Live Review: OutsideIn Festival

IMG_6378 headed to OutsideIn in Sydney:

How do you top a sell-out inaugural Festival that attracts the likes of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke? OutsideIn certainly had plenty to live up to with this year’s Festival and again The Factory Theatre in Marrickville provided the perfect grungy, off-the-beaten-track dwelling for the super lineup of local and international producers and rappers.

With wildly patterned shirts, a fair quota of denim, at least 200 pairs of Raybans and enough bright-coloured 5-panel caps to cover half of the audience’s hipster crew-cuts, Sydney’s finest knew where the party was at. There were three stages packed into what is not the hugest of venues, but surprisingly there was zero sound cross-over between competing stages. Well played.

IMG_6319.-001The Festival is run by a dynamic partnership between touring and artist management agency Astral People and Record Label Yes Please. Both are committed to nurturing up-and-coming artists in the Australian alt-electronic scene as well as being incredibly passionate about music themselves. With tickets selling out weeks in advance, clearly there’s high demand for the fresh, innovative music on offer at OutsideIn.

If your favourite radio station is NOVA then this was not the Festival for you.

I overheard a guy who was totally confused after mistaking the minimalist electronica of one of the artists for an in between set DJ. One of the stages – The Factory Floor – was actually dedicated to the more experimental beats featuring headliners such as New York classically trained musician turned beats-pro Laurel Halo and Berlin based producer Objekt. They could alternate in creating the soundscape for an urban wasteland on crack with unpredictable terrain but intermittent periods where glorious sun peeps through the clouds. A little wacked maybe, but the whole idea is to explore the music spectrum and the packed out room spoke for itself.

There were also the Festival first-timers like Sydney locals Cosmo’s Midnight, who launched onto the scene earlier in the year after winning a Flume remix competition.

And speaking of Flume, he was there… just hanging out being local producer royally and pin-up boy in his usual modest way.

There were solid, back-to-back dancy DJ sets on the outside stage from the likes of Wave Racer, Mike Who and many more who got the venue pumping and made dancing a necessity.

IMG_6348Top five highlights from Outside In:
– Since I Left You was the highlight of the day. A grossly talented gang of artists all on the Astral People label performed The Avalanches critically acclaimed classic electronic album from 2000. Rainbow Chan fronted the diverse mix of musicians who vibed off each other to create an energy that blew the roof off the venue (exaggeration – roof is still in tact I think). The original band were pretty stoked with the rendition too, tweeting: “@TheAvalanches: shouts + mad love – jointi, rainbow, rose, vanessa, moses,matt, steve, tess, dan & moktar”
Freddie Gibbs. The LA gangster rapper (pictured, top) has that superstar factor. He is the type of guy who walks into the room and everyone stops and stares. His producer played the pre-Gibbs hype music and tried to get the audience to chant “fuck police”. It didn’t really work. There just wasn’t enough hate in the room, but people were excited enough without having to get angry (a lost in translation US-AU moment perhaps??). Freddie Gibbs took the stage in a bright red tracksuit with bling dripping from his neck and busted out rhymes about the crazy shit he’s seen in his life. It was a bit of a random addition to the electronic bill but the variety was extremely welcome.
Snakehips. The UK producers who played on the main stage behind a sheer curtain that had projections of people’s faces on it. Mysterious. Even through the curtain I could see that this was a hot duo and the music was damn hot too. They make smooth grooves balanced on effortless beats with just the right amount of synth.
Oisima. post-dub electro brilliance from this up-and-coming Adelaide producer. Nothing amateur here. Plus he’s a real down-to-earth dude with an impressive beard. One to watch.
Badbadnotgood. The Canadian three-piece jazz-electronic band were mesmerising. With only a bass guitarist, drummer and keyboardist, they captivated with a musical fusion that was incredibly unique and somewhat addictive.

The late withdrawal of headliner Zomby left a pretty massive hole in the lineup that local heroes Hermitude did their best to fill. The other hitch that annoyed quite a few Festival-goers was the start delay which caused the sets run an hour behind schedule. Other than that it was smooth sailing. It was an pleasantly idiot free event and a chance to see some topnotch music that probably wouldn’t make it to Australia if it wasn’t for OutsideIn. The Festival draws from our sweet local talent and puts them on the bill next to global pioneering producers. This wonderful mix has so much scope to grow, as year on year the Australian alt-electronic scene develops into a more vibrant sub-culture.



Words and picture by Harriet Cheney.