So there we were, another year upon us, halfway through an unpredictable Melbourne summer and anticipation building for the return of Australia’s boutique electronic music festival, Let Them Eat Cake. With Novel, Resident Advisor and RRR presenting, we entered with high expectations.
It’s always hard collecting yourself from lengthy New Years Eve celebrations for a classic New Years Day party, but after undoubtedly enduring some morning fragility there was an aura of excitement amongst the LTEC punters that hadn’t been seen at a local festival in some time. The previous year’s lineup had set a solid foundation with artists such as Tiger and Woods, Theo Parish and Kerri Chandler all performing at one of Victoria’s most alluring and elegant venues, Werribee Mansion.
Local Melbourne legends Fantastic Man and Mike Callander did a perfect job early, setting the mood for a day that was to be overflowing with phenomenal tunes. By early afternoon, UK duo Dusky had set foot on the incredibly designed Bastille stage, which was harbouring the most prominent headline acts of the day. As expected, they began to up the ante, belting out their signature bass heavy, jacking house to a crowd that lapped it up.
Not even the intrusion of the infamous Melbourne weather could dampen the festival spirit completely.
When it hit, people scattered. Some ran for shelter, some made makeshift ponchos out of garbage bags and some were so happily wrapped up in the music by this stage of the day that they genuinely didn’t care. The majority that remained was within moments possessed by shared unity. With an unreserved ‘fuck you’ to the weather, the masses unanimously sent the entire festival to the next level.
Dusky then passed the baton onto the next UK bass advocate, Julio Bashmore. Whether Julio couldn’t match the high-energy antics that Dusky had created or the crowd was simply over the continuous downpour, the following hour was thoroughly insipid. With such commercial recognition over the past year, including a commissioned remix for the likes of Justin Timberlake, it was surprising to see the crowd quite placid during a good portion of the hour; particularly during better known songs such as “Au Seve” and “Battle For Middle You”.
Seeking shelter, we wandered past the Palace of Versailles stage and found ourselves confronted by the rather secretive guillotine stage. There we found Wolf and Lamb laying down some quality low slung house to a great response and even more incredible vibe. Hidden away behind the lush trees of the mansion, the stage was draped with white linen and set up in such a way that it was almost entirely separate from the festival. The fact that the DJs were playing on ground level made it all the more exciting for punters, drawing everyone together for a grand ol’ boogie. By the time the weather subsided, Soul Clap had taken the stage and the crowd absolutely loved the serious mid-afternoon grooves they threw down.
Nearby, the gourmet food stalls that we had come to expect from the previous year did not disappoint- particularly as they were complimented by a stall serving up some seriously deluxe Pimms and lemonade. The presence of this kind of alcohol service was a reminder of the refreshing contrast between LTEC and many other Australian festivals, where aluminium cans containing some ungodly sweet alcoholic mix continue to be the norm.
By this stage, it was time for Floating Points to start playing at the Palace Of Versailles.
We headed there, only to encounter Tokimonsta playing a vast array of hip hop and rap influenced electronic music. Although this reviewer was not entirely offended by what was being served up, the contrast between what constitutes ‘trap music’, and Floating Points diverse selection of soul, disco and house was obvious, and his set would have had a more context on another stage.
Very rapidly taking things down a notch, Floating Points started in style, opening with the Tomorrow’s People classic ‘Open Soul’. Unabashedly ingnoring the norms of festival DJing, the UK guru played it for 10+ minutes, sending the crowd into raptures and his set in the perfect direction for the timeslot. From that point onwards it was nothing but pure disco, soul and deep house bliss. His set was programmed in such a way that he could easily and regularly transition from classic 7-inch records to more solid thumping deep house without grabbing undue attention or breaking the groove of his audience. Through another bout of rain, Floating Points served up gem after gem, his crowd and their respective smiles growing in size all the time.
By 7pm, he had reached that glorious peak where things started to feel less like a music festival and more like a bunch of friends having a party. This vibe continued to the point where someone was trying to Shazam a track and a random punter ran across the crowd to tell him the name of the song and artist. Only at LTEC.
After Floating Points finished, the hip-hop and R & B started up again, reminding us it was time to head over to James Holden. Arriving at the main stage, we were greeted with exactly what we expected from James Holden – some straight up-and-down, nice moving, melodic techno. The sun was now setting and there couldn’t have been a better person to bring in the darkness and warm the crowd than the mighty DJ Koze. It had been quite a 2013 for Koze, the release of his album Amygdala had seen it reach #61 in the German album charts and overwhelming acclaim from DJs and music lovers alike. He was the perfect artist to curate the soundtrack to your first night of 2014.
Koze pleased the crowd with various selections from Amygdala in addition to some of his remixes that really killed it in 2013, among them Mount Kimbie’s ‘Made To Stray’ and of course Mathew Herbert’s ‘It’s You’. The bassline from ‘It’s You’ echoed unforgettably through the mansion grounds and was definitely something that has stuck in my mind from Cake. How such a spacious and minimal song was able to captivate such a large crowd simply served to highlight the overall spirit of the festival.
There was nothing gimmicky about this, no one was there to show off, start fights or overdose. They where there for the music, and for that I salute LTEC and hope it is an Australian festival staple for years to come.