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Returning to Future Music Festival after a three year hiatus, I was a little skeptical. I ventured to Randwick Racecourse pondering my last experience. Future ’12 was full of fond memories and killer acts, but the overall festival experience was a off, and I left a little sour – hence my hiatus.
After preaching promises of a better event this year, organisers focused on providing an unforgettable and seamless summer festival. And they certainly delivered. Recruiting one of the world’s most in-demand stage designers, James Klein, and securing some of the biggest dance acts in the world, Future ’15 not only met its objectives, it smashed them out of the park.
It’s easy to see why Klein is the best in the business. The energetic and vibrant Supernova stage, which hosted the likes of Swedish house DJ and global EDM phenomenon Avicii, was an ode to creativity and awe. Larger than life and accented with reflective sunbursts, the stage blew minds throughout the day. In fact all the stages, which could be seen far from outside the festival gates, were bursting with colour and alluring features.
If you were lucky enough to nab a Directors Club upgrade, the size and scale of the festival could really be relished sitting high up in the grandstand. Sure — tits, tans and terrible tattoos were out and proud, but it didn’t take anything away from the experience. You’d be lying if you said it wasn’t a spectacle.
Finnish dance producer Darude drew the crowd earlier in the day under the Futuredome dance tent. Best recognised for his 2000 techno track Sandstorm, punters were hit with a wave of nostalgia when he finished on the bass-y number, after they begged in unison for the song.
British electronic trio Nero really kicked things into gear as dusk fell upon the seething racecourse. Their teeth-shattering bass in Promises whipped the crowd into a frenzy and had everyone under the tent mimicking their every word. Vocalist Alana Watson stood beneath the boys on the decks, silhouetted against a frantic yet rhythmic audiovisual display.
Eccentric South African duo Die Antwoord gave an extremely magnetic performance filled with plenty of quick costume changes, haunting backup dancers and pornographic visuals. From the moment they walked on stage it was clear why the rap-rave pair sold out their Sydney sideshow in less than three minutes.
Their set was a spellbinding showcase of their discography with Enter The Ninja, I Fink U Freeky and their newly released Pitbull Terrier pushing the crowd to ridiculous levels.
Man of the moment Drake lived up to the hype, giving Aussies a stellar sneak preview of his upcoming Coachella set on the Future stage. Hundreds of lights flooded the stage — while phone screens lit the crowd below — as Drake worked every inch of his platform, head-to-toe in white with a light denim jacket.
Drawing from his four albums the singer spat rhymes while he soared through the clear night sky and over the crowd – rivalling Avicii’s AV-heavy performance over at the Supernova stage. Satisfyingly loud and sharp, the sound from each main stage never once drowned the other out.
FMF favourites The Prodigy elated fans with their aggressive electro beats and grungy ’90s classics. Large screens either side of the stage focused more on the trio’s energetic stage presence rather than any accompanying AV effects.
Delivering a feverish mix of old and new, the British boys delighting punters with tracks off their forthcoming sixth studio album, The Day Is My Enemy. Sure, it was extremely difficult to see all three headliners with them significantly overlapping, but The Prodigy were undeniably compelling and I doubt anyone would have left with regrets.
Confetti guns, pyrotechnics and CO2 jets are of course nothing new at dance festivals, but it was the seamless execution and vast number of AV effects that pushed Future into a league of its own. The ultimate send off to summer, I returned home exhausted, yet exhilarated.
No matter what’s to come for the festival, Klein has helped ensure that memories of FMF ’15 will be always be full of colour and wonder.
Future Music Festival 2015, Sydney / Photo: Maria Boyadgis