Kicking off the summer festival season is one of Australia’s newest and already elite music festivals which over the years has brought artists like Post Malone, RL Grime, SZA and ZHU to Australia. But no one was prepared for the mammoth line up that the class of 2019 was brewing. Headlined by Nicki Minaj and Rae Sremmurd they were joined by the likes of Amine, Mura Masa, Kali Ulichis, San Holo and Anna Lunoe, easily making it the festivals biggest line up yet.
Kicking off the run of dates where the festival originated from in Brisbane, the sold out crowd braved the heat of the Riverstage early in the afternoon with drinks and good vibes flowing. With Anna Lunoe bringing the big dance tunes early, the crowd were straight into the pitt and dancing away. She played some classic festival favourites as well as premiered some slick new music which the crowd ate up and will see her getting some big Triple J traction later this year. But with San Holo up next he stepped it up a little with the shredding of a guitar at the start of the set which saw sparks flying, fire bursting and CO’2 cannons erupting. He didn’t hold back by playing his biggest hits like ‘Light’, ‘We Rise’, ‘Lift Me From The Ground’ and ‘Brighter Days’. But he also delivered a massive production that was fully captivating and innovative with the incorporation of live guitar which showed where some of the production aspects originated from.
Switching up the pace of things, Kali Uchis strutted her way onto the stage to the pulsating rhythm of ‘Dead To Me’. Joined by a full live band she proved why she’s being nicknamed the Colombian Queen. Seductively making her way across the stage, she booty popped and dropped to the early soothing vibes of ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Tyrant’ and ‘Flight 22’. Compared to the rest of the performers on the line up she was easily the most diverse and different. She offered a more laid back and sexy side that allowed the crowd to rejuvenate their energy for the second half of the day. Her loyal fans packed the pitt up the front and passionately sang along to ‘Loner’, ‘Just A Stranger’ and ‘Your Teeth In My Neck’. Excitedly telling the crowd that this was her first time to Australia, she confessed she never thought she would make it because she was terrified of planes. But standing firmly on the ground in Brisbane she couldn’t look happier. Closing her set with ‘After The Storm’ she vowed to be back soon and the crowd will definitely hold her to that.
With the late cancellation of Lil Pump and Sophie, Oregon rapper Amine quickly jumped on a plane to join the massive line up and the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Walking onto the stage to ‘DR Whoever’ after a brief video introduction which was all about living your authentic self and accepting others, he instantly created a euphoric and safe atmosphere. With early favourites ‘Yellow’, ‘Chingy’ and ‘WHY?’ dominating the setlist, the crowd were instantly turned up and ready to party. Visually adding to the show he had video montages from movies and tv shows which linked in or related to the songs he was rapping. ‘Wedding Crashers’ paid homage to the Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn movie whilst’ Spice Girl’ celebrated the return of the Spice Girls with a little dance party to ‘Wannabe’ following. Along with these little visual representations he also added empowering quotes on the screen to inspire the crowd. Every time he told the crowd “you are beautiful” he encouraged them to scream “I know” back to him. Closing the set with the mega viral hits ‘Caroline’ and ‘Reel It in’ he left the crowd feeling hyped and ready for the rest of the night.
Following in the footsteps of San Holo, Mura Masa brought his production skills to life with a full band set up that the Guernsey born multi-instrumentalist performed himself. Opening with the low-key track ‘Messy Love’ surrounded by smoke he showcased his vocal abilities before welcoming two female vocalists on stage who switched it up to deliver the rest of the set. The infectious ‘Nuggets’ and ‘1 Night’ exploded the party vibes and had the big singalongs beginning. Hitting the crowd with his newest single ‘Complicated’ they surprised him by knowing all the lyrics before getting back to the favourites with ‘All Around The World’, ’Low’ and ‘What If I Go?’. The spotlight was really focused on the two vocalists as he took a step back and just focused on creating the production for the show which was cool to watch. ‘Lotus Eater’ showed him taking centre stage before the girls returned to close the show with the epic ‘Firefly’. The shows atmosphere could have been enhanced by some firework sparks, confetti or CO2 cannons during his set which was absent.
