Stereosonic @ Bonython Park, Adelaide (01/12/2012)

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Not even the rain could stop people rushing into Bonython Park early to soak up the tunes presented by some of dance music’s finest talent. The girls approached the venue in a uniform of short shorts, spray tan and sunnies. The boys marched in their boardies and flimsily cut tank tops. Enough, though, about the glamour and vanity and onto the music – which is what these events are meant to be about.

I managed to get through the gates for a quick sample of Example’s Change The Way You Kiss Me, before catching Porter Robinson’s latest anthem Language just minutes later. Over at the bass stage, there was a solid lineup of some of the UK and US’ finest talent. Caspa was there, playing some of the sounds that were so fundamental to dubstep establishing itself in Australia. A few of the older ones in the crowd were quietly wishing that the tempo was about 40 BPM faster to bring us back to the Reprazent days, but alas, it was still an energetic performance. Having found dubstep a little screechy and empty recently, hearing it through good speakers and in an open landscape made the experience far more enjoyable. Far from the usual claustrophobia that sound can inflict upon you!

Over to the Kabuki Stage, Markus Shulz had everyone with hands in the air, particularly with Let You Go. However what was most impressive about his set was that he didn’t just drop anthem after anthem. The music actually brought you to an amazing place, rather than just playing you the same twenty songs that you hear on the radio on repeat. It was refreshing not to hear any song twice – in fact, I think that’s a first for me in some many years of attending Australian music festivals. It’s not to say it didn’t happen. I heard about two tracks at the main stage from Tiesto, and it was just what I’ve come to expect from him recently. Apparently Avicii and Dash Berlin also played very similar sets – but given they had the same set time, at different stages, you can’t hate them too much for it.

The day really started for me once I reached the Sonic Stage – the dancing shoes were well and truly on! Carl Cox had more energy than you can poke a stick at, as always. Between bouts of techno, it was refreshing to hear some classic revivals such as Funk Phenomena. Continuing the Techno vibe was Adelaide’s own legend HMC, playing a very typical HMC set: let there be house! It was the perfect intro to my highlight of the day, Sander Van Doorn. With so many names on the bill, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with choice. I’m so glad I stuck around. No track unappreciated, not knowing what was coming next. This was the set that took me on a journey. It’s so refreshing to get lost in the music, not just the same songs we hear only too frequently.

I’m not sure if I just got lucky being at the right places at the right time, or if the organisers of this even really deserve a handshake. The whole organisation of the event was really well executed. The program of artists, although varied, had a lot of continuity. Each stage’s programming complimented the next, but was contrasting enough to keep it interesting – most importantly, it kept people dancing. There was no more than a five minute line up for drinks and almost no wait for the toilets, which were always stocked with paper. Enforcing a ‘shirt on policy’ I think also eliminated the potential violence, I didn’t see one fight. The vibe is unlike other festivals I’ve been to recently where it’s been all about how fit you are, and hearing the same music all day long – not to mention a very aggressive audience. Although there were those who were there just to be seen, it seemed the day was more about the music for a change, what a relief! Kudos for creating such a great vibe and a one that wasn’t a struggle to enjoy – I now again have faith in Australia’s festival scene.

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