Future Music Festival @ Flemington Racecourse
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Future Music Festival @ Flemington Racecourse

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Future Music Festival has remained a solid inclusion in the summer landscape for the past eight years now. The 2014 edition featured an even more EDM-centric lineup than previous rosters, with the list including some of the most prominent DJs currently operating on the world circuit. This also meant that there were inevitably clashes-aplenty, but… first world problems and all that. 

After a quick reconnaissance mission to scope out the festival grounds, it was time to check out Dannic on the Future Sound System stage. The Dutch DJ was more than content with taking on the task of warming up the party-hungry crowd. Streamers were blasted with every other song, and before long, his sawing basslines had cut their way through to the fringe onlookers, who glued themselves to the back of the blooming crowd. His mix of Mako feat. Angel Taylor’s Beam was a particular highlight.

A walk-by of Foamarama had plenty of punters ecstatically drowning in the mounds of foam billowing out of the cannon, while the Safari! stage was playing host to big boy Carnage. His filthy electro cuts were dirty and trappy and while his incessant shouting and drop-heavy set was too tiresome for some, most of the crowd lapped it up, went bonkers, and then threw bottles everywhere. It truly was carnage.

If there’s ever an example of bringing the spirit of a house party to the stage, Dada Life is it. The Swedes appeared as though they were in their element as they took on the monster FutureMusic stage, dropping hook after hook and flinging inflatable bananas atop those that had come along for the ride. It was bags of fun. But by the time the boys had vacated and the last banana had plummeted to the ground, there was already an undeniable buzz circulating the masses anticipating the arrival of Pharrell Williams.

Shrill screams were inescapable when the acclaimed performer and producer popped up wearing The Hat. Armed with just a DJ, a couple of dancers and some basic visuals, Pharrell served up a dense set, cramming in trimmed versions of megahits Drop It Like It’s Hot, Hot in Herre and Blurred Lines, while gracing any N.E.R.D faithful with Lapdance and She Wants To Move. But it was Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and his own Happy that garnered the biggest response. Pharrell carried himself with a swagger and confidence of a man who is worthy of the hype – filling his stage with a lucky contingent of female fans from the crowd as he addressed us.

However, though the strength of his set list spoke for itself, you couldn’t help but expect more. A backing band, a later timeslot and a longer set wouldn’t have been too much to ask for, surely? 

A duck back over to Safari! showed that Cut Copy were doing their thing to a surprisingly small mob. It was refreshing to see a fully-fledged band on stage, but their set felt like it was lacking in energy somewhat. Meanwhile, West-Philadelphian-born-and-raised Baauer was making a beautiful mess in the Knife Party Haunted House. The cobwebbed tent provided an essential respite from the heat for many and gave the crowd an excuse to go that little bit harder. Baauer ruthlessly merged hip hop juggernauts and explosive trap, creating a Harlem Shake-inducing response with each drop and when that tune finally came, the tent hit another level. 

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis got everybody bouncing with the expected numbers from The Heist, but their set was unfortunately marred by microphone issues, rendering Big Mack’s voice inaudible for the majority of the show and seeing scores of punters trading off for the back end of a lively Tinie Tempah demonstration.

Rudimental’s genre-melding presentation was arguably the highlight of the day. They managed to dish out soul, funk, drum’n’bass, and everything in between, while throwing in a few synchronised leg-kicks for good measure. The Londoners understandably looked like they were having a ball on stage, and Mark Crown’s trumpet work on Feel the Love was sensational.

The headline slot was always going to be a tricky pick, but after a few mixed reports on Deadmau5’s recent performances, it was decided that Phoenix was the go. Luckily, the French electro-poppers didn’t disappoint, delivering a super-tight recital that reeked of professionalism – everything from the simple silhouette-forming visuals, to the disciplined guitar playing was as clinical as you’re likely to see. It was a fitting end to the day and proof that although Future may still be an event that people stray away from to avoid the hordes of jocks, the strength of a lineup can rise above these seemingly insignificant details. If it stays this way, it looks like the future’s bright for Future.

BY CALLUM FITZPATRICK
Photos by Anna Kanci

LOVED: The variety of stages.

HATED: Having to make tricky decisions on a long weekend. #clashes

DRANK: Everything.