"It soon became clear that Kaytranada's music was made to bop to."
It almost goes without saying as to why 2017 seemed like the year that the world went crazy. But despite the roller-coaster ride the year was, both politically and socially, solidarity could be found in the volume and quality of music released. In that exact vein, Perth's premier NYE festival Origin returned for its biggest and best instalment yet. Four stages, 30,000 people, an overly stacked line-up — everything was in place for a massive welcome to 2018.
With the crowd gushing into Claremont Showground, the day's proceedings kicked off with local act Twerl hitting the decks on the indoor Terminal stage and wasting no time in getting the crowd going. Over on the main Pod stage, lovingly outrageous Detroit rapper Danny Brown donned a Doors T-shirt and delivered a performance containing songs new and old, from the throwback classic Grown Up all the way through to tracks from his critically acclaimed 2016 album Atrocity Exhibition.
After grabbing a round of Zooper Doopers from one of the many dedicated kiosks (why doesn't every festival have this?) and catching the last ten minutes of Killbox dropping chaotic drum'n'bass heaters, the Pod stage was again the place to be as Atlanta artist 6lack (pronounced "Black" as the stage visuals kindly pointed out) slowed down the pace a little. His second show in Perth in just three months, fans who were lucky enough to see the crooner support Migos at Metro City in October were fully aware that 6lack's live shows see him truly flex his ability to effortlessly blend rapping and singing. Beginning with the lively Never Know, the opening track off his 2016 release Free 6lack, the pace of this performance varied greatly, with slower jams such as Luving U making for a well-balanced set. Fan-favourite Ex Calling saw an elated crowd scorning past flames by raising middle fingers to the sky while powerful renditions of PRBLMS and Free proved highlights also. Interestingly, the live backing band added a unique take on many of his songs, seamlessly gelling with - and at times completely replacing - the electronic, wavy production that constitutes much of 6lack's sound.
Burdened with the chore of following up such an impressive set was UK comedian/rapper Big Shaq, who is currently riding the full wave of internet virality. Despite the fact that his rise from meme to chart-topper forces admiration, his 25-minute slot may as well have been 5 minutes as there was clearly only one song that the crowd was interested in hearing. After several uninspired new songs, the forever-chilly Londoner finally took to the stage sporting his trademark puffer jacket and gave the people what they wanted as "skidiki pap pap"s engulfed the suburb of Claremont to the tune of Man's Not Hot.
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Given the sheer size of this year's festival and the number of stellar acts, it soon became clear that clashes would be a headache for the rest of the night. Faced with the dilemma of A-Trak, $uicideboy$ and Goldie Vs My Nu Leng coinciding, a roll of the dice on A-Trak proved to be the best decision of the day. Emerging as the adolescent 15-year-old scratching world champion to become Kanye West's personal DJ before going on to found the genreless record label giant that is Fool's Gold, it's clear as to why A-Trak has been carved on the Mount Rushmore of DJs. The Canadian was truly in his bag for his last show of the year, not skipping a beat and delivering banger after banger of grossly varying BPMs without a hint of struggle. Virtually no genre of music was off limits as hardstyle was overlaid with R&B and crunk with Euro-EDM, but perhaps the best example of this diversity was seen in the astonishingly smooth transition of DMX's X Gon' Give It To Ya into Joan Jett & The Blackhearts' anthem I Love Rock 'N Roll - all of this while switching between beat pad, turntables and MacBook. Not only did A-Trak deliver a set that highlighted the often forgotten and underappreciated art of DJing, but also one that had the crowd wrapped around his finger, constantly guessing where the next song would go.
After snagging the last moments of UK jungle and drum'n'bass pioneer Goldie and Bristol duo My Nu Leng going head to head at the Base stage, Flatbush Zombies brought the ruckus to the main stage with their aggressive delivery and untamed stage antics. The Brooklyn rap trio managed to stretch the build-up for each song, heightening the gravity of every beat's entrance and repeatedly moving the crowd to a frenzy. This was especially the case for their rendition of Glorious Thugs, which also saw a song-stealing verse from Zombie Juice.
With the line for the corn-dog truck swelling and the flashing neon lights of the surrounding rides backdropped on the night sky, the time had come to check out the new Forrest stage where Guernsey-born producer and multi-instrumentalist Mura Masa was performing. The unique, balloon-decorated stage served as an ideal setting for the 21 year old to perform his hit-laden self-titled debut album. With uplifting tracks such as Firefly, What If I Go? and the Charli XCX-assisted 1 Night, the set culminated with the infectiously bouncy Love$ick.
With festivalgoers spoilt rotten for choice as to who to bring in the new year with - DJ Snake, Schoolboy Q, Andy C or Kaytranada? A good problem to have, we guess - the colourful and rhythmic grooves of Kaytranada were opted for. What ensued was 90 minutes of pure vibes. Opening with the energised album standout Together, which soon delved into an extended version of his Chance The Rapper collab All Night, it soon became clear that Kaytranada's music was made to bop to. His drum-heavy, melodic, yet slightly offbeat combination of funk, groove and electro has the unique quality of making you want to move your head to the beat almost unwittingly, turning the dancefloor into a dad hat-littered sea of bobbleheads.
While the lengthy 90-minute slot may have initially enticed fans, it proved to be the set's undoing as it forced the transitions between songs to be stretched to a painstakingly slow pace. The extended set appeared to be somewhat of an experiment for the Canadian, yielding both positive and negative results in the form of interesting layered transitions as well as completely botched ones. Nevertheless, Kaytranada's dreamy synths and soulful melodies served as the perfect soundtrack for the midnight countdown, as he popped champagne onstage while fireworks crackled overhead. Showing no signs of slowing down, the 25 year old showed he's got plenty in store for the new year, gifting the audience with several unreleased tracks including a Pharrell collab that is sure to be everywhere in 2018.
The team at Origin once again put together a line-up that any music lover would salivate over, covering a range of genres with acts from across the globe. While a few hot-heads somewhat soured the night towards the end, the vast majority of punters got to enjoy the most impressive Origin NYE festival we've seen thus far.