Live Review: OutsideIn gets it right

Devin The Dude

Bobby Townsend headed to the boutique music festival in Sydney:

To grumpy humans like myself, attending festivals can be a daunting prospect. Will the lines for the bar/toilets be a nightmare? How long until other punters start pissing me off? What’s the earliest I can go home without feeling like a loser? And so on.

When I approached the entrance of Manning House at 4pm – and by ‘approached’, I mean ‘got within 150 metres’ of the venue – and heard the booming, ear-shattering pounding of house music, I feared the worst. I like quiet acoustic gigs where people sit on the floor cross-legged. Would this be full of munted, shirtless roidheads and girls wearing nothing but obscenely tiny shorts and bras?

My fears though, were misplaced. OutsideIn celebrates the genres of house, techno, hip hop and electronica, but it does so in a genuine, organic and slightly nerdy way. That’s a compliment, in case you were wondering. The acts here are hand-picked by the organisers, who really know and genuinely care about the music they are putting on. It’s not a case of erecting some stages, booking a few big names and then sitting back and counting the $$$$$. They clearly give a shit about this event.

Similarly, the audiences absolutely devour the sounds. Having been to countless festivals, I have grown to hate festival crowds. They are usually either too drugged up, too chatty, too cool to actually listen to the music, too violent or too dumb. At OutsideIn, I was impressed with just how chill the attendees were. The majority of people were having a good time without acting like dicks. They were there to appreciate the music and to dance. It was seriously refreshing.

Big K.R.I.T

And there was plenty to appreciate. Across three stages were a plethora of fine local and international acts. Big KRIT was a big hit, bringing out Devin The Dude for a collaboration. The legendary Dude killed it with his own set as well. Stormzy brought the party, to which the crowd went fucking nuts (maybe the one exception to the chilled crowd vibe of the day… shit got real on the d-floor).

The best of the three stages throughout the event was the one hosted by Red Bull Music Academy. RBMA continue to do excellent music-related stuff and today’s line-up was eclectic and of a really impressive standard. Kučka (whose recent EP we loved, by the way) was one of the early standouts and is certainly someone to keep your eye on, with her dreamy, glitchy electro pop. She (pictured below) would later turn up on stage with Cosmo’s Midnight and, three days on, would be spotted by us playing (and winning) at Rock n Roll Bingo at The Cricketers Arms in Surry Hills.


Earlier on the main stage, Total Giovanni provided another highlight. The Melbourne-based five-piece donned blond wigs and pulled off an epic funky dance disco. With heaps of energy, they could, and perhaps should have been scheduled later in the day. Still, the decent-sized crowd that was in the venue by 4pm got an early treat.

Perhaps the finest act of the day was Melbourne duo GL. You may recognise Ella Thompson (pictured below) and Graeme Pogson from The Bamboos. Well, this project of theirs sees them deliver synth-pop with a seriously 80s twist. Thompson is an engaging stage presence and their tunes prompted frenzied dancing at the front of the Red Bull tent as the rain lashed down outside.


Charles Murdoch‘s nuanced sounds brought dusk in perfectly, as the three stages of manning House continued to buzz with noise, movement and life well into the night.

Ultimately, it was a great day. Crowds danced to familiar acts and unquestionably discovered some new favourites. Oh, and well played OutsideIn for successfully putting the spring back in the step of this grumpy old reviewer. Well played indeed.

bobby townsend


Review and Kučka photo by Bobby Townsend. All other photos by Courtney Dabb.