2013.03.03 – Future Music Festival, Perth, Australia

Date: 3rd March 2013
Event: Future Music Festival
Venue: Joondalup Arena
City: Perth
Country: Australia
Support: see timetable

Tracklist:
1. New Intro
2. Voodoo People
3. Jetfighter
4. Breathe
5. Omen
6. Poison
7. Thunder (Dubstep)
8. AWOL
9. Firestarter
10. Run With The Wolves
11. Eagle Break
12. World’s On Fire
13. Spitfast
14. Omen (Reprise)
15. Invaders Must Die
16. Diesel Power Beats
17. Smack My Bitch Up
Encore:
18. Take Me To The Hospital
19. Their Law
20. Hyperspeed
21. Out Of Space

Extra info:
Warrior’s Dance Arena timetable:
12:00 Junior
13:00 Sun City
14:00 Zane Lowe
15:00 Kill The Noise
16:00 Feed Me
17:15 Zed’s Dead
18:15 Boys Noize (Live)
19:30 Borgore
20:45 The Prodigy

Review by The Geeklee:
A belated review is a review none the less. It had been years and years since I last went to a dance music festival. I think the last one was a Ministry of Sound Festival at Belvoir, that from memory had Roni Size and De La Soul. There’s been many temptations over the years, Parklife, Good Vibrations, Origin and of course Future Music. Why was I tempted by those festivals. Well unlike some dance events, they actually have some live acts. I’ve never been a fan of watching DJs sets. I don’t like to dance, and I’m straight edge, so those things don’t mesh to well with watching someone bob up and down behind some decks, pretending to tweak knobs. Sure I can dig a turntablist set, it’s more like playing an instrument live, but even that can grow tiring after 15 mins.
This year however I took the plunge. Future Music Festival announced it’s line up back in late October, with two of the headliners being The Prodigy and Bloc Party. Prodigy are one of my favourite music acts of all time, and the first time I saw them live at Big Day Out, probably 10 years ago, they provided one of, if not the best live sets I’ve ever seen, with definitely the best finishes to a live set I’ve ever seen (the music was pumping, at the height of the energy, all of a sudden Maxim throws his wireless mike at a wall, and as it hits, all lights and sound turn off… it’s the end of the set… totally unexpected… amazing). Bloc Party are a band I’ve been slow to appreciate over the years, and having seen some live videos that showed they weren’t pulling off some of their songs live, I had avoided seeing them for a long time. But the past couple of years I’ve been wanting to, so this seemed to be the perfect chance, so I bought a ticket day 1.
Now the rest of the lineup didn’t really interest me, to a point where normally at festivals I get there when the gates open and keep myself busy watching 20 odd acts in a day. This wasn’t going to happen with Future, seeing the lineup was full of DJs and most live acts were mainstream pop, r&b, dance acts. That’s ok though, the way I saw it was, the price of ticket would have been the same as seeing Bloc Party and Prodigy in two separate sideshows.
The problem then was when they finally released the timetables. Which I might add is about the latest any festival I’ve been to has done it. It was 3 days before the first Future Music Festival was to happen. You could quickly see why they did so though (unless they were just hopelessly unorganized, which is another strong possibility). Bloc Party and Prodigy were on at the same time on separate stages. Now it was known beforehand that they would be on separate stages because of the way Future structures it’s posters. Ya see they make the poster lineup in columns which seem to allude to what stages bands will be on and in what sort of order. Bloc and Prodigy were on separate columns, but Bloc Party was listed 2nd from the top on it’s column, underneath The Stone Roses, meanwhile Prodigy were of course the top on it’s column. This would suggest that they wouldn’t be clashing.
It made me question the ethics of this festival, in what was what could be argued misleading advertising. I thought about selling my ticket, but decided, had only The Prodigy been announced for the festival, I might of still ponied up all that cash. I mean I ponied up more money recently to go to Big Day Out to mainly see Crystal Castles, which are not as big a name act.
So off to the festival we go. As there was not much on the lineup I was even interested in checking out, let alone enjoy, I agreed to rock up a couple of hours after gates open, which is a bit of a first. I’m normally lining up before gates open at Festivals as I normally have a full day of bands I wanna check out. It would seem a lot of other people thought the same about rocking up later because as we arrived in Joondalup, there were swarms of people walking around the streets. I had wondered where the Joondalup Arena parking was. There was supposedly 1000 car bays, but had figured they might of already gone seeing we were rocking up later. I ended up parking in the shopping centre car park nearby. I then found the Arena car parking… it was INSIDE the festival area. From what I could tell, Future Music Festival had been setup AROUND the Arena, not inside it. It was weird walking around in a car park when you were at a festival. The layout overall seemed pretty decent. I had decided that I would just hang out at The Prodigy’s Warrior’s Dance Arena all day, and skip Bloc Party. I figured Bloc Party would be best to be seen in a solo show, meanwhile Prodigy are the perfect festival band, plus it’s hard to know how much longer they can keep going.
