Prodigy, Stone Roses Play A Soggy Future Music Festival Opener

The Prodigy and the Stone Roses made a big splash Saturday as the Future Music Festival launched its Australian trek in appalling weather.

On what turned out to be an incident-filled day, headliner DJ Avicii was a last-minute cancellation, as the star Swedish DJ was taken to hospital early on with stomach-related problems. He missed the rare chance to play in a monsoon.

The Stone Roses produced their second coming, performing one of their first dates on Australian turf since 1995. The last time the Manchester band played here in Brisbane, they were on the road without founding drummer Reni, supporting their sophomore album and playing a venue which no-longer exists, Festival Hall. Some things have changed -- Reni is now back behind the kit, and on the basis of this show, the four members are now rather cuddly. Most other things have stayed the same -- Ian Brown’s vocals were shaky, and the frontman has lost none of his swagger. He wore a shirt emblazoned with an image of himself, and at one point preened himself and fixed his hair for the cameras.

The group opened their nine-song slot at the Doomben Racecourse with “I Wanna Be Adored.” Most of the hits were delivered -- though not “Elephant Stone”. Indeed, the set was comprised almost entirely on the band’s seminal 1989 debut “The Stone Roses,” the one exception being the “Love Spreads” from the “Second Coming.”

The Stone Roses wasn’t a typical choice of performer for the dance and electronic-focused event. Organizers Future Entertainment this year ensured the bill had something old, something new and enough variety to keep most young festival goers tuned-in for the full day. But they couldn’t have picked a worse day for the conditions. The skies tipped-down without respite, dropping a months’ rain in an afternoon. This wasn’t so much a mud-fest, but a swamp-fest. The journey between stages was an unexpected adventure, where the lowest ground was under shin-deep pools of water. The Cocoon tent flooded and was shut down, meaning sets from Canadian techno legend and German trance veteran Sven Vath were canned. Hawtin and Vath went on to play impromptu sets at the racecourse’s grandstand.

South Korean pop star PSY was another surprise booking. And his afternoon set on the main stage lasted just four songs. PSY made a move few will have ever seen at a festival – he played the same song twice in succession. The song was “Gangnam Style.” No-one else has a viral hit of this scale, and PSY got away with it.

The Prodigy have been regular visitors to Australia over the past twenty years. They may not represent the “future,” but they still pack a punch. The British self-proclaimed electronic punks filled the Warriors tent to close out the night, giving an explosive effort that included hits “Voodoo People,” “Breathe,” “Poison” and “Firestarter.”

The likes of Hardwell, Steve Aoki, Dizzee Rascal and Rudimental all took turns on the main stage. Australia’s DJ Ajax, who lost his life in a motor accident last week, was remembered with messages on the big screens.

Future’s festival goers left an unusual memento as they left the grounds -- hundreds of pairs of muddy shoes left deserted in rows at the main exit.

Future Music Festival visited Perth on Sunday without performer Rita Ora, who came down with a throw infection after the Brisbane show. The fest moves on to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide this weekend. Future then heads to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for an event March 15 and 16.

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