Over nine years and 40 different events, Stereosonic has toured many millions of dollars’ worth of talent and set off a veritable arsenal of pyrotechnics. But it’s also unleashed some stranger forces into the world, and inspired some seriously unusual behaviour. From onstage nudity to near-riots and spectacularly failed stage dives, we’ve gathered together Stereosonic’s ten biggest WTF moments. Relive the madness below.
In 2009, Deadmau5 made his first and last appearance on a Stereosonic line-up – and he must have been excited about the tour, because he packed a custom-made Australian flag mau5head for the occasion. But the good vibes came to a screeching halt when one inthemix forum user described the headliner’s Perth set as “so so predictable” and Joel Zimmerman himself as “a total prick”.
“Sorry, has to be said…but www.inthemix.com.au leads the nation in crybabies. Get off the forums, get off your computers, and go to some parties,” the mau5 hit back on Facebook. “It’s not hard at all… and it’s sure better than trying to make visitors who take the time out of their lives to visit your country feel like shit. Pretty disrespectful.” Two years later he’d come back to Australia…and promptly get punched in the head by a Brisbane DJ. Sorry, Joel.
When Stereosonic hit his hometown of Perth in 2014, photographer Jarrad Seng decided to go for a different kind of festival experience.
Seng, a guy who by his own description “gets mistaken for Steve Aoki a LOT”, spent three hours impersonating the festival headliner with hilarious results. You can watch his masterpiece Three Hours of Walking Silently Through Perth Stereosonic as Steve Aoki below – the ruse even worked when the real Aoki was playing on the mainstage, only metres away.
Back in 2009, Stereosonic held its first full-sized Sydney festival at Moore Park. Scheduled for an afternoon set on one of the side stages were The Bloody Beetroots, who were easily the biggest “buzz” act on that year’s line-up, thanks to a little Steve Aoki collaboration called Warp. It was only the second time they’d toured Australia and their first major show here – and the hype was so strong that the Beetroots just about caused a riot.
“The crowd to get in to their stage was intense, people were lining up for hours,” former inthemix staffer Tim Hardaker recounted today. “We managed to slip in through a side door with our media passes but inside there was so much sweat dripping from the roof, and there was almost a riot from punters trying to get in. If I remember correctly they were moved to the mainstage for all the remaining shows on the tour to avoid another potential riot!”
These days, The World’s Most Overplayed Track Levels is practically a punchline. But in 2011 it was the biggest hit of the year, free to be enjoyed by festival crowds without irony. And its producer, then-rising star Avicii, had by luck been booked for the Stereosonic line-up months before the track out. So when November rolled around, he claimed the biggest moment of the entire festival – and played his last ever string of mid-afternoon sets before ascending to the league of the headliners.
In its later years, Stereosonic recruited dance music’s star shooter Rukes to fly out and cover the festival (those epic mainstage photos we like to use are all his – thanks Drew!). But in 2007 and 2008, it was hipster extraordinaire The Cobra Snake behind Stereo’s official lens, and he was pretty much the pinnacle of cool. He’d prowl around the festival site in fluoro shades, hunting down hot girls, befriending DJs and posting about everything on his blog. What a time to be alive.
We’re not sure what’s more shocking – that LMFAO were ever booked for Stereosonic, or that they managed to pull one of the biggest crowds in the festival’s history. A tidy 70,000 people turned out to the Sydney leg of Stereo 2011 and it felt like every last one of them was crammed in front of the mainstage when Redfoo and SkyBlu took their clothes off and sang Sexy And I Know It.
The very first edition of Stereosonic had a line-up just 21 DJs deep, but it was a quality-over-quantity affair. On the bill were the likes of Armand van Helden, Fedde Le Grand, Booka Shade… and the late, great DJ Mehdi. It was the same year he released Lucky Boy At Night, electro was at its peak, Ed Banger was the coolest label in the game and Mehdi spent the whole tour crowd-surfing with glee. Feels.
It’s been close to two decades since Sandstorm first graced the charts, but as Peking Duk proved on the 2014 Stereosonic tour, Darude still delivers.
Nick Littlemore and Luke Steele were mad as hell when a couple of enterprising fans with backstage access managed to pinch their swordfish masks in 2011. An immense social media campaign was launched to return the errant costume pieces, and the tale made headlines and front pages when the silly thieves were photographed wearing their purloined props out and about, leading to their identification. Empire of the Sun got their masks back, and life went back to normal.
In 2008, some gronk snuck on stage during Crookers’ set, attempted to stage dive and failed abysmally. Ouch.
Katie Cunningham is one of the Editors of inthemix. She is on Twitter.