I caught the tail end of Zane Lowe’s DJ set. It was sounding not bad, and probably the best DJ set I heard on the day. Considering Zane is the younger, british equivalent of Richard Kingsmill (though we a strikingly similar name to Zan Rowe), I couldn’t help but wonder what a Richard Kingsmill DJ set would be like.
Next up was the Kill The Noise set, which doesn’t leave any real memories in my head. It got me thinking pretty early on that I wasn’t going to enjoy this day, and would be more possibly more bored than at Southbound with a bunch of snorer acoustic and indie acts. I soon got into people watching mode. There was little to break stereotypes here. It felt less like a music festival and more like a gym junkie convention with some music in the background. I’m sure the amount of selfies uploaded to facebook on this day hit some high stats.
After Kill The Noise’s fairly forgettable set, was the first “live” act on this stage we were going to get to see. This being Feed Me who’s live show was subtitled “With Teeth”. Future Music might not be good at a few things, but one thing they sure like to do is overhype things. They flooded their facebook page with hype every few hours. One of them was the Feed Me With Teeth live show. Feed Me was my friend’s main reason for coming to Future Music. Well what can I say… Feed Me even disappointed him. Here we have this elaborate video screen setup, in the shape of grin with teeth and eyes. It was some nice piece of production design. Too bad it was wasted. The visuals seen within in this video rig were the equivalent of a 90s visualizer in winamp. Basic mono coloured bubbles floating around, the odd thing here and there in sync with the music, but just below average visuals, that I’ve seen local VJs freestyle on the spot on their worst day better visuals. It’s pretty sad to think the amount of money these “live” acts/DJs would get paid, only to provide wasted potential. The thing is with these “live” set, are they generally don’t have anyone playing any instruments, they’re at best just trigger some loops here and there and adding some effects (if that even). So the video and lighting show is supposed to distract you from that fact to make you feel like it was worth you paying money for this instead of just listening to the CD at home. So it’s integral that visual side is good. You could argue a 4pm slot didn’t add to the atmosphere, but you could see the visuals fine, so I don’t think they would of made any difference. Video aside, Feed Me’s music wasn’t that great either, so what I was hoping to be one of my surprises of the date, felt like the opposite.
Zed Dead were next up for my un-appreciation slaughter. At least these guys didn’t just have a couple of CDJs with some pretend eqing. They actually used laptops and some controllers, and generally had one of the better sets of the day. As much as I shouldn’t have to, but I gave them praise for this fact. I then saw why the others in the slick world of dance music, didn’t brave that sort of setup… crashing issues. When this happened, I think it was the first time all day, there had been a tech issue so far, so it probably made the others no more geared towards not playing it safe.
Around this time we had started making the trek towards to front and by the time Boys Noize had started, we had somehow managed to get to the front row, roughly centre in about 15-30 mins. This was good for my friend as the other main reason he went to Future was for Boys Noize. This was billed as Boys Noize Live. I’m starting to realise that when a dance music producer slaps the term “live” on the end of their name it basically means, instead of pressing play to play other people’s music, I’m going to press play to my own music with the added bonus of a “live” lighting and video show! I understand how hard it can be translate electronic music to a live show, but I can’t help but think the amount of money these guys get, compared to local acts on no budget, who push out a much more “live” show than these guys. Yet we suckers still pay for it. It’s interesting because it’s not like The Prodigy have to billed as “live”… they make their music with live shows in mind. They have a drummer,  a guitarist, Maxim and Keith on vocals and Liam on synths. In these dance producers case it’s more like “hey I had that one club hit or remix you remember… now I’m doing ‘live’ shows”… yeah right.
