Live Review: Heaps Good @ Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne

2 January 2024 | 9:35 am | Michael Prebeg

One day and one stage with an epic lineup – it’s a heaps good time to sing in the New Year.

Heaps Good Melbourne

Heaps Good Melbourne (Credit: Ian Laidlaw)

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Sycco welcomes eager punters to the bowl as the sun shines bright and her confidence is beaming. Her infectious hybrid electro-pop sound with a psychedelic neo-soul is the perfect summertime soundtrack to start our day with Dribble and her most recent collaboration with Flume and Chrome Sparks, Ripple. Her bubbly energy shines through with her catchy hooks and exciting production that get everyone bopping along. 

MAY-A fires up the crowd with her stirring energy and rocking powerhouse vocals. She teaches us the chorus to sing back to her on Swing Of Things, and we sway along to the raw and heartfelt LOLA off her latest EP, ANALYSIS PARALYSIS. MAY-A shares a song about never being able to get over an ex called Sweat You Out My System and an alt-rock version of last year’s winning triple j Hottest 100 track she shares with Flume, Say Nothing.

We’re instantly captivated and drawn in by Holly Humberstone’s raw energy-driven emotional pop anthems as she begins with the title track from her debut album, Paint My Bedroom Black. “It’s New Year's Eve!” she exclaims, happy to be in Australia for her second time but the first since releasing her new music that she’s been excited to play live for us, including Into Your Room and one of her favourites, Kissing In Swimming Pools. She commands the audience’s attention exceptionally with her delicate yet powerful vocals with an impressive range. 

Humberstone’s songwriting is honest and relatable, detailing specific stories and experiences about people in her life so effortlessly. She gives us some insight into her writing process and reveals that a song called Flatlining was added at the very end, which was just what it needed. The upbeat, danceable track is also a great addition to her set to liven up the mood between some emotionally heavy ballads. 

Of course, she can’t leave us without playing fan-favourite Scarlett, which receives the loudest singalong from the audience, who can be heard almost shouting the pre-chorus in unison with pure enthusiasm and joy to share a moment to connect with Humberstone in this live setting.

It’s Griff’s first time in Australia, and she teaches the audience the words throughout her set to singalong (for those who don’t already know them). In addition to her hits Walk, Black Hole and Head On Fire (featuring Holly Humberstone), she’s proud to share some of her most recent songs from her latest EP, Vert1go Vol. 1, which she says was written during the pandemic. Her incredible vocal range is packed full of emotional depth and reaches the audience far and wide. For a bit of fun, she mixes in a bit of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) with her track One Night as she dances around the stage in a frilly dress to mark the occasion.

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SBTRKT, aka Aaron Jerome, hasn’t visited Australia in eight years, so fans are excited to welcome him back since he re-emerged with the release of his third album, The Rat Road, in 2023. Many have fond memories of seeing his enigmatic performances at past festivals, including Falls and Laneway, wearing a mysterious tribal mask. After a substantial break, his comeback sees him return with an evolved sound, including a full band setup and minus the anonymity of the SBTRKT persona, now performing unmasked.

With a live male and female vocalist to sing on stage, SBTRKT conjures up an atmosphere and high-energy performance packed with lively beats influenced by jungle, UK garage, and early dubstep experimental sounds full of percussive rhythm. Together with his band, they get the crowd amped up with a great mix of new and old material from his catalogue, including fan favourites Pharaohs, Hold On, Wildfire, and Days Go By. 

The Avalanches take us on a musical journey with their signature live electronic music loaded with samples seamlessly woven together and accompanied by entrancing synchronised visuals. Their invigorating energy keeps the party alive and gets the crowd grooving along as they mix up some of their biggest hits and even include some exciting new unreleased material they’ve been working on.

“It’s the end of 2023 but the start of our fucking futures. May the new year be better than the last and certainly not worse,” shouts Foals lead singer Yannis Philippakis. We crack the champers and let loose as they begin with their supercharged anthem Wake Me Up to warm us up.

They help us try and forget about all the bad shit that happened this year for a moment with a magical performance of Spanish Sahara and get our festival spirit up with a selection of their greatest hits and new songs from their latest album, Life Is Yours. Fireworks begin to go off in the middle of In Degrees, giving an earth-shattering performance of What Went Down that gives us a rush of adrenaline to keep our energy on a high.

Flume stands between two parallel decks as he spreads his arms out to reach the equipment and unleash his magic. Laser lights project out far and wide onto the audience, and he gets the crowd dancing uncontrollably to his signature experimental electronic dance music full of glitchy effects and industrial beats that pulsate throughout our bodies.

It wouldn’t be a Flume show without some special guest features, and for tonight, we’re treated to highlights from Kučka on vocals for Escape and Smoke & RetributionMAY-A joins for Say Nothing, and the incredible Vera Blue performs Never Be Like You, I Can’t Tell and Rushing Back

He shares a brand-new track that features a female vocalist sounding like it could be Tove Lo and then continues to play their beloved collab Say It. Between local guest features, deep cuts and iconic remixes, including Disclosure’s You & Me and Hermitude’s HyperParadise, he ends with his remix of Lorde’s Tennis Court for an explosive finish. 

Basement Jaxx officially ring in the new year with their most popular hit, Where’s Your Head At, as the countdown begins. As the clock strikes midnight, an incredible firework and laser light display across the Melbourne city skyline can be seen from the top of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl lawn area. Duo Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe are arguably one of the most revered dance heavyweights in the industry and know exactly how to keep the crowd going till the early morning of the new year with a phenomenal energy and banging house tunes.