Despite concerns that the AFL grand final rematch falling on the same day as Parklife would lead to a crisis of loyalty, when the big day rolled around the sun was high, so singlets and underwear masquerading as shorts (thanks, Gaga) were exposing vitamin D-deficient skin to the world and (save for a scattering of Collingwood and St Kilda jerseys) it was all about the music.
New Yorkers Darwin Deez had the energy pumping from early days, decked out in ‘80s gear and drawing a titter from the crowd with their trademark screwball dance moves and on-stage group push-ups.
Unfortunately first-timers Memory Tapes did not have quite the same reception – the gathering was small and divided between those who knew all the words and sang along and those who stood unresponsive. Nevertheless, Dayve Hawk and his drummer Matt Maraldo gave all they had, running through reworked Seek Magic tracks, with ‘Bicycle’ and ‘Plain Material’ gaining the biggest whoops from the petite crowd.
Meanwhile the mass went wild to the opening chords of The Wombats' ‘Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)’, but their popular set peaked with the penultimate track ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’.
Crowd participation seemed the order of the day over with Uffie. Though her demands that the crowd get some ‘fucking energy’ and boost their volume seemed somewhat incongruous as she wandered around the stage, her vocals often drowned out by the backing synth and drum machines. Nevertheless, she had people climbing trees to get a better view.
Kele entertained with playful chitchat and energetic use of the stage. While tracks such as ‘Tenderoni’ and ‘Everything You Wanted’ were lapped up enthusiastically, it was the mash-up of Bloc Party tunes that drew the biggest roar from the audience.
Armed with a new live band and an extensive entourage of dancers, Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott worked through the classics, with ‘Lose Control’, ‘Work It’ and ‘Pass That Dutch’ being met with ecstatic fist-pumping and grinding as punters got their freak on. While lengthy periods of talking and cheesy dedications to deceased icons were at times tiresome, Missy’s charisma and the utter showmanship of the performance were enough to keep festival-goers buzzing into Groove Armada’s set.
And what a way to end the day. In one of the final performances of their Black Light live show, the dance music legends delivered – with lasers, light shows and a string of crowd-pleasing hits making the set one enduring climax. They opened with ‘Look Me in the Eye Sister’, closed with an irresistible version of ‘Superstylin’ and right through had an energy that carried to the edges of the ampitheatre.
Words by Sophie Kalagas. Photos by Tom Blachford.