Many of you may be too young to remember this, but there was a time when the Western Australian summer was littered with massive music festivals on just about every weekend.
From Big Day Out to Good Vibrations, Future Music and Soundwave to the muzz-manic Stereosonic, it felt like barely a weekend went by without 30,000+ humans streaming into Claremont Showground every couple of weeks.
In summer 2023/24 though, it feels like they’re back in a big way, with similar numbers of party-ready Perth peeps packing into the likes of Spilt Milk, SNACK NYE and last weekend, the second edition of Wildlands Festival.
Any concerns about the heat or a post-New Year’s hangover seemed a non-issue for half of Perth, with Wildlands’ new home at Claremont feeling at capacity early in the day as punters swarmed en masse between stages to catch their fave acts.
Those masses occasionally made it difficult to find yourself a quick drink or toilet break, something many were able to glide over in the spirit of making sure to catch some of the world’s biggest artists.
And what a lineup, with a nice blend of popular indie acts (The Jungle Giants, Boo Seeka), bass music behemoths (Sub Focus, Ewan McVicar, Blanke), rappers (Central Cee, Ferg) and some of dance music’s biggest names (Peggy Gou, Jayda G, RUFUS DU SOL).
Earlier in the day the one-two hit of G Flip and The Jungle Giants (above) on the Sahara Stage had triple j fans in raptures, while those opting for a slightly more chill intro to the day enjoyed a forward-thinking set of emotional electronica from The xx’s Romy, who’s more downbeat vibes were quickly ramped up to one of the day’s many highlights, Jayda G.
From her set it was a mad dash with thousands of punters to catch dance/fashion/all-things-cool icon Peggy Gou, capping off a massive couple of years with one of the biggest crowds of the day. Perhaps a little early arvo fatigue had set in but the crowd was relatively mild for most of her set, many seemingly mesmerised with her effortlessly cool stage presence and visuals.
At the same time Conducta B2B Notion was throwing down one of day’s sleeper sets on The Wilds stage, rolling through an array of UK dance classics, garage, house and even delving into a little early-2000s dubsteps, their infectious energy bringing the receptive crowd right along with them.
From there it was a hop, skip and a bump over to another great one-two programming punch featuring the pride of Perth, Luude, followed straight away by drum’n’bass legend Subfocus, the former’s jump-up anthems a nice lead-in to Subfocus’ deeper vibes and swirling visuals.
Back on the Sahara Stage Central Cee provided a brief, corny-but-fun breather before the main event for what felt like most of the fest – RUFUS DU SOL.
Backing up their solo tour here last summer was always going to be a tough ask, but it gave an urgency to their set that suited a voracious crowd, many of who’s voice was completely shot by night’s end thanks to essentially a one-hour sing-along, greatest hits set from one of the world’s premier electronic music trios.
Wildlands’ expansion into the west coast seems secure after a huge follow-up to their inaugural effort at Optus Stadium in 2022, and we get the feeling that’s only set to continue if they keep these world class lineups coming (along with maybe an extra bar and toilet or two).
Image Credit: Wildlands, Jordan Munns