Photo from For The Love socials
For The Love has been pushing the boundaries of what event brands are capable of since they first began, and Melbourne's long-awaited edition was something else entirely.
Walking into the Catani Gardens in St. Kilda for the For The Love festival, the first three things you saw on your left were the First Aid tent, the Chill Zone tent and the phone charging area. This spells out that you’re going to have a good time. You’ll have either overdone it partying, need a breather from dancing or taken so many photos your battery has carked it.
Ringed by palm trees, the open grass area of the gardens was to be where it all went down. The stage was enormous, backing up to the road and opening towards the ocean, it was flanked on either side by two towering stacks of 14 speakers suspended in the air by chains, huge screens either side of those and another two stacks of 12 speakers on the outside of the screens. Right up the back of the grassed area, a bar over 50 metres long ran parallel to the beach and at the east end of the arena, food trucks were set up.
Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.
Melbourne three-piece Telenova began to a small crowd but drew more and more people in as their set progressed. On stage, two small roman pillars sat starkly, giving off a strange vibe and the microphone stand had red, white and blue flowers strapped to the top of it.
Lead singer Angeline Armstrong held court during the flowing beat of “Tranquilize” as Ed and Josh cruised in support. Before “Comedian,” Armstrong said to the crowd ‘You can throw your arm around someone’ as a guide to embracing the slower movement of the song. A few people followed her suggestion as the crowd filled in further. Still in a state of ‘nor here nor there,’ the crowd woke up and sang along when Telenova began their most popular track, “Bones”. During the song, the smoke machine got its first run of the day and Armstrong gave the crowd a kick by telling them ‘Melbourne, you’re so classy!’.
The number of people continued to build as the tall, majestic figure of George Maple took to the stage with two dancers that complimented her atmospheric, electro-pop music. After asking ‘Am I allowed to encourage people on shoulders?’ Maple then launched into “Gemini”, a hit song she collaborated on with What So Not. It got the crowd moving as did most songs throughout the day that were instantly recognised. Maple’s eloquence on stage and her beautified presence seemed to mesmerise the crowd in a way that no one seemed to be expecting early in the day. Her song “Cold Water” possesses an etheric beat that moves from a gently poised rhythm into a pulsating rush. Throughout it, both Maple and the dancers were sitting on a small platform performing slow yoga like movements that contrasted perfectly with the up-tempo beat.
‘We tend to gravitate towards this ‘slow motion’ space, and it feels almost as though we’re underwater. I guess it creates a balance between the heaviness of the music. I’ve always loved exploring the yin and yang in the performance space,’ said Maple. Hands were raised in the crowd when Maple went into “Talk Talk”, with the song generating plenty of energy. ‘It connects with so many people! It makes me happy to see,’ Maple said.
View this post on Instagram
There was a fantastic variety of people and outfits getting around by this time. A man in a moonboot didn’t let his injury stop him from grooving, a lady was rocking shock blue lightning bolt pants and four men were dressed identically in watermelon printed fabric… bucket hats and all.
If the day started to gather momentum during George Maple’s set, Ben Gumbleton of Boo Seeka made sure the wheels were properly turning. Dressed in a long black shirt with a gold chain around his neck, one song into the set Gumbleton yelled ‘How the fuck are we Melbourne!?’
People roared and began to sing along to “Deception Bay” soon after. Their set was a reminder of just how many hits they have and Gumbleton’s raw drive on stage enhanced the music even further. Swigging from two different bottles of wine throughout, Gumbleton claimed that he’d drank too much of it during Covid… Whatever the case, the set fired and when they went into “Humans” the Catani Gardens felt like it could burst. Gumbleton then praised the security guards for dancing away up the front and having a good time with everyone else.
He then asked the crowd to get as many people elevated on their shoulders for the next three minutes of their track “Does This Last”. It was magnificent viewing; a sea of people on shoulders, almost like another crowd on top of the existing one with a sense of euphoria sweeping through both. The arena was heaving and fairly full by this time, and when Boo Seeka came to an end it felt as though everyone was ready for more.
As the day edged towards late afternoon the wind began to pick up and kites from kite surfers could be seen cutting through the air over the ocean behind the arena. Couple this with smiling, laughing and the palm trees and it was a great scene in St. Kilda.
View this post on Instagram
Allday came on next and he continually paced the length of the stage from end to end in his turquoise hat, large white t-shirt and hippy dyed pants. His easy-going, open set mirrored his interaction with the crowd. His song “Good Thanks” had the people bumping along and when he went into “You Always Know the DJ” there was a sense of relief as everyone had been waiting for it. At one point, Allday put on a pair of sunglasses that had ‘Mallrat’ written across the front of them in a sign of things to come. Finishing with “Stolen Cars”, Allday’s smooth, endearing demeanour perfectly balanced out the combustible feeling that had been building prior.
