Astrofunk feat. Dave Clarke & Funk D'Void @ Space, Syd (10/04/04)
Thu 15th Apr, 2004 Event Reviews 748 viewsin
Years ago, before my taste in going-out music reached the heady peak of today, I used to go to the Shark Hotel. I found the dancefloor music pretty annoying even then, but I still managed to go if friends suggested it. Then things changed, friends changed, and suddenly it was years since last I stared at jittery, nervous sharks swimming in a tank to the strains of Toca’s Miracle.
Easter 2004. I tell myself I’m visiting Space, one of Sydney’s newest and largest venues with a fantastic sound system, and not the “upstairs bit” of the old Shark Hotel. Coming up by lift to the smaller Concrete Jungle room, my illusion is not shattered. The orange curtains with the crushed velvet look and bright downlights actually look pretty good. The main room is bland in comparison, but it’s the right size for big-name internationals.
The sound system is excellent in both rooms. I could hear textures in the music that usually get thumped out like drumming on a sandbag. Space is just the place for people who appreciate quality sound and go out clubbing to damage the very hearing that lets them. Just like me.
I only heard the end of Vic’s set as the promoters had slotted him into a pre-midnight set. An unusual choice; perhaps Beat Division thought that becoming a father last year would’ve softened Vic’s banging and minimal sets. Well, they were rather mistaken.
Biz and Ajax played a very interesting set because they were two equally skilled DJs with distinct styles. Far too many “back2back” sets these days have DJs who sound too much like each other.
Someone who has been softened by recent fatherhood is producer and DJ Funk D’Void (Lars Sandberg). Raised in Scotland by an Australian mother and a Swedish father, now living in Spain married to a Brazillian woman, this man has a bigger claim to the “international DJ” moniker than most.
His latest album Volume Freak is not tekno at all, although he has that label applied to him regularly. The album has a techy, deep house sound with hints of Latin rhythms. In contrast, his set was closer to tough progressive house with overlays of tekno to pump things up. The BPMs stayed on the lower end, and he took full advantage of the sound system to play some rich, melodic music. His biggest hit, Diabla, did make an appearance later in the set.
The crowd took a while to warm to his set, but Mr Sandberg had been so committed behind the decks that when Dave Clarke took control, some in the crowd made a point of clapping in Sandberg’s direction first.
Having patiently sat on the floor behind Funk D’Void, Dave Clarke (UK) springs into action by first rearranging the decks and mixer to his liking. He takes slipmats off the turntables, rolls them up, and places them under the decks. An assualt on the equipment was definitely on the cards.
Banging tekno is meant to be mashed up by the DJ or things can get pretty boring. Clarke knows this too well, and squeezes every trick he can, as fast as he can, from a stock-standard pair of Technics SL-1200 decks and a Pioneer DJM-600 mixer. (Watching from just offstage, Funk D’Void dubbed it “oldschool”.) Clarke rarely leaves the mixer’s crossfader or line/phono switch alone. Very few tracks were in the mix for long, and he occasionally used both hands to overspin the turntables to insane degrees. This style of playing always splits audiences into those who want to hear more of the tracks and those who want to see the DJ booth on fire.
Clarke played some top-notch tracks during his 2-hour set, mainly in the loop-heavy vein that suits his mixing style, which included his own Way Of Life and stuff by the likes of Samuel L. Session and D.A.V.E. the Drummer. He also threw some ghetto tech and some Electroclash.
Meanwhile, local DJ Phil Smart, due to play immediately after with “Sugar” Ray Good, is calmly finishing his game of pool. He appears oblivious to the turntable terrorism that is running overtime, eating into his and Good’s set time. Easily the equal of Clarke as a DJ but in a diametrically different style, Smart’s set was another contrasting choice by the promoters. But, it being 5a.m. by this point, I walked out on a Phil Smart set for the first time in my life.
Concrete Jungle Room
One of the main attractions in the drum’n’bass/jungle room was New Zealand-born, British-resident MC Tali. Having had her big break in Melbourne by MCing impromptu to Roni Size backstage, just four years later she is very much part of the Bristol jungle scene.
Supported by DJ Motive (MEL), her set was more a concert than a dance party gig. She talked to the crowd between songs, gave quick intros before starting, and MCed over energetic d’n’b tracks as well as sing downtempo numbers. She did not freestyle, but concentrated on showcasing songs off her upcoming album Lyric On My Lip. Singing tracks like her own High Hopes (All Over Now) and the I Kamanchi hit Hold It Down, it becomes obvious why Roni Size wasted no time in getting her onboard. She’s not just a good MC, but an accomplished singer as well.
I wasn’t able to catch much of the set of Matt Harvey, one-half of Concord Dawn (NZ). But I ended my night in the d’n’b room to an absolutely tearing set by JPS (MEL). His set was at the same standard as Ritual and ALF’s earlier in the night, but crazier. Definitely worth checking out again.
A small black mark on the night was the door security’s rough treatment of some of the patrons who had briefly gone out for fresh air. A number of ticket holders were kept out of the venue mid-way through the party, without the knowledge of the promoter. Complaints have been made to Space venue management since then, who have promised to discuss with their security contractor. Stay tuned to the ITM Sydney forum for updates. Nobody wants jittery, nervous punters at the next event.