I had plans to do a bunch of stuff early in the morning, right up until the deadline loomed. I figured we needed roughly 45 minutes to make our way from our house to the front gate, flash a ticket, get a wrist band, stroll to the stage, and catch the first set of the day. When the alarm went off I caught it on the first ring and thought, “I am tired”. The snooze function was the answer, but mine is set for five minute intervals, so no sooner do you drift off, than it comes back on, annoying you like every morning you’re forced to submit to its familiar tone. So I turned it off. We didn’t do anything but lie in and enjoy a Saturday morning, 8 October, the morning of Parklife 2008 in Brisbane.
The lineup wasn’t the greatest in festival history, but there were enough winners on the list to entice me shell out all those dollars on a ticket. Who can really remember what you paid for a ticket when you’re standing in line, lathered in sunscreen, anticipating the day’s beats?
So we eschewed our plans for the morning, got let in late to the venue, strolled across the joint via the bar and caught U&A recording artists Hyperion on the Air stage. Max’s rockstar hair was visible from over 100 paces, and because they were on first, the volume was down a ways. We stood by the speakers a little way back and got the full effect of the first beats of the day square in the middrift. Re-edits of old Chemical Brothers tracks were mixed nicely with Hyperion originals and fresh tracks from the U&A and Lot49 labels. Really solid stuff to start off with, and by the end of their hour, the crowd had built to around 200 punters, who were baying for more. A shame they weren’t on earlier, because their fare was just right for a daytime festival in streaming sunshine.
Dropping it down several notches were Dubdoubt over on the Earth stage. A seven piece song-based reggae and dub outfit, heavily influenced by the Jamaican realm of the genre. I could have gone equally for some minimal tech, but reggae was the best offering on the bill for our tastes at the time. We ran into Butterz (Payback Project) who told of his so-so half hour opening the Ku stage and the stoke of being on the bill.
Back at the Air stage, we were thoroughly underwhelmed by Grafton Primary first, and Bagraiders straight after. Poorly executed, scene-y, commercial and utterly lacking in groove, soul or creativity. But the punters were mad for it! We stuck it out and were rewarded for our patience with Yuksek.
Playing from a MacBook Pro and what looked to be a 16 channel desk with a bundle of outboard boxes, Yuksek tore the dancefloor apart with his enthusiasm, infectious fast mixing and selection of tough festival tunes. I have his remixes of Siriusmo and Detect and will definitely be listening to more of his work of the back of this performance. A real find.
The latter part of the festival was shaping up with some pretty heavy beats, so we set off to catch Melbourne-based band The Bamboos for a change in tempo and styling. A live funk and soul workout with Kylie Auldist on vocals for seven or so tunes. The tightness and fluency of the band was unmatched for the day.
Sun going down now, risk of serious sunburn deceasing, beer still flowing, mind wandering a tad aimlessly, need girlfriend for support and direction to next artiste…
The enduring mind’s-eye image of the festival is the Soulwax drummer laying into his left-side crash cymbal with his full arm. Wielding the stick with his shoulder, not using good technique at all, but banging fuck out of that bronze disc in a proper rocknroll fashion. Incredible music, played with a ferocity and rock ethos that works whether the crowd is assembled for a dance fest, rock fest or for any old reason. Max saw the whole thing from three meters away, side of stage, the bastard.
Back again to the Air stage next for the driving elec-tech house of Jesse Rose. He built his set from the start, nothing showy, no flailing of the arms. The congruency of his rhythm selection was there, building and grinding relentlessly to the next tune, layering new loop over new loop, giving enough to make you bob on the spot and straining for the next tune. Fucking solid music. Where’s his album?
To be honest, I had a few too many beers by the time Jesse Rose adjourned, and I do recall being present for Peaches and 2manydjs, but couldn’t tell you if either were any good or not. I came back into full consciousness as Plump DJs, those little rascals, took the stage for the final set of the fest, back at the Earth stage, where we’d enjoyed those reggae sounds hours before.
After who knows how many times I’ve seen those guys, they’ve yet to disappoint. I’m not a great fan of their latest, Headthrash, but they’re so much bigger than that album. Deejays at their core, and built for festivals, the Plumps delivered a set of electric funk and breakbeat. Don’t really use that ‘B’ word that much these days, given the distinct lack of quality in the genre, but it is still there if you look for it. By my reckoning Lee and Andy Plump have been looking a lot.
And then it was over. 10,000 people wandering out of the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens, leaving a sea of crushed plastic schooners, empty goodie bags and the odd wallet.
I wonder if I should go see Underworld on January 3?