Reviewed on Saturday March 8
Blue skies, shirtless guys, dancing and a whole lotta butt cheek. Yup, it’s Future Music. Over 100 acts flooded Randwick Racecourse and were almost exclusively EDM, with a few out-of-place indie and hip hop acts thrown in the mix for good measure.
Hoards of sweating dudes fist-pumped their way through the day, revelling around ten stages scattered across monumental grounds. At a festival so rife with testosterone it was nice to see the few female DJs that did hit the decks were Sydney’s own. Helena kicked things off, playing to a crowd as small as to be expected at midday. Once the punters had started to amass, local lady GG Magree took to the V Energy Green Room dropping a trap-laden mix, while Katie Valentine got a small but enthusiastic crowd pumped up early.
With a bizarrely short and early set at 4;15pm, Pharrell Williams took to the main stage and somehow managed to squeeze in almost every major commercial hit he’s ever done. The songs were crowd-pleasers and didn’t venture far from what everyone expected, but there is a time and a place to get experimental with your set and Future is not it. From the Neptunes-penned ‘Hollaback Girl’ he went straight into ‘I’m A Hustler Baby’, ‘Hot In Herre’ and ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’. And the hits didn’t end there – the seemingly ageless production guru then powered on through N.E.R.D. classics ‘Lapdance’ and ‘She Wants To Move’. After 25 minutes of his allotted 30, Pharrell still managed to fit in a track from his new album before belting out the anthems everyone was anticipating. ‘Blurred Lines’, ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Happy’ were compacted into a few short minutes with Williams lightheartedly proclaiming, “They cuttin’ me off here!”
The unwavering master of lounge, Kaskade, played to a similarly large and loyal audience which lapped up his tunes ecstatically as confetti rained down from high. Simultaneously Kaytranada, from the gritty Montreal scene, held it down at the Likes Of You stage for over an hour, keeping a modest crowd dancing with a set heavily inspired by hip hop, R&B and bass music. Amazing visuals of cats jerkily flashed on screens above the stage, complementing the beats seamlessly. And frankly, who doesn’t love watching cats while getting down to remixes of Missy Elliott’s ‘Sock It 2 Me’ and Janet Jackson’s ‘If’?
Fresh from Grammy success, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hit the main stage and played a set permeated with enthusiasm despite poor sound quality. The fans didn’t seem to mind much, gazing up contentedly as the Seattle rapper belted out his repertoire. ‘Thrift Store’ and ‘Can’t Hold Us’ caused mass hysteria as miles of fists triumphantly pummelled the air. The duo finished with their social comment on consumerism, ‘Wings’, as a giant Jordan logo was illuminated behind them.
A different vibe was in motion at the Knife Party Haunted House tent. Baauer and Sub Focus decided to swap sets unannounced, with the former showing off his eclectic range which goes far beyond just the ‘Harlem Shake’. Sub Focus then brought the party up a level, blasting a bass-heavy set beneath the spider webs. Strobe lights and pulsating visuals accompanied, transforming the crowd into a wild pack of ravers, oblivious to anything beyond the realms of the Haunted House.
As the sun set and every toilet began to overflow, Rudimental played a genre-blurring mix of everything from DnB to reggae to acoustic. The English quartet belted out their hits unfazed by the fact a large number of festival-goers had drifted over to catch Eric Prydz on the main stage.
Longstanding Aussies Cut Copy also pulled a fair crowd for their live set, despite taking the stage at the same time as Knife Party and Dutch house icon Hardwell, while it was the turn of French alternative rockers Phoenix to suffer the indignity of sparse support while the dance acts drew the masses. They showed little sign of disillusionment towards their fate, however, and a devoted fan base danced on regardless, lavishing in the freedom to move. Meanwhile, the Future Sound System stage was a pit of unrivalled sweatiness hosting the likes of ATB, Markus Schulz and Paul van Dyk.
Unsurprisingly, Canadian super-producer deadmau5 drew the largest crowd of the day with thousands of adoring fans turning up to see his world-renowned live show. Mouse head intact, he dropped tracks from his latest EP as well as his ten-minute masterpiece ‘Strobe’. Unrivalled lighting and visual effects mesmerised an awestruck mob in a display so spectacular it was hard to deny the night belonged to him.