Blowpop @ Candy's Apartment, Sydney (10/04/04)

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‘How Can We Get a Party Together in Two Days?’ The Blowpop crew took it upon themselves to answer the universal question with their Saturday night offering, put on as an 11th-hour favour to the good people of Candy’s Apartment. Answer: with a few technical hitches, but praiseworthy panache. A good line-up of DJs was assembled at the last minute to play to a crowd that just kept growing and growing. The venue suited the format of the event, housing the cruisey hip-hop and funk in the intimate back lounge and providing ample space to groove to nu-er than nu-skool breaks on the main floor.

DJ Sam Young lay the foundations in the main room, scoring some positive feedback from early-bird patrons, before Alwryt brought his sped-up breaks to the small but amped crowd. He began his set with some tracks that really put the ‘pop’ in Blowpop but still had a nice driving edge to them. Harder urban beats flirted with boppy digital effects and thrumming brown-note bass. His sound spiraled into darkly insistent breaks culminating in a classic Prodigy track he dropped just before winding up. His mixing was technically perfect if a little unimaginative, but then, he was seen leaving the club afterwards with his arm in a sling. That’s dedication for you.

Lish was up next, pouring his boundless energy into the amps with some fun disco breaks, which unfortunately proved to be a little too much for the speakers. Lish took this nonchalantly in his stride, accommodating the bass-shy sound equipment by emphasising midrange kicks and snares, which actually really suited his glitchy pop sound. He kept the beats good and varied, often cutting backwards and forwards between two perfectly lined-up tracks, just to keep us on our toes. He liked spinning out the ambient breakdowns but always signaled when the beat was about to drop again with enthusiastic air-punching and big grins.

Meanwhile, the back room boys were providing a nice contrast to the action out front with down-tempo funk, hip-hop and a touch of R&B. DJ Finestyler dug through his crate of favourites, bouncing Beyonce into upbeat hip-hop by Digital Underground, keeping the groove nice and easy. The atmosphere was similar to the chill-out rooms of yesteryear’s clubs with people crashed on the grand settees, sipping drinks and tapping their feet. Things perked up a bit when Eli took to the decks, however. The Fuzzy 360 Competition winner played a surprisingly abstract set rich with warm dub and jazz overtones. As an added bonus, a faulty mike lead meant MC Da Herbalist was temporarily consigned to the back room and thus was able to lend his fluent staccato rapping to the mix. He found his feet rhyming to Eli’s pleasantly subdued rhythms before he was called to the main floor in support of UK Blowpop veteran Klaus Hill.

At this stage, the club seemed to gain its second wind as a cavalcade of latecomers streamed in to see the Heavyweight perform, and he didn’t disappoint with a tightly executed industrial breaks set. Distended synthesised reverberations were welded onto metallic clangs and strange mechanical whirring. A fat bass line funked up the sound along with melodic raga-style MCing from Da Herbalist, who good-naturedly shared the stage with some keen kids from the dance floor. And why shouldn’t he? After all, it was the impromptu nature of this edition of Blowpop that seems to have made it such a success. Very good times.

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