Live Review: Parklife Festival – Sidney Myer Music Bowl (06.10.12)

The day was frigid. But the punters were undeterred (and under-dressed), ready to dance the cold away and enjoy a rain-soaked Melbourne version of the travelling circus that is Parklife.

Kicking off the day with a bit of Chiddy Bang was a pretty interesting choice. He can rhyme, alright. But only that I don’t usually dig rap, nor do I usually say “dig”, but I was really getting into the spirit of things. A very excited crowd lapped up ‘Ray Charles’ and the insane dancing started early. However, the best moment of the set came when Chiddy requested the crowd select some random words, which he would use to freestyle. Free styling is always fun to see, especially when words like ‘Germany’, ‘moist’, ‘Genghis’, ‘Josh’, ‘Melbourne’ and ‘Australian Sex’ are weaved into a short, funny and witty rap.
After quitting early on that stage, and a stumble and trip later, the end of the Citizens! Set over at the Atoll stage proved to be a lesson charisma oozing.

The lead singer was like a virile, young Jon Bon Jovi, and if they’re still big in 20 years, they’ll be probably held in the same steed as him too. The rest of the band represented all sorts of sex, gay, straight, skivvied, reptilian. At the same time, they also gave off a Sven (the architecture group on TV’s How I Met Your Mother) vibe that was a little bit funny. I just wished I’d seen more of them.

Some Caroline Polachek fans at around that stage were preparing to declare their undying love for the Charlift singer. Her suckling vocals mads elves of the audience, looking starry-eyed in a park forest for the set, watching her – and the band, I suppose – was a sparkling experience. Tracks like ‘Bruises’ and ‘Evident Utensil’ fell short and weren’t nearly as exuberant and cute as in recordings. But the discordant, synth-sass music was still wonderful and I’m pretty sure the band members enjoyed themselves – well it seemed they did.

For a while the sun came out to play, letting us think the day was on the mend. By the time we were swaying and dancing to Tame Impala, however, the clouds broke open and poured rain. It became one of the most magical moments of the festival. Old favourites combined with new ones like ‘Elephant’ and a heap of drawn out fuzz-jams, the pouring rain and psychedelic rock made for a tropical, primitive setting. The whole venue seemed to go through stages, and Mother Nature was the director.

Passion Pit became a little Immobile and saccharine, with a strong hint of nu-boy band (read The Script or One Republic) and their screeching ear-aching sounds couldn’t be stomached any more than three songs. This was when a search of some decent people watching happened for a good period of time. Goodness, people like their fluoro.

After that analysis of society, it was time for The Presets. They were simple, good fun and had one of the best AV displays seen for a very long time. The visuals just fit the mood perfectly in a psychedelic, hard-hitting way (if you can combine the two feelings). The old tracks that were the background to the heady days of being 18 and constantly drunk had a great nostalgic value (I suppose they are becoming one of those bands) but it was fun nevertheless. There was an interesting chunky-ness to their set.

Without too many expectations, Parklife became an interesting meld of weirdness where a lot of the crowd were concerned with a societal interest in fashion rather than music enjoyment. It’s a unique festival in that regard, but you can’t fault that if everyone is having a good time.


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