Anyways back to Boys Noize. Well I guess the “live” was this giant skull he was set up upon, and the synced visuals. While I’ll give it to Boys Noize that the visuals were probably the best I had seen that day, they were still nothing to write home about. It was also fairly inconsistent in that some part had decent visuals, while others was fairly average at best. The skull was a cool set piece and all, but if I want that, I’ll go to a museum. I know I keep focusing on the visuals in these reviews, but that’s because that was the closest thing I could find slightly interesting, because as with the other acts, the music was that great.
Not long to go til Prodigy, but to fill in time between Boys Noize and Prodigy setting up was Borgore. Probably should take out the “gor” and just make it Bore. Probably the worst of the day, it was weird to think, this is who gets to warm up the crowd before Prodigy. Playing another barely different remix of Knife Party’s ‘Internet Friends’ (it had already been played by another DJ earlier in the day on the same stage), even that was possibly the highlight in a set that felt like it wouldn’t end and featured such cutting edge selections as the Macarena.
Back to the crowd, and me and my friend had spent the past couple of hours defending our spot. The crush was on from the crowd, this is expected. Maybe not expected was a dude about double, to triple the size of me, threatening me to give him my spot at the front. I may be a tiny little weedy dude, but I ain’t giving up my spot at the front for Prodigy after hours of work for it. He smacked me on the head and kept saying stuff behind me because I refused to let him have my spot, but I survived. I’m a festival veteran of 13 years after all (Later on in the night he actually managed to get to the front next to me and somehow now we were best friends and he kept talking to me) .
The first time I saw Prodigy at Big Day Out was an amazing experience and I was near the front. The second time, I got to the stage too late and therefore was stuck way back more concerned about being able to breath fresh air than actually getting to listen, see and enjoy Prodigy. Didn’t wanna make the same mistake twice.
Unfortunately the last thing you want in this situation is a delay… and because of tech problems there was a delay in them starting. They said like 10 mins… it was more like double to triple that. The crushing continued, but then finally they walked out on stage to conquer. After one of the most boring festival experiences I’ve had, it was 1 chance at redemption. Now not to age-ist, but let’s preface this with the fact these guys are in their early to mid 40s. They’ve being doing this for over years. Does that make a difference? Nope. They still have the live energy that would put most music artists half their age to shame. Sure there were moments where I felt there was some strategic moves by Keith or Maxim to pace that “energy” out throughout the set, but hey that adds some dynamics to the show as well, because The Prodigy Live is a sonic assault otherwise. This is a true punk band that happens to be making electronic music. It’s a band that is heavier than most metal bands. They are one of the few (or at least pioneers) of the electronic music world that can actually get a crowd to headbang or mosh. It was a set with classics from spread from their career, with at least one noticeably new song, Jetfighter. Hard to know if the song is going to be good at all as it blended in with the rest of the songs, with the main noticeable thing being the vocal line of “jetfighter” being repeated over and over… didn’t feel like anything that was gonna be an evolutionary step for them musically, but we’ll see when the album drops later in the year. I say it blended in, because partly of the PA’s fault. It could be just because we were at the front, but then the DJ sets previously all sounded fine. I think it was just they weren’t really that well setup for live acts. The sound for prodigy was dull and lacking definition. This however can be argued it adds to the vibe. This is rough and raw, and still enjoyable because of that.
And so about 1.5 hrs later, closing with old skool rave classic Out of Space, I soon find myself as with most festivals watching people vacate the area while seeing the ground as a sea of plastic bottles and tin cans. I nearly have a fanboi moment, but just miss out a Prodigy set list. I walk away, ears ringing, knowing I enjoyed The Prodigy’s set and that it was probably all worth it, but questioning the need to see them again. Maybe in another 5 to 10 years’ time, if they’re still going then. Who knows. But I definitely have to see Bloc Party sometime.
As for Future Music Festival, now I’ve finally experienced one, I won’t be rushing back unless there’s a heap of REAL live acts I wanna see. I certainly won’t be buying a ticket day 1, so I don’t get caught out by their dodgy advertising either. The generically boring DJ sets have reconfirmed dance music festivals are not for me. That said I’m sure next they will add one artist I badly wanna see and I’ll be in the same ethical dilemma zone again. Maybe Parklife would be better…

Poster:

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