LIVE REVIEW: Listen Out 2019 brings the heat to Perth
Highly charged up and home to essentially half of Perth’s youth for the day, Listen Out 2019 served as the welcome grounds for all things dance, hip hop and RnB.
With temperatures soaring in the high 20s and great acts lined up at the start of the festival, it was the ideal start to the day. The venue was packed rather early, but one of the more noticeable improvements in this year’s set-up was the added separation of stages, which eased human congestion and allowed each performing artist to truly own their space.
In spite of being on the opposite end of the main action, the 909 stage was not to be missed. With triple j unearthed winner Hoodzy getting the dawn of the crowd absolutely vibing, even more highlights were to come — with JPEGMAFIA delivering perhaps one of the wildest sets we’d ever witnessed. For many, English grime rapper slowthai was also a standout act worth arriving early for. Donning his slowthai boxers, he was well-prepared for the crazy set to occur, having had a huge mosh open for his hit ‘T N Biscuits’.
One of the most iconic sets of the day was Doja Cat’s, as she embodied the vibe of Listen Out perfectly with her neon get-up, playful Powerpuff Girl stage visuals and cheeky lyricism. Never before has ‘Juicy’ and ‘Mooo!’ been belted out with such passion, and it was the loving crowd who made that all possible. Following on from that, festival frequenters Cosmo’s Midnight and vocalist Asta struck up an undeniable groove while Dom Dolla surprisingly slowed things down a little, teasing all until he unleashed his triple j conquering hit ‘Take It’.
Despite the potential sacrifices we all had to make over clashing set times, performances flowed seamlessly from one to the other across all three stages. Though small, the Juno stage was the place to be for avid electronic fans. Opening with ‘Fake ID’, Riton was amongst the round-up of DJs we’d been looking forward to. Weirdly, his set started off muffled but slowly grew in volume as he belted out his bangers ‘Ginger’ and ‘Rinse & Repeat’. Safe to say, we all knew the words.
The baton was then passed onto Young Franco, who was clearly well-loved judging by the countless singalongs achieved. The Sydney-based producer won everyone over with his catchy originals ‘Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘About This Thing’ and ‘Miss You’, plus fab remixes of songs like Dua Lipa’s ‘IDGAF’ and Chance The Rapper’s 'All Night’. To say he got everyone jumping would be an understatement!
The degree to which the crowd knew Perto, on the other hand, varied a little more. However, the best surprise was having the 17-year-old leap onto stage, straight into action. Coming in strong, he unleashed a series of strikingly loud and vigorous electronic tracks to win his unexpecting audience (including ourselves) over. Although some were bummed with Whethan having cancelled for the day, it was a reminder that artists are, at the end of the day, human and deserve time to recuperate.
On the Atari stage, Wafia made waves with her delicate voice, which holds such incredible range. In what was the most heartfelt performance all afternoon, she sounded flawless — bringing out her best songs such as ‘Bodies’ and ‘I’m Good’, before gracing the huge crowd with her most recent, ‘Hurts’.
Meanwhile, Denzel Curry’s recent cancellation at Melbourne’s Listen Out (due to the loss of his voice) sparked some concern for fans awaiting. Thankfully, Denzel Curry came out well-rested and ready to shake up his Perth crowd. His ecstatic energy carried throughout the growing sea of punters, as he walked them through ‘Sumo’, ‘Clout Cobain’ and of course ‘Ultimate’. Although a little reserved at first, the Perth crowd started to give him more after he exclaimed, “The more energy you give me, the more I’ll give you!” As well as that, performing his new single ‘Psycho’ with slowthai was a spectacular experience.
By then, the Atari stage had well and truly lit up with everyone’s eyes darting around for the next act. With a live drummer and DJ on stage, the acclaimed 6lack opened his set with ‘Unfair’ before running through hits from his latest album including ‘Load Gun’ and ‘Let Her Go’. 6lack transported us all to Atlanta with ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’, and acted as the perfect sundowner act with the chill trap beats of ‘Free’, ‘Switch’, ‘Ex Calling’ and ‘OTW’ transitioning nicely into the next performance.
Nighttime was beginning to set in, and the audience wasn’t about to budge; the one and only ScHoolboy Q was about to emerge. Similarly, the American rapper revealed that he nearly cancelled on the Perth leg of the tour due to vocal issues; his voice was clearly breaking several times during his set. However, ScHoolboy Q held out and gave us all the show we were wanting. Despite having not slept for two days, he still got the crowd unbelievably hyped for songs such as ‘Collard Greens’, ‘X’, ‘THat PArt’ before getting the audience to go off to his hit ‘Man of the Year’.
While Diplo, his trippy visuals, pyrotechnics and CO2 cannons were no doubt a lot of fun, he fell a little short of the mark in making his set uniquely his. Relying on remixes of crowd pleasers such as Lil Nas’ ‘Old Town Road’, Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ and Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’, some of his audience grew a little weary (and so did we). Observing him from afar, we only grew envious of the front row upon the sounds of his originals such as ‘Lean On’.
In contrast, Flume brought something new to the table despite being no stranger to Australian music festivals. In what can only be described as a pure artistic masterpiece, he absolutely tore the house down. Playing all his hits in a masterfully mixed set, Flume told a story through metalwork (even making a ‘PERTH ♡’ sign on set), cultivating native plant life and literally crushing it with a sledgehammer, all caught through varying camera angles.
It was eccentric, and it was crazy, but it added all the more to the nostalgia of his tracks. All of this was topped by Reo Cragun chiming in for their 2019 track, ‘Friends’, off the Hi This Is Flume mixtape. The ethereal flowing white silhouette of Vera Blue also emerged, as she lent her vocals for ‘Never Be Like You’ and the pair’s newly released single ‘Rushing Back’. As soon as their set had concluded, the masses of Listen Out goers parted their ways, replaying visions of the wonderful day in the head.
All in all, it felt as if the entirety of Listen Out 2019 had gone by too quickly — a sign that we’d either had one too many Calypso crushes or simply enjoyed ourselves far too much.
Either way, kudos to the team at Fuzzy for booking such an incredible variety of talent and putting on an absolute treat of a festival year after year.