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If you walked into Sydney’s Centennial Park as the gates opened for Listen Out 2015, you probably stepped over a few guys being wrestled to the ground and arrested by undercover cops. It wasn’t an ideal start for them, though it did send a pretty clear warning to everyone else — Police were out in full force.
The long weekend was set to be a scorcher, and surprise — ‘sun’s out guns/buns out’ was the theme of the day. Though it may technically be spring, Sydney’s Listen Out had a strong whiff of summer festival about it, complete with plenty of fake tan (orange is the new brown) and a surprising increase in stick-on body tattoos, because YOLO, obviously.
Thanks to the high temps, the bar line was popular from the outset, with people needing all the refreshment they could get. Most then headed straight on to the shaded area in front of the 909 Stage where triple j Unearthed entrant B Wise kicked things off for the afternoon.
Of course, if anyone has the power to lure punters out of the shade and onto the dance floor, it’s Client Liaison. Despite the heat, these guys were looking #fierce in their full ’80s get-up (let’s be real though, they must have been shvitzing).
The already very hot dance floor was steaming as the ladies from Retrosweat joined Client Liaison on stage in some seriously impressive leotards. Naturally everybody proceeded to get their thrust on — okay that’s a weird sentence, but it happened. Also shout out to Tom Tilley (of triple j‘s Hack program) for shredding the bass.
After high-kicking along to such sweet ’80s beats, it was time to get low. Rae Sremmurd wasted no time bringing the bounce, with No Flex Zone going off. One of the great things about a track like this is the way it attracts people to the stage. It’s like there’s an invisible border around festival dance crowds which divides the ‘dancers’ from the ‘casual watchers’. For some reason, to cross that divide, you must dance the distance. Raising your arms in an IRL ‘raised hands’ emoji gesture will usually do the trick.
After a hefty dose of hip-hop, Ryan Hemsworth’s blend of chillwave, R&B and dance was the perfect soundtrack to the sun setting over Centennial Park. His epic set, featuring everyone from Kanye to Blink 182, was a definite festival highlight.
As the darkness settled in, Alison Wonderland took to the stage and made sure the party had officially started. The mix-up master dropped a number of her own tracks off Run, dotted with everything from Daft Punk to the stand out crowd-pleaser, Fat Boy Slim’s Praise You.
SBTRKT‘s DJ set took things to the next level with Living Like I Do, Ready Set Loop and Trials of the Past getting a whole lot of love. There was a suitably pagan worship vibe going on, with SBTRKT donning his mask behind an altar of decks. NEW DORP. NEW YORK and Wildfire had the entire field (even those resting or “waiting for a mate”) up on the hill, back on their weary feet for a final attempt at dancing.
Then finally, the moment we’d all been waiting for — Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, closed the Atari stage and s**t got cray. Off to a very strong start, Gambino opened with The Crawl, Worldstar and The Worst Guys. He was in fine form slaying Sweatpants and nailing the vocals on U Don’t Have to Call, which got the lighters out and a side-to-side-sway going.
Gambino’s flawless and high energy set proved that despite the negative press surrounding his Newcastle sideshow, he sure can turn it on when he wants to. Heartbeat went off, before thousands of arguably not-so-sober fans sang along (impressively coherently) to Sober and 3005 before Bonfire brought the day to a close.
Then it was time to shuffle on out of the gates and onto the free buses to Central to pick up a blue Powerade or two on the way home. Clap it in Sydney Listen Out, you did real good.
Image: Rae Sremmurd Perform At Listen Out 2015, Sydney / Photo: Brandon Matich