Future Music Festival @ Randwick Racecourse, Sydney (06/03/10)

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Sydney is where it all began for Future Music Festival back in 2006 – and four years on, business is booming. While the first two editions were contained to the grandstand side of Randwick Racecourse, now Future sprawls across the full site, with the areas linked by passageways.

With over six stages cranking from midday, plus a Silent Disco and a Roller Disco, this is no small-scale operation. Fittingly, as the festival has grown, so too has the line-up, with 2010 perhaps the most heavyweight year yet.

Contrary to what the weather reports warned, a perfectly summery day greets the hordes descending on Randwick. Sorry, Melbourne. It takes about half an hour to find your bearings around the vast site. Trance fans don’t have to travel far from the entrance to find the Anjunabeats arena, but it’s a bit of a walk to reach the Likes Of You tent and mainstage.

Space Invadas is an early highlight at the Grandstand (once the biggest stage!), carried by the smooth future-soul vocals of Steve Spacek. After a crowd-pleasing 45 minutes from Sam La More, it’s time for Jump Jump Dance Dance to road-test the new live show. With all members obviously having a ball, you get the feeling this new project from Groove Terminator and Chris Carter will be a fixture on next summer’s festival circuit.

Over at the mainstage, Erick Morillo is also enjoying every second of his two-hour set. Singing along as he drops each big-room house number, the man has the crowd all tied up. Dropping some of his old favourites like Show Me Love and Delirium while a cast of models mill around the stage, it’s exactly what you’d want from Morillo.

Meanwhile, John Digweed is showing how he rocks a festival in the Likes Of You tent. A lot less sing-alongs over here, but plenty of heads-down, chugging progressive house and techno. The sound at this stage is crisp and all-encompassing, which is exactly what Diggers deserves. As expected, he charges it home in the final half-hour. He might be the master of building a set, but seeing him bang it out in a big tent is a unique thrill.

While he’s going about his business, two more titans of ‘90s house are doing their thing at the Pink Flamingo stage. Way Out West may only have an hour live set to work with, but they make the most of it. Building through lush prog, they arrive at a big finish with 1996 classic Domination. The crowd of devotees couldn’t be happier.

After the relatively small-scale set-up of Way Out West, all sorts of colourful paraphernalia is rushed onstage for Empire Of The Sun. When Luke Steele, his dancing girls and backing band The Swiss appear, the crowd has swelled to an impressive size. We Are The People provides one of those quintessential ‘festival’ moments, with hands raised and girls raised on shoulders, but the energy dips for other numbers. That said, the visuals throughout are stunning, and you can’t fault Steele’s ambition.

There’s another showman at this festival, though, and his name is Sven Väth. Decked out in sparkly pants, the Cocoon boss owns the Likes Of You tent until nine-pm. Armed with failsafe bangers like Stranger To Stability, he plays a booming, bass-heavy set – and all on vinyl! With Sven, it’s as much about the antics as the music, and he’s no shrinking violet tonight.

It’s almost a shame when he has to sign off, but Booka Shade more than compensate. The duo’s live show is now a streamlined beast: Arno Kammermeier working the electronic drum-kit while Walter Merziger busies himself with keys, synths, vocals and all the rest. Booka Shade’s new stuff has an almost proggy and euphoric feel, which seems to divide some of the crowd, but there’s no denying the tracks from Movements have still got what it takes.

Speaking of still having what it takes, The Prodigy have no trouble bringing it home on the mainstage. With Maxim and Keith Flint stalking the stage while Liam Howlett leads the band through each crunching classic, it’s rattling stuff. What new tracks like Take Me To The Hospital and Invaders Must Die lack in innovative lyrics, they make up for in ravey breakdowns, but you can’t go past the old ones. Watching a crowd erupt to Firestarter never gets tired.

With apologies to Boys Noize and Above & Beyond, that’s another Future Music Festival down for this reviewer. After the succession of big guns this year, it’s anyone’s guess who we’ll see in 2011. Dare I say Faithless?


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Comment Added

theHordern said on the 15th Mar, 2010

yehh faithless couldnt hurt. and u fooooooolishly missed mat zo at 1 45


Jarrod_s said on the 16th Mar, 2010

how could you miss Boys noize... you should be ashamed of yourself!