Sydney’s rave community hasn’t seen an outdoor EDM and House music event similar to ‘Stereosonic’ in awhile, so introducing Festival X with multiple genres including trance, hardstyle, RnB, rap and trap to attract multiple crowds (a fifty-thousand person turnout) was something special. With headlining international artists Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki and Armin Van Buuren, Festival X seemed like a promising event despite the predicted rainfall.
It was cloudy but busy during in midday as the crowd was navigating between five stages in attempt to taste all the different artists, and leaving quickly when there wasn’t much of a beat drop. Despite the back and forth hustling, everybody was friendly, easygoing, chill and dressed to their own comfort zone as outfits included athleisure, bandanas, bold colours, glitter and gemstone makeup, to drag queens in candy chain necklaces and heels.
Steve Aoki drew most of the crowd to the centre main stadium stage with his psychedelic visuals featuring his iconic silhouette, city landscapes and regular audience camera panning. After DJ-ing his nostalgic throwback songs which really got the crowd involved with singing, his most-streamed song on Spotify, ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ was a finish that left the audience feeling cathartic as confetti was released in the air. As the day became darker later stage productions delivered, as the light shows with rhythmic laser beams were stunning and brought up crowd morale. Current big names in the EDM music scene including Vini Vici, Cosmic Gate and Sunset Bros dominated the Oxygen stage and brought out a lot of crowd chants in unity.
Calvin Harris stole the show with his old school DJ set and endless playbacks of his chart-topping songs ‘Under Control’ and hands-in-the-air anthems ‘Summer’, along with his remix of Fatboy Slim's ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat’. His trademark sound of juicy staccato synths and squelchy electro bass lines really brought out the electro dance pop energy from the audience as even the security guards were joining in on the fun.
Armin Van Buuren was another highlight as he kicked off a fierce finale with bold red stage lights and fire smokes that matched his big energy. He hyped the crowd into chants including his classic hit ‘Blah Blah Blah’, encouraged hands ups, sit downs and jumps which left the crowd wild and animalistic. An epic finale of fireworks followed through for 20 minutes that was in perfect coordination with the music and the set stage lighting.
Overall, Festival X was a well organised clean event with rides, food trucks, safety points, freebies like free body paints in exchange for STI tests, and I would say that despite the many artist clashes towards the end of the night, it was definitely worth its ticket price point.