Parklife @ Botanic Gardens, Brisbane (29/09/2012)

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Fluoros, fireworks, fighter jets. Moombahton, midriffs, Modestep. The Presets, Plan B, Parklife – there was plenty of opportunity for alliteration as Fuzzy brought the 2012 edition of their longest-running festival to Brisbane. It proved to be a pretty special year for Parklife: Riverfire, Brisbane’s F1-11 fireworks extravaganza, happened to be held on the same night. Festivals with a budget big enough to incorporate that sort of stuff are few and far between, so you can imagine how impressive the bonus firework display proved to be.

Arriving a little later in the afternoon, ensuring a speedy entry, first stop was Art Department at Kakadu Stage. Playing a groovy moombahton, lounge style mix these guys had the crowd grooving in the mid afternoon sun, with F1-11 pilots flying their jets so close to the stage you could almost see them waving mid-way through.

Hot and humid with an evening shower, Brisbane put on its finest Queensland weather for the audience, ensuring plenty of skin, flying half-filled water bottles and plastic ponchos made more than their fair share of appearances this year. Apparently wearing a poncho is ‘doing it wrong’ but hey, I like being dry… what of it?

Hanging around Kakadu stage a bit longer, Benga was up next with his new live show, playing a bunch of tracks from his new album, with a few oldies thrown in too. He was definitely excited to be in Australia, jumping out from behind the decks regularly to MC and amp up the crowd, rendering the MC he had with him effectively useless.

Wandering around, checking out the effectively placed, exotic food stalls I managed to do a complete loop and found myself back at the Kakadu stage, only this time I thought I was at a Slipknot concert. Full face-paint? Guitars? Super Soakers? Turned out, the act responsible was Modestep: bass heavy gem of a set, I am now hanging out til pay day so I can buy their entire catalogue.

Heading off on the seemingly endless trek to Sahara Stage, I caught the end of Jaques Lu Cont before Nero took their live show to the stage just after dusk. They pulled off an amazing show with the ultimate backdrop of fireworks kicking in during the last half of the show, precisely in time with the beginning of their smash hit Guilt. The crowd went absolutely mental throughout the entire set, particularly during Promises and Me and You – and with Justice and The Presets to come it was only going to get crazier.

Justice took to Sahara stage after Nero for a DJ set and kept the crowd dancing with their own mix of French bangers and a bit of dirty electro for good measure. They had a cool light show as a backdrop with the obligatory cross symbol scattered throughout, and pulled off a solid set. It would have been great to see a live show but the gods of electro pretty much can’t put a foot wrong regardless of the style of show.

Having a pure self-indulgent moment, being a drum and bass fan from way back, I couldn’t help but go and check out the Godfather himself, DJ Fresh and his live show. Although he has come under fire from old school fans for his newer, poppier style the man puts on a sick live show, and is someone I have been dying to see for years. One of the few EDM artists who still performs with a band, Fresh had his drummer, guitarist, singer and MC with him and played some old favourites mixed in with his newer tracks, such as Hot Right Now and Louder.

Once again, I made the epic trek to the main stage to see the evening’s main event, The Presets. This is the point where all sensibility seemingly went out the window and the crowd went ballistic. Starting off slow and building in to a massive crescendo of wicked arpeggiators and floaty sweet vocals so telling of Presets style, these guys are seasoned performers and know how to rock a massive, adoring crowd. Playing a live show, they had a massive drum kit set up high behind an elaborate keyboard set up, with screens beaming eclectic visuals in to the crowd. They played something for everyone, and even if you aren’t a Presets fan you couldn’t help bopping along to classics like This Boys in Love and My People, as well as some teasers from their new album, Pacifica.

Wandering off to get some air, I once again stumbled on Kakadu stage to find that crazy little Englishman Rusko, headbanging behind his mixer to bone crunching bass. Tweeting beforehand about the ‘10 ton of bass weight’ he planned to drop on Australia when he arrived, this pocket rocket did not lie and suckered me in until the end of his set – and subsequently, sadly even, the end of Parklife 2012.

The festival was pretty hard to fault this year, save a few problems with noise restrictions later on in the evening. This year’s Parklife bought world class acts, an unbeatable atmosphere and as always, it bought the bass – big time. I can’t wait to see the next lineup, no doubt it’s going to be massive.

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