9 December, Sydney
In the words of Manu Crook$ himself, the Wonderland Scarehouse Project was total “CHAOS”.
The not-so-secret location turned out to be Eastern Creek (if you googled A$AP Ferg Sydney show three weeks prior to the event, you would have known where the event was going to be held because Google uncovered the secret, saying: A$AP Ferg, playing at Eastern Creek – way to go Google).
The vibe was definitely on-par with the name of the gig, with surreal zombie-like figures littering the walkway between stages, as well as patches of graffiti, shaped as street art, featuring many of Alison Wonderland’s infamous slogans. The atmosphere felt more eerie as the sky darkened and the haze from the smoke machines set in, as did the somewhat rural setting, closed off from the city lights leaving us absent from the normal hustle and bustle as our phones inevitably died. This ultimately added to the experience, removing the distraction of telling all our friends how good the show was.
The stacked line-up featured a mixture of local and international artists, all of whom know how to tear up a crowd, with a heavy emphasis on the trap/rap side of phonic. The line-up consisted of (alphabetically), A$AP Ferg, Alison Wonderland, Antony & Cleopatra, Brownies & Lemonade DJs, Camouflage Rose, Danger, Haiku Hands, Kinder DJs, Lido, Lunice, Manilla Killa, Manu Crook$, Party Favor, Quix, Sachi, Sports, DJ Taco (Odd Future) and Young Franco.
One aspect of the day that stood out to me was that there was a definitive communal vibe between all of the artists that played. The most underrated set of the day/night goes to Lunice by far. His set, music-wise, was wild but smooth, as were his dance moves. Wow, can the boy move! I honestly could not think of better dance style for the exact moments, especially since they weren’t moves that you see on a regular basis. Lunice was given a nod (deservedly) when Quix played one of his tracks released under the moniker TNGHT w/Hudson Mohawke – that acknowledgement went far in my mind.
Haiku Hands absolutely nailed their set, vibing on their own tunes and choreographed routines so hard that the crowd couldn’t help but get down, shake their booty and lose all inhibitions. These ladies fell onto everyone’s radar at BIGSOUND this year, and while the new wave of synchronised dance moves everyone’s jabbering about with acts like Confidence Man aren’t anything new (to some’s surprise) the four bring a tongue-in-cheek sass to their performance that ropes us in more than their moves. Joyfully boisterous, they’re quick to remind us that what they do It’s Not About You, that addictive four to the floor beat thumping through the swelling audience as we yell along “SHUT UP, IT’S NOT ABOUT ME EITHER”. Snaps to the ladies that flicked their hair around and faced their partners, wiggling and winking as they sung along to a new track’s key line “You can be my man, bitch“.
DJ Taco also had a killer set, starting off by referencing the fact that he and the whole Odd Future collective (including Tyler The Creator) have been banned from Australia, but he somehow managed to get through airport security and make it to play the shows. I don’t know how he did it, I’m just super glad he did. Dropping tunas from Kendrick Lamar to his own crewmate Tyler The Creator, as well as the staple collaboration Smoke & Retribution – Flume and Vince Staples.
Not to mention the red-hot co-sign Manu Crook$ was given by A$AP Ferg (huge, not only for Manu, but for Sydney and our rap culture moving forward) when he was called out to play Assumptions (cranker of a track, killed it, and his set). My only complaint about Manu Crook$ is that his set was a bit too early, but he made it work (like Rhi Rhi).
Manu was not the only person A$AP Ferg brought out; calling on DJ Taco squashed whatever beef was left between the pair, which A$AP explained as pretty much obligatory when you are in a rap ‘crew’. The callout seemingly dissected the hate that seems to surround the rap game (love wins). Lido also bright out Alison Wonderland, completing the togetherness and mateship that we often see here in Australia, proving that it transcends international borders, ultimately bringing people together, which in this case, was done through music.
Alison Wonderland was up to her trademark tricks again, kneeling on the table/deck performing her in-sync headbanging and yelling her favourite go-to catchphrases. Her set was stacked with heavy trap and hip hop bangers (sorry for the cliché) and her own monster tracks Run, Games and I Want You. While playing her timeless set, she managed to keep it mysterious enough to keep you on your toes (not only while you were dancing), which in my opinion was very fitting with the theme of the party.
I spoke to many revelers on the day, but one stood out for sure. A 50-something year old lawyer, who was wearing one of the funkiest party shirts I have seen in a while, summed up the day nicely: “This is the type of place where everyone can come to for a good time and a dance, even a 50-year-old lawyer. We are all having fun here, together.”
Concertgoer Ryan Trainor was more than happy that he decided to make the last minute decision to attend. “I’ve seen Alison play a bunch of times, she’s not an act to miss, especially at her own event! She really complemented the other artist who played, with the overall expectation and anticipation being over exceeded throughout the whole day, I’d definitely do it again!”
The whole day felt special, you could tell it meant a lot to not only Alison, but all the artists who played. Being Alison’s hometown, it was more than obvious how much the project meant to her, from her high octane set to the thoughtfulness put into the project’s environment and set-up. If she follows suit and throws another huge party again next year, promise me you won’t miss it.