Posted by: Rebecca on January 11, 2014
With the radio blaring a soothing soul station, keep-cups full of champagne and clinging to cheeseburgers, we head West out of the city towards LET THEM EAT CAKE. The darkening skies and promises of pouring rain or even the hangover from New Years Eve couldn’t dampen spirits for starting off 2014 with Australia’s most discerning musical line-up on Werribee Mansion’s well-manicured lawn. Even with the amount of fierce competition for NYD, a glimpse at the festival’s Facebook page and the amount of friends txting for last minute tickets told us that we weren’t the only ones that thought so – the festival, in only it’s second year, had sold out.
With it’s inaugural year hosting the likes of FLYING LOTUS, THEO PARRISH and KERRI CHANDLER, there was a collective sigh. Melbourne had finally raised the bar for ‘underground’ festivals this side of the hemisphere – we didn’t have to lust after Croatian island hopping and London boat parties anymore. Forward thinking artists across loosely-termed dance genres wanted to spend New Years with us. In Werribee. Where is that again? But thanks to five of Australia’s premiere touring companies teaming up and forming an alliance with Weirbee’s answer to the Palace of Versailles each LTEC promised more decadence than Molly – I mean, Marie Antoinette – had ever dreamt of.
2014’s announcement in November was impeccably curated and those of us who had been to the first, smiled smugly at the new attendees and sudden interest of bigger media websites, ‘of course we’re going to LTEC – what – you didn’t go last year? I danced in front of Layer 3 and rubbed suncream into BEN UFO’s shoulders.’ Which brings us to today, hurtling down the highway yelling at the GPS that we need to make SILENTJAY’s set and have time head to check out the food rave before one of New Zealand’s rising soul singer/producers and her MPC named Lola, ESTERE played. But on arriving at the festival the absolutely pouring rain slowed us down; we head to the Mansion’s restaurant to rally hungover VIPs and steal garbage bags for raincoats. From the small lawn that acted as backstage for the day, we could, for a moment, take in the wonder that is Let Them Eat Cake. With two golden stages beaming either side of us, day-beds dotted around and remarkably fashionably dressed party-goers huddled under bars and trees from the rain there were still a few hundred loyal and steadfast fans dancing in the downpour to JULIO BASHMROE, whose trademark red-hair and deep house echoed from the Bastille stage.
We adventured around for a moment, synchronising timetables, finding a field of red balloons and taking in each impossibly beautiful hand built stages hosting the likes of SOUL CLAP, DIGITAL and a local stage that wasn’t there last year ‘The Isle of Tortuga’ with HANSDC rising it out, before heading to the Versailles stage, to find drum n’ bass legend LTJ BUKEM playing tear out tracks despite the rain. After a few minutes he saluted the crowd and TOKiMONSTA took the stage. Like some sort of cinematic-timing the rain increased as she played cuts from current and 90’s RnB and hip-hop tracks and a group of twerking, gettin’ low girls formed a dance circle in front of the main speaker as some sound guys’ released the tarp covering it. With the full bass unleashed, TOKiMONSTA was in her element – green blonde hair flying she spun a SHLOHMO track and ended her high energy set with her own track ‘Just Go With It’. FLOATING POINTS was up next, and some of the crowd was lost to BICEP and EPROM for harder-hitting action. But as he appeared in a yellow jumper for a moment the sun shone, as he played impossibly rare 70’s soul records and Brazilian disco. It’s kind of impossible to describe a FP set if you’ve never seen him spin, but there’s some kind of atmosphere he creates through DJ-ing that makes it impossible not to smile whilst you’re dancing. Some kind of elevating message through a carefully crafted selection – that had him disappearing under the turntables flipping through his vinyl – as some horns section from some long-lost record plays that makes you feel lucky that this music exists somewhere and you’ve finally heard it. I don’t think there wasn’t a person in that small crowd that wasn’t beaming by the end of a two-hour set that made you loose all sense of time and it was the only time throughout the day I heard the pleading of ‘one more song’ echoing through the audience.
We navigated our way through JAMES HOLDEN’s techno sorcery to catch the end of JPS, who was momentarily playing side-by-side with MARK PRITCHARD at the Castle stage. The bass-loving continuum were taking no prisoners with dark UK drum n’ bass and dance hall thundering through the dusky sky on none other than the impressive Heratical HiFi system (have you ever seen a wall of speakers that high?) With sea-legs in the sudden darkness we wound our way through the crowds to the front of Bastille for DJ KOZE. His remix of MOUNT KIMBIE’s ‘Made to Stray’ like a beacon announcing his arrival. Armed with his psychedelic-infused tracks he playing a mix of minimal techno and tracks from his latest solo album ‘Amygdala’. But we had to see KODE9 – the Hyperdub legend was unmissable even against the German producer, who’d I’ve never seen before – and arriving in Versailles just in time to see it lit up with kaleidoscopic lights, the sounds of BURIAL and suddenly, bursts of flames erupting from the stage. With chest-thundering bass and his own edits, flickering between juke and his current roster he proved effortlessly why he was at the forefront of a music scene that took over the globe.
It’s kind of hard to stress how different the now fondly abbreviated ‘LTEC’ is in comparison to any other day festival offered in Aus. Music, important it is aside, the festival presents a sheer passion for expanding worldy culture to it’s audience. From the international artists, to the focus on unusual food and alcohol, to the artists found in ever corner with startling canvases, to the bespoke stage design. If you pick one day a year to experience something magical, choose Let Them Eat Cake next year.
Photography by Melissa Cowan
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