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Sugar Mountain a sweet success

12 Feb 2015

Sugar Mountain a sweet success Image

Review by Sean Car

After a year’s hiatus from Melbourne’s music calendar, Sugar Mountain returned on the Australia Day weekend with a bang.

Having outgrown its previous home at the Forum Theatre, the Victorian College of the Arts in Southbank provided a scintillating platform for its comeback, subsequently delivering a one-of-a-kind experience for punters.

While the new venue would have provided some valuable lessons for festival organisers, who will no doubt need to tinker around the edges for future festivals, make no mistake that Sugar Mountain is here to stay.

The inspired mixture of outdoor and indoor spaces connected by the college’s maze-like landscape of hidden pathways catered perfectly to the festival’s renowned emphasis on the visual arts.

While escaping the baking sun provided the main challenge for festival-goers, the delicious line-up of local and international artists appeared to be more than enough to distract fans from the heat.

As the headline name, New York rap legend Nas performed out of his skin for the worshipping audience, rolling out his 1994 classic album Illmatic before blowing fans away with a broad selection of his greatest hits.  

While conversing with the crowd throughout his set and even pausing to sign one lucky fan’s vinyl copy of Illmatic, the rapper also paid homage to the venue, telling fans it possessed the feeling of his home streets of New York City.

While Nas provided the sweetener, proceedings at the outdoor stage at Dodds St were kicked off in style by local act King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Danish rockers Iceage and Japanese quartet Bo Ningen.

Despite Ariel Pink not quite managing to replicate his usual quirky feel in a live setting, US cult-heroes Swans and DJ Dexter provided plenty of feel-good vibes leading into the headline act.

Meanwhile, the other outdoor stage at the car park saw UK retro-dance act the 2 Bears and Seattle DJ duo Odesza steal the show, while the indoor settings at the Boiler Room and The Theatre featured a solid range of musical and visual artists.

While it might take a few goes to truly find its feet, it’s fair to say that Sugar Mountain has landed a fitting home in Southbank and is once again a staple on the calendar.

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