Following successful runs from the previous two years, the hotly anticipated event had a lot to live up to, and fortunately - did not disappoint.
After the obligatory police searches on arrival (when will the authorities learn that the focus should be on pill-testing at festivals rather than pill-finding?), revellers relaxed in to the lush setting of Centennial Park in the heart of Sydney. The crowds were gathering, the stages were set, the music was already pumping.
The line-up this year featured many of our talented Sydney artists, which gave the event a familiar feel as well as boosting the calibre of the music on offer. The main stage was opened by the versatile Hoten, while Mr S.A.S.H A.K.A Kerry Wallace began proceedings at the tech house infused Circoloco Arena. The Hangout was kickstarted by Return to Rio regulars Zankee Gulati & Tristan Case, then Ricky Cooper & Andy Ef who between them played a kaleidoscope of colourful tracks with the upbeat, progressive sound that has become synonymous with Return to Rio at their core.
As the day progressed, we spent much of the day at the Circoloco arena with a brief excursion to the main stage to witness Sydney’s favourite son Robbie Lowe wow a massive audience with a monster set. Circoloco resident Clive Henry took over from Kerry and showed us why he is the king of all (self-proclaimed) warm-up DJs, then the stage saw world class talent in the form of Spanish duo Apollonia followed by Art Department grace the decks. Their sets flowed seamlessly from one to the next, with beats building gradually then sending the crowd into a frenzy on the drops.
But it was the penultimate Circoloco set of the night that took the prize for best of the fest. Nicole Moudaber gave a mind-blowing performance – sunglasses on, stomping around the stage, with her curly locks bouncing and bats flying in the skies behind her – the visual spectacle matched the dark and powerful beats. She unleashed weapon after weapon, including Miguel Bastida’s ‘Acid Brand’ and her own killer collaboration with Carl Cox – ‘See you Next Tuesday’ which resonated particularly with the Sydney crowd. Spellbinding stuff from the MOOD records label boss.
Special mentions are owed to Henry Saiz, who came good with a class set featuring remixes of ‘Trigonometry’ by Sasha and even made ‘Love on the Brain’ by Rihanna work a treat. And the masters Jeremy Olander and Dubfire delivered the goods as expected – with the crowd losing their shit when Dubfire dropped his revered remix Radio Slave’s ‘Grindhouse’.
As the other stages heard their final tracks, the last half-hour belonged to Fatboy Slim who brought the night home with a barrage of nostalgic bangers to close the main stage. All in all, an event of high musical quality – with a performance to remember from Nicole Moudaber. Credit to T1000 events for curating a line-up which satisfied all electronic tastes and pulling it off in style, once again.
Photos by Scott Bruce Photography