People funnelled like an army of ants up and down the path that ran between the outskirts of the stage, the bar and the food area in what looked like an attempt to refuel for the rest of the day. Those that hung about the stage during sets got a kick out of the interim DJ who played tracks like “One Dance” by Drake, “Baby” by Justin Bieber and “Since You’ve Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson. Each time one of these well-known songs came on people responded with a look of joyful nostalgia. TLC’s “No Scrubs” also had the punters enjoying themselves.
Running Touch hit the stage full of enthusiasm, sprinting to the west end of the platform, crouching down and headbanging over his guitar to kick off his song “Juno”. Smoke then enveloped him mid-song as his relentless effort to put on a show for the crowd became evident from the beginning. Room became sparse in the crowd as people rode the energy that Running Touch provided. His song with Verboten Berlin, “If I Give It To You”, pumped, and not long after he was scaling the structures on the side of the stage. He didn’t stop there as during “Better Together” he climbed a ladder and jumped off it in an extraordinary display of showmanship and talent. Running Touch exuded a physical fitness that held him in good stead as he did not stop giving it his all for the entire time. The crowd was totally engaged throughout in what was an incredible set. Finishing off by saying to the crowd ‘Thank you for all your love, have the best night of your life,’ Running Touch was operating on another level.
The wind dropped for a short period in the afternoon as the clouds cleared over the ocean. One patron picked up on it when he turned to his friend and shouted, ‘What about the weather!’ whilst the sun beat down in the late afternoon.
In a Scottish skirt and a cropped navy New York t-shirt, Mallrat came on to an adoring crowd to deliver her timeless pop songs. There was a simmering and bubbling in the crowd at the start of her set. Plenty of drinks had been flowing, voices had become raspy and drawn-out chatter was filtered throughout it all. Mallrat kicked off with “Nobody’s Home”, a song she did with Basenji and followed up not long after with “R U HIGH” which resulted in a jiving crowd. Mid-set, two guys clambered up onto a wheelie bin and momentarily danced with the devil as they held each other tightly trying to stay balanced with ghastly looks of trepidation on their faces. They survived, and when Mallrat performed “Groceries” the arena was a sing along. Finishing with “Rockstar”, Mallrat owned the stage gracefully as she wandered from end to end in total control.
Up next was Crooked Colours who had been away from the live scene in Melbourne.
‘It’s been about two years since we’ve been in Victoria and boy it is a pleasure to be back,’ said lead singer of Crooked Colours, Phil Slabber. Their dreamy electro dance music blended with the darkening night sky to create the perfect cocktail for the true partygoers of the festival. From this moment on it was open slather on the grassed area which had held people all day. “I Hope You Get It” was played with the guest appearance of rapper Ivan Ooze in what was memorable for the crowd and Crooked Colours.
‘That was a bit of a special moment,” said Slabber.
“Do It Like You” and the light show on display simultaneously rolled the crowd as Crooked Colours lit the place up. ‘It’s such a massive fuckin’ vibe here,’ said Slabber.
Post set, Slabber was stoked with how the night went. ‘I feel like the show went really well and the crowd was fantastic, like super responsive, it was probably the best crowd we’ve had since post-Covid shows, so we had a lot of fun and I think it kind of showed,’ said Slabber.
View this post on Instagram
After Crooked Colours, the headline set from Dom Dolla was the only one to come. The night felt deep, as though a lot of energy had been spent but Dom Dolla was going to revive anything and everything in the last hour.
Remixing Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” brought a late-night vibe to the place whilst people embraced the sudden rain that was illuminated by bright blue lights. All theatrics were saved for Dolla’s set as fire burst in plumes from the stage along with fireworks shooting from above it. People broke it down for Dolla’s song “Take It” in a dense, heavy air of dancing and fist-pumping as people jammed about with each other.
In a surprise, Mansionair took to the stage for their song “Strangers” that they worked on with Dolla. The presence of the member from Mansionair did wonders for the aesthetics of the set as he worked the front of the stage near the crowd whilst Dom Dolla stood on a platform higher above. Dolla then held the people for a moment and said he’d give an encore song before remixing Alice Deejay’s nineties classic “Better Off Alone” which struck a chord with many as they raged on for a few minutes longer.
Overall, the day was a prime partying occasion with a packed crowd enjoying it from start to finish. All of the acts performed well and in great spirit, with Running Touch and Crooked Colours being the highlights.