If ever there was a day for Melbourne to host a festival, it was on Saturday. The sun was out, the air was warm and people’s spirits were lifted. This year Listen Out brought some of the biggest artists to Australia for the first time ever, and for a lot of punters, this was a day we never thought would come.
Spread across two main stages, the sea breeze was filled all day long with the hums of electronic synths, the trills of rap and the shrilling sounds of hard house music. It was a jam-packed day, which started with triple j unearthed artists King IV. Being the first set of the day can be tough and even though I was one of only six punters grooving to their beats, they performed as if there was a full house. Well done ladies. I was really looking forward to your set and you most certainly delivered.
Things started to turn up when Melbourne’s own Mallrat hit the stage. For such a pint-sized young gal, she packs a punch. She’s bubbly, fun-loving and ballsy making her one of Australia’s most notable up and coming female rappers. Her set has really strengthened this past year, and she’s starting to shape exactly what her image and sound are. With a massive crowd pulled for the second set of the day, there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing a lot more of Mallrat and DJ Denim.
New Yorker Jai Wolf was one of the best sets of the day. Taking up the 2:05pm slot may have seemed early but the crowd was there. He had them eating out of the palm of his hand as he played tune after tune. There’s something very cinematic and atmospheric about Wolf’s productions, and the visuals he had projected behind him really rounded out his overall aesthetic. He seems likes such a cool dude, and this was the perfect setting for his music to float out to sea. Top four set of the day for sure.
Every time I see Little Simz on a line-up my heart skips a beat. After seeing her live for the first time ever at Sugar Mountain earlier this year, I was hooked. For such a charismatic and high vibing young woman, she has opened her heart up through her rapping prowess. She is a storyteller and at 23 years of age, what stories she has to tell. Her set was pure fire and her outfit; damn girl! Talk about fashion on point. Also another top four set of the day for me!
Between artists like KUČKA and Vallis Alps, melodic electronica has really flourished. As the afternoon sea breeze kicked in, and the sun started to hide behind the clouds, these two sets made the festival experience just that little bit more magical. In contrast, following straight after was American rapper Mac Miller, who may be your less than average heighted guy but goddamn! The man has got it! In a rapid turn of afternoon chilling came the brew of the late night party sessions. Miller has really started to make headlines with his music, especially after his collab track ‘Dang!’ featuring Anderson .Paak, but there’s a whole lot else he has to offer. He’s a major player in the biz blending his trap-chill so perfectly. I was very impressed by his set and the crowd were certainly into him.
If you’re into your gunmetal electronica, well things got loose at Malaa and Getter’s sets. Both mosh pits were rowdy with one even guy raging hard-core with two little pot plant trees. He was cooking it on a whole other level! Our boys SAFIA then delivered what I think was their best set of 2017. Having seen them at last year’s Groovin the Moo, I was a little bit nervous their set would be too mellow for the Listen Out headlining artists. Well wasn’t I wrong, and so happy to admit it! I love the SAFIA boys and their music, but they were in their element and nailed the set list. Their vibe was upbeat, confident and set the tone for a night of sheer madness.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Bryson Tiller and having followed him from day one, this was a very special moment in my live music experience. Tiller has perfected that trap-soul sound, and has started to work with some of the greatest, including Drake. This was a really momentous set, however it was sadly stilted due to power issues at the start. Doesn’t really make for a great first impression to Australia but I’m glad it didn’t deter him or lack in performance quality. Tiller is a star and there’s a lot more to come. He even teased he can’t wait to come back and do a tour of his own. OMG!!!! Top four set of the day hands down!
The top two spots of the festival went to Sydney boy What So Not and American rapper Future, who quite frankly is all the rage right now. I’ve never seen What So Not before but holy mother of pearl; the dude is that good! Performing on top of a massive horse made for an even more enhanced performance, and I can only imagine the view he had. Playing banger after banger, What So Not really knows how to read a crowd and give them what they want. The mosh was heaving and the perfect way to segue into the final set of the night.
Also making his Australian debut was Future and I cannot even describe the pure euphoria that washed over St Kilda’s Catani Gardens. This was undoubtedly the most highly anticipated set of the day, with punters packing into the main stage area. Future delivered exactly what the people wanted; a hard-hitting set that boasted old and of course new songs. The energy was electric and honestly, the best ending to a festival I’ve ever experienced. ‘Mask Off’ closed out the night and the mosh went wild. I will never forget this set and I’m so glad I can tick Future off my list of dream artists to see live. Future takes out the top spot in set of the day.
There are still a couple more legs of Listen Out to come. Sydney and Brisbane you’re next – click through here for info & tickets
p.s. due to organisational issues (or lack thereof) at Guest Services, our photographer was unable to catch the first two sets of the day as it took 1.5 hours for him to receive his accreditation. While this is a disappointment on many levels, it’s mostly a disappointment to King IV and Mallrat whose sets were unable to be captured. While we were not the only publication to suffer at the hands of this, we do want to take this opportunity to apologise to those ladies. It was our every intention to photograph you. We’ll be sure to snap you when next we meet again!
author: Kara Bertoncini
content photos by: Kayzar
main photo by: Shevin Dissanayake