Future Music Festival, Sunday March 3 at Arena Joondalup. Review By Sophie Yeomans.
With hot temperatures, a small arena, a non-central location, a gigantic crowd and an abundance of clashing acts, the Perth instalment of FUTURE MUSIC FESTIVAL 2013 was destined to be difficult. Last Sunday, Joondalup Arena saw over 50,000 festival goers cram through its gate to dance, drink and demolish themselves with the help of 50+ electronic-based international and local acts.
As an 18+ event, it often seems that the annual Future Music Festival becomes more of a drinking extravaganza than a celebration of music. Punters get there in the mid-afternoon drunk or high as the blaring sun above them, with most using the free public transport included in their ticket. If the trains were filled with commuters dangling from the hand rails with spirit-filled water bottles in tow screaming at the top of their lungs, what on earth could be expected once inside the arena gates?
With the venue hosting the event for the third year in a row, event organisers still remain ignorant to the message that the Joondalup Arena does not work. As well as the huge crowds on the trains and buses due to Joondalup’s distance from the city, the venue is just not designed for crowds of that magnitude. There was one entrance and exit, creating bottle necks and queues. Upon leaving at the close of the festival, punters had to move in a large group as if being transported by guards to the path back to the station, to which there was little signage.
The walks between the stages were big too, again creating tight squeezes and sometimes a complete inability to reach an act. Often, excited fans and drunken larrikins would be running, or stumbling, through dust and sand that created choking clouds. The Future Music Stage featuring headliner and festival royalty THE PRODIGY was blocked off and many disappointed ticket-holders missed out on the highly energetic, wildly electronic and buzzing light show that was their set. Attendees who instead chose to see headliner BLOC PARTY at the same time, who put on an amazing performance of their older tracks that was very crowd-oriented and energetic, left the Mazda 2 stage in a sea of dust and dirt.
It was the earlier acts like GYPSY & THE CAT, ELLIE GOULDING and RUDIMENTAL, and later THE TEMPER TRAP, that stole the limelight and put on the better shows. The crowds were smaller, although they grew larger throughout the day, allowing actual fans to enjoy these upbeat and musically brilliant shows. Korean pop sensation PSY attracted a larger audience for his half an hour set dedicated to ‘Gangnam Style’ and STEVE AOKI and DIZZEE RASCAL delivered fun, dance-orientated sets that even the most out of it festival goers could enjoy. Following the surprise pull-out from third headliner AVICII, DJ and producer HARDWELL played an incredible extended set that sent excitement levels soaring and got the crowd enthused enough to remember they had an incredible day.
Despite the enthusiastic and high quality sets delivered by most of the performers, and the disappointment shared by nearly all attendees when someone they wanted to see clashed with another one or two acts, it was the details and ease of the event that let Future Music Festival down. If organisers knew that they had sold 50 000+ tickets, the food and transport facilities should have been prepared for that amount of people. Hour-plus waits for foods, venue crowding and queues to enter the Joondalup train station at the end of the day was ridiculous. The extreme lack of taxis both in Joondalup and Perth was shocking, with some punters spending over three hours attempting to get home.
Future Music was an excellent festival on paper. The acts were fantastic and the headliners stood out and it was because of this that ticket-holders managed to go home and say they had a good day. However the event needs some serious managing in terms of venue and facilities because problems are becoming annually recurrent. Future Music Festival Perth 2013 could have been incredible, but due to basic necessities, it was just okay. Thank the heavens for the headliners and their support acts.