Stereosonic @ Olympic Park, Sydney (26/11/2011)

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Let’s admit it: in the week, the days and even the morning of the long-awaited Stereosonic, it did seem as though the wet weather was conspiring against us. But at the eleventh hour, the clouds parted and the sun shone down like a fairytale ending on this mammoth day of music. Now in its fifth year, the newly-crowned ‘biggest festival in the country’ delivered on its promise of serving up the best DJs and electronic acts together at Sydney Olympic Park.

Upon arriving the atmosphere was electrifying and so was Ryan Raddon, aka Kaskade. Hitting the decks a little after 3pm, he tore up the main stage nice and early with an already revved up crowd in the scorching heat, opening with Eyes from his latest Fire & Ice album followed by his signature track Angel On My Shoulder, which certainly earned the audiences approval. His seasoned style continued through tracks like Turn It Down, Only You and a Deadmau5 vs. Michael Woods mash-up of Move For First Aid. Even when his smoother than velvet sound already had us on our feet, it seemed as though keeping us on our toes was his main priority.

The same goes for the next DJ on the bill: The 21-year-old Swede who has been turning every major city upside down and has not only taken the electro house scene by the throat, but hasn’t seemed to let it loose: the rising Tim Berg, aka Avicii. When the Swede hit the stage with the audience already buzzing and clapping in sync, he delivered the newbie Fade Into Darkness, and played the impressive mash-up of Axwell’s I Found You into Bromance which set the steady crowd off.

But the moment that outshined them all – and summed up the entire Stereosonic experience for many, as predicted – was when he threw down Levels: it was a truly unprecedented sight! The crowd was in a fist-pumping-jumping-sing-along frenzy, the smoke machines were going off and blow up balloons were bouncing throughout the arena. In all of my years of attending festivals, I’ve never seen anything quite like it- the venue was beaming and was at capacity and it wasn’t even 4pm! Needless to say, the set was outstanding and the energy in the place was palpable. Avicii may not be a king on the decks just yet, but he stands alone right now in the production game.

Even though it seemed as if the entire world had been there to witness Avicii, we were greeted with the furious fans that were locked out of the arena because of the overcrowding when we attempted to leave the arena. By this stage, we learnt that hundreds of punters scaled walls and crushed through barricades to get in and out of the arena after the area was closed off by security- not cool. After being told that we wouldn’t be able to come back into the arena if we left, we decided to head back down and accept our fate, the painful truth sunk in when we realized we’d eventually miss Dash Berlin and Ferry Corsten.

In all fairness Afrojack did surprise me, by the time he hit the decks at around 5:15pm the crowd had settled, but he took things up a notch with his epic house tunes including Gettoblaster, No Beef and of course the infamous Take Over Control which had everyone bopping away. But it was his mash-up of track Bang Duck with Let’s Make Nasty by Larry Tee featuring Roxy Cottontail that was surprisingly infectious and made me feel some newfound respect for this Dutchman.

The afternoon continued with Benny Benassi straight afterwards, dishing out hard electro beats including his hit Satisfaction and Beautiful People pretty early in the set. One of the pinnacle moments of this Italian maestro’s set was when he played the Skillrex remix of Cinema featuring Gary Go, who actually hit the stage to sing his part – a real treat for those new dubstep fans.

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