Words: Sam Howard
Let Them Eat Cake 2019 began when thousands of keen revellers excitedly entered the pristine location via the white pebbled pathway of the grand Werribee Historical Mansion. With the picture perfect scenery of delicate flower gardens and the intricate design of art installations and stages scattered throughout the grounds, it came at no surprise that the festival brought a huge crowd again. The bill featured names of artists who have blown up on a global scale in the past couple of years, plus huge quality acts who have ventured to Melbourne’s festival circuit in the past. So the New Years Day event was guaranteed to pack a punch and send all attendees into the new year with great delight.
We arrived in time for Motor City Drum Ensemble’s afternoon set. The crowd was in exceptionally high spirits as he played his groovy bangers to get everyone warmed up. While he didn’t drop his signature beats such as those from his Raw Cuts, he entertained us with bangers such as Omar S’s Set It Out, Manfredo Fest’s funky Jungle Kitten and Loi’s melodic Body Contact. While some might have been thirsting for the familiarity of the tunes he plays in his infamous mixes, it was more so enjoyably fresh, especially considering many of us have had the privilege of seeing him perform on Victorian soil on multiple occasions recently.
Over at the Guillotine Stage, Chaos in the CBD played a varying set of highs and lows … through a journey that had you often dancing so low to the floor that the whole crowd was on the verge of squatting in their step. They took us from medieval-styled sounds, right back up into groovy soulful deep house. The push and pull of their set made it hard to leave the stage and explore the other delights around the mansion.
But if you found yourself able to wander away from the stages despite reluctantly missing out on some epic sets, you would not be disappointed.
Just one of the many treasures away from the stages was trolleyd — an interactive renovated airplane you could kick back in the cockpit or the aisles …
… or boogie in the ‘air’ on the d-floor.
Midland back at The Bastille stage played a fruity, intergalactic set dropping Awanto 3’s ultra-spacey Thick and Chase Smith’s boppy Sending You Some Lungs (Instrumental). At the Palace of Versailles stage, Nightmares of Wax played an incredibly fun, funky, disco set that was fitting as the sun began to set. He remixed his own downtempo, trip hop bangers into uplifting house and had the whole crowd bear ultimate smiles.
Peggy Gou was the highlight for many, playing a set that was a little off-kilter and darker than what we’re used to. With signs and doof sticks made entirely for Peggy, we could see the immense love that this city has for one of the biggest names in techno and house in the world. A comrad even created her a t’shirt which was self-made and titled, ‘Just Gou It’ with the Nike tick and delivered it to her from the mosh of the crowd.
Gou had the crowd fist pumping through the entire set and dropped rowdy and growly tracks including Marie Davidson’s Work It and San Giovanni Bassista’s Don’t Go – the Alexander Robotnick Remix. It was brave, it was stompy and it worked an absolute treat on the crowd.
DJ Tennis back at The Bastille stage played some grounded and fun tunes along the likes of Red Axes before introducing us to a Timo Mas remix of Depeche Mode’s classic Enjoy the Silence which was perfectly fitting as the sun disappeared and we were brought into the night.
The ultimate highlight of the evening had to be Bicep. No matter how many times we’ve seen the duo, they never, ever fail to impress. From the first moment that they took the stage, we were instantly reminded that they are far more than DJs. They are artists, and musical geniuses at that. In the past few years of developing, practising and playing their live set, they have mastered it exceptionally and if you were seeing them for the second, third or tenth time, their set made you ready to see them for the twentieth time.
Their ability to cause thousands of people to feel goosebumps, a painful sense nostalgia mixed with a deep sensation of euphoria puts them in another league. They would tease the crowd with computerised high-pitch synths before one tiny recognisable element could be heard from one of their quality tracks which caused the crowd to erupt with excitement before the beloved track dropped.
The only additional observations were that the main stage appears far more epic with the mansion as the backdrop, and there has to be some way to ensure all attendees can get themselves home without hassle. But it was a great day to enter the New Year with.