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Live Review: Listen Out Brisbane 2023

25 September 2023 | 9:15 am | Tione Zylstra

Gearing up for a day of dancing, drinking, and diva behaviour, nearly 40,000 festivalgoers poured into Brisbane Showgrounds.

Lil Uzi Vert @ Listen Out Brisbane

Lil Uzi Vert @ Listen Out Brisbane (Credit: Sam Venn)

Saturday was a big day for Brisbane. Broncos in the NRL Grand Final. Lions in the AFL Grand Final. And Listen Out landed in our city of the winding brown snake. Gearing up for a day of dancing, drinking, and diva behaviour, we’re informed by Listen Out organisers that nearly 40,000 festivalgoers poured into Brisbane Showgrounds as the gates opened.

The weather was looking grey, but that sure didn’t dull anyone’s mood – or outfit. With half the crowd looking like they came straight from a photoshoot with Universal Store and the other half dressed like rejects from Comic-Con (seriously, why was Buzz Lightyear there with five different Spidermen?), it was a mixed bag of looks – but they all served.

The excitement was palpable as you walked past groups of people chatting about their plans to see Ice Spice, Skrillex, and Lil Uzi Vert. The shock around the morning’s announcement of Metro Boomin’s cancellation was quickly replaced with anticipation to see the Aussie all-star replacement act, ONEFOUR

Credit: Jordan Munns

We arrived as Triple J Unearthed act Supathick was heading up the Atari stage. Their mix of insane vocals, synth and pure star energy brought the audience a taste of 70’s nostalgia. Warming up the crowd for the day by adding some funk into their step, the band was the perfect mix of jazz, pop, and straight-up vibes. “It’s time to shake some booties,” guitarist Christian Zappia proclaimed as they began to play July. And shake some booties we did.

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Kobie Dee was next up on the Atari stage – and he brought the energy. With the Aboriginal flag as his backdrop and a boomerang around his neck, he began his set by acknowledging his ancestors. “My people are the original storytellers and have been telling stories for thousands of years. So that’s what I’m doing here. I’m speaking for them.” And, boy, did he do a good job at it.

Rapping with such speed and ease, he had the whole crowd bouncing. Words rolled off his tongue like water off a duck’s back. And who doesn’t love a bit of an Aussie accent in their rap? Finishing his set with a bit of “When I say Kobie, you say Dee” playfulness, the audience happily obeyed. Chuck in a bit of arm waving during Role Models, and you get the gist.

Credit: Jordan Munns

Over at the 909 stage, yunè pinku’s set was full of neon lights and techno beats. Dressed in a Tree of Life-esque fit, she was girlbossing her way around the stage. Singing, DJing and straight-up SLAYING, she did it all. Her wistful vocals over her rave-y beats transported you to a European club somewhere far away.

Back at the Atari stage, Mallrat walked on as the self-proclaimed “Princess of Brisbane” as the crowd swarmed to her like moths to a flame. Her head-bop music had the girls, gays, and theys thriving. As she sang To You, the shoulder rides began – and aside from an unfortunate incident where the whole crowd saw a man’s entire derrière, the song went off without a hitch. She then provided the crowd with some insight into the music video for her song Teeth, where she revealed it was filmed in the local suburb of Caboolture.

Teasing the crowd by asking, “Do you like hit songs?” Mallrat went on to sing Groceries – and everyone had the most wholesome boogie of their lives. Closing it out with her song Rockstar on her absolutely ICONIC pink love heart-shaped guitar, Mallrat definitely won over the hearts of many.

JPEGMAFIA was next up, and his frenzied energy on stage was contagious. The American rapper had the crowd jumping immediately. His chaotic set was nothing but fun as he rapped at the speed of light. Pausing to have a quick seat and look around the crowd, he asked, “Where my bald bitches at?” before launching into his hit song BALD!. He did have to deal with some technical difficulties as his mic stopped working mid-set, but dealing with it like a pro, he simply said, “My bad,” and started his song again. Icon.

