OutsideIn Festival - Factory Theatre, Sydney

Written by Andrew Nock

OutsideIn Festival - Factory Theatre, Sydney

OutsideIn Festival promised a tantalising lineup of exciting new and established alternative electronica. It was so good, they knew no one would want to leave. Thus they stamped a ‘no pass outs’ sign across the foreheads of staff and security – weirdos. Initial confusion on the triple stage set-up in one venue was quite self-explanatory: they had three good dance rooms. The GoodGod Courtyard sent chilled beats floating into the afternoon sky as a teaser for what was inside.

A sign above a small door to the side of the courtyard read ‘The Factory Floor’. No, it was not a sweat shop work floor. It in fact led to a small, dull room that was completely black: floors, walls and ceiling. When crammed full it became quite clammy, or in Collarbones’ words “it’s so moist in here I can barely think”. The only light emerged from a large screen projecting images behind the stage, and a single laser shooting beams of green light into the crowd’s line of vision. It was packed. Polygraphia fumbled around with their glitch hop, the duo moving from drums to guitar to sample pads in a bit of a mess, their beats as slightly off-cue as their image, with the lead singer’s wonky bowl cut giving him the appearance of a tall human mushroom. Their saving grace was a single green laser that entranced everyone as it cut mind-boggling shapes in the air through a thick layer of smoke: stars, cylinders and bars, all produced in three trippy dimensions.

Mighty Boosh fans look this band up: Holy Balm. They hold an uncanny resemblance to Noel Fielding’s band a la Electro Boy. The man on keys channelled Johnny Two Hats, playing juicy 80's synths with stiff posture, tapping one heel to the beat. He introduced a song in a high-class London accent. If only he was wearing a suit. An odd looking blonde stood as the central figure behind a drum kit, hitting symbols at random with whimsical strokes, moving her hands painfully slow, like one of those really annoying wizards in Harry Potter trying in vain to master a spell – Neville Longbottom perhaps. I’d watched enough Mighty Boosh. Time to go Fishing.

Fishing are the real deal. A packed Factory Floor were witnessing full, well-rounded and measured glitch hop. From front of stage I looked back and witnessed a full room bobbing their heads in unison to the beat. One of the duo grabbed the mike and started rapping. He was white and wore his collar top buttoned with hipster glasses, yet he rapped with eye-opening conviction about doobies. His voice was layered with low end to give it more attitude as he rapped, ‘I’m rollin’ double sixes..cash in my wallet, purple in my system’. Each verse exploded with more energy, egged on by intense strobes. His vocals suddenly changed, auto-tuned to a cartoonish high pitch. The crowd smiled at its cheekiness. The song’s bombastic ghetto beat caused the dance floor to writhe ecstatically.

The Main Stage was a large room. Filling it with ghetto crunk and trap stylings was triple j’s Lewi Mckirdy, dressed like a grungy 90's dude with skull cap, rocking the classic high socks and skate shoe combo like it never went out of fashion. He couldn’t possibly be warming the crowd up for HTRK – their chilled sounds are the opposite end of the electronic spectrum. It didn’t matter, since they started 40 mins late after a solid half hour of technical difficulties. As HTRK started, Janine’s concerned look turned cold. Her eyes glazed over, staring dead pan straight ahead. The stage was drenched in moody purple lighting that meandered in slow circles. Images permeated the screens and came in and out of focus, often turning blank to cast the duo’s shadows onto the screen behind. The songs themselves were a haze of guitar feedback and drenched sounds, her vocals echoing dark and moody emissions into the large space. Their chill-wave electronica were perceived ungratefully by the impatient murmerings of the crowd.

A buzz of expectation preceded Oliver Tank. Quickly justified by opening with an amazing remix of Last Night I Heard Everything in Slow Motion, he changed the structure, adding new lyrics and a nice xylophone progression. His atmospheric sounds were sliced only by his sweet voice, ‘I just want you to know you’re really special’. His love of Snoop Dogg was made less subtle by Dropping It like its Hot, and playing experimental guitar over the top. The crowd lapped it up, giving him huge props, pretty stoked that Flume was next on.

Rapturous applause greeted Flume’s arrival, “I dropped an album yesterday, so I’m gonna play some tracks off it for you”. Hells yeah! He opened with the signature wob, wob, wob of More Than You Thought. It’s so filthy – the crowd lost it immediately. He followed up with his gorgeous Chet Faker collaboration Left Alone, the driving rhythms of Insane, ghetto rap number On Top and the fun and funky Ezra. Flume is dead set the only dance producer that can consistently make an entire crowd lose their minds and dance like lunatics. Bodies flailed everywhere, thrown to and fro, not from the hip or neck, but the entire body. Small circles emerged and dance-offs ensued. Everyone lost their inhibitions because everyone was like-minded and no one was judged. Oh, except for one weirdo girl who consistently kept trying to put her finger in my nose and after the fourth attempt I had to give her the flick. Almost a vibe killer. But come on, nothing could possibly kill Flume’s vibe.

Wandering outside I experienced the casino effect – day had suddenly turned to night. Chilled house music flowed from the sound system and a crowd lapped it up. A great aspect of this festival was that wherever you were, there was always space to dance. Even though it was sold-out, the spreading out of the stages meant that you were never so crammed that you couldn’t move. That’s what it’s all about!

OutsideIn was an alternative electronica festival for alternative people. It was the best dressed and best looking crowd I’ve ever witnessed at a festival. Next level style was everywhere you looked. Everyone was there for the music and to enjoy it to the fullest. People got so into it and danced so looney that you felt encouraged to let loose and dance like no one was watching. When the music was cut on stage closer, LV’s filthy UK drum ‘n’ bass banger Sebenza, the crowd shuffled out shouting “rubber bullets” (best lyric). The silence was piercing – no one wanted it to finish. Especially our ears.

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