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Live Review: OH YES Festival

5 October 2017 | 12:43 pm | Tom Gaffney

"PNAU's incredible stage presence proved a hard act to follow."


Adelaide welcomed the inaugural OH YES Festival with every bit of passion it could muster. It makes sense, too - national treasures such as Soundwave, Future Music, and Big Day Out have been pushed aside, making way for more boutique festivals, and Adelaideans have had to get behind whatever grassroots festivals have been springing up in order to support their future presence.

The festival was more akin to what Spinoff used to be - a literal spinoff festival off of a major festival somewhere else in Australia. OH YES' major festival counterpart was the South Australia-skipping Listen Out festival, bringing acts such as Duke Dumont, Safia, PNAU, and Vallis Alps over to Adelaide for their own little party. OH YES paired these artists with the incredible Just A Gent, locals Heaps Good Friends, and fan-favourites Northeast Party House to sprinkle some extra goodness over the day.

Early afternoon saw Heaps Good Friends take to the stage to a moderate-but-growing crowd of festival-goers. It was clear to see how proud locals are the Adelaide export as they grooved to all of the band's electro-pop tunes, including favourites Let's Hug Longer and Olympic Sneakers.

Just A Gent, real name Jacob Grant, was placed in an awkward timeslot for his dance and trap-heavy set while it was still very much daylight. Hard-hitting music usually feels better with the aura of darkness, but that didn't stop the crowd from having a mid-afternoon dance session as Grant played some of his incredible singles (Heavy As A Heartbreak, You'll Never Know) with some fantastic guest vocalists, alongside some fantastic remixes of Kid Cudi's Day 'N' Night and a why-is-this-still-a-thing remix of Darude's Sandstorm.

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Northeast Party House kept the good times rolling with their rhythmic, bass-driven party pop, which aligned much better with the mid-afternoon chill. One thing OH YES did really, really well was position the stage in a way that made the dance space cosy, but not crammed, allowing for people to get closer to one another and party together. Whether you've seen Northeast Party House once or a million times, they always put on a great show and did a fantastic job at breaking up the electronic-heavy timetable.

Up next were Vallis Alps, whose chilled-out, individualised electronic tunes were complemented by a well-timed sunset. These guys felt pretty special, every time they come back we love them more and more. Closing with Young and Fading, the duo reminded everyone of how lovely their songs really are.

The line-up curation was incredible, each subsequent act further feeding and fuelling the crowd's excitement. Safia were no different, playing through a set of crowdpleasers. Their hit 2013 Peking Duk collab Take Me Over and Embracing Me kept the good vibes happening.

Having PNAU back in the limelight is a peculiar experience, given most of the crowd were almost certainly in early primary school when Wild Strawberries and Embrace ruled the airwaves. For the now-young-adults to get behind the classics, and tracks from their new album, as passionately as they did during their set was wonderful to be a part of.

Up next to a near-capacity crowd was superstar Duke Dumont, whose name is ubiquitous in the world popular electronic music. His reputation didn't translate too well on stage, however, and he seemed a little lax during his set. It was a DJ-heavy, and he played some fantastic UK artists, but PNAU's incredible stage presence proved a hard act to follow and Dumont's set was dulled. That being said, the crowd still evidently enjoyed it as it brought the first instalment of OH YES to a close.

OH YES did some fantastic work in putting together a festival to fill the large gap of music coming to Adelaide. Despite some very minor hiccups (a minor sound blowout at the end of Safia's set that brought a couple of minutes of silence), the good vibes were there and the value was incredible. Let's hope OH YES can stick around for next year.