Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and Australia has seen no shortage of throwback tours over the past few years… None as big as So Pop, though. Headlined by Aqua and the Vengaboys, and backed up by other much loved ‘90s acts (B*Witched, Eiffel 65 and Mr President to name a few), So Pop comes out swinging with a stacked line up. But can nostalgia alone fill a stadium?
Since the demolition of the Entertainment Centre in 2015, Sydney has been sorely missing a mid-sized venue. Too big for the 5,500 capacity Hordern Pavilion, So Pop took on the 21,000-capacity Qudos Bank Arena. This was somewhat ambitious, as the entire second tier of seating was curtained off.
Nethertheless, So Pop kicked off – a bit rocky at first, due to the fact the first act was billed to start at 5:15pm, a mere 15 minutes after most people would knock off work. Being a Friday night, you’d think they could afford to extend the end time past 10pm. That must be when the babysitters go into surge pricing.
By the time Eiffel 65 hit the stage, however, the floor of the arena was almost packed. While the seats still remained somewhat sparsely populated, the dancefloor was full and ready to bop to Eiffel 65's hit songs, such as “Blue”, and, uh... “Blue”. They were rushed sets, with most of the early bands only getting time to play three or four songs, really bringing credence to the saying "a quick game is a good game." There’s no filler here, only ‘90s bangers.
B*Witched's performance seemed lacklustre, with their introduction video garnering more applause than their actual performance. This could have something to do with the fact they only showcased only two original members. Thankfully, most of the crowd were onto their fifth white wine by that point, and probably didn’t notice it.
On the other hand, Blue, seemed like they haven’t missed a beat (or a rehearsal) since the ‘90s. Pitch perfect and with their dance moves completely NSync, Blue had the crowd eating from their hands. Ending their set on “One Love”, they were by far the most impressive performance.
The DJ between acts kept the crowd entertained with a dream team lineup of high school anthems, from the Spice Girls to Britney to Hanson, all the way to the theme song from Dawson’s Creek.
In true Vengaboys fashion, their set can be summed up in one word: extra. From three sets of glitter confetti and one set confetti made up entirely of “United States of Venga” dollar bills, the pop group responsible for an entire generation knowing the geographical location of Ibiza took Sydney on a journey. To Ibiza, on Venga Airways, with an airport transfer on the Vengabus... They're big on transport in the Netherlands, it seems.
With the proclamation: "We are the Vengaboys and we represent cheesy euro trash pop so we are gonna give you some boom boom boom," Vengaboys closed out their set, making way only for the true stars of the night: Aqua.
While it was obvious some of the crowd were only there for Vengaboys – the floor area had thinned considerably by the time Aqua came onstage – those who left early missed out.
While they didn’t have the same theatrics as Vengaboys – there was no confetti or glitter – Aqua performed with all the gusto of a band half their age (until Lene Nystrøm came to say, "I'm going to stage dive,” before Rene Dif pointed out it was much too far for her to jump), pulling out classics off their hit album Aquarium, with segments of the film clips playing along on the screen behind them.
Aqua lived up to their ‘90s reputation, with the banter and on stage antics of Dif and Nystrøm bordering on playfully sexually suggestive as they ripped through classics like "Barbie Girl" and "Doctor Jones".
The 10pm finish proved difficult for some (or perhaps it was just the length of a five-hour event) because the herd continued to thin during Aqua's set, leaving only the most dedicated pop fans. But those who stayed witness something amazing: Aqua – whose biggest hit was arguably “Barbie Girl” in 1997 – playing one of Sydney’s biggest arenas. 2019 is f***ing wild.
Catch our full gallery of photos from So Pop in Sydney after the jump!