Live Review: FBi Radio Turns 10 - Carriageworks, Sydney (08.09.13)

FBi Radio is such a massive part of Sydney’s music scene. They support upcoming musicians with incredible passion and enthusiasm, and have been doing so for an entire decade! To celebrate double digits, FBi threw a massive fundraising music festival to celebrate, and the killer combination of a great venue with an assortment of fantastic Sydney bands and DJs made this undoubtedly the coolest 10th birthday party ever.

The set up was pretty straight forward – four stages across the venue, three indoor and the main stage outdoor. Throughout the day and night there was a constant flow of people moving to different stages but never was there the type of congestion you would expect from a festival. In fact, it was generally unlike a usual festival experience – it was all the great music you’d expect of a festival minus any dickheads there solely to get plastered and be violent or obnoxious. This lack of dickheads ensured a good time was had by all; the vibe was phenomenal, all appreciation of good music and love for the radio station that had made it all possible.

The first couple of bands, playing just after midday, understandably had small crowds, but their audiences certainly weren’t afraid to dance away. Olympic Ayres, the first band to play the main stage, were pretty funky and their fun music proved a great start to the day. Eight-piece Belle and the Bone People, opening one of the smaller stages, presented a fusion of well-trained female vocals with genre-jumping music – they leapt from country, folk, pop and rock and settled comfortably into each. They’re definitely ones to watch. Movement were next on the main stage. They played some killer tunes, reminiscent of UK lads Disclosure or a more chilled out Rudimental. The lead singer of Movement stole the show – he’s got some pipes on him, he does!

One of the early highlights for me were Collarbones on the main stage. This two-piece had an awesome presence, with some rad dancing from the lead singer. They are making really interesting sounds and their adorable rendition of “Happy Birthday” to FBi won the collective heart of the crowd. Another memorable act was the Naughty Rappers Collective - see them live, you will not be disappointed. Have never laughed so much while being simultaneously compelled to dance. Oliver Tank and World’s End Press both played very well on the main stage, while Kirin J Callinan’s brand of theatric rock captivated the crowd at one of the indoor stages.

My ultimate highlight of the whole day would have to be The Preatures: their electrifying rock’n’roll is infectious and they are such a great live band. I have so much love for them and it seems the rest of the crowd did too – they closed with “Is This How You Feel?” which recently won this years’ Vanda and Young Songwriting Competition and prompted one of the first sing-alongs of the festival.

Decoder Ring played one of the smaller stages and their beautiful instrumentals sent punters to another world. They had some visuals too, mostly of nature, and these worked really well with the music, creating an ethereal, dreamy atmosphere. On the hip-hop stage, Thundamentals filled out the room really well – it was their comeback after 8 months and let me tell you, they were in great form.

As the sun went down, it became harder to decide which stage to head to next as the bill was stacked with unmissable acts. On the main stage, the Midnight Juggernauts played an enjoyable, crowd-pleasing set that included a great mixture of old and new material spanning their decade-long career. At the smaller, dance stage, Sampology presented a really cool synchronised audio/visual show – the visuals really added another dimension to his DJ set. Hermitude had a massive crowd at the main stage, dancing like the day after wasn’t a Monday; they are wildly popular and it showed!

Sarah Blasko was a refreshing act to watch in that she was much calmer and punters had a moment to bask in the beauty of her voice and catch their breath before the final headliners. Blasko journeyed through her back-catalogue while ending with a few songs off her latest record, I Awake. She also, like many of the other artists at the festival, spoke briefly about everything FBi has done for her over the past several years. Hearing similar gracious words repeated throughout the day, it became apparent just how fundamental FBi has been in cultivating Sydney’s music scene; so many bands mentioned how FBi were the first ones to play their music on the radio and it hit home how truly important the station is.

The mysterious “Special Guest” headlining one of the stages turned out to be none other than Blue Mountains band Cloud Control. As tight as ever, they played a set of new and old. It was great to see them do their live thing again, they are a pleasure to witness perform every time. The Presets played a smashing set over an hour long to close the main stage, and the huge crowd used any last reserves of energy they had to dance their heart out to these Australian electronica pioneers. At the hip-hop stage, Urthboy, along with Jane Tyrell, slammed it for a relatively large and intensely committed crowd. He was certainly not the first all day to express his disappointment about the previous day’s election results – The Preatures and Sarah Blasko also mentioned it, to name a few – but he went into political issues a little further, speaking about refugees with the compassion and intelligence that sets him apart from other major players on the Aussie hip-hop scene. Seeing a performer like Urthboy play is something that can restore your confidence in the world no matter what situation you’re in.

All up, it’s safe to say FBi turns 10 was a huge success, and FBi are probably the coolest 10 year olds we know. They should make this kind of event an inaugural one: it’s not something you’d want to miss out on next time! Bring on 15!