Parklife - Adelaide Botanic Gardens (03.10.11)

While today’s public holiday translated as a day for sleeping in and getting past Sunday’s hangover, for myself and a lot of Adelaideans, it marked the first festival of the Spring/Summer period. The Parklife tour was set to wrap up for another year in our town and by the looks of the scantily dressed females and the already half cut guys headed towards the Botanic Gardens, the party had started well before the gates had opened.

My day started off in a laidback fashion, with Kimbra at The Atoll. Bounding out to an impressive crowd so early in the afternoon, the NZ singer didn’t waste time in conjuring up some funky beats. Having seen Kimbra a few times already this year, it’s nice to see that she brings a little something extra to each live show. Her voice never disappoints and once again, I was amazed at how such a tiny body can produce such vocal power. Sporting the cute yet incredibly expensive dress that’s been causing as much commotion as her sets on this tour, Kimbra dove right into a set that showcased the vibrancy and fun, which her acclaimed debut record encompasses.

Making my first (of many) mid-set exits of the day, I made my way over to The Cave, where Ballarat indie-rockers Gold Fields were opening. These boys, who’ve been steadily building a decent rep on the live scene, didn’t seem bothered by the small crowd who’d gathered inside the tent for them, kicking off their set with “The Woods”. I love the fact this band has two drummers going at full force almost the entire way through a live show without overpowering the other members and their instruments. The audio quality inside The Cave was clearly still being sorted out at this stage of the day though, as I could barely hear singer Mark Fuller at some points, and Vin Andanar’s guitar was sometimes too loud. The crowd seemed to be really getting into things by the time I was leaving and the band had a strong and cohesive vibe flowing through their performance; none of the ‘early set on the last gig of tour’ attitudes, which can be frequent on these tours.

I don’t want to sound half-arsed in my description of SebastiAn, but in short I can only say that he was so French. From his complete nonchalant nature to the fact he was smoking pretty much the entire time he was spinning, the DJ well known for his remixes on the Ed Banger label dropped some heavy beats. The main issue with this set was the fact that Crystal Fighters, playing at The Atoll, had such a strong sound that travelled straight over to this stage, all but drowning SebastiAn out at various points. This didn’t go unnoticed by the DJ either, which made for some entertaining watching. Once his audio issues were sorted, some of the tunes SebastiAn was throwing out were booming. Heavy bass ripped through the crowd and the electro elements challenged eardrums everywhere. All through this, SebastiAn didn’t look affected by the crowd below him going mental; with one fist in the air, the other balancing a smoke and controlling the decks in another, it was clear that this guy is no stranger to this sort of reaction.

Back at The Atoll, Canadian rockers Death From Above 1979 were breaking into what was touted as a highly anticipated set. I was looking forward to this act in particular, as the amount of noise they produce (as a duo) had always fascinated me. However, as I watched Sebastien Grainger thrash his drum kit and wail down the microphone, I have to admit that it all came off a bit average. There was no doubt that both Grainger and band mate Jesse F. Keeler are fantastic musicians in their own rights, something which definitely translated to the crowd today. Unfortunately, the segment of DFA’s set I got to see didn’t wow nor completely blow me away.

The Naked and Famous, had a huge crowd over at Sahara. Arriving halfway through “Punching In A Dream”, this area of the gardens was definitely kicking back and enjoying the dreamy tunes and evidently, a lot of marijuana. Though the band was battling some instrument malfunctions, which I barely picked up on, the five-piece showed that they’re clearly made for this anthemic, festival atmosphere. The musicians worked so well together, making their music and the delivery of it seem really effortless. Alisa Xayalith exuded all types of cool dressed completely in black and donning a pair of fashionably large sunglasses, but when she came out from behind her keys and addressed the crowd, she projected such a warm and gorgeous persona. “Young Blood” was great to finally see live as I’d missed out on seeing it at the Big Day Out this year, and it seemed quite fitting to be performed here, for the day as a whole.

