LISTEN OUT is without a doubt one of the country's most loved festivals now, and serves as a way to kick off the winter shackles and herald in the summer festival season in style. This year saw the festival deliver one of its very best line ups yet, with A$AP ROCKY, SKEPTA, SKRILLEX, NONAME, FISHER, BROCKHAMPTON, CONFIDENCE MAN and many more all locked in for the touring festival. Of course, every year there are lessons learned, and here's what we took away from the day.
ACTS AREN’T TAKING YOUR DUMB MOSHPIT SHIT ANYMORE
There have been multiple instances over the years of acts playing an Australian crowd; said crowd gets too rough or too violent, the act tells them to cut it out, boos ensue, headlines are made next day. Rinse and repeat.
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Now, a lot of criticism has been hurled at artists who call this behaviour out on stage, or even cut their performance short because of it, but artists are, for the most part, always concerned for their own and your own safety.
Both Skepta and A$AP Rocky had to call members of the audience out for their behaviour. Skepta threatened to leave the stage multiple times after things were being repeatedly thrown at him, and A$AP Rocky went as far as to pull a punter up on stage that was starting fights in the crowd. Acting like a total flog in a festival crowd really isn’t worth it, is it?
HIP HOP HAS A PLACE ON AUSTRALIAN FESTIVAL LINEUPS
Australian festivals, more often than not, have a really weird relationship with hip-hop, especially from acts that are based overseas. But, more than anything, Listen Out proved that not only to punters want these hip-hop artists – they crave them.
Watching Brockhampton’s explosive afternoon set, you’d swear the crowd – who were absolutely enveloped to a level usually reserved for popstars – had never seen an artist live before. As the night progressed into Skepta and then A$AP Rocky’s set, the crowd size only grew and became more excited.
Listen Out’s 2018 lineup was one that was stacked to the brim with some of hip-hop and rap’s greatest stars, and considering every single leg of it sold out, other festivals need to be paying attention. With both Field Day and FOMO having incredibly hip-hop centred lineups coming in the New Year, we can only hope that the bigger events follow suit. Two international hip-hop acts on the entire Splendour lineup really aren’t going to cut it.
LET’S BE HONEST, IT COULD’VE BEEN SET OUT BETTER.
Listen Out has been around for a few years now, and honestly every year sees huge improvements from the one before. But, at this year’s Sydney leg at least, something was…off.
For starters, the set times were very peculiar. The event didn’t open until 1pm, yet that’s the same time Kira Puru began her set on the Atari stage. Naturally, due to the influx of people wanting to enter the festival when it opens, Puru was essentially playing to a crowd of no-one for a few tracks.
Not only that, but the set times listed a literal five minute interval between Brockhampton and Skepta’s set. Admittedly, there was about fifteen minutes in between the two in reality, but five minutes is absolutely not enough time to get a drink, some food or use the toilet, and also can’t possibly be enough for there to be a sufficient and smooth changeover between acts.
Finally, the stage set out in Sydney wasn’t the best. If you stood far enough back at the crowd for A$AP Rocky, and given the size of it that was likely, you could hear CamelPhat play ‘Cola’ in crystal clarity. This is a problem that some festivals have, but feels like a new problem for Listen Out and for Centennial Parklands as a whole given the new set up. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
THE THIRD BASE STAGE PROVIDED AN INSIGHT INTO AUSTRALIA'S FUTURE
Across the festival, this stage provided something different from the big names on the main two stages, and in doing so, it provided a snapshot into what the future of Australian dance music might look like. Spoiler alert: It looks fantastic. From IMBI THE GIRL to MADE IN PARIS, MOONBASE to FLEXMAMI and GODLANDS, as well as individual acts from each city also jumping on like MIMI, BEATRICE and much more, it was diverse in so many different ways and boasted an array of fresh, emerging talent that rightly deserve to be put into the national spotlight.
With each act on this stage at various points in their careers, the homegrown talent was so strong in each city that you could've easily spent all day firmly planted here and had the time of your life. Soulful and intelligent hip-hop from Imbi The Girl, tasteful techno courtesy of Made In Paris, heavy-hitting trap from Moonbase and Godlands; the Third Base stage proved the future of Australian music is alive and well.