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Future Music Festival 2011 Wrap-Up

Come rain or shine (or a lot of both) the 2011 Future Music Festival promised fans a festival experience to remember and didn’t fail to deliver. Eleani Purcell reflects on the good and the bad of the festival’s Melbourne leg.

Thousands of music fans braved blistering heat then torrential rain to groove to the sounds of pop, dance, hip hop and rock at this year’s Future Music Festival, held last Sunday.

Escaping from the heat was the primary concern for festival-goers who arrived early as the temperature at Flemington Racecourse rose to a sticky 35 degrees. Many watched the day’s earlier acts, which included enjoyable performances by one-woman electro-indie act Zowie, and DJ duo Flight Facilities, from the comfort of the grass rather than the mosh. Relief came in the early afternoon as the sky began to cloud over and Gypsy and the Cat took to the stage. Whether it was the onset of the cool change or love for the local boys, the crowd was soon on their feet as the electro-pop twosome belted out ‘The Piper’s Song’ and ‘Time to Wander’ — performances that illustrated why they are being hailed as ‘the next big thing since Empire of the Sun’.

From there it was a mad rush over to the main stage to see one of the day’s most anticipated acts, Ke$ha. The trashy princess of pop got off to a weak start with one of her lesser-known tracks, ‘Sleazy’, but her rain-soaked devotees were not left wanting for long as the singer, clad in a scanty outfit emblazoned with the American Stars and Stripes, moved into an endless montage of all her hits, including ‘Blah Blah Blah’, ‘Your Love is my Drug’ and ‘We R Who We R’. Ke$ha, a somewhat controversial inclusion in this year’s line-up, had the crowd in raptures with her infamous sexual antics, instructing them to ‘scream if you’re getting laid tonight’ before a giant pear and penis danced their way across the stage. She ended with her breakthrough 2009 chart topper, ‘Tik Tok’, as cannons sprayed the audience with glitter, confetti and American one-dollar bills that read ‘bONEr’. Ke$ha fans were not disappointed.

By the time Mark Ronson and the Business International took to the stage, the rain was once again bucketing down. Still, the legendary record producer did his best to make up for the dismal Melbourne weather and the crowd responded singing along to favourites ‘The Bike Song’ and ‘Ooh Wee’, as well as covers of ‘California’ by Phantom Planet and ‘Oh My God’ by Kaiser Chiefs. The Ronson-produced Amy Winehouse hit, ‘Valerie’, was a notable absentee from the set-list but Mark Ronson and the Business International were still one of the standout acts of the day.

As the stage was prepped for MGMT, UK radio DJ Zane Lowe came on to keep the crowd entertained. Perhaps it was because his DJ set came so soon after Mark Ronson but the audience reception was half-hearted, only gaining momentum when Lowe played ‘Barbra Streisand’ by Duck Sauce. Those who left to catch some of The Presets probably made the right choice.

It was with some relief that the soaked crowd then welcomed another of the day’s most anticipated acts, MGMT, to the stage. All of the New York duo’s hit tracks, including ‘Time to Pretend’ and ‘Electric Feel’, went down well, however it was clear that the crowd was unfamiliar with many of the tracks off their second album, Congratulations, which received less enthusiasm. In the end it was their catchy tune ‘Kids’ that garnered the biggest audience response. The crowd sang along as front man Andrew VanWyngarden jumped around on stage, at one point leaning down to bite some leaves off Flemington’s award winning rose bushes. Evidently MGMT thought it wise to give the spectators more of what they wanted, electing to preform an encore of ‘Kids’ which was just as warmly received.

The day required one last hectic dash over to the main stage to see crowd favourite Dizzee Rascal. Dizzee gave the same level of energetic performance that won him legions of Australian fans at last year’s Big Day Out. He played his extensive list of hits, including ‘Dirtee Disco’, ‘Dance wiv Me’ and the more recent ‘You Got the Dirtee Love’ (with Florence and the Machine). Dizzee also got into the Aussie spirit with a few renditions of ‘Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!’ which his attentive audience seemed to enjoy almost as much as he did. His final two songs, ‘Holiday’ and ‘Bonkers’, won perhaps the most fervent audience reaction of the day. His show was simply great festival fun.

Last on stage and headlining this year’s festival were The Chemical Brothers. The legendary dance music duo gave a stunning performance, despite rain (again) and a slightly fatigued crowd. Their full catalogue of hits were enhanced by an awe-inspiring light and multimedia spectacle that left the audience wowed and showed that their status as the ‘benchmark’ in electronic music is entirely deserved.

Overall, despite its best efforts, the rain was unable to dampen the spirits of attendees at Future Music. Though undoubtedly festival-goers took home damp clothes, and possibly the odd case of pneumonia, they also left Flemington with the feeling of sublime satisfaction that can only come after a truly memorable music festival.

Eleani Purcell is a Bachelor of Arts student at The University of Melbourne who hopes to complete a Graduate Diploma in Journalism before pursuing a career in the media. This is her first article for Upstart.

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