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Royal Randwick Racecourse is usually filled with punters in suits and cocktail dresses, but Future Music Festival saw the venue become a sea of slinky singlets and denim underpants as Sydneysiders showed plenty of skin on the final day of summer.

A healthy stream of fans rolled into the event as local club favourites like GG Magree and Deckhead pleased the crowds early in the afternoon.

We arrived at Darude’s set just as he dropped his signature 1999 single ‘Sandstorm,’ which received a surprising cultural and commercial resurrection last year. The track garnered a huge reaction as fans from afar rushed towards the tent for three minutes of glory.

Later, Nero delivered their brand of anthemic, big-room bass with success. ‘Must Be the Feeling’ and their remix of Plan B’s ‘The Recluse’ became mass sing-alongs, while vocalist Alana Watson helped elevate the set on singles including ‘Promises.’

Atlanta’s 2 Chainz brought his barrage of strip-club anthems; ‘I Luv Dem Strippers’ and ‘Birthday Song’ were unashamedly boisterous and chanted back to the veteran. His show-stopping verse on Kanye West’s Mercy was one of 2012′s most quotable and a pleasure to witness with his animated stage presence.

Die Antwoord’s beautifully bizarre aesthetic translated well to the live environment, as did their clashing sound: it ranged from the floating hook of ‘Ugly Boy’ to the machine-gun flow of ‘Enter the Ninja.’ With a neon display filled with back-up dancers and stage dives, their eye-catching set was confusing yet engaging.

Finally, Toronto emcee Drake stepped onstage for his sprawling 75-minute headline set. Kicking off with celebratory anthems ‘Trophies’ and ‘We Made It,’ he delved into the emotional abyss of his Take Care album before performing a modified Shmoney Dance for his verse on Nicki Minaj’s house-friendly ‘Truffle Butter.’

His OVO crew also made welcome cameos – OB O’Brien on ’2 On’ and P Reign on ‘DnF’ – while a flying-trapeze ride over the audience saw him land on a second makeshift stage for ‘Hold On, We’re Going Home.’ Concluding with ‘Started from the Bottom,’ it was a fitting tribute to Drake’s growing list of worldwide accolades.

Drake’s brilliant debut Australian visit means that Future Music Festival 2015 will be one to remember – but most excitingly, it offers more evidence that the festival can entertain without relying too heavily on regurgitated EDM superstars.

Client: Sydney Morning Herald

Date: March 1, 2015

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© 2014 Christopher Kevin Au