With the sun fully set and the crowd at full capacity, Rae Sremmurd burst onto the stage to the trap stylings of ‘No Type’. With Swae Lee already shirtless and feeling himself, Slim Jxmmi covered himself with a bath robe and was bouncing across the stage. Promising the crowd some old school music they threw it back to ‘No Flex Zone’ and ‘Throw Sum Mo’ before hitting the crowd with one of their biggest hits, ‘Black Beatles’. The crowd was eating every second up as the two rappers just ran across the stage, jumped into the crowd and smoked some joints. Slim Jxmmi even got one of his crew members to jump down and get a girls number that he was watching from the front row which was a little stereotypical but comical. With a little cover of Post Malone’s ‘Sunflower’ which Sawe Lee features on they turned the energy back up with ‘Guatemala’ and ‘Swang’. Their energy was just electric and instantly became the highlight of the day. Closing their set with ‘Powerglide’ I was obvious that the crowd didn’t want them to finish and Swae Lee didn’t want to leave either as he jumped down to the crowd and started taking selfies.
With a big stage overhaul, Nicki Minaj promised a massive production that would make the 7 year wait for her return to Australia worth it. The undeniable queen of rap had a massive staircase with a throne cemented at the top with two unicorn head pieces either side put into place. As the lights dimmed and the opening beats of ‘Majesty’ blasted through the venue she appeared on stage surrounded by 8 dancers wearing robes. As they moved away from her to reveal the raptress she didn’t hold back by delivering ‘Hard White’, ‘Feeling Myself’ and ‘Only’. Wearing a colourful and revealing body suit, she welcomed her blonde and pink barbie wig back which she confessed on Instagram that she missed. Following suit ‘Truffle Butter’, ‘Pound The Alarm’, ‘Anaconda’, ‘Starships’ and ‘Turn Me On’ followed which directed the show towards her more pop heavy material. Inviting a 19 year old boy onstage for ‘Whip It’ she gave him a little lap dance and hysterically serenaded him with a performance that everyone was jealous of.
One thing Nicki has always done in her live shows is pay homage to her collaborations she’s featured on and for this show she gave the crowd her verses from ‘Side To Side’ and ‘Swalla’ before an impromptu acapella rendition of Monster broke out. With a massive smile on her face she seemed genuinely shocked at how loud the crowd was. Deciding to see how far back the crowd knew her material she performed a mash up of ‘Right Thru Me’, ‘Your Love’ and ‘Romans Revenge’ which excited the day one fans. Giving the crowd some more new songs from her recent album ‘Queen’ she had everyone jumping to ‘Barbie Dreams’, ‘Good Form’ and ‘Chun-Li which were unfortunately shortened. Thanking the crowd for spending their Saturday night with her she closed the hour set with ‘Moment 4 Life’ and ‘Super Bass’ with confetti filling the sky.
The high energy show was directed more as a greatest hits set and heavily paid homage to her early material with a lot of choreography and pop moments. As a long time Nicki fan I appreciated the throwbacks but her evolution as an artist was kinda sidelined. ‘The Pinkprint’ and ‘Queen’ deserved to have more of a spotlight shined on as the crowd were really living for those polished hip-hop moments. There were a lot of times throughout the show that she heavily relied on backing tracks and continually held the microphone out to the crowd to singalong while the backing track blasted. This slightly lost her authenticity as it felt lazy. But with her smile radiating she seemed happy and excited to be back in Australia and the crowd couldn’t have been happier either. They ecstatically screamed the lyrics back to her making singalongs like ‘Monster’ and ‘Only some of the loudest I’ve ever heard at The Riverstage. Which perfectly closed FOMO 2019 memorably.
Check out the full gallery captured by Jordan Rogers-Smith Photography HERE;
Photos By Jordan Rogers-Smith