Future Music Festival, Brisbane 2012 - Live Review, Photos
Who's saying what
Doomben Racecourse, Brisbane
Saturday 3 March 2012
By Marcus Teague and Andrew McMillen
MT: Being based in Melbourne, I hadn't been to a festival in Brisbane before today. I have sat outside Ric's Cafe in the
I did. The first hint comes when I'm in a cab on the way to the grounds at 12:30pm, and witness a couple of clearly munted guys hanging off each other while stumbling down the footpath; one of whom is covered in grass as if having earlier fallen over in the light drizzle. "Must be coming home from the night before," I thought. Twenty metres on there's a girl passed out in the gutter, head on her hands, pool of vomit between her feet. A friend is pushing a water bottle to her lips while a flock of five stand nearby on their phones. The scene continues, as if I'm being towed past some complex diorama of dilapidated 21st Century Youth Culture: masses of screeching girls with (what seem surely like) fake boobs; everyone with tatts akimbo; all swinging empty bottles of booze and energy drinks. The deeply oxymoronic scene of hugely-buff, chest-waxed angry bros—wearing nothing but tiny shorts—yelling out "FAGGOT" at kids running past is mind-bending. Closer to the gate, a range of people pose outside stretch hummers. It's completely awesome -- "awe" having once been common shorthand for "an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful."
AM: What does the name of this festival mean? The other major Australian festivals are easy enough to grasp: Big Day Out is true-to-name, Laneway originally took place in a series of side-alleys, Splendour In The Grass is named after a film and er, largely takes place on grass (?). Soundwave, admittedly, is a strange one. But this? If the line-up comprised entirely of acts from the future, people wouldn’t be paying $170 at the gate for the pleasure of witnessing acts they’d never heard before. ($210 each for VIP.) Considering one of the headliners is a band formed in 1980, an argument could be made for Past Music Festival. Anyway, nitpicking. A disclaimer worth noting at the outset: this review was written by two sober guys. So why am I here? To see a handful of live performances and otherwise amuse myself among the teeming hordes.
The first thing I notice upon arriving is that complete lack of sniffer dogs. I accidentally walk past the VIP entry down toward the general admission gates and don’t see any there, either. Perhaps they’re just inside the festival: if so, smart call. But considering that this has the reputation of being the druggiest festival on the annual calendar, I expected a strong presence from our canine friends. This is the first time I’ve been to Future. As I walk inside, I’m reminded that every other day of the year this ground hosts horses and gamblers, not tens of thousands of dance fans and half a dozen stages wielding enormous speaker stacks. Organisers have constructed bridges across the horse-racing track so that the turf remains unabused by human feet. Nice touch.
MT: I arrive just inside the festival grounds as rain begins sweeping across the land in great bursts. It's not cold: I'm in a tee shirt and—unlike 99% of punters—jeans; a dress code that's akin to walking around as Santa Claus in a nudist colony. But it's still wet enough to stay seated in the great grandstand, comfortably undercover. From there I watch the lower concourse, seeing five muscly guys rip each other's singlets off, people dancing in the rain while others run for ponchos, and a girl trying to artfully paste her wet hair across the sides of her exposed boobs. A sign in the distance reads "brisbane - australia's new world city" -- the lack of capitals as deeply unnerving as its implication. The EARSTORM stage is quiet. A bird flies past and it's momentarily stirring to think of nature.
View of the Las Venus stage from the grandstand
AM: Future has an interesting stage configuration, in that the four main stages are arranged almost in staggered rows—like consecutive aeroplane seats, say—spread across a couple of hundred metres. None of the stages face each other, though, so there is no sound bleed (but for one memorable occurrence late in the day). Dubbed the Flamingo and Las Venus, both main stages have adjacent VIP areas, meaning I'm up in the bleachers for Gym Class Heroes, who exist somewhere between hip-hop and pop -- they boast a capable MC in Travie McCoy and a load of pop-hook choruses. Their on-stage banner shows four guys, yet there’s six here today, including one guy with blue hair who sometimes does back-up vocals but mostly waves a GCH flag, shakes a tambourine, and jumps into the crowd. McCoy pauses for a moment to encourage the huge crowd to hug the stranger to their right, then to their left. Not something you’d see at most hip-hop shows. The crowd particularly enjoys ‘Cupid’s Chokehold’ and ‘Billionaire’. A strange band, but thanks to their confident genre-hopping, easy to see their appeal. They end the set by encouraging the crowd to hold ‘love hearts’ in the air. Most do.
Gym Class Heroes
Immediately afterwards, there’s a mass exodus toward the Las Venus stage. I had planned to stick around here for The Naked & Famous but since they’re running 10 minutes late—allowing for a 15 minute changeover between bands was never, ever going to work—I abandon the unmoving crowd stuck before DJ Ruby Rose and head to Las Venus for Skrillex.
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