Listen Out Melbourne 2014

Melbourne’s weather Gods have never crafted a festival atmosphere so perfect. A cool breeze blows through the greenery of The Royal Botanical Gardens as Kilter takes the stage. “What’s up Listen Out, how’re you doing?”

We’re doing great. The sizeable crowd who’ve turned up early bliss out in the sun to a blend of deep, rolling bass and live guitar noodling. I wander over to the 909 stage, where Tkay Maidza has an eager crowd bouncing along to a spirited selection of covers.

An early highlight, Scottish alt hip hoppers Young Fathers turn the energy right up with super entertaining afternoon set. The small crowd seem to be really digging it, but they’re not quite warmed up enough to replicate the party happening on stage.

Up next, Shlohmo unintentionally douses the crowd with bass mud. I’m surprised the sound system at an electronic music festival has so much trouble dealing with him. Thankfully things pull together and the set settles into a mellow, sunny vibe.

Ta-ku follows with a set heading in a thousand different directions at once, locking into a groove before serving up a disjointed shift almost immediately. No matter what he does, even throwing in a 90’s party vibe totally at odds with his album work, the mixer bends beneath his magic fingers and things just seem to work.

Chet Faker’s sunset slot was a piece of truly impeccable timetabling, and no doubt the highlight of the day for many. The mammoth lighting rig of the Atari stage jolts into life atop a flawless and hit-laden set, a huge crowd hanging on every note.

Over on the 909 stage, Schoolboy Q throws down an energetic set for a smallish crowd of bucket hat enthusiasts. But while his show adds some essential variety to the second half of the festival, Zhu’s set on the Atari stage is a spectacle not to be missed. The giant screen shielding him from view brings layers of visuals to life, and the sound has never been better. It’s a sleek and exciting show, and an easy highlight of the day.

Back at the 909 stage, Four Tet delivers an expansive set which seemed to stop just shy of fully blooming. There’s a few moments of four-to-the-floor glitch bliss, but things touch down too early and most of the set feels like an unresolved tease.

Back on the Atari stage, Flume caps the night off with an enormous set. While Chet Faker fails to reappear to bust out any of the duo’s ‘Lockjaw’ EP, there is a tasty splash of live vocals over some new material. Buried amid the same immersive visual setup from recent tours, it was great to see Flume incorporate a bit more mixing into his show. The visuals felt less like a distraction to hide behind, and the set had a solid flow to it.

The folks behind Listen Out are making all the right moves. Their setup could use a few tweaks to make the crowds easier to navigate, this festival seems to be growing into something pretty cool.

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