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ORIGIN FIELDS @ Langley Park gets 7/10

Cardi B

Origin Fields @ Langley Park
Sunday & Monday, December 30 & 31, 2018

7/10

Origin has been putting on the biggest New Year’s Eve parties in town for 12 years, and across two days this was the biggest yet. Emerging on the scene as a more underground drum ‘n’ bass focused NYE event in locations like Belvoir Amphitheatre and Claremont Showgrounds, it has grown over the years and 2018 saw them really change it up, joining forces with Sydney’s Field Day NYD party to bring Perth one of the biggest, most diverse festivals it’s seen in quite some time. A huge assortment of international artists from across the spectrum – hip hop, pop, indie, rock, rap, electronic, house, drum ‘n’ bass – took over Langley Park for two days, as they set up a massive musical playground on the banks of the Swan River, to bring in the new year.

Cardi B

Overall it was a successful transition, but it wasn’t without its hitches. The two biggest headliners were Cardi B and Atlanta rap group Migos, linked not only in musical style, but in marriage. Unfortunately Migos’ Offset recently split with Cardi B, and Migos pulled out of the Australian tour a couple weeks before the gig.

Sheck Wez

NYC’s Sheck Wes was brought in to fill the void, but was hardly a substitute – though his short, explosive set was a highlight, thanks mainly to a raucous performance of his viral hit of the moment Mo Bamba that had everyone grinning and bouncing.

It’s hard to understand the allure of Cardi B. She drew the biggest crowd headlining Sunday night, with everyone wanting to see what the fuss is about. And while her performance seemed to please young fans, as she worked through her swag of hits including Bodak Yellow, I Like It and Drip, there’s nothing really special going on here. Mostly big production, good dancers and an annoying hype DJ who kept shouting at us to “put our motherfucking hands in the air”.

She’s something of a guilty pleasure, like a cheap-ass, greasy cheeseburger that’s been sold to us by a mass production corporation. While the ex-stripper can move and dance provocatively, her rapping was average, not even close to luminaries like Nicki Minaj. No amount of twerking will change that. Her songs were rushed through as a medley, and to top it off, she only played for around half an hour – perhaps the most pathetic effort from a star headliner Perth’s ever seen.

Khalid

Cardi seemed to inspire some of the incredibly risqué girls’ outfits, while guys’ fashion could best be described as Ironic Nostalgic Bogan Chic. Fortunately there was much more going on at this mammoth festival. The other big international on Sunday, Khalid, by comparison was a class act. He took the main stage around 8.30pm and brought a brilliant but chilled vibe, with a warm full-band sound, cruising through songs like Better and Young, Dumb & Broke. Dressed smoothly in an orange turtleneck and white slacks, his velvety voice was impressive, along with his colourful backing dancers.

Earlier on the first day punters had to navigate the OTT gauntlet of security, police, cars, dogs and horses. Though once inside the venue, the organisation was great, perhaps because greater numbers were expected, but there were small queues for the bars, food, toilets, and plenty of room to move around between the big three, full equipped stages. With the city skyline in the background and palm trees blowing in the breeze alongside the river, it’s a picturesque location.

Tash Sultana

Issues with the doorlist resulted in an hour delay for some of us to get in, meaning some of us missed Tash Sultana. The talented, non-binary artist pulled a huge crowd at the main Sunset stage. Bouncing between loop pedals, wind chimes and pan flutes, the set culminated in a huge finale of Jungle. An impressive one person show, but it would be interesting to see Sultana evolve.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

It was no more apparent that Origin ‘Fields’ was working new angles, than with the addition of Melbourne indie five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. For an opening act they had a decent few punters jumping around in the sun to their infectious, jangly melodies. The bobbing rhythm of the drummer was a strong visual prompt to get the rest of us moving, while Talking Straight and Mainland sounded great live.

