago. I am extremely drunk by this point and start freaking out. "SALLY... C-COME BACK.."


The temperature quickly cooled as the sun went down, but not cool enough for Canadian skin, apparently. While everybody else had donned a jumper or two and surged into the mosh for bodyheat, frontwoman Emily Haines was clearly unphased by the chilly air as she skipped around the stage in a black, glittery minidress for Metric’s set . I overhear someone behind me say "I'm not a lesbian but I would fuck that." The feeling is mutual, friend. Opening with Monster Hospital from their previous LP Live It Out, she continued to work her way through most of 2009 success Fantasies.

Rotating from behind her keyboard to crouching at the front saluting fans at the barrier, Metric were by far a standout. After a day of having electronic music pounding into our ears from iBooks, Metric were wonderfully authentic with their four-piece band. Tucked away in the corner of Botanic park at the Fire Stage, the band was in clear view from all angles and had drawn a great crowd of people who didn’t have their pupils dilating out of their skulls. The meaty guitar riffs and upbeat drums in Sick Muse elicited a powerful crowd response, but what everybody was really hanging out for was Help I’m Alive, which rest assured they kept till last. Upon hearing those opening echoey clangs, limbs and heads began to fly in all directions. As the song finished, however, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad as the majority of the crowd lumbered off in the direction of Empire of the Sun, missing the final song Stadium Love.

Ah yes, night hadset in and everybody was now crammed underneath the big top waiting in anticipation for Empire of the Sun, arguably one of 2008’s most successful dance acts. Unsurprisingly Nick Littlemore was absent, keeping in theme with the rest of the Parklife festivals one would assume. Needless to say his presence was not required, as Luke Steele was, and is, an enigma on the stage. Here you had a man virtually performing as a one-man show, wearing a feather headdress with the circumference of a small child, singing and playing lead guitar all at once. Though the set was largely electro, Steele still managed to throw a little of his Sleepy Jackson roots in there with the odd guitar solo on his white Fender Stratocaster.

The set included calisthenics dancers wearing swordfish masks, fibre optic headwear, black flower bodysuits and performing slow-mo stage fighting is, and needless to say I was peaking like a motherbitch at this point. Steele’s execution of the EOTS sun was fairly flawless and the man probably could have saved a chunk of change by cutting the budget of the costume department. It was one radio hit after the next, We Are The People and Standing on the Shore making the giant crowd bustle and hustle, with the dirty squelches of Swordfish Hotkiss Night being a highlight. But it was the finale of Walking On A Dream, Luke Steele donning the trademark teal suit and gold crown, that made the tent boom with one big universal: “Is it REEEAAAALLLLLL NOW WHEN TWO PEEEEOPLE BECOME ONE…”



Our mouths still gaping, next was award-winning DJ extraordinaire A-Trak. I watch a total of one song before I start hallucinating that there are ripples on the ground, remember I have a uni assingment the next day and blindly decide to catch the bus home.
Five hours later I was still awake and absolutely entranced by KungFu Panda on TV. "It's such amazing graphics"....

til next year.

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