He was standing at the top of the tower with his shirt off, his eyes glazed with hallucinations. As he swayed high above the ground the crowd slowly turned, groggy as if woken from a dream. Some stared in wide-eyed horror, others became manic. For the most part the man on the tower remained unseeing, continuing to sway to the vibrations that filled the air. “Jump!” screamed a singlet-clad male beside me, gesturing wildly with a beer. After what seemed like a lifetime the man came to his senses, and decided to climb down the way he came. Sighs of relief became interspersed with laughter as he turned around to reveal his raging drug-induced boner.
Flume stoically continued to play his set throughout, and launched into his rendition of Hermitude’s Hyperparadise as if in celebration of the ordeal’s happy conclusion. As the beat dropped, the crowd forgot about the man with the hard-on for ecstasy, and began to move together in jostling unison. The rhythmic waves of bass pulled the crowd like an ocean current, and Listen Out 2014 was well once more.
Apart from the drama midway through Flume’s set, the festival went off without a hitch: Triple J Unearthed’s winner, Just A Gent, started the day with a catchy bass-heavy set that got the crowd up and moving, showing the same potential as the newly-discovered Flume did on that same stage 2 years previously. One of my favourite acts, Ta-Ku, took the stage a few hours later, showcasing his unique combination of hip-hop and trap influences. Chet Faker got off to a slow start thanks to technical difficulties, but blew all expectations as he sampled his own voice live, and stripped his set down to hear the whole crowd sing his anthems back to him.
Though the day was marred by a few drug-fuelled incidents and a Mount Franklin bottle to the side of the head, the acts at Listen Out performed with an earnestness rarely found at festivals. It was only as I was walking home that I realised that I hadn’t been requested to put my hands up at any point during the day. And that’s what sets Listen Out apart from other festivals: because, really, what are DJs but nerdy guys with a passion for making music?
Photography: Mitchell Scott