Review: Parklife 2010
Thursday, October 28 2010
Parklife is supposed to be an event that heralds in the summer, providing sunshine, warmth and tunes from the electronic and indie musicians “who completely define the moment in music.” Or so the festival organisers modestly claim on their website. It moved to Sidney Myer Music Bowl this year after a few years at Birrarung Marr. Given the Bowl’s surrounds, this better suits festival’s name—Birrarung Marr was more of a grassy knoll or a green walkway than a park. This year’s line-up wasn’t quite as impressive as last year, but still packed a punch, with Groove Armada, Missy Elliot and The Dandy Warhols topping the bill, backed up by many well and lesser known acts.
2010 being my third year straight at Parklife, I knew what to expect. If these three years have taught me one thing, it is that it is much easier to deal with a big (often shit) crowd when you are dressed in a ridiculous costume. Hence 6 weeks spent growing a moustache (touched up with mascara), along with a knee length poncho and a sombrero, plus my friend wearing exactly the same thing, except her moustache was stuck-on. Cue the festival.
A big group milled around early for Washington, the Australian indie music darling of the moment. Adelaide trio The Swiss, playing early as well, didn’t do too badly for support either, and their energetic live set of nu-disco, layered at times by three other blokes on laptops, was my unexpected highlight of the day.
A large part of such a festival is obviously spent passing judgement on the festival goers’ dress sense. To the lady wearing the black maxi jump suit with white speckles, I salute you. To all the people wearing fake, fluoro wayfarers: it isn’t 2008. Or the 80s. Get with it.
To all the girls wearing cut off denim shorts that where too tight and/or too short: shorts infer more material than underwear. You’ve all got it the wrong way round.
Later in the day, Belgian electro wonder-group Soulwax returned to Parklife after playing in 2008. Their set of noise and strobes was predictably hectic, but possibly more refined and instrumental than their last performance. Missy Elliot provided “BASS BASS BASS YELLING BASS”, which pleased the crowd. I forgot my glasses and couldn’t figure out which one she was amongst 20 back up dancers, but my friends assured me the choreography was good.
Busy P was the Parklife host for the second year in a row, whatever this means. I didn’t see him do anything, really, except play his set. His dubstep filled, heavy DJ set was a big change from his performance last year, but was right on trend.
Berlin-based, London DJ/Producer extraordinaire Jesse Rose played the most interesting and polished set of the day; while he didn’t drop any of his own tracks from 2009’s What Do You Do If You Don’t (which left me heartbroken and distraught), his set list was inventive and varied, with no crowd-pleasing cheese.
Cut Copy were an odd choice to close one of the four stages; while they had the crowd singing along, by 9 o’clock at an electronic festival more bass normally goes a long way. Their synth-filled sound was a hit on their old tracks, but their new songs, reportedly out early 2011, have not departed far from this sound. Too 2009?
Bag Raiders finished on another stage, with the crowd flocking to Shooting Stars. They were slightly more on point than Cut Copy, but they still might be suffering from a bit of synth overload/relevance deprivation too. We’ll see.
Overall, it was a good day of music, and if you ever consider wearing a sombrero and a poncho in tandem, do it. You’ll be off your tits on happiness.F