Taking out the top spot as my favourite festival experience of 2012, I was more then excited to be returning to the Factory Theatre for OutsideIn 2013. There’s something about the underground electronic music scene that gets my heart racing – the bass, the amazing visuals, that feeling of being part of something truly special.
As usual I was late, but luckily (due to a very elaborate stage setup) so was the festival. This meant I had time to drop all my bags in the green room and wander around in the afternoon sun before heading into the main stage to check out FBi DJ Bad Ezzy.
Just as she did at Splendour In The Grass, Ezzy brought low end grooves and pumping beats to the stage; getting the crowd primed for opening band Golden Blonde.
At the same time Thomas William was opening the Factory Floor or “rave cave” as I prefer (a small and smoky room filled with lazers and the most hardcore of ravers).
Everything was coming along very nicely, so I headed back upstairs to the main stage to check out Sydney groovers Movement. Having not heard the band before I was extremely impressed by their dance inducing beats; absolutely loosing myself in vocalist Lewis Wade’s soulful sighs.
In the rave cave, Sydney favourite Rainbow Chan was taking a different approach. Jumping between saxophone, keys and everything in between, Chan’s playful and nostalgic melodies had the small gathering smiling. At one point she got so excited she knocked one of her synthesizers off the stand. Luckily enough a mystery man was happy to jump onstage and fix the problem.
One of my absolute favourite acts of the day was Melbourne band I’lls. I’m not kidding when I say with your eyes closed you could mistake Simon Lam’s voice for Thom Yorke’s – especially when its paired with the down tempo scatters of clicking beats and swirling guitars. Not that you would want to close your eyes. The amazing shape created by the backdrop became 3D with projections which tied the whole show together. It was truly special.
Elizabeth Rose was next to take to the stage – flaunting a new costume and stage setup. It was cool to see Rose step back from the keyboard and production side of things and take charge as a confident front woman; exclaiming how excited she was not to be onstage alone anymore. “Ready” and “The Good Life” were both received extremely well as the late afternoon crowd prepared themselves for the rest of the night.
Thirteen years after it’s initial release, The Avalanches’ highly acclaimed album Since I Left You saw new life at OutsideIn. A ten piece band comprised of everyone from Rainbow Chan to Moktar Youngblood moved through the album from start to finish with an energy and preciseness unlike anything I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Personal highlights included opening title track “Since I Left You” and of course, the whacked out anthem that is “Frontier Psychiatrist.”
Willow Beats were bliss dancing away to their strangely organic electronic sounds in the rave cave (keep an eye on these two) while on the main stage London’s Snakehips spun amazing sounds behind a sheer cloth which featured some of the coolest visuals I’ve seen in Sydney.
Up and coming Canadian’s Badbadnotgood were next – opening their set with a swelling of cymbal clashes and bass. Being picked up by both Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean the crowd was more then excited to witness the band’s first Sydney gig in such an intimate setting. These boys are undoubtedly skilled; merging jazz licks and hip-hop breakdowns effortlessly. Their reworking of TNGHT’s “Bugg’n” was definitely a highlight for me – the crowd turning into chaotic washing machine which in parts made me think I was at a FIDLAR gig.
Due to crazy delays caused by some sound issues and the initial late start, I finished my night with a healthy dose of Freddie Gibbs before skipping out on Hermitude. Originating in Indiana, Gibbs brought heavy trap influenced sounds and skillful lyrical bursts as he swaggered around the stage, shirtless and puffing thoughtfully on a blunt. The crowd were totally hyped and there was more then a touch of energy in the room; Gibbs popping up and down on the edge of the stage.
I’m excited to see where Gibbs will go with future live shows as his set was a total highlight. In fact, his whole attitude is his appeal; a backstage hangout with his crew and various others (including a brief appearance from Sydney superstar producer Flume) proving highly insightful.
OutsideIn is definitely taking shape as one of the hottest festivals in town and I’m totally interested to see how it will pan out next year. A bigger venue? A tour? I’m not sure, but I do know one thing – Astral People are doing a lot of things right and Sydney’s best kept secret event may have just been let out of the bag.