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WONDERLAND

Rufus - Photo by Jack Lawrence
Rufus – Photo by Jack Lawrence

Supreme Court Gardens

Saturday, December 20, 2014

 

The fourth Wonderland festival, befitting the Alice in Wonderland theme, delivered everything including Taro Card readers, silent discos, and hair & make-up stalls. promising the best and brightest festival yet. Undoubtedly, artists and crowd members seemed destined to lose themselves down the rabbit hole.

The opening act, King Cactus, helped kick things off with their laid-back, happy-go-lucky glow. The underrated ensemble dove straight into their likeable set, despite the significant lack of crowd members. The group’s blues/reggae/rock style, amplified by a fun-loving attitude, marked a subtle beginning to the anarchy-fuelled event. The group’s atmospheric vocals and flawless rhythms resonated immediately.

Slumberjack – duo Morgan Then and Fletcher Ethers – saw fit to punch this year’s event into overdrive. Remixing a thrilling array of pop, hip hop and RnB tracks, the electronica-dance ensemble gave the ecstatic mosh pit plenty to rave about. Dropping the base instantly, the duo’s scintillating aura kept everyone entertained., with infectious rhythms and thumbing beats reverberating the Courthouse’s foundations. The troupe laid out several big, new-EP hits including Felon and The Others before hitting an already stunned crowd with more familiar sounds. The duo even wove Missy Elliot’s Get Ur Freak On seamlessly into their thunderous, show-stopping finale.

Smash-hit electronic dance troupe Willow Beats hit the stage with grace and vigour. Engaging an already manic mosh pit, Kaylani Ellis and Narayana Johnson switched effortlessly between vocal and deck duties. The group unleashed new EP, Water, upon the festival’s dance floor army. Ellis’ haunting vocals and ethereal and moody stage presence wowed fans and festivalgoers. Their re-mixed renditions of Elemental and Leo Haze’s Lethal were set highlights.

Pushing the crowd through the sweltering hot conditions, Sydney artist Kilter threw sweat, saliva, and raw energy into his Tropicana set. Turning away from Slumberjack and Willow Beats, his first few tracks unleashed a percussive wave upon the exhausted masses. His synthesizer/drum-kit set up brought Caribbean vibes to our shores and his enthusiastic performance fused effortlessly with the pacey dubstep backing track. Renditions of They Say, Hold Me and When You Walked In sent bursts of energy across the CBD.

Of course, 23-year-old hip-hop sensation Allday pushed it one step further. Living up to his remarkable reputation, he received a raucous welcome from Wonderland’s loyal legions. Jumping across the stage, and into the crowd, the ultra-talented youngster made his presence known. Sporting flowing locks and a white headband, he led with an impressive cockerel strut and unadulterated enthusiasm. Sharp renditions of Cloud and Claude Monet highlighted his immense rap style and charisma.

Motez, following up one of Australia’s most inspired hip-hop acts, needed to make a strong impression. As day turned to night and the sky lit up with neon bulbs and stage-set beams, the remounted house god launched straight into his dynamic and electrifying set. His heavy, rich dubstep openers sent sweat-and-hormone-drenched crowd members into uncontrollable, trance-like fits. His extensive set, blaring explosive dance-floor anthems and pop-electronica remixes – namely Lana Del Ray’s Summertime Sadness and Madison Avenue’s Don’t Call Me Baby – throughout the sunset, kept momentum going.

Wave Racer, adding a dolphin theme to this sun-scorched celebration, sent waves of adrenaline across the audience. DJ Thomas Purcell’s searing stage presence and hearty remixes further elevated the crowd’s everlasting anticipation. Despite technical issues, the performer relished the crowd’s overwhelming affection and undying energy levels. His set, featuring unique and uncompromising remixes Rock U Tonite, Don’t Be Shy and Always, infused visceral motifs with catchy hit tunes.

Rufus, playing their first Australian performance in several months, marked the climax of this off-the-chain electronic dance spectacular. As a smoke and light show washed over the stage, the boys jumped on stage and dove immediately into show-conquering track Tonight. The group’s haunting vocals echoed longingly across the expansive venue. The entertaining mix of 1980s synthesizer and gritty rock instrumental shocked the inescapably enthralled crowd. As the shoulder-riders and crowd-surfers took hold, the beloved dance troupe pulled off startling renditions of Rendezvous and Sundream. Living up to the hype, the group ended the events with Take Me and Desert Night. Thousands of half-dressed audience members hurriedly shuffled out, changed forever by the unforgettable performances. This Wonderland adventure was truly out of this world.

 

THOMAS MUNDAY

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