Credit: Jordan Munns

On the other side of the showgrounds, Young Franco was bringing the disco to the 909 stage. Decked out in cool sunnies and a soccer jersey, he was DJing hard on a stage covered in giant disco balls and multicoloured lights. Everyone was singing along to his tunes, and even the people up the back were having a little boogie. Even chucking some of LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem into the mix, the crowd was eating it up. And, just in case anyone was getting complacent, he brought out US rapper Pell to join him on stage. Injecting a hit of energy into the crowd, they went on to play their song Juice to the cheers of the century.

As the night began to cool down, the acts really heated up. Metro Boomin’s replacement ONEFOUR opened their set on the Atari stage with a video montage before running onto stage with the energy of people who hadn’t been partying all day. Thankfully, the audience were on the same level. You could feel the bass in your bones as they pulled together the performance of their lives. Running around the stage, the drill group were practically airborne as they rapped their way into our hearts. They may have been a last-minute replacement, but they earned their way onto that line-up after their performance.

You could feel the “untz untz” beat before you could hear it at Four Tet’s 909 set. The crowd were going wild for the critically acclaimed UK DJ. Everyone was singing along to his hit songs like Two Thousand and Seventeen, Baby again.. and VOLVER. Cheers echoed throughout the area as the funky lights brought you into a different dimension. 

We joined the people sprinting back to the Atari stage to see fan-favourite Ice Spice. There was no rush, though, because DJ KENFO was still warming the crowd up with tunes like Doja Cat’s Paint The Town Red, Nelly Furtado & Timbaland’s Promiscuous, and Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow. Finally, he played Ice Spice’s Barbie World, and the rapper ran out onto the stage to the sounds of thousands screaming her name.

Decked out in a black corset and the mini-est mini skirt we’ve ever seen, Ice Spice gave the crowd what they came for. Spending 80% of her set twerking and rapping, the mosh went feral in the best way possible. Her songs could only be described as ass-shaking music, and that’s exactly what everyone did. The absolute queen was serving as she played her hit songs Boy’s A Liar Pt. 2, Munch (Feelin’ U), In Ha Mood, and Deli. The audience relished every second of the short set – with some guys at the back even trying (and failing… multiple times) to stand on each other’s shoulders to catch a glimpse of the star. But all too soon, it was over. Blowing a quick kiss to the audience, Ice Spice strutted off the stage.

And so the wait began.

With his set meant to begin at 8:20, Lil Uzi Vert was a whopping 55 minutes late – with no explanation or apology. By that point, the night had cooled down to the point of hypothermia, and about half the crowd had given up to go check out Skrillex’s set on the other stage. By the time the American rapper graced the audience with his presence at 9:15, his set was meant to be over.

Credit: Sam Venn

But for those who had the faith and resilience to stick around, he provided a SHOW. Jumping around a stage lit up with real flames, he made the crowd forget the long hour they just spent in the cold. His set mainly consisted of songs from his new album Pink Tape, but no one was complaining. Even stopping his show for a moment to check on someone in the crowd and passing them his water, Lil Uzi Vert did his best to make it worth the wait.

Those who gave up on Lil Uzi Vert found comfort in the arms of Skrillex. The iconic American DJ did not disappoint. By the time we got there, his set had been going for an hour already, but he showed no signs of stopping. Remixing popular songs like Kendrick Lamar’s Humble and Travis Scott’s Sicko Mode, Skrillex knew exactly what the crowd wanted – and promptly provided it. Bass drops like no other; the audience was fist-pumping so hard that they could’ve beat a UFC fighter. Lasers and smoke aplenty, this was no ordinary DJ set. It was a production. Closing out the night with his popular song Cinema and teasing a drop that never came, Skrillex knew how to leave a crowd begging for more.

Credit: Jordan Munns

And just like that, Listen Out Brisbane was over for 2023. A last-minute act change, an hour delay, and twerking galore, we can’t even imagine what next year will have in store.

Credit: Jordan Munns