y shaking up its long established and successful formula Origin Fields has shown how it’s once again ahead of the curve and further cemented its status as one of the nations true destination festivals.
With an 11-year history of booking hip hop and electronic artists, Origin Fields promoters took a huge risk in 2018 by ushering in live acts like Tash Sultana and The Kooks and softer electronic offerings such as Safia and Hayden James. Coupled with the expansion to two days and the venue change to Langley Park it would be an understatement to say there was plenty of uncertainty about the new direction.
What the festival ended up delivering however was a cleaner, safer and more rounded experience with significant room to grow. If the promoters continue with the theme they developed this year there is no reason why Origin Fields cannot become the most complete new years festival offering in the country.
Artists for all
Soft, heavy, fruity, bassy, Origin Fields had it all. Shame that some of the acts weren’t as good as past years in terms of calibre, but from a look at festivals nationally the pool of talent available to book this year was fairly skint.
Across the two smaller stages trend-king Fisher once again proved he had more fans than doubters by drawing one of the largest and most energetic crowds across the two days.
It was the mainstage however that received the most of the production budget and crowd attendance with artists like Sheck Wes and Khalid drawing massive crowds. Cardi B brought the obvious star power on night one in a brief yet captivating set. Despite only rocking the stage for 30 minutes she still showed her immense calibre as a performer and the emphatic Perth crowd repaid her energy in kind.
On the electronic front Habstrakt proved why he is one of the most enjoyable DJ’s going around with a bass and edit laden set, while 19 year old Whethan delivered an hour of music overflowing with the perfect combination of his own music and future bass tunes.
The in-vogue live set was again well represented this year with the likes of Hayden James, Keys n Krates and Safia all delivering refreshing but admittedly stock standard performances.
While it began as a drum and bass festival the genre was spread fairly thin in representation this year at Origin. Both The Upbeats and Sigma impressed with their shows while Chase & Status divided many a fan by abandoning their well known hit laden set in favour of one full of jungle DnB.
Highlights of the weekend came from British Garage DJ Flava D, all time favourite Mr Carmack, and of course joint headliners Tchami x Malaa and Pendulum, who despite counting down to midnight early still showed why they are considered to be such an exceptional live band.
Aside from recycled acts and the contentious inclusion of Tash Sultana most feedback I heard on this years lineup was positive. This seemed to show in the general consensus that the new variety of offerings was the right move to make. I hope many would agree with me when I say I’d rather go to a festival where I have the option of seeing a broad selection of acts from different genres, not just a few that are all too similar.
Improved punter experience
It’s the little things that count. Think sunscreen toting Red Frogs volunteers at the entrance, a variety of food offerings inside, giant inflatables, and at last more space. I can happily say that between Falls and Origin fields this year I would have picked Origin. Superior staging, sound and room to move made it a far more enjoyable experience.
While some may bemoan the lineup changes it by and large resulted in a cleaner crowd. Security reported fewer fights as well as less instances of intoxication and drug overdose. To top it all off there were no repeats of last years issues where someone set off pepper spray in the crowd and a punter was stabbed, so I’d call that a win for everyone.
If Origin Fields has shown one thing this year it’s that the best is yet to come. To turn a successful festival on its head so dramatically and still impress as it did takes serious talent.
Origin Fields had to prove itself not just to punters but also to a notoriously fickle and judgmental City of Perth Council that it was more than just a festival of fence jumpers and drug takers, and in all the most important ways it seems to have succeeded.
From what had become just a standard ‘i’m going because all my friends are’ festival over the last few years was transformed into something far more memorable in 2018. Putting crowd enjoyment first and expanding the target audience has transformed it beyond the mere electronic fans homeground into a festival for all comers that can only get better as the years go on.