A lot has been made of Australian festival culture recently. The media wants you to believe many things, which I’ll decline to recount here. What I will say is that festival culture is alive and well in Australia. Listen Out fills a niche in Australia’s festival calendar that needs to exist, and I for one am glad it does.
Turning up to the picturesque Catani Gardens on Saturday the 22nd, I couldn’t help but compare it to the recent Splendour in the Grass. To that end, it was a favourable comparison. With more amenities than you could need, and three stages to boot, everyone was taken care of.
Now for the lowlight – A$AP Rocky. When you spend 5 minutes calling for a moshpit, only to go into one of your softer songs of the set, not only do you look silly, but you kill any momentum you might have otherwise had. When the sentiment afterwards is that it would have been better to have missed the set completely, you know something has gone wrong. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it didn’t appear like he was trying very hard to win over the crowd.
That’s enough negativity though. Brockhampton showed why they’re possibly the most exciting hip-hop act in the world. Australia was a relatively early adopter of the boyband, and they gave it their all. The 50/50 split of their new album, Iridescence and the Saturation trilogy may have not been entirely expected, but it made for a hell of a show, with fans lapping it up. They’re only getting better.
On the other end of the rap spectrum was grime MC Skepta. Skepta’s been everywhere and seen it all, and still moves like an 18-year-old. Catani Gardens certainly got Shutdown, and everyone was there for it. It was one of those moments people will be speaking about for a long time.
Noname might have been the most important artist on the bill. Commanding a huge crowd given her relatively early billing, she’s starting to gain a huge following in Australia, and after seeing her live it’s no wonder her shows get rave reviews. Her lyricism is only matched by her energy. Confidence Man remain an enigma unto themselves. Are they a live band, or a studio band? Who knows. What they are though, is a hell of a fun time.
We were all there for Skrillex, and he played a show worthy of a festival headliner. We don’t always get the full festival treatment from artists, but Skrillex brought his A-game. After all, he’s a consummate professional, and you can’t really ask for more.
Was Listen Out an experience? For sure. Did I enjoy it? Hell yeah. We need more diverse festivals in Australia, not less, and when you have artists like Manu Crook$ able to step in at the last minute and storm the stage, then you know you’re cultivating a great hip-hop culture.
Just stop supporting XXXTentacion during your sets. Please, it’s not hard.