St Kilda Festival is one of the biggest street festivals Australia has to offer. A free festival, it attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year to hear some of the best Australian music (amongst a wide variety of other activities for young and old alike). Strangely, I had never taken advantage of such a great event being held so locally but this year, when a friend asked if I wanted to go, I jumped at the opportunity. With Art vs. Science headlining and other great local acts waiting in the wings, I knew it was going to be a blast!
The first act we saw was Wave Racer, the moniker for Thomas Purcell, a nominee for Triple J’s Unearthed Artist of the Year award, and a rising star in the music industry. With an incredibly relaxed stage presence that screams “I’m just here for a good time”, Wave Racer got the whole crowd jumping with awesome remixes of other popular Aussie acts, coupled with his own groove-inducing originals. His mixes of Panama’s “Always” and Flight Facilities’ “Stand Still” were highlights but it was his own stuff that stirred the biggest reaction from the crowd. “Rock U Tonite” did as its title suggests and finishing with “Stoopid” had everyone dancing right to the very end. As casually as he had started, he announced “I’m done now” and left the stage.
After a successful 2013, with the release of their debut album, Black Sun, it was good to finally see Gold Fields live. The boys from Ballarat have a unique sound, kind of like a mix of alternative and indie rock, layered with tribal beats, and with a touch of electro/dance chucked in for good measure. They performed well, with popular song “You’re Still Gone” getting the best reception, but some lesser known songs lacked the excitement and energy needed to stop the crowd’s attention from waning. It was probably a fair reflection of their album which is up and down with hits and misses. However, the biggest disappointment was them finishing 15 minutes before their scheduled finish time and not even playing well-known song, and my personal favourite, “Meet My Friends”.
The one plus of Gold Fields finishing early was being able to make it across to the main stage in time to see one of the biggest and most successful groups to come out of Australia, Art vs. Science. Acclaimed as one of Australia’s best live acts, the boys from Sydney definitely know how to rock a festival crowd and have been doing so for years with gigs at Splendour, Falls, and Parklife, just to name a few. We were a fair bit back and the glare from the sunset made things difficult but the performance was instantly captivating, sparking dancing from the get go.
Many tunes instigated sing-alongs, including “Flippers” and “Parlez Vous Francais?”, and all of them invoked dancing. The setlist was practically hit after hit after hit which made it all the stranger when large groups started leaving the stage after the hugely adored “Parlez Vous Francais?”, despite the set only being halfway through. Keyboard player and vocalist, Jim Finn, told the crowd we were “effing awesome”, making sure to keep the language suitable for an all ages audience, and they were off again playing more hits including the ever popular “Magic Fountain”, a tune from their debut EP, “Hollywood”, and more recent track “A.I.M. Fire!”. They finished strongly, inviting Melbourne band Kingswood on stage with them, and the St Kilda masses were more than receptive.
Despite missing sets from Safia, Dustin Tebbutt, Kingswood, and many more, it was an amazing festival and one that I can hardly believe was free. If you haven’t been before, make sure to check it out next year. I, for one, hope to take advantage of amazing live music, free of charge, for years to come.