Fisher was another early highlight. The LA based Aussie producer had a big crowd grooving to his tough techy house beats, with infectious energy. His huge hit Stop It with its catchy “roller coaster” sample had everyone singing along.

The Kooks played a great set on the main stage as darkness fell. The UK festival faves really know how to get a crowd going, building their set slowly before breaking out the big hits, including a beautiful solo acoustic version of Seaside and the classic Naïve.

Aussie festival veterans Pnau are back in top form, and put on one of the most electrifying dance parties of the day, blazing the mighty Go Bang and always epic Embrace. The colourful, psychedelic visuals peaked with Chameleon featuring the amazing vocals and outfit Kira Devine.

Duke Dumont played his best set in Perth yet – a stomping selection of deep house treats backed by cool visuals. Meanwhile, Bonobo had to compete against Cardi B, resulting in a relatively small crowd for his DJ set. But those discerning punters who forgoed the fast food floor show, were treated to a fine meal of tasty beats and lush vibes. His DJ sets are always immaculate selections, and tonight was no exception, with many of his own tracks featuring heavily in the mix, finishing on the majestic Kerala.

AJ Tracey

The second day was perhaps not as strong, but still plenty of diverse talent to enjoy, and of course, it was New Year’s Eve! Smokepurpp was a last minute cancellation resulting in set times being shuffled. AJ Tracey set the tone well early on – breaking up a fight in the crowd, then getting the guy up on stage to deliver an inspiring and positive speech. Nice work!

DVSN

Canadian R&B duo DVSN were a real highlight. Vocalist Daniel Daley has a superb, soulful voice, with a crooning falsetto like Prince – backed by three female vocalists he cruised through a smooth set including With Me, and a cover of Alicia Keys’ If I Aint Got You.

The UK’s first lady of bass music Flava D banged out hard, rolling, old school garage sounds on the Vacation stage. A new discovery was the awesome Keys N Krates – a talented live three-piece featuring keys, drums and turntables.

Superduperkyle’s hype DJ went on a bit long. Finally Kyle burst on stage, full of energy. A dynamic, strong rapper with a decent singing voice.

Winston Surfshirt

Winston Surfshirt have established themselves as a unique Australian act, with their chilled brand of live funk grooves. They even busted out a great cover of Destiny’s Child Jumpin’, Jumpin and their own hit Be About You.

Another highlight was the hard hitting, heavy bars and impressive live visual show of Denzel Curry. He and his DJ were on point with their tight, hardcore rapping. Safia are another tight outfit with an organic sound. The Canberra band have a unique style of electronica mixed with indie.

M.I.A.

It’s been a while since M.I.A. was in town. Her start lacked energy, but it didn’t take long for her to hit her stride, dancing around the extravagant stage, breaking out Bamboo Banga, Bad Girls and Galang before getting a bunch of girls onstage to dance to Boyz. She of course finished with her wicked tune Paper Planes.

Tchami x Malaa

Tchami x Malaa were dishing out huge, heavy bass sounds with an incredible visual show, each of the duo behind their keyboards, atop a giant LED cube that exploded with colourful images. One of them wore a balaclava.

The legendary DJ Hype took it back to the old school, alongside Hazard and an MC, they put on a d’n’b clinic. It was up to Pendulum to ring in the new year on the main stage, and it seemed fitting for the recently reformed, local legends.

Pendulum

“It’s so good to be home with my people,” said bass player Gareth McGrillen. Along with other founding member, vocalist and synth riffer Rob Swire, they’re backed by an incredibly tight band. They played an epic Propane Nightmares, before Prelude appropriately took us up to the big midnight countdown.

After the confetti and cheers died down, they launched into the mighty Tarantula before bringing the night to a close with Watercolour. Having the gig finish so soon after midnight really seemed like a bad idea, but overall it was a huge couple days, and mostly successful debut for Origin Phase II.

ALFRED GORMAN & MIA CAMPBELL-FOULKES

Photos by Linda Dunjey & Adrian Thomson

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