My experience last weekend in Melbourne taught me not to believe everything I hear about Stereosonic. From house to electronica to Dubstep to Trance, Stereosonic Melbourne was two days of truly superb music. In a single weekend I heard almost all of my all-time favourite dance tracks performed live – something that no other music festival has delivered to me before.
For me the highlight of the first day came earlier on at the Fullson Stage. This stage was mainly house music in an indoor setting, with some seating available and a chilled crowd. The feeling of the stage could be more likened to a massive daytime night-club than a music festival. Route 94 was the first act we saw. Their set was groovy and they ended on a high with ‘My Love’. With MK the crowd grew and the mood picked up. Things got a little crazy when ‘Jungle’ played – one of my personal favourites. Loving the atmosphere we stayed on for Hot Since 82 and were not disappointed. This set of artists had been expertly set up, with one act flowing smoothly on from the other. If not for peer pressure I probably would have stayed there all night.
Moving onto the Sonic Stage we were all pretty psyched to see Porter Robinson. Unfortunately, it was something of a downer after the excitement of Hot Since 82. Although the music itself was decent, the slow and disjointed feel of Porter Robinson would have probably been better received earlier in the day, not after a banger like ZHU’s ‘Faded’. Leaving Porter Robinson early we went and saw Alesso – who was exactly what we felt like. ‘Heroes’, ‘Under Control’ and ‘Clash’ were outrageously good. Skrillex followed Alesso and although I usually have nothing against Dubstep, I felt that after a day of house and dance music it was just a little too much. Skrillex is a great producer and performer in his own right; he worked the crowd and seemed to be having a lot of fun himself, but when it came down to it I was way too tired for that kind of intensity and, wanting to save myself for the day to follow, decided to call it a night.
Despite the atrocious weather and the struggle my body was going through from the antics of the day before, the temptation of Duke Dumont and Disclosure was too much to fight. It was worth the battle, because day two was definitely the better day. Each artist brought their own unique element to the festival and not one of the acts I saw let me down. The only negative that could be said of day two was the quality of the sound at Sonic Stage. The speakers weren’t loud enough, failing to create that feeling of being utterly engulfed by sound.
Oliver Heldens at the Sonic Stage was a great way to start the day. Although it was overcast, the weather was warm and the rain held off. It wasn’t too crowded so everyone just grooved around, getting drinks, milling at the bar, some people sitting down and others having a boogie. It had a really relaxed vibe that meant that it wasn’t too intense after a big day on Saturday. Duke Dumont soon changed that. Having interviewed Duke Dumont a few weeks ago he mentioned that the lineup with himself and Disclosure, playing one after the other, would be something to look forward to. Opening with ‘I Got You’ I knew straight up that it was going to be an absolute ripper of a set. He played a combination of remixes, original tracks and massive hits. When Disclosure followed with ‘When a Fire Starts to Burn’ it was probably one of the best moments of my life.
We had to leave Disclosure a little early because, once again, peer pressure took over and everyone else was keen for Calvin Harris. Walking into a 20,000 strong crowd (give or take) as ‘Sweet Nothing’ was being blasted, was definitely worth missing the end of Disclosure for. You tend to forget how many hits Calvin Harris actually has, and as he played track after track he proved his worth in the position of headliner. Tiesto followed with a mixed bag of a set. From a remix of ‘Fancy’, to golden oldies like ‘Numb’ by Linkin Park, to the club classic ‘Adagio for Strings’ – the set put on by Tiesto was unrivalled by any other act of the day.
Stereosonic is a music festival that ultimately needs to be taken for what it is; a celebration of all dance music. Although it has certain qualities that can attract some irksome sorts, at the end of the weekend, what I remembered most was the high calibre of the music. Can’t wait for next year.