Front and center at The Rapture set, amongst the tangled limbs of hundreds of sweaty strangers trying to dance and jump could have been a bad move. But was it worth it? Hell yeah.
The day didn’t begin on such a high note though. Queing from Federation square to the gates of Birrarung Mar wasn’t too bad, it moved quickly. It was the 40 minute wait at the bar for one bottle of water that wasn’t so great. Especially as some guy behind me was pressing his crotch into my ass. Gross. I was almost in a bad mood.
Thanks to my cheery friends though, I snapped out of it and we headed to our first set, Busy P. Usually I like guys with moustaches, especially if they’re French. But really, I could have stayed at home and listened to Ministry of Sound . A waste of an hour which I thought would be worth it, as MSTRKRFT was next up. But no, even the hairy canadian duo weren’t up to scratch. Their albums and previous shows I’ve seen have been dancalicious. However, their usually interesting track combos and fresh remixes were absent, only to be replaced with the same old generic dance music as Busy P.
After a not so brief trip to the loo – only 8 disgustingly dirty cubicles for thousands of people, what were the organisers thinking? – we traversed across the festival site to another stage. Now here’s the awesome part – English group Metronomy are so much more than a dance act. There were real guitars and drums and I may have even glimpsed a saxophone. Whether it was because they were playing at the same time as La Roux – who the whole world seems to be obsessed with and I just can’t see why – or because they tricked the audience with their folky instrumental intro, the crowd was small. Plenty of room to dance meant plenty of moves to break out. Let the good times roll.
After a super 45 minute set, I thought I was all danced out. My legs were tired, I was thirsty and I thought I was down for the count. But Parklife said no. They brought out Yacht Club DJ’s. These sydney guys didn’t have real instruments but what they lacked in musicianship, they made up in enthusiasm. By the end of the set we had heard Nirvana, Blur, The Hives, even The Coasters, and both DJ’s were topless. Not bad for 7.00.
By 7.30 I was ready to bring out the moves again. Four Canadian musicians had taken the stage. They too had real instruments. The badly hot singer, Emily Haines, screamed her love for rock ‘n’ roll at the crowd. Metric – bringing head bangin’, feet stompin’ rock ‘n’ roll to a dance festival near you. Playing crowd favourites like Sick Muse, Gold Guns Girls and Monster Hospital, Metric were great live, even better than their recorded material.
Next up was Purple Sneaker DJ’s. Not bad, but really just a filler until, drum roll, The Rapture. This nine-year-old dance-punk band came all the way from New York to play for us and boy were we appreciative. Apart from the distractions of a few elbows to the head, being bathed in other peoples sweat and some way-out-of-it people flopping around while the crowd ebbed and flowed to the music, The Rapture were enthralling. Plenty of guitar, screaming, jumping and even a confirmed sighting of a saxophone. House Of Jealous Lovers, Out Of The Races And Onto The Tracks, No Sex For Ben and Gotta Get Myself Into It were highlights. We all got ourselves into it, big time. Screw techno, house, trance and computer generated beats, electro-rock is where it’s at.
So yeah, Parklife is a dance festival. But, there is so much more to ‘dance’ than the word implies. Bands like Metronomy, Metric and The Rapture are brining back rock ‘n’ roll and it’s sure as hell here to stay.
Metric (on Letterman)
Afterlife: As far as I know, Melbourne didn’t have a specifically organised afterlife so we made our own. Through the throngs we walked, dazed and content, as we made the pilgrimage to Black Night Crash, the best, most popular all indie party night at The Rochester, Johnston Street. DJ’s Clefb and Knackered Converse let us relive our Parklife day with tunes from some of the performing artists, as well as serving up some danceable indie like Bloc Party, Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys and going way back, the Kinks. If I thought I was down and out after Metronomy, I was kidding myself. My legs didn’t stop moving ’til way late. A great day was, as far as I know, had by all.
Were you at Parklife? See someone I didn’t? Let us know what you thought of the festival!