Listen Out Sydney – review and photos

Listen Out Festival, photo by William Zhang

Reviewer Annastasia Robertson and photographer William Zhang braved the Sydney heat to head to Listen Out. Here’s what went down:

Even the scorching heat couldn’t stop the festivalgoers at Listen Out Sydney from letting lose and dancing the afternoon away. The glorious Centennial Park hosted three stages of some of the best talent in music at the moment.

Surrounded by shirtless men, bucket hats and a myriad of well-toned female torsos in crop tops, I made my way to the 909 stage just after 2pm to watch Triple J Unearthed Winner, B Wise. Looking like an absolute pro, the South-Western Sydney MC smashed out his hit track ‘Prince Akeem’, with most of the crowd singing along.

Sydney DJ Basenji was up next, and despite my lack of knowledge about this artist or his tracks, my ears pricked up when a certain familiar beat was being played. Straight away (thanks to Shazam), I realised it was ‘Heirloom’, and I was definitely bopping away to his playful sounds.

I bounced over to the Atari stage to get my fix of 80s disco chic provided by Client Liaison. Dressed in an outfit that I cannot describe adequately with words, the men grooved to their hits in the blistering afternoon sun. Rolling through ‘Feed the Rhythm’ and ‘Free of Fear’ before being joined on stage by three gorgeous 80s exercise queens for a very ,er, thrusty rendition of ‘That’s Desire’.

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Snaps to front man Monte Morgan, for maintaining his funk despite definitely sweating his bits off under that get-up. Also for telling Tony Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop to ‘get fu***d during ‘Canberra Won’t Be Calling Tonight’.

Trill music is certainly alive and well thanks to Atlanta brothers, Rae Sremmurd, (pronounced ray-shrim-er FYI). Feeling like I was about to drop everything and twerk, the topless duo kicked off with ‘No Flex Zone’. But let’s be real, it was a total flex zone, both on and off the stage. The boys brought the majority of the revellers running towards the stage during the first-half of their set due to their high energy, particularly during ‘Throw Sum Mo’. #SremmLife


ODESZA’s set was a welcomed chill as the sun began to fade, and the cold set in. This was the first I’ve heard of the Seattle boys, yet their beach-chill-with-drums sound was definitely appealing.

The highlight of the set was their ripper cover of Zhu’s ‘Faded’, as well as their nod to Aussie singer and fellow Listen Out artist Hayden James, covering his hit track ‘Something About You’.

Photo by William ZhangListen Out

There’s no denying that I’m a sucker for the gorgeous Sydney DJ and producer, Alison Wonderland. It was her set, as the moon was well-and-truly out, that was the act which pivoted the vibes from day chill to night party.

Opening with her new mix of Duke Dumont’s ‘Ocean Drive’, Wonderland launched into 55 minutes of non-stop dance tracks including; ‘Take It to Reality’, ‘U Don’t Know’, ‘I Want U’ and Run, as well as throwing in some Spice Girls, Fetty Wap and Fatboy Slim.


Just before dropping ‘Naked’, and proving that she’s a complete legend, Wonderland announced that the track was about the last time she had sex with her ex-boyfriend… then remembered her parents were standing side-stage.

As expected, SBTRKT emerged onto the 909 stage wearing his traditional Tiki mask, and followed by a cloud of purple smoke.

The UK tune maker impressed the crowd during his intense one-man show with his ability to create well-rounded sounds with his fast-moving hands. Highlights included; ‘NEW DORP. NEW YORK’, ‘Hold On’ and ‘Wildfire’.

SBTRKT by William ZhangIMG_0769

Finally the time had come for me to get close to my future husband, Childish Gambino. Walking very calmly out on-stage with no shirt on (win!) and his signature cheek, the rapper had come off some bad press for his Newcastle show the night before. But let me tell you something, Gambino critics, he killed it.

Opening with ‘Crawl’ and flowing straight into ‘Worldstar’, Gambino flirted with his audience, who wanted more and more of him as the set continued into ‘The Worst Guys’. Showing off his raw talent, the crowd lapped up the massive tune ‘Sweatpants’ and ‘Heartbeat’.

There were some incredible opportunities for Gambino to show off his smooth vocals, particularly during ‘Sober’, where everyone sung along, and ‘The Palisades’. Highlights for me were ‘Telegraph Ave’, and ‘Retro’, which was unfortunately cut short to go into a rap break.

Childish Gambino by William ZhangListen Out Crowd

The evening, of course, had to come to an end eventually, and Childish Gambino delivered a final few hits including, ‘3005’ and ending on ‘Bonfire’, leaving his crowd upset that it was over, yet happy they got to see the man in action.

Overall, Listen Out Sydney was a success, and dissimilar to the Melbourne day, the sound quality was primo.

Listen Out 2015Listen Out

Highlights included Alison Wonderland, Rae Sremmurd and Childish Gambino.

Lowlights included long toilet lines and people with a very low spatial awareness.





 Review by Annastasia Robertson. Photos by William Zhang.