"One of Sydney's most diverse, boutique electronic music festivals."
The day's relatively gloomy weather forecast of 'cloudy with a chance of showers' seemed to have had a slight impact on the attendance at the beginning of the day, until Brisbane's UV boi brought the outdoor courtyard stage to life with his mellow, trap-heavy hip hop beats. With his signature "UV boi... ultraviolet... boi boi" sample making appearances in between tracks, he was the very first act of the day that was able to draw in the scattered and mostly still sober festival punters from the edges of the courtyard to the dance floor within mere minutes. His 45-minute set, combining plentiful genre-bending tracks, fizzed up the crowd and poured in a little breath of fresh air for the day ahead. That is, until the following act not only stole the show, but also ran off with everyone's hearts and souls tucked away under their platinum blonde wigs and Lennon glasses.
Yep, that's right. Following through in the next time slot was the infamous Melbourne quintet Total Giovanni, who jumped on the main stage upstairs, decked out in sassy blonde hairpieces, heavy golden bling and loose, all black attire. They were the epitome of modern psychedelic disco, and no doubt could have easily headlined the festival — their stage presence was incredibly phenomenal. Total Giovanni were the perfect combination of groovy funk, oozing effortless nonchalant vibes. They played Paradise, with the lead singer completely draped in chains and pearls, grinding and getting down with some 21st century avant garde dance moves. Can't Control My Love was the last track of the set, inspiring almost everyone on the dance floor to bust out boogieing and ending their set with a pretty damn unbeatable bang.
Next up was Vancouver native Pomo (#PomoNotPorno — check out the hashtag on Twitter), playing mostly tracks off his The Other Day EP, and throwing in a couple of old school funk feels into his set, with Cherry Funk and So Fine. He seemed to draw in an exceptionally loyal following — it was just a shame he had his set up facing the side of the stage instead of the crowd in front of him.
The modern, neon stage set up around the courtyard stage consisted of bright orange and yellow wires not unlike the ones wrapped around your outdoor clothes line, and giant glossy, silver cubes hung above the stage. Sydney based spatial and stage design duo Tablou Collective set the scene in between stages with flashing upside-down triangles hanging from the Redbull tent, creating a vibrant vortex of colours throughout Manning Bar's three levels.
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
Perth's Sable was accompanied on stage by a Saybot; an inflatable, plus-sized robot with nipple rings, trippy neon lasers and animated Pokemon-themed visuals. It was next level. Sable jumped around a bit on stage and played really an impressive trap-heavy, hip hop set with exceptionally fitting graphics flashing in the background.
Ben Fester has become somewhat of an up-and-coming household name in Sydney's underground and electronic scene. He played one of his best sets in a while, re-affirming his current status as one of those DJs who just keeps on popping up at every noteworthy shindig in the city. Fester showed us this magical side to his musical interests by playing really genuine funky, deep, often experimental and tribal house tracks. Towards the end of his set, he spun Axel Boman's Nokturn (Grand Finale), and everybody got involved, from the braid-wearing men in jumpsuits to the music industry peeps arms-crossed and hanging around the corners of the stage.
Melbourne's self-dubbed 'wave' producer Harvey Sutherland kicked off his set with funky jazz tunes and managed to pick up exactly where Fester left off. He played an incredibly eclectic set, and brought with him a refreshingly mature and uplifting energy. This guy seems to have his finger on the pulse, and is one artist you definitely want to keep an eye on.
Pender Street Steppers also played a set that was wide-ranging, with everything from futuristic electronica to '80s-sounding disco, laced with a tonne of random samples. They managed to deliver a pretty funky set, but somehow, something about it felt like it was just not quite there yet.
Second last headline act of the day was British grime rapper and MC Stormzy (aka Michael Omari), who undoubtedly brought justice to his stage name by bringing in an absolute shitstorm of death pits and testosterone. The crowd at the Redbull tent was about 80% male and 110% ego-fuelled aggression, with a number of punters crawling out with bloodied hands and most likely a heightened sense of self-worth.
The night ended with Detroit-based hip hop/house producer Andres, playing moody, funky, multifaceted dance tracks and everything from old school classic house tracks to Snoop Dogg's 2004 track Promise I.
The day's line-up affirmed the festival's growing status as one of Sydney's most diverse, boutique electronic music festivals.