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Live Review: Listen Out

27 September 2015 | 10:47 am | Bryget Chrisfield

Storm Trooping photobombers, park benches as podiums and DJ's dropping Jamie xx were the order of the day.

There's a lot of police dog activity outside the festival entrance, but we've come to expect that these days.

They'll never get it all, though, will they? As proven later when we overhear a reveller enquiring, "Where are you guys going after? I've got enough to keep going." Plus there's swinging jaws aplenty. 

First impressions of Catani Gardens as a festival site? Lush green lawns, plenty of shady spots and places to sit, and, although the completely open space with absolutely no shelter was a gamble at this time of year, it's paid off today! The gazebo in the centre is right up there with Melbourne Showgrounds' Pie In The Sky when it comes to meeting spots. And how about those sea views! 

The first stage we stumble across is 909, where Basenji is cranking Gosh by Jamie xx. He's got a great energy onstage and an awesome platinum-dyed hairstyle. There's a lot of bopping when Basenji drops his hit Dawn (the one with the dogs barking in it). 

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Time to venture over to Atari stage. When Client Liaison (pictured above) frontman Monte Morgan joins in with the band's trio of retro dancers (sporting matching white leotards with the highest of leg lines) - not just for the grape vine but also more complex chorey - punters reach for their phones to take selfies with this action in the background. "It's time to feel good," Morgan later announces, after returning to the stage in some kind of barely-there, gold, open-weave chainmail tank top. It's tonnes of fun, but a bit one-trick pony (albeit an immaculately kitted-out one). Then just as we're about to wander off elsewhere, Client Liaison's most-recognisable track (End Of The Earth) receives an injection of Need You Tonight by INXS, which keeps us dancing in front of their stage for the duration.

Apparently disposable cameras are back in. There's also a new type of festival goer in town: The Attention-Seeking Photo Hog. These rare creatures hunt in packs and can be easily identified by their matching fancy dress costumes. On this occasion, Storm Troopers. Beware when setting up a photo opp, for these pests seem to come out of nowhere and will jump into frame, pretending they are a part of your festival crew. 

Introducing his own track Floating On A Salt Lake on 909 stage, Roland Tings (pictured) tells us, "That's kinda how I'm feeling today," which is further demonstrated by his continuous grin. Overheard disgruntled recreational drug user: "Nothing's happening. We got ripped off!" On this same stage, George Fitzgerald opens with a cut that would slot right in at Space, Ibiza for their Sunday 'recovery' session - pretty hardcore for 4pm. 

Time to investigate Atari once more. ILoveMakonnen are "goin' UP/On a [Satdy]" (correct, it's his song that Drake features on - although the song places them in da club on a Tuesday instead). As a giant inflatable Nemo is volleyed throughout the crowd, Rae Sremmurd (brothers Khalif "Swae Lee" and "Slim Jimmy" Brown all the way from Mississippi, US) welcome us into their No Flex Zone, although they've clearly not been practicing what they preach since they're buff as fuck. The duo spray bottles of bubbly all over those assembled and show off their svelte tattooed torsos as they traverse the stage. 

Hayden James draws a decent crowd over to 909 stage and his live percussive touches bring a point of difference to his set; it's great to see where the sounds are coming from rather than wondering whether he's up there tracking a pizza delivery on his laptop. Something About You coaxes the casual listeners into the heart of the dancefloor. After James's set there's the kind of mass exodus that makes you fumble for your timetable to check what you're missing out on (Odesza). But our posi's ace so we stay for a spot of Ryan Hemsworth. He's wearing a white hoody with Dime written across the front and drops subtle, atmospheric jams with percussive rapping. In the meantime, we spy Perplexing Tatt Of The Day: a gent chose "Happy Birthday" in cursive script on his thigh. FOMO takes hold and we return to Atari stage where everyone seems to be milling about, chatting and waiting for the drop. Enter Odesza's remix of Faded by Zhu and this song's lyrics ("Baby I'm wasted") pretty much describe the majority of this crowd, most of whom have pupils as big as dish plates (some are even opting to dance barefoot). 

To the dudes who upturned a wheelie bin in order to remove cans and take advantage of the $1 back recycling scheme: is that absolutely necessary? Then again, we later see a lad has parked a full, recyclables wheelie bin right up next to the recycling booth, where he fishes out cans - out of eyeshot - then hands them straight over to his mate, who exchanges them for $1 bar tokens. Dodgerama!

The volumes suddenly seem very low, as if further restrictions have kicked in, and we head back to Hemsworth who's definitely got a lotta soul in what he brings. Fiddy's Get My Money Right is a savvy selection from Hemsworth. 

At the Red Bull Crate Diggers stage, we score a lesson in ADM (that's Australian Dance Music), thanks to Ara Koufax, which kicks off with Djapana by Yothu Yindi. Then in comes Madison Avenue's Don't Call Me Baby - still so good! Plus Bee Gees encourage You Should Be Dancing - too right! 

Eavesdropping while waiting in the bar queue uncovers some gold: "She's too paranoid! I'm like, 'I need my space," and, in a totally unrelated conversation, "I don't even know what I'm saying, to be honest." Yep, all those chemicals are kicking in. (And a buck extra per eftpos transaction is a bit of a stretch.)

Back at 909, where the dancefloor is littered with discarded nangs, Dusky bring it, but then we follow the tide across to Joey Bada$$ (pictured above). There's a massive response for Hardknock, which features that sample from Annie. Our ears are distracted once more by Crate Diggers where Discovery have chosen to spin a Daft Punk- themed set. (And, yes, they've donned the requisite robot helmets). One More Time gathers maximum dancers in front of the booth. Back to Bada$$ and there's lots of, "Hands up! Hands up!" commands from the stage. Park benches become prime real estate as they're sturdy to stand/dance on for the perfect view. Loads of ladies are invited onstage and Badda$$ pleads, "Won't you teach me how to dance, how to dance," before leading a, "Fuck police!" chant. 

Does SBTRKT wear his tribal mask for DJ sets as well? Course he does. And it's getting a bit woolly on 909 stage with security manning the area near the entrance while punters gather on the other side of the fence, at times climbing up - a few at once - and  threatening to jump over and join the party. A lot of crews now utilise the 'lip-synching sock puppet in the air' gesture to locate friends these days so we might need to think of an alternative. Volume restrictions mean there's a lot of people loitering around the edges of the d-floor, waiting for something to happen. A security guard even asks if this scribe's enjoying the set. And then in comes Gosh by Jamie xx for the second time (that we know of) today.

Back at Atari, Childish Gambino is all set up with a few separate, framed LED screens (and a drummer concealed behind). "My birthday is yesterday," Gambino announces when he arrives on stage. Sometimes we can see through the screens, sometimes not, but the sounds are a bit sparse for a headline set and he talks too much between tracks. 

So we decide to give Golden Features a crack. Tom Stell (aka Golden Features) also wears a mask and we find the loudest sweet point, which is behind the sound desk where speakers are directed toward the sea, for a boogie. This is more upbeat and much better suited to a closing set. Golden Features features a lot of golden lights and he smashes out some fat beats. 

As we exit the festival, a sudden thought enters this reviewer's brain: There were heaps less topknots and ironic moustaches this year! All's not lost!