Araabmuzik had a fairly big crowd for the small Red Bull Stage, and given its location outdoors in the sun he did well in holding his audience for the full hour living up to his moniker as the MPC king. Playing mostly techno and dubstep, Araabmuzik seemed a little out of sorts playing in the huge DJ box where his MPC couldn’t even be seen. Nonetheless, it was still what people wanted to hear and he got a huge send off when he finished.
Acts like Mark Ronson, Eddie Halliwell and Hudson Mohawk had the crowd in raptures, but it wasn’t until the appearance of M.I.A. that things were taken to the next level. Hitting the ground running after a short delay with 2005’s ‘Galang’, M.I.A. had the audience in the palm of her hand from the get go. Flanked by a trio of two back-up dancers and a hype woman the stage show frequently resembled a war zone as M.I.A. fought feedback problems, but ultimately overcame it all through sheer power with tracks like ‘Sunshowers’, ‘Bucky Done Gun’, a remixed ‘Bird Flu’ and crowd favorite ‘Paper Planes’ coming off like monsters. M.I.A. has been criticised in some quarters for her political activism, but after an hour of unrelenting intensity its clear that she has a serious message to push, even if that message sometimes gets lost in the noise.
Pulling the pieces together for anything else was always going to be hard, but scores of people still managed to make it to The Chemical Brothers’ DJ set. Exactly what the difference between their DJ set and their regular set is I’m still not sure, but it really doesn’t matter as Ed and Tom flawlessly segued between beats throwing in the occasional hit like ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’. The light show was as epic as ever and the crowd lapped it all up with most staying for the entire two hours despite the temptation of Hot Chip just across the way.
Mark Ronson’s DJ set went off with a bang – literally – with the Brit producer’s new single opening a performance worthy of the three Grammys that grace his mantle. It was a real mix bag with Bruno Mars, Adele, Missy Elliott, Jay Z, and Ludacris in rotation as well as a tribute to friend and collaborator, the late Amy Winehouse. Helping Ronson out on the vocals was a member of the Business International and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt.
We then made the short trek over to the Field stage to catch Disclosure’s Aussie debut. The brothers, Guy and Howard Lawrence, opened with ‘Control’ and worked what was a relatively small but appreciative crowd with their funky, electronic beats.
Smouldering before a pulsating orange backdrop and wearing his trademark tribal mask followed SBTRKT who had punters transfixed by his tasty basslines and beautifully delivered vocals.
Kimbra (wearing a multi-coloured dress resembling a pom-pom rainbow jellyfish) kicked off her performance with the jumping all-star track 'Warrior' (featuring A-Trak and Mark Foster). The fans present for this post midday show had chosen the fantastically unedited voice of Kimbra and her colourfully clothed band as a dazzling way to start the festival. Playing tracks from the jazz-inspired electro pop album 'Vows', Kimbra's strong hooks and catchy melodies made the Field Stage crowd dance. Kimbra dropped an unexpected Busta Rhymes chorus line from 'Touch It' and those roaming near the stage joined in the dance.
Hudson Mohawke has received critical acclaim from the likes of Drake and Chris Brown. And like using those names in the same sentence the music started like a fight, thick and ominous. The low-end production beat was built up when Kanye West's 'Mercy' dropped to a riotous crowd. The barrier separating us from Hudson shook under the pressure of the heavy beats. In true hip hop fashion four short-shorted girls booty popped onstage to Kendrick Lamar's 'Backseat Freestyle'. Hudson Mohawke's adaptability to fresh and classic samples showed why the young man is making major moves.
Fake Blood's electro-house DJ set predicted the reactions of the afternoon crowd without flaws. Deep basslines began with a mix of Velvet Green's 'La La Land' chorus 'those little pills'. He set a dark night scene in the daytime. Water bottles were tucked away as the crowd's arms flared and twisted. Fake Blood stood solo in front of expectant ears and ran his game like a professional.