The crowd gathered Example was larger than I thought it’d be, but thankfully for my trusty crew wristband, I was able to dodge the masses of screaming girls battling for a good viewing position. I was already keen to see what Example, aka Elliot Gleave, had to offer and his set turned out to be one of the highlights of the entire festival. His backing musicians were just as slick as the man himself in terms of performance and it didn’t take long for his energy to make its way through the crowd. “Kickstarts”, “Stay Awake” and “Shot Yourself In The Foot Again” were great to witness, even just to see the great pace in which Example delivered his rhymes. Closing his set punctually with “Changed The Way You Kissed Me”, which prompted a mass crowd response, Example left the stage looking a great mixture of exhausted, smug and triumphant; fair enough too, with his first Australian tour winding up with a crowd screaming for more, who wouldn’t want that?

Sebastien Tellier was a surprise to watch and I feel like a lot of people missed out on this man. The French avant-garde musician who I’d not heard of previously really impressed me, for the short amount of time I was at his gig. Described as a ‘Parisian storyteller’, Tellier’s music really did encompass this distinctly European sound and vibe. This vibe, coupled with the smaller crowd size enhanced the level of connection and intimacy of the music, down in the far end of the Botanic Gardens.

Germany’s Digitalism was high up on my list of ‘must-see’ acts today and they didn’t disappoint. The electro duo, making waves with their second release I Love You, Dude, bounced around behind their synths and keys, looking as if they were having as much fun as those below. Thankfully, I was able to see them perform “2 Hearts” before I scooted off, it was one of the best performances of the day. Jens Moelle’s vocals echoed both elements of Cut Copy and early Klaxons material and the nu-rave/electro-clash sounds to back him up were everything great I was expecting from the act.

The Streets . Probably the act that brought the most fun to their Parklife set. Mike Skinner and his mates were met with a roaring reception and wasted no time in throwing out songs, which, back in the early 2000s, were ground breaking for the UK indie-electro scene. On what is supposed to be their last run of shows, The Streets entertained greatly, with songs like “Dry Your Eyes”, “Don’t Mug Yourself” and “Fit But You Know It” seeming to go down the best with the crowd. Skinner’s interaction with various members of the front row admittedly lost its novelty after the first few times someone would throw something up to him, leading to the singer pausing during songs to give both a girl who’d brought him a hot dog and a guy who’d thrown his weed onstage a cup of beer (in the guy’s case, he mostly had it thrown over him). The guy knows how to command an audience in any case though, whether it was demonstrated in ordering the entire crowd to sit on the ground or his apologising to the ladies in the front row for not being able to fuck them, as he is now a married man. Kevin Mark Trail and Robert Harvey proved to be excellent live vocalists and kept the set going whenever Skinner would be otherwise occupied.

I caught the end of Gossip’s set and true to form, Beth Ditto was belting out lyrics and being her usual brazen self. The singer’s vocals are known for being incredibly strong and raw and Ditto did not fail in projecting some serious wails during “Love Long Distance” and “Heavy Cross” – I wish I’d seen more of the set. It wasn’t long before booming intro music quickly sounded as the huge inflated duck was wheeled onto the stage for Duck Sauce. I didn’t hang about for much of their set, only enough to see A-Trak and Armand Van Helden show off on the decks, spinning some fun beats. I knew “Barbra Streisand” wouldn’t be dropped until a decent way into the set, if not as the set closer, so I made the decision to continue on to The Cave.

Simian Mobile Disco had The Cave decently filled and proceeded to thrash eardrums through out the main mosh area with their famous brand of techno. An impressive live show and bass heavy frequencies penetrated through and it was near on impossible not to get caught up in some fist pumping that’d make cast members of Jersey Shore envious. Bringing out Beth Ditto for a great performance of “Cruel Intentions” and a throbbing delivery of “Audacity of Huge”, Jas Shaw and James Ford wound Parklife 2011 up tightly, leaving the punters with no other option at the end of the set but to straggle aimlessly out of the tent, hearing screwed and